Sharing is at the heart of Recycle Bikes' ethos. The not-for-profit project, based in Heeley, exists to pass on the knowledge of all things bike. Its aim: to have more and more people in the community share its love for cycling and get out and about safely on two wheels. And, since 2001, Recycle has been doing a pretty good job of it.
Recycle Bikes' worthwhile work is twofold: getting disused bikes back into motion while, at the same time, training young people up with the skills to repair them.
A few hundred bikes are donated to Recycle each year, stripped down and fully refurbished. After servicing, they're sold on for a fraction of the price of a new ride, giving the bikes a new life and letting others get use and enjoyment out of them. Prices in the shop are relatively affordable, with decent adult bikes starting at £75. There's usually a good selection for kids too, meaning you can kit out the whole family. A couple of times a year a load of the bikes are taken to the University of Sheffield, where hopeful students form long lines after getting wind of the prospect of picking one up at the subsidised price of £30. Others, meanwhile, are shipped overseas via Colchester's Recycle Bikes to Africa project.
Under the supervision of Recycle's mechanics, the bikes are done up by 14- to 16-year-olds on placements organised through Sheffield City Council. As well as getting a grip on the practical side of things, the trainees develop personal and social skills at the same time. For many, this vocational learning offers far more fulfilment and enjoyment than mainstream education, and some have returned to work with the organisation after the end of their placement.
As well as stitching up and sprucing up used bikes, and training others to do the same, Recycle shares its passion and expertise through training sessions, cycling events, a kids' BMX club, a rentable DIY repair space and tool kit, and a free bike clinic. We've even been to a bike-themed film screening at Recycle, courtesy of Magic Lantern Film Club, complete with a bike race around an obstacle-strewn yard.
So, if you've got an old bike lying around amidst the cobwebs in your shed, there's no one out there who'll treat it better than Recycle. And if you wheel your damaged bike up the hill to the Recycle yard, you can look forward to freewheeling a skillfully repaired ride back down again. Bonus.