By Stan Purdum
QUESTION: How do I get rid of old bicycles? I’ve got two old bikes in my garage from when my kids lived at home. I don’t think they’re worth much, but I hate to just junk them. Any suggestions? —Frank R.
RBR’S STAN PURDUM REPLIES: The first thing I’d do is look for a nonprofit bike shop in your area that recycles old bikes. These may be connected to a charity group or have a mission of their own or simply be a volunteer effort to help people learn how to build and service bikes. Some have programs where teens or even adults can earn a bike simply by helping in the shop and/or working on the bike that will become theirs.
Many of these shops accept donations of bikes in any condition. Often what seems like a junker to you can be successfully refurbished into a reliable ride. But even ones that aren’t worth fixing can be parts donors for other bikes. In a previous location, I volunteered in a shop sponsored by the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Through sales of recycled bikes, our shop donated thousands of dollars each year to the club, but the only new parts we regularly purchased were inner tubes, brake and shift cables and housings. There were a few other new parts we occasionally bought, but most of our parts — shifters, derailleurs, rear cassettes, cranksets, handlebars, axles, seats, pedals, wheels, tires, etc. — came off donor bikes. We sent what remained of those bikes to the metal scrapper.
Some nonprofit shops, because of space limitations or not enough volunteers to process donations, may be more selective about what they accept, and a few may request a small cash contribution to help with overhead, so call first and ask about their policy.
Here are three such shops to give you an idea of the range of differences in their approaches:
The main problem with this solution is that there aren’t enough of these kinds of bike shops, so there may not be one near you. But try googling “recycle bicycle shops” or “nonprofit bicycle shops.”
A second option is to contact a regular bike shop. In the past, those shops didn’t want used bikes, though some took a few in trade when it was the only way to make the sale of a new bike. But the pandemic broke bicycle supply chains, causing the demand to exceed the supply. That’s beginning to improve, but it’s possible, especially if your bike is in quite good condition, that the shop would accept yours. If not, it’s worth asking the shop staff how they get rid of old bikes. The recycle shop I worked at received several bikes from regular shops — bikes they’d taken in trade but didn’t want to fix and resell. In our case, we were able to arrange for pick up of the bikes, which encouraged the regular shops to hold them for us.
- If the bike still works or almost works, you can often sell it on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.
- If it still works and is in decent condition, give it to The Salvation Army or Goodwill. The “still works/decent” stipulation is important because these organizations may not have someone available to fix those that aren’t functioning. Both organizations can become overloaded with donations, so check before taking your bike in.
- If you just want to give it away, try Craigslist’s free stuff area or Freecycle.org.
- Some curbside recycle programs accept bicycles. (I’ve had no personal experience with this, so be sure to check what’s accepted before putting the bike on the curb.)
- In some locations, you can simply put the bike in your front yard with a “FREE” sign on it. I got my very good mountain bike that way.
Readers: If you have ideas I’ve not mentioned, please tell us about them in the comments section below.
Stan Purdum has ridden several long-distance bike trips, including an across-America ride recounted in his book Roll Around Heaven All Day, and a trek on U.S. 62, from Niagara Falls, New York, to El Paso, Texas, the subject of his book Playing in Traffic. Stan, a freelance writer and editor, lives in Ohio. See more at www.StanPurdum.com.
Free Bikes 4 Kidz! https://fb4k.org/
In Maryland = https://fb4kmaryland.org/
Gary Gilbert says
There is an extensive list of community bike shops that are focused on used bicycles
larry english says
put it on craigslist ‘for sale’
but the price is $5
lots of people will call
your ad also says “also possibly free to the best story of why you want or need it”
don;t give out number til they email a couple of times first
Raleigh Fehr says
Besides the bike collective here, which started as a single shop and has now grown to 4 shops across the state, I noticed when I took my Subaru in for servicing that they had teamed with the collective as a Subaru Love Partner. If the collective can’t repair an old bike, it gets properly recycled which also generates income for the collective.
Bruce McLachlin says
In Everett WA. Sharing Wheels Community Bike Shop
and on Facebook
Earl Ball says
Friendship Bikes, Ponca City, Ok. Friendship Bikes is an all-volunteer bicycle ministry developed to provide wheels and hope, to people who need bicycles, but cannot afford them. https://www.fccponcacity.com/friendship-bikes or https://www.facebook.com/Friendship-Bikes-1754025288224143/. We have been operating for a little over three years. Unfortunately, we are currently on hiatus due to Covid-19 precautions, but hope to reopen when pandemic issues subside.
PHILIP APRUZZESE says
I volunteer here several hours weekly.
Fred R says
All I did with my kids bikes, and they were in pretty good shape because I kept them up, was to put them in the front yard near the curb with a free sign, and they were gone in 4 hours.
If they were still there in 5 days, I was going to take them to Goodwill in town.
David Frost says
Also in Seattle:
Bike Works ( https://bikeworks.org/ )in Columbia City.
We (staff and volunteers) rebuild lots of them for people that need reliable transportation and children of low income families.
Neisen Luks says
Our local bike club, Southern Tier Bike Club (Binghamton, NY) has and arrangement with local Police Dept and church. PD gives us recovered stolen bikes, we refurbish them, and church has a free bike give away for local kids. Our club attends the give away and adjusts seats, tires, etc to better fit the kids. Local businesses have donated money for new helmets and bike locks, so the kids are safe.
we typically give out 150-200 bikes per years.
Check with your local cycling club. We have a program in which we take in used bikes throughout the year, repair them and donate them to underprivileged children in the area. Our town is a distant suburb of Atlanta and we donate about 60 bikes per year.
Bikes that are too far gone for rehab in our bike share get stripped of anything worth salvaging. Then I put the frame etc out at the curb of my house a day before trash day. Scrappers pick them up, maybe make a buck off them, and the metal gets recycled.