MagazinePeoplePerspectivesPulseTotnes Town

It’s not about the Bikes!

Sally, a volunteer at the Hub

It’s a dark wet December morning when Sally, a volunteer at The Bike Hub warmly welcomes me into the ‘showroom’. This is the Pulse Building, snuggled in behind the Library that has played host to many operations in the past, but the Bike Hub feels nicely permanent.

Two years on from starting up with a small assistance grant from Totnes Town Council, the Community Interest Company has turned into considerably more than just a bike shop. Sally has been working with the group almost from the beginning and explains that the area we are standing in, usually has about 20 or so refurbished sorry, re-loved bikes in stock, catering for all ages and that they represent great value compared with buying new. And things are going well; “We sold our 100th bike just last week“. Sally became a volunteer after bringing a bike in herself and ended up joining the team.

A quick job is only one bolt away from a three week nightmare!

The Workshop

I’m introduced to the only paid member of staff, Elric whose immaculately tidy domain is upstairs. Tools are meticulously arranged on a wall of pliers, gauges, screwdrivers and other paraphenalia. This is where the paid servicing happens. You can get your own bike fully serviced with new cables etc from about £75 or a tune up for around £45. Elric has been with the hub for about 18 months and is now officially Shimano Electric Bike certified. He is working on a Trek Electric when I arrive. His mantra is “A quick job is only one bolt away from a three week nightmare!“. To say he takes his work seriously is an understatement.

Elric refurbishing an electric bike

Businesslike

Hub director an founder Lizzie Woodall arrives out of the thunderous rain and explains that a lot of bike shops and suppliers are struggling now. Hot Pursuit, for example are now in Kingsteignton after the trading estate costs and terms became unsustainable. Lizzie is very aware that the Hub need to be a resilient business and much of the work they do is supported through grant funding.

So, these re-loved bikes are not the business then? “No! It’s not about the bikes!” she tells me. It turns out that the Hub is as much social enterprise as it is a workshop. Yes, they provide refurbished bikes via NHS social prescribers who also refer people to the Tuesday morning workshop sessions. “People connect more easily when working together with their hands“.  Lizzie positively lights up when she explains that another volunteer, Steve who was assisting 6 pupils from Kevicc working on their bikes in another workshop. “They were treating him like a kindly uncle – it was lovely.

 

Lizzie – A director of the Bike Hub

Day To Day

Mondays have funded volunteer programme where people come in to mend, refurbish or dismantle bikes for parts assisted by Elric. The parts are stored and used for other refurbs, so recycling (no pun intended) is a big part of the process. But that’s not all. The group run special events where people can bring their own bikes and use the specialist tools and get guidance from the well-versed experts. If you’re wanting to get back on your bike, a Saturday morning “Bike Kitchen” or winter evening workshop would be the perfect answer to ensuring you’re safe and also learning the essentials for staying aboard your trusty steed!  You can keep track of events on their facebook page where posts often flag up special happenings.

The Hub also regularly run social bike riding events too which will usually involve a pub or cafe en-route so it’s well worth keeping track of upcoming trips to join in with.

Bikes & People

So it turns out that this group is as more a social enterprise that a bike shop with plans to work with other groups such as LifeWorks in 2024. Lizzie just needs to source the right funding but it looks like the axiom of mending being both meaningful and practical has benefits that extend considerably further than the bicycle itself.

 

 

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Andy Smith
Andy Smith
3 months ago

If you want to get out on that lovely bike of yours, Active Devon has organised regular events where you are taught by a Nationally Qualified Instructor. These can range from simply learning to balance and make the bike go where you want it, up to sessions where we go to complicated road junctions and roundabouts, learning how to negotiate them confidently. The next one is on Friday the 12th in Totnes, or the 14th or 28th at Newton Abbot.

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