Nottingham Bikeworks: We Recycle Cycles!
A bike for Beth
During the winter months, we gave Beth a lift to her secondary school, two miles down the road. However, lighter nights and more predictable weather (I am going to ignore the snow storm we had yesterday), meant she could start cycling to school again.
Last year, once I’d reluctantly overridden my default ‘overprotective mum’ mode, we let Beth cycle to school for the first time. I never realised how hard it would be to let my kids take more and more steps towards their eventual independence. It starts with letting them play outside with their friends without constant supervision and then advances to letting them go to the park without me. Then, before I know it, my eldest is a teenager and wants to ride her bike to school. It’s yet another mental hurdle for me to overcome: she was ready to do it, but I wasn’t ready to let her go.
So, after finally getting my head around the ‘cycling to school’ idea, I made her sit through my list of road safety ‘do’s and don’ts’ and made her repeat them back to me. Then I gave her the cycle helmet lecture:
I know cycle helmets are unfashionable and mess up your hair but wearing one is non-negotiable.
Watching your children grow up is tough, isn’t it? One moment they are eight weeks old and snuggled safely in your arms. They rely on you for everything. They need you. The next minute, they’re heading through the front door without you and you have to let them go. I’m ‘filling up’ just writing this so before I’m a blubbering mess of snot and tears I will get back to my story.
Last year, Beth rode her mountain bike to school. Unfortunately, because it couldn’t accommodate panniers, she ended up carrying everything she needed in a rucksack, leaving her sports kit in her school locker. This year, as she was so keen to cycle and she wanted to keep fit, we agreed to look for another bike that was suitable for panniers. As Beth’s mountain bike was only a few years old, we couldn’t justify a new bike, so we searched the ads on eBay and Gumtree for a second-hand one.
After poring through dozens of local adverts we stumbled across an ad posted by Nottingham Bikeworks, featuring a lovely example ladies Raleigh bike circa 1990, complete with a basket and pannier rack for only £85.
Richard gave them a call to check it was still available and confirmed the frame size. He also had a look at their website and discovered this not-for-profit Community Bike Recycling Workshop on the outskirts of Nottingham City Centre had much more to offer than second hand cycles.
Curious to find out more about Nottingham Bikeworks, we decided to make a family trip of it!
We found Nottingham Bikeworks tucked between a number of other workshops on Ayr Street in Nottingham. Little did we know that behind its brightly coloured doors we would find a veritable Aladdin’s Cave full of cycling goodies.
All of the bikes at Nottingham Bikeworks are donated, serviced and recycled – keeping prices as low as possible.
As well as offering recycled bikes for sale (fully serviced and guaranteed), this not-for-profit community bike recycling workshop offers:
- A Fully equipped community workshop. The professionally equipped workshop with work-stands and extensive tool collection is available to use, or you can sign up to one of the dedicated workshop sessions. They are held every Wednesday evening 6- 8pm and every second Saturday in the month from 11am- 4pm. A trained mechanic on hand to assist, where necessary. All are welcome, but as there are only eight places available it’s worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment. The price for the sessions is £8 for the first hour and £5 per hour thereafter.
- Bike maintenance tuition. There are a number of different courses available at the workshop and most courses are open to everybody. However, they also offer a number of female-only courses for those who would rather learn in the company of other women. Customised packages are also offered to groups of friends/colleagues if something a bit different is required. Courses cover a range of topics and skill levels.
- Cycle projects for schools, groups and other organisations.
- Affordable repairs. Nottingham Bikeworks offer a number of fixed price repairs, from fixing a rear puncture for £5.00 (or £9.00 with new tube) to bleeding hydraulic brakes (£25/pair). For non-standard repairs you can take your bike along to their workshop for a quote. They also offer two set service packages for your bike, The Trusty Steed Service (£25) and The Fancy Steed Service (£65).
- New and recycled parts. There are lots of bike parts and accessories available to buy, with new stock arriving regularly.
- Mobile Dr Bike sessions Their mobile mechanics can visit you or your workplace and provide your friends and colleagues with bike maintenance tuition.
- Bike Lab’s crazy bikes and chariots for hire. Call for more details.
- Friendly and impartial advice.
And we promise, truly-madly-deeply promise, that we will not ever: patronise you; bamboozle you with tech talk; make you feel stupid; be rude about your bike (or you!) – although, we will tell you straight if we don’t think its worth spending money on – the bike that is!
- Local led rides
Bikes for people, people for bikes.
Tom Barber and the Nottingham Bikeworks team gave us a warm welcome when we arrived. The workshop is bright and spacious; the colourful painted walls with their attractive hand-painted signs adding to the appeal. It’s obvious that Tom and the team are passionate about bikes and we couldn’t help but be impressed by all of the services they offered.
Tom led us to the blue Raleigh bike we were interested in and gave us some more details. It was just what we were looking for and it already had a pannier frame. He and his team had recycled it, serviced it and although the mudguards were rusty in places and the chrome needed polishing, it was in great condition for its age. A new bike of a similar style would probably set us back over £200, wouldn’t have the same build quality and would most likely be imported. Instead, we were getting a high quality vintage Raleigh bike, built in Nottingham. All of this, together with a 30 day guarantee (90 days for bikes over £100) against mechanical faults, for only £85! Tom even threw in a bicycle pump which fitted the frame and found us a couple of reflectors we could retro-fit at home.
Beth is the proud owner of a piece of Nottingham cycling history. Even better, we’ve been able to support a fantastic local enterprise.
Something for everyone.
Not one to miss out, Emily had a rummage through the ‘Bargain box’ while we were at the workshop to see if there was anything she could buy with her pocket money. She found a helmet to wear when she goes out on her skateboard, a snip at only £5. All in all, it was a very successful family trip.
Another satisfied customer, thanks to Tom and the team.
We really enjoyed our visit to Nottingham Bikeworks and we’ll certainly be back!
Since we bought the bike, Richard has cleaned the basket and given it a fresh coat of varnish. He’s treated the rust on the mudguards, touched up the paintwork and fitted the reflectors. None of this was necessary, but it makes this lovely Raleigh bike look even better.
And the ride to school? Beth has been cycling to school most days, with her non-negotiable cycle helmet firmly in place.
How can you support Nottingham Bikeworks?
Nottingham Bikeworks rely on donated bikes and parts and support from the community. If you live in the Nottingham area (or even further afield) why not help them out?
- Donate your old bike, bike parts and accessories
- Buy a used bike from them. Tom and his team will be happy to help and every bike they sell is fully serviced and backed up with a guarantee.
- Sign up to one of the maintenance courses or invite them to give bike maintenance tuition to your friends and colleagues.
- Spread the word about all of the services on offer at Nottingham Bikeworks.
To find out more, check out the Nottingham Bikeworks website: nottinghambikeworks.org.uk
Better still, why not visit them (Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday 9am-5pm, Saturday 10am – 5pm) at:
Units 1-3 Ayr Street Workshops,
Tel: (0115) 9792433
Over to you!
Are you thinking of buying a bike? If so, do you usually buy new or secondhand? If you usually buy a new bike, would you consider a used bike instead?
As always, I love to get your comments and feedback.
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