Not for profit bike shops
April 20, 2006 7:33 AM   Subscribe

Need a bike? Want to avoid the fustian salespeople at the mainstream bike shop and don't want to spend a ridiculous amount to get one? Recycle-a-Bicycle in NYC or Bikes not Bombs in Boston can hook you up with a nice, stylish new (used) ride for a reasonable price. Have too many bikes? Donate 'em.
posted by splatta (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is "fustian" the word of the day or something? Appears in three posts in a row!
posted by attaboy at 7:37 AM on April 20, 2006

See also: Bicycle Kitchen in Los Angeles, Working Bikes in Chicago and Bike Kitchen in San Francisco
posted by fet at 7:45 AM on April 20, 2006

Excellent, thank you fet. I'm sorry this post was so northeast-centric.
posted by splatta at 7:50 AM on April 20, 2006

not to be a downer, but Recycle-A-Bike in NYC irreprably damaged the fork of a rare vintage frame i brought there for minor repairs. To their credit they did try to replace it, but in my experience its a good place to buy a beater, and not a good place for a serious cyclist.
posted by fidgets at 7:54 AM on April 20, 2006

irreparably rather.
posted by fidgets at 7:55 AM on April 20, 2006

A lot of these shops employ kids for a "learn a skill" program, so yes, there may be a few glitches, but it's still an excellent shop to get a cheap bike.
posted by splatta at 7:56 AM on April 20, 2006

Also see Decatur Yellow Bikes in Atlanta and Recycled Cycles in Seattle (although the last is a for-profit store).
posted by xthlc at 7:59 AM on April 20, 2006

I volunteer every week at Community Bikes in Charlottesville, Va. It's great just working with community kids helping them put together bikes and talking with them about rap or school or whatever. Plus, I got my sexy sexy Fuji Gran Tourer from there. Unfortunately we do not have a website so I can't really send you a link.

When I volunteered down in New Orleans over spring break I did some work at Plan B bikes. That place was amazing, the day I was working there they received 799 bikes from Bikes not Bombs in Boston. They're working their hardest to get bikes back on the streets of New Orleans.

When I graduate in a few weeks I plan on going back down to New Orleans to do some more work at Plan B as well as other volunteer work, I think I will be preparing kids for their return to school.

If you have an old frame you should definitely give it to a local free bikes program instead of letting it waste away in your garage.
posted by cloeburner at 8:03 AM on April 20, 2006
posted by Alt F4 at 8:20 AM on April 20, 2006

I think it makes more sense if you say salespeople are "Faustian", or dealing with them is akin to making a Faustian bargain. But then, I'm a jerk.
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:20 AM on April 20, 2006

That Sheldon Brown is my new hero.

Given how many bikes he owns, I expected him to be a selfish, self-obsessed lunatic.

He might be a lunatic, but I don't remember when I last found a website on a subject I have no interest in so compelling. I love how he's equally as passionate about cheap, 1960's three-speed Raleighs, as he is about the latest, high-tech bike wank fodder.

I also love his terrible, terrible sartorial style. He's a red-dyed upside-down head.

Is his nickname 'Nottingham' because of his passion for old Raleighs?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 8:44 AM on April 20, 2006

Community Cycling Center in Portland.
posted by markovitch at 8:51 AM on April 20, 2006

this is a fustian conspiracy. bastards.
posted by punkbitch at 8:52 AM on April 20, 2006

I still have a sneaking suspicion that a pair of kids at Recycle-a-Bicycle took several items off of mine. Did make me take seriously the idea of keeping everything locked up.
posted by Captaintripps at 8:54 AM on April 20, 2006

Austin yellow bike project
posted by fnord at 9:01 AM on April 20, 2006

PeterMcDermott: If you click around Sheldon's website, you'll see he gives himself all kinds of middle names:

...and on and on ad infinitum.

Thinking about it now, Sheldon deserves his own FPP.
posted by splatta at 9:03 AM on April 20, 2006

Is there a directory of these kinds of shops on a national level? I'd be interested in finding one in Phoenix.
posted by crawl at 9:49 AM on April 20, 2006

Along the same lines, Bikes and Trikes for Tykes in Kansas City (which despite its name refurbishes a whole lot of bikes for adults, too) and BicycleWorks in St. Louis has an "earn-a-bike" program for kids.
posted by flug at 9:51 AM on April 20, 2006

Of course this all started a long time ago in a magical place with the white bike plan as developed by the Provos of amsterdam in the '60s (though the modern versions seem to have lost touch with their radical roots).
posted by ebendick at 9:55 AM on April 20, 2006

In New Orleans, the Plan B Bike Project is back open again post-Katrina.
posted by ab3 at 9:58 AM on April 20, 2006

oops! i didn't see until just now that cloeburner had mentioned the new orleans one already. silly me...
posted by ab3 at 10:01 AM on April 20, 2006

I think this is a great resource; I've always wanted to buy a transportation bike for moving around my neighborhood; something second-hand that I could lock up outside that would not be too much the target of theft. I'm sure I'm not alone in this.
posted by ParisParamus at 10:18 AM on April 20, 2006

Mr. Brown's proper nickname is "Captain Bike". He's been a fixture on rec.bikes.*, particualrly for more than a decade. He hasn't been FPP'd? That's astonishing. He's referenced in just about every single bike-related AskMe.

Also, it is not possible to have too many bikes. One just doesn't have enough storage space, is all.
posted by bonehead at 10:31 AM on April 20, 2006

I volunteer with Revolutions bike co-op in Memphis. We don't have a website, but you can google us for a phone number.
posted by jmgorman at 10:59 AM on April 20, 2006

I work for a little midwest bicycle non-profit called the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op. We concentrate on education, although we don't narrowly define that term - we just try to help people use bikes and enjoy it.

We do sell used bikes, too, but personally, I think the real reason it's a good idea for someone to come here when they're looking for a bike is that we can help them know what they really need/want - we have more demand for bikes than we have volunteer labor to fix them, and we're all more interested in people getting the right bike than selling them one, so I think of us as the one place in town that people can get a nearly unbiased (unbiased by money, at least) opinion on bikes.

I wasn't going to link to us, but I guess that's kind of silly, right? :)
posted by pinespree at 11:44 AM on April 20, 2006

the Plan B Bike Project

For those who want to abort the small, metallic fetuses of bicycles without undergoing surgery.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 11:56 AM on April 20, 2006

See also Pedal Revolution in San Francisco.
posted by treepour at 12:10 PM on April 20, 2006

xthlc - a non-profit place in Seattle that is in the same vein as NYC's Recycle-a-Bicycle would be Bike Works. As you said, Recycled Cycles is for-profit and not a charity of any kind.
posted by pitchblende at 12:21 PM on April 20, 2006

I purchased my last bicycle (a refurbished TREK 950) from the recycle-a-bike in DUMBO, they're a good place for service - although perhaps not the best for your chichi fancy stuff, they sometimes jury-rig sturdy solutions if they feel it's appropriate and can save you money. I wholeheartedly recommend the place, especially in a city where your bike is quite likely to get stolen within a few years (unless you are very meticulous in your security measures).

On the other hand, lately I have been thinking about picking up a new one from NYCBikes, they make frames that are specialized for big city riding and then you customize the set equipment depending on price range. I like the feel of the place and their stuff. I would splurge for their John Deere style bike (it makes me super-nostalgic for my North Dakota childhood), but I doubt it would be mine for more than a week or two.
posted by milovoo at 12:37 PM on April 20, 2006

Don't know about Phoenix, but in Tucson there is Bicas (
posted by kyrademon at 1:07 PM on April 20, 2006

Neighborhood Bike Works in Philadelphia.
(West Philly, near 40th street.)
Good place, good people, a very close friend of mine works there.
posted by klocwerk at 1:30 PM on April 20, 2006

kyrademon, from your link I found this program from the City of Scottsdale which appears to be a work for your bike program.
posted by crawl at 2:03 PM on April 20, 2006

pitchblende - thanks, I think I'd heard about Bike Works but never made it over there when I was in Seattle.

milovoo -- NYCBikes omg drool -- right now my commute bike is a stock Fuji Silhouette that's good for the longer distances and smoother traffic of Atlanta, but I'm moving back to a real city soon and need a tougher street bike. I'll just linger over the CrossSpeeds awhile longer . . .
posted by xthlc at 10:23 PM on April 20, 2006

When I was growing up in DC, I helped a lot at Chain Reaction, which seems to have closed down temporarily to switch locations...

I just showed up on opening day, and didn't leave. I ended up teaching a lot of people about how to work on bicycles, and I learned a lot about people.

Also, Sheldon Brown is AWESOME. I took a long detour to Newton once just to meet him.
posted by blasdelf at 10:31 PM on April 20, 2006

I would LOVE to meet Sheldon Brown.
posted by splatta at 5:19 AM on April 21, 2006

My university doesn't have a bike shop, but they do have an active "fix 'em and lease 'em" program to encourage more bike use and less motor traffic on campus. The green bikes with the slogan "Ride Bikes" are scattered all over campus. They solicit donations at the end of each semester - why let it rust on the rack if it can be used by someone else?

Only downside is that they lease them for 9 months, then ask for them back again. So, no good for the people who need one over the summer.
posted by caution live frogs at 6:32 AM on April 21, 2006

Depends on what you want one for.

For keeping locked out on the NYC street at all times, nothing really beats a disposable $100 kmart special.
posted by HTuttle at 8:15 PM on April 21, 2006

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