Kids' bikes refurbishers at Bici Centro.
Christine Bourgeois

Recycling is important, but re-CYCLING is where things really get interesting.

Most of us are hip to the recycle concept. In fact there are few things these days that don’t have post-consumer content — household items, clothing, office supplies. Even cars are being built with recycled plastics, steel, aluminum, and other materials.

Erika Lindemann

Recycling is important, but re-cycling is where things really get interesting. Why? Because there are so many underused and unwanted bicycles sitting all alone, collecting dust in our garages. And they want to come out and play! This holiday season, give the gift of re-cycling, and pull those bikes out of your garage. Breath new life into them.

We all have a role to play in this re-cycling enterprise. We can repair our own bikes and ride them more. Or we can repair an unused bike and give it as a gift for the holidays. And in the common situation where we have a few bikes sitting around unused, we can donate a bike to a local charity.

Refurbish Your Bike: I often hear friends and acquaintances say that they want to ride more, but their bike has a flat tire or needs a new brake pad or its chain has simply fallen off, and they don’t know how to fix it. Good news! There are lots of wonderful resources out there to get those repairs done quickly and have you on the road enjoying this crisp winter air, running errands, and avoiding the parking/traffic madness you face in a car. Take the bike in to one of our many amazing bike shops if you have more money than time. If you’re ready to try to do some repairs yourself, there are lots of places to get guidance. Find handy tips on the web: Typing a repair into Google search will yield impressive results, with helpful videos and more. Check out this previous Pedal On column about four simple bike maintenance tasks.

Refurbish a Bike for Someone Else: A great low-cost gift for someone in your life could be refurbishing a bike. I have a dear friend who regularly acquires bikes that are collecting dust or rust; buys basic upgrades like new tires, a new seat, and/or handlebar grips; and spends a few good hours getting an old bike into wonderful working condition. Then he picks the right person to gift it to, and voilà! A new bicyclist is born, and an old bike is given new life. I bet many of you out there reading this article both have the skills to do these basic repairs and could get your hands on a neglected, unused bike. It’s a creative, unique gift that can be pretty cheap, too. Give the gift of breathing new life into a bike this holiday season!

Donate a Bike: Okay, so how about that crew of you out there who are regular bikers and just got a sparkling new bike for Christmas? Or who have kids that have already grown out of a bike? How many of you have a bike or two in your garage that is looking for a new home? Now is a great time to donate your bike to Bici Centro! The Bici crew is hosting a New Year’s Bike Drive on Saturday, January 7, with drop-off spots in Goleta, Santa Barbara, and Montecito.

Purchase a Used Bike: Another great way to be a part of the re-cycle movement is to purchase a used bike. Check out Craigslist or Play It Again Sports, or stop by Bici Centro, for bikes refurbished by volunteers.

Even Bike Scraps Get a Home: One of the most fascinating phases of re-cycling is the creative uses found for bike scraps — those parts of a bike that can no longer be recycled for use in other bikes. If you have any craft skills, this can be another great area for homemade holiday gifts that are creative, functional, and super cool. An old chain, for example, can be made into earrings, bracelets, cuff links, or bottle openers. There are plenty of other folks out there making this art, too, if you’d just like to purchase recycled pieces. For example, check out Velo Bling Designs or Resource Revival.


On a more industrial scale, artists are creating magnificent installations with literally tons of bike scrap pieces. If you have bike scraps, bring them in to Bici Centro, and they will be directed to artists that change them from scraps into masterpieces. More than 50 wheels from Bici Centro now make ceiling art at Whole Foods Market in Santa Barbara; and sculptor Mark Grieve has made numerous publicly commissioned pieces out of scrap from Bici Centro and other DIY bike shops. Check out the archway over Bici Centro’s door at Casa de la Raza, 601 East Montecito Street. And if you’re ever up in Sonoma County, check out the five-story high “Cyclisk” commissioned by the City of Santa Rosa.



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