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Recycled Bikes Are a Thing, and a Cool One Indeed

By Adam Marsal

Recycling is the buzz word of today. As long as you don’t want to participate in killing whales by filling their stomachs with used tires and plastic bottles, you should pull your weight and start reusing that second-hand stuff nobody wants, including old bicycles.

Although you might not have noticed, abandoned bikes represent a serious problem on this planet. In several Chinese towns, there are thousands of dockless bikes that were seized by the government because they were found blocking the roads or pavements. Instead of being sent back to bike-sharing companies, the bikes fill several storehouses and new bikes are built as their replacement.

Even non-profit agencies, like Bikes for the World, which collect old bikes and deliver them to countries such as Ghana, the Philippines or Sierra Leone, find dockless bikes way too complicated to be taken into the restoration process as most of them are built with proprietary parts, making replacements by independent mechanics all but impossible.

Fortunately, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Ofo, one of the big Chinese bike-share companies, donated 600 bikes to new owners in Puerto Rico after the Hurricane Maria damaged the Caribbean island.

Abandoned bikes are not the problem only in China. In Amsterdam, there are 54,000 bikes annually confiscated by police officers, who bring them all to the central bike depot. Some of them are collected by their owner, however, most of them are dismantled and the frames are cut into pieces.

In Germany, bicycle recycling seems to be growing in popularity – almost in every bigger town you can find a lot of small workshops or garages that focus on restoring and reselling old and unwanted bicycles. The companies like The New Bikes from the Last Millennium from Melle or Recycling Bikes Berlin are collecting useless bicycles to reincarnate them for the future.

The gathered bikes are cleaned and stripped from parts. Then, each of these is being rid of the rust and repainted. Whatever could be reused is put back, while damaged parts are replaced by better ones. Once the bikes are reassembled, they travel to their new owners. The components that are too smashed to be repaired, end up being used to create original, hand-made furniture.

Everyone can do the same at home, using their old bikes, available tools, and fantasy. Have you ever refurbished your old bike and made it pretty again? Send us your photos and we will show them to the world.