bike Archives - The Bike Project

Saddler well

Beautiful as a dancer’s slipper and just as sturdy, there’s something utterly balletic about a Brooks saddle. They’re also the comfiest place to perch your bum this side of a sofa (and a better fit on your bike, too). 

Invented over 100 years ago by lavishly-bearded John Boultbee Brooks, you can still spot a Brooks saddle by its unique leather design today. John wasn’t always into bikes. He started out as a saddle maker for horses, and it was only when his horse died that he decided to give cycling a go. It’s safe to say that his first ride left him less than impressed and more than a little sore. So, as the Victorians were in the habit of doing, John got down to inventing and created the Brook leather prototype saddle in 1878.

Brooks perfected his saddle, and didn’t stop there – the Brooks company have been responsible for all sorts of weird and wonderful inventions over the years. In their 1926 catalogue alone you can find ‘handlebar muffs’, ‘snap-on leggings’ and a side car screen.

You won’t see any of those in their latest catalogue, but you will spot a few of John’s original seats, almost exactly as he designed them over 100 years ago. Made with top notch leather stretched over a sturdy frame, Brooks saddles have a rep for comfort, longevity and style. And thanks to their sturdiness, we’ve got some fantastic second hand specimens in our shop. They’re still in amazing condition, and are so comfy they’ll have you dancing on your wheels.

Find our second hand Brooks saddles in our shop.

 

Become a Bike Hub

JRS Bike Hub

Becoming a Bike Hub for The Bike Project is an easy, wonderful way to support refugees and asylum seekers in London.

You can find out how to become a Bike Hub here. And to give you an idea of why it’s so brilliant, have a read of what Bike Hub hosts Jon and Jonathan have to say below.

 


 

The Jesuit Refugee Service is one of our bike donation drop off points (or Bike Hubs) and a partner in our Women’s Cycle Training scheme. We caught up with Jonathan from the JRS to hear about his experience of hosting a Bike Hub for The Bike Project.

Why did you decide to become a drop off point for The Bike Project?

“We were very happy to support The Bike Project by becoming a drop off point as we had seen how much they had motivated and encouraged our refugee friends.

The Bike Project is a wonderful initiative which continues to prove that solidarity and hospitality make our lives and communities better and more fun; I’m pretty sure that the refugee friends The Bike Project has made are a big reason for its success.”

 

What is the best thing about being a drop off point?

“Seeing our refugee friends getting around on the donated bikes, the freedom and excitement cycling uniquely allows, just shows why it is a privilege to act as a drop off point. So do join up and play your part!”

 

Do you have any advice for other centres thinking of becoming a drop off point?

“Once the racks are installed or the storage arrangements fixed, being a drop off point does not call for too much effort – though, when you’re preoccupied with something else, don’t forget to give a big ‘thank you’ and smile to the donors!”

 


 

Jon and the Finchley Reform Synagogue have supported The Bike Project for years, and recently became one of our Bike Hubs.

Why did you decide to become a drop off point for The Bike Project?

“As one of our main charity partners, FRS members have donated money towards The Bike Project for over 3 years. We also wanted to provide practical support to a charity that improves the lives of London’s refugees and asylum seekers in tangible and sustainable ways. Being a drop off point in North London has allowed many more donors to give their unwanted bikes to this valuable cause.”

 

What’s the best thing about being a drop off point?

“So many bike donors are delighted that their once-loved machines will be put to such good use. When people bring in bikes with wheels falling off, broken brakes and rusty chains, they are amazed that we will still accept the donations, as we explain that their bike could be repaired, used as a training machine, or saved for spare parts.

Most synagogues in London are surrounded by high fences and have regular visible security patrols. Although we wish to be a welcoming place, the necessary security steps sometimes give off a different impression. Many bike donors are stepping into a synagogue for the first time when they bring their bikes, and it is a great chance to have a friendly conversation and ensure those barriers are broken down.”

 

Do you have any advice for other centres thinking of becoming a drop off point?

“It really is a simple, hassle-free way of making a big difference to the quality of people’s lives in our city. The Bike Project team make it really easy to arrange pick-ups when our bike store is full. We sometimes have to turn away donors because there is no drop-off point near them, and they are unable to bring bikes to Finchley. The more drop-off points there are, the further reaching the project will become.”

 

Happy New Year!

Can you guess which New Year’s Resolution often tops the most popular lists? If you guessed ‘Support The Bike Project’, we think you’re not far off.

Along with ‘exercise more’ (which is the usual top spot), loads of other common resolutions are Bike Project friendly. So if you’ve chosen any of these 3, we reckon we can help you keep it for the whole year round.

 

Get fit/exercise more

This is an easy one – you’ll want one bike, a route to work and Bob’s your uncle. The best place to get that bike? Why, The Bike Project, of course. Our shop is full of fantastic second hand, expertly fixed up bikes for you to choose from. And every penny goes back into supporting refugees in the UK. You can even find the helmet, lights and high vis you’ll need for safe January cycling, too.

Save money

This is an even easier one, because you just do number 1 again. You’ll be very surprised at how quickly you make back the cost of a bike (especially compared to a season ticket on public transport). And of course, as all of our bikes are second hand, they’re a complete bargain so you save money compared to buying a brand new bike. And it’s even more of a bargain when you take into account our amazing professional mechanics who fix our bikes up to be as good as new.

Get involved in a charity

Every Thursday you can pop along to The Bike Project HQ to give us a hand with fixing up the bikes that will be given away to asylum seekers. Our workshops run from 5-8pm at 12 Crossthwaite Avenue, Denmark Hill, SE5 8ET. There’s no need to book or have any knowledge about how to fix up a bike – you just turn up and muck in.

If you’re not able to donate your time or you live a bit too far away and you’d still like to support The Bike Project, you can make a one off financial donation here – any amount is greatly appreciated.

A lovely article about refugees in The Guardian…

The Bike Project

And, extremely excitingly, we’re in it. The Guardian have highlighted the amazing stuff that asylum seekers and refugees do once they make it to Britain. Amongst the chefs, journalists and nurses, there are our very own bike mechanics and volunteers.

As Kirstie Brewer writes, ‘Since launching in 2013, the Bike Project has given away 1,800 bikes. Today it’s very busy. Volunteers and staff mill around, introducing visitors to their bikes and kitting them out with helmets, bike locks, reflective jackets and maps of London. Then they’re taken out for a spin around the neighbourhood to get acquainted with their new wheels and learn about road safety.

Maizer, a Sudanese genocide survivor, says his bike has restored some dignity and independence to his life. “It’s like I have new wings.”’

 

We’re really proud to appear alongside such amazing charities who are also helping refugees find confidence and to reach their full potential. You can read the whole article over at The Guardian.

Under the Olympic Flag

It’s not just countries that take part in the Olympics.

The games have a long tradition of politically uncertain groups participating ‘under the Olympic flag’ – newly independent countries which haven’t had time to set up a formal team, nationals of states under UN sanctions, and others.

But in Rio 2016, for the first time, there is a second group competing under the Olympic flag: the inaugural Refugee Olympic Team.

In June, organisers of the games announced that, to “act as a symbol of hope for refugees worldwide and bring global attention to the magnitude of the refugee crisis”, ten refugees would be nominated by the UN, get trained by their countries of residence, and take part, marching in the opening ceremony ahead of the host nation Brazil.

One Ethiopian, two Congolese, two Syrians and five South Sudanese are out there right now, competing – in swimming, judo and athletics.

These ten refugees, representatives of millions of refugees worldwide, were selected for their sporting abilities. The opportunity that they and the 33 others on the shortlist have had – to train in top athletic facilities around the world and tell their stories to the world at the Olympics – is extraordinary.

The opportunity to fulfill their potential is life changing for any refugee. And, as in the Olympics, The Bike Project believes being physically active can help achieve this potential – in our case by cycling to a more independent, fulfilling life.

Because the bicycles and cycling classes we deliver are life-changing. With them, refugees living in London form part of a community, can travel cheaply and effectively to legal appointments for their asylum case, to college and to friends, and gain new skills to help them settle in to their new homes.

The Refugee Olympic Team is the big picture happening in Brazil.

The Bike Project is the hands-on, oil and grease work happening on the streets of London.

If you’d like to be a part of it, we’d love you to donate a bike, sponsor a bike or donate your time.

Nadia: How she took to the road

Nadia

“Cycling can do lots of stuff for you.”

That’s The Bike Project in a nutshell, but also Nadia’s story.

Nadia came to this country from India as an asylum seeker in 2009, but last summer, something new came into her life when a refugee centre in Snaresbrook advertised a cycling course for women.

Over six months, Nadia and other refugee women from around the world met regularly to learn how to become more mobile. “At first we would take the bikes to a small park, in the basketball court. We learned brakes and gears, and signals, and the things to check for safety before getting on.”

Some of the group, including Nadia, had cycled before in their home countries, but this gave them new challenges because the rules of the road are so different from place to place.

“I was really a bit scared of roundabouts: who is allowed to go first, what the lines mean… But everyone was very patient and supported me, and now whenever I go out, even without the bike, I pay more attention and look at how the road works.

“The instructors were lovely and helped each person focus on what they needed help with.”

The learners got more confident. “We decided to go on a short ride. Then we went on longer rides. I felt very safe, and the weather was good. It makes you happy! I feel more fresh and energetic after cycling.

“And it saves travel fares, which are always so difficult if you are on benefits and have to buy groceries as well.”

Most of the women had such a good time that they kept in touch with each other after the course ended. Some went on to another course about how to maintain their bicycles – “Women Fix it” run by Otesha. And Nadia’s instructors even found her a cycling mentor near her home in East London who could continue to support her and help her build up local knowledge.

Nadia’s final message? “I really wanted to do this interview. I got so much out of The Bike Project, I would want to help in any way I can.”

Names have been changed.
Herne Hille Velodrome

A Sun Chaser’s To Do List

When the sun puts his hat on, we put our cycle helmets on. Here are our favourite places to get pedalling at when the weather’s fine.

Prudential Ride London
The huge London cycling festival, roads will be closed on the weekend of the 30th and 31st July so you can see all of the sights of London by bike. That’s just one of many events you can take part in, so have a look at what other adventures you can have on that weekend.

Lee Valley VeloPark
Remember that thing a few years ago? With all the sports and medals? It was easy to miss, so you may not have noticed this stonking great velodrome in Queen Elizabeth Park, built especially for the 2012 London Olympics. There’s a BMX course, mountain bike trail and road track, too.

Herne Hill Velodrome
The only venue still in use from the 1948 Olympic Games, you can have a go on the track whether you’re a beginner or an expert. They also have lots of sessions for kids of all ages.

Banana Bike Hire
Make your way to Dulwich or Battersea Park and hire a banana to cycle on. They’re a type of recumbent bike (the low down, sit back ones) and a great way to see the parks. You can hire tandems, trikes and other things that wouldn’t look amiss in wacky races.

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Remember all profits go towards keeping refugees cycling!

Jem and Silla

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