The bikespace blog is back!

Hi everyone,

After many years of neglecting this blog, we’ve now updated the contact email (see below) and opening times (Fridays 3 to 7).

Apologies for all of the unread comments and emails, we should now be in better communication. We also hope to (in)frequently update the blog now and then with what’s going on in the 56abikespace universe. If you’re interested in volunteering, or have any questions you can reach us at 56abikespace(at)gmail(dot)com.

Ride everywhere, fix everything! See you at 56a!

credit: bikepolove instagram

SOS! Thursday workshop needs more volunteers!

Oh noes! A distress signal has been sent from Thursday’s volunteers, that in order to open on Thursday again they need more people to volunteer.

56a bikespace takes all skill levels of mechanics, it’s just the desire to learn more that we need most! Of course, a good skill level (brakes, gears…) to begin with is always useful.

Check out our what//where page for more general info and contact info.


Do you know where your local bike project is?

Dotted all over the country are grassroots bike projects using bicycles to contribute to positive social change. They offer things like affordable or free fix-your-own-bike workshops, free bikes for refugees, cycle confidence training, bike re-use and recycling and all ability cycling clubs. We think everyone should know where their local grassroots bike project is so they can use and support these great services. So do you know where your local DIY bike project is?  Chances are, there is somewhere near you, so check out the list at the bottom of this post which was compiled by Ethical Consumer magazine.

This month the 4th annual UK Bike Gathering is happening at the Broken Spoke Co-op, where these projects will come together to network and support each other, a vital resource for projects many of which exist without outside funding and are often run by committed volunteers.

These diverse projects have different aims and structures. Some of them are politically radical spaces run by collectives such as 56a bike project, some are workers co-ops such as Broken Spoke Co-op, some are social enterprises, like us. But what they have in common is that they try to use bikes in some way to work towards positive social change. They are not ‘normal’ bike shops. But what do they do and how do they achieve this grand aim? Well, lets take the Bristol Bike Project as an example. Amongst other things they have a long running Earn-a-bike scheme which gives marginalised people access to affordable and sustainable transport – bikes are donated by local people and fixed up by volunteers, then the final few repairs are done by the project user with guidance from a mechanic. This scheme has given free bikes to lots of people in Bristol who really need them, like refugees and homeless people who are living on very little money.

A lot of attention is (rightly so) given to the project’s concrete and measurable outcomes ie. free bikes for people in need. But another real success of this project lies in its culture. The Bristol Bike Project aims to ‘provide a valuable and empowering service for underprivileged and marginalised groups of people’ and ‘to provide an inclusive, non-judgemental, vibrant and supportive workshop environment for volunteers and project-users alike, from all walks of life, that encourages and promotes skill-sharing and independence, where new skills are learned in a way that is empowering for all and friendships are made.’ For me, this is key. Having been a volunteer at the Bristol Bike Project myself, I can vouch for the fact that this was really happening during my time there. There was a culture of skill-sharing, a feeling that people from all sorts of background were actively welcomed, and a mix of skills and abilities which was really cohesive socially – people were helping each other out who might have walked past each other on the street and never engaged. If it’s done right, this is a real strength of community bike projects, and is its own form of social change. But this kind of culture is hard won, and is only created and maintained through its members’ regular reflection, both personally and more formally in meetings, on their project’s power structures and culture. And crucially, reflections need to be not just general, but specifically related to the real interactions and conversations that happen between people at the project. It’s useful to ask questions like: who populates the project? Who might feel comfortable there? Who might feel a little uncomfortable or like an outsider? Are the inevitable instances of racism, sexism, ableism and classism actively and compassionately challenged? Do people feel empowered to learn even when they’re new to bike mechanics? If a project can get this culture right, they will start to attract the ‘hard to reach’ people so often described in charity funding applications, but they will do so in a mutually beneficial way, and have a great time doing it.

by Fenn, mechanic in the Bikeworks ReUse Centre

UK Bike Project Directory:

Becycle, Aberdeen

Birmingham Bike Foundry, Birmingham

Cycle-Re-Cycle, Bradford & Halifax

Cranks, Brighton

Kebele, Bristol

Bristol Bike Project, Briatol

Cardiff Cycle Workshop, Cardiff

Coventry Cycling Centre, Coventry

The Bike Station, Scotland

Gloucestershire Bike Project, Gloucester

Cycle ReCycle, Hebden Bridge

Freewheelers Bicycle Workshop, Lancaster

Pedaller’s Arms, Leeds

ReCycles, Liverpool

London Bike Kitchen, Hackney, London

56a Bikeshop, Southwark, London

Tower Hamlet’s Wheelers, Tower Hamlets, London

Hackney Bikeworkshop, Hackney, London

Pedal MCR, Manchester

Bloomers, Manchester

Recyke Y’Bike, Newcastle

The Broken Spoke Co-op, Oxford

ReCycle, Colchester

Recycle-a-bike, Stirling

Bicycology, UK wide

York Bike Rescue, York

Made Possible by Squatting

Is now taking submissions! Made Possible by Squatting seeks to ask what have we already lost and also what can be found, uncovered and re-ignited?

Do you have a squatting story to tell?

Against the back-drop of the criminalisation of squatting Made Possible by Squatting is looking for work that depicts or embodies a particular chosen experience, a movement, space or place in relation to squatting. The story you choose to tell could be your own, or a history you want to investigate and share. It could be current or historic — a huge chapter in the life of a community, or a tiny forgotten moment in time, extraordinary or quite ordinary.

The format is completely open — works can be sculptural, photographic, print based, archive materials, performance, digital, video, audio…

The submission deadline for proposals in Friday 12th July, 2013

For more info about the submission process and application, please email or go to


The works and workshops will be part of an exhibition in September and an on-line archive that collectively celebrates how squatting has positively affected the lives of individuals and communities in the UK, specifically in London.


The 56a Collective was made possible by squatting! Endless adventure since 1991.

Historically, squatting an empty building has been a way to create a temporary home. The occupation of an empty building may last days, weeks or years, but once evicted, buildings are eventually demolished or redeveloped along with the lives that were lived inside them.

After a brief and undemocratic passage through the Houses of Parliament, Section 144 of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill became legislation in September, 2012, which makes squatting in a residential building a criminal offence. This project seeks to ask what have we already lost? And, what more do we stand to lose if these laws are not fought?

April 20th: London to Brighton ride

For the BRIGHTON BIKE FEST (April 16th-22nd), we’ll be hosting the London to Brighton ride!

Friday the 20th at 9:30am
Ride should be ~6 hours
We’ll link up with Critical Mass once we get down to Brighton

Leaving from 56a:
56a Crampton St
London SE17 3AE

Bring water, clothes for cold or wet weather, and a comfy bike with some gears to go up the hill before Brighton!

A big up to all who came and made it a ride to remember! Some photos from the ride are below:

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Episode Four – US Bike Mechs: Rejuiced Bikes


After working on bikes during a busy, and mild, winter season we are finally back!! It’s been a good winter: from being featured on the bike show, we received a donation of an awning that now keeps us and our outside tools dry from the rain! We also got some new lights for working outside, and had a workshop weekend of skill sharing our knowledge of internal hubs, disc brakes, etc over lots of tea and yummy meals together.

This interview of independent bike mechanics features Johnnie Olivan of Rejuiced Bikes in Portland, OR! WOAH! In a nutshell, Johnnie recycles old bikes and bike parts and welds them together (hear about welding and Schwinn’s at 13:50) to create a bicycle with a (more) utilitarian function and keep the aesthetics at the same time; such as rain collecting, recycling, or aiding the handicapped. So rad! And so DIY!

“And there’s people since that are making old bike railers out of old bike parts. I mean, it’s happening, you know. And I’m not the first I think, but I just definitely know that people around me are doing exactly what I’m doing. And maybe they’re not doing the exact same thing but it’s so freakin’ cool to build something and ride it around town and have it serve a function.”

“When we were travelling [in Spain and Holland] it was all about, you know, tuning our bikes up and…I don’t really know. I just always went to the bike because when you go somewhere, when you move somewhere, it’s always like ‘I gotta get a license in this state,’ ya know, ‘I gotta get this in this state,’ and what’s easier than just getting on your bike?

The 2nd interview is me following Johnnie around as he shows me the different bikes.


Pics below include bikes that collect water (H2O flow), school bike, bike rescue bike (now a farmer’s market bike with a foldable umbrella), media quadricycle, waste bike (Trashy Trike)

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Episode Three: US Bike Mechs – The Bike Farm

“The bicycle doesn’t have to be a mysterious machine.”

Hello and welcome to episode 3 of independent bike mechanic interviews. The focus is now on the vibrant cycling city of Portland (damn straight!: around 6 percent of it’s citizens commute by bicycle – the highest in the US), where L interviewed five different groups/people involved in cycling culture.

First off is the Bike Farm, a “non-profit, volunteer-run bicycle maintenance collective .” It should be noted that The Bike Farm isn’t the only independent, collectively run, branded-awesome bikespace in town. There are others like the Community Cycling Center, Bicycle Repair Collective, North Portland Bike Works, Citybikes, etc…, but due to time constraints and the huge explosion of bike-related businesses in Portland since L last visited two years ago, the Bike Farm gets dibs! Also, the Bike Farm gets the first go because the atmosphere, organisational structure, and politics seemed a lot like 56a:

“We’re a resource for tools and parts where people can come and work on their own bikes and the volunteers, to the extent that some of us have some mechanical experience are here to point you in the right direction, to identify what needs to be done, and figure out how to do it.”

L also fronts some questions regarding gender and sexism in the bikeworld.

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More reading:

The concept of a “bike kitchen
An article about The Bike Farm, from

The Bike Farm is located at 305 NE Wygant, Portland OR 97211. Thanks Shannon and Russ for your time!