By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Tue, 08/03/2016 - 14:41

“To men, the bicycle in the beginning was merely a new toy, another machine added to the long list of devices they knew in their work and play. To women, it was a steed upon which they rode into a new world.” ~ Munsey’s Magazine, 1896

Being the most equitable of all forms of transport, it is of little surprise that the bicycle has come to represent ideas of freedom and equality. This wasn’t always the case: up until the 1880’s, the first bicycles were deemed too dangerous to be used by women.

It was only with the introduction of the “safety bicycle” that women were allowed to ride. At first, most female cyclists were from middle-class backgrounds but as prices decreased in the 1890s, bicycles became affordable for working class women.

Safe to say, this caused much controversy. Women’s riding styles, the clothes they wore, and whether they should cycle at all, was highly debated by the press and establishment. Despite the uproar, it did little in the way of discouraging women to take up cycling. The bicycle quickly became a tool of independence that literally freed women and broke down class inequalities:

“By bicycling, women who have for years been restricted to a neighbourhood of a radius from two to three miles can now extend this area to a radius of eight to ten miles, and have an opportunity of seeing the country when living in town. Bicycling has thus placed poor women on an equal footing with rich ones in a most important particular- getting fresh air and exercise and seeing new scenery. Bicycling will add to a new interest to life, and bring God’s lovely earth to the doors of thousands of women in poor circumstances who would otherwise see nothing but streets and squalor each day.” Major-General Harcourt Bengough, C.B

By breaking down gender stereotypes and providing independence of movement and organisation, it is of little surprise that the bicycle played a key role in suffragette movement.

You’d be forgiven for thinking the bike had served its purpose for gender equality. Shockingly, it wasn’t until 1984 that women were allowed to take part in Olympic road races and it was only at the London 2012 Olympics that women and men competed in the same number of events in all cycling disciplines. This only goes to show how the bicycle continues to be a tool for social change.

Fast-forward to the present day and you can see how the humble bicycle continues to empower women across the world. For many of the women who use our bikes, a bicycle facilitates access to social services, income-generating opportunities and community activities that would have never been possible without affordable transport.

At Re~Cycle we recognise that bikes still have an incredibly important role to play. In countries across Africa, some women are still excluded from riding bicycles for cultural reasons. We believe that teaching young girls and women to ride bikes will continue to change these attitudes and can help level the playing field for future generations to come.

Please help us to support more women this International Women's Day:


By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Wed, 02/03/2016 - 21:34

Our partners, Village Bicycle Project, have just returned to base after hosting a number of One Day Workshops in Ghana's Brong-Ahafo Region. Three teams of trainers visited Asantanso, Pramposo and Bomiri to deliver 220 bicycles and essential preventive maintenance training. Among the 220 new bicycle owners were 83 women, 51 of whom had recently learned to ride a bicycle for the first time through Village Bicycle Project’s excellent Learn-2-Ride programme!

Help us provide more bicycle to those in need by donating your old bike. Locate your closest bike drop-off point or make a donation here.

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Mon, 08/02/2016 - 20:11

Action Bikes need help packing their 8th bike shipment for Re~Cycle on Saturday 5th March. If you have a few hours spare why not come down to Twickenham RFC and lend a hand!

So far Action Bikes and their customers have collected 4,263 bikes – all of which are all making a huge difference in Africa.

Where: Twickenham RFC

When: Saturday 5th March 9:30 - 16:30

View on map -

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Thu, 21/01/2016 - 13:04

Re~Cycle tools

The next time you send your bicycle to the high street repair shop ask if you can take a sneak peak at their workshop. Hopefully you see dozens of hand tools neatly hanging in meticulous order a top clean and tidy work benches. If so, you’re in the right place! The bicycle is after all, an assembly of parts, and its repair and upkeep requires dedicated, quality tools and years of training and experience. And its no different in Africa, except those tools are much harder to come by.

The videos below, shot in Mankessim in Ghana’s Central Region, show the ingenuity and skill of one roadside repairer splitting and rejoining a chain without a rivet extractor. Though masterfully done, with the correct tool, this repair could be completed quicker, more accurately and with less risk of damage. As part of our work in Africa, we’re making sure each of our partners is equipped with the necessary tools, skills and working spaces needed to repair and maintain the bicycles we send them. This way, we’re giving each bicycle the best chance of serving its new owner for many years to come. 

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Fri, 01/01/2016 - 11:35

“In the UK having a bike is fashionable, cycling is a trendy thing to do. In Europe bikes are very functional, people ride them in normal clothes — you don’t see ‘cyclists’. But worldwide, it is the poor people’s transport; it’s how you get around. For some people it’s a choice but for others it’s a genuine means to get to work, to a school, hospital or clean water — their only means.”

Olympic gold medallist Chris Boardman shows his support for Re~Cycle in The Times Appeal.


By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Wed, 16/12/2015 - 22:12

How a Re~Cycle shipping container is making children in a gang-ridden township turn to bicycles instead of crime:

"Lavender Hill, in the Cape Flats, is known simply as Gangland because there are so many gun battles between its warring factions. Thousands of people have been killed on the Flats by young men trying to get their hands on methamphetamine, the highly addictive drug known locally as “tik”."


By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Tue, 08/12/2015 - 18:30

Meet Sulayman (left) and Ebrima (right), the two Wonder Years Centre of Excellence​ mechanics from the latest Times Appeal story. Our African programmes manager Jason recently gave them a visit, providing training and helping them improve their workshop:

“The guys were working on the floor out of toolboxes. They had to rummage to find what they wanted. Sometimes they’d spend 30mins looking for a spanner. Visitors would also help themselves to tools, and a few had gone missing. I showed them examples of other workshops in Africa and they immediately understood the benefits of a shadow board - you knew where everything was, you could access it quickly, and you could check it was all accounted for at any time during the day." 

Sulayman and Ebrima Working on the new workshop shadow board.

"We swept out the floor space and removed all the junk that was lying around. We moved the chairs and tables outside under a tree - giving visitors a place to smoke and drink tea so as they wouldn’t disturb the mechanics (it’s a very sociable workshop). The guys laid out the toolboard just as they wanted it (you can never have enough pliers) and I introduced a few new tools and replaced some that were missing.

After an assessment of the guys’ technical abilities, we got stuck into some training. They both desperately wanted to learn how to lace wheels (pictured top), which is something UK mechanics learn very late in their apprenticeships, but much more urgent in Africa!"

This is Adam. He’s comes every morning before school to help out around the workshop. Sulayman has even taken him on as an apprentice!

"We’re hoping to secure funding to move WYCE into a permanent workshop early next year. There’re a lot of bicycles in Madina Salam, and the workshop gets lots of visitors! Having the guys improve their temporary setup should get them thinking a little more about how they want their next workshop to be!” 

Help us change lives with bicycles by making a donation to The Times Christmas Appeal - for every £ you donate, our generous supporters will match it.

Donate Now

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Fri, 04/12/2015 - 16:41

The first in a series of powerful editorials and first person accounts featuring the work of Re~Cycle and our project partners went to press as part of The Times Christmas Appeal today. Times journalists reveal how Glad’s House support children living on the streets and rubbish tips of Mombasa, and how Re~Cycle bikes make it all possible.


By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Fri, 27/11/2015 - 13:43

Hill and Ellis Good Friday

‪#‎GoodBlackFriday‬ is here. For every bag Hill & Ellis sell today - they will give you 10% off and also donate 10% to Re~Cycle. 

Hill & Ellis is a British company established in 2013 with the aim to produce handsome bike bags for discerning cyclists. The bags have all been made with the cyclist in mind and are designed to be as stylish as they are functional. 

Designed in London by cyclists who understand the ride as much as you, the range includes features like reversible reflective tabs for better night-time visibility, waterproof rain jackets for protection against the great British weather, and hidden patented pannier clips so the bags attach securely and seamlessly to the bike. But at Hill & Ellis we know that dressing for the ride is not just about the journey but also the destination, so we have created a range which looks as good on your arm as it does on the bike so you can travel from home to bike to boardroom to bar with a touch of panache.

To get your 10% off today use the code "GoodBlackFriday" at checkout:

Also: Check out their Q&A with our founder Merlin here

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Tue, 10/11/2015 - 17:19

We’ve just published our Annual Report and we have brilliant news! As we wrap up our 18th year of service, and head towards our second decade in operation, Re~Cycle has gained forward momentum and entered a period of serious expansion. 2014 has seen records from all previous years in all departments broken - with significant growth in all areas. Read the full report below!

Download re-cycle_annual_report_accounts_2014_final.pdf (4.86 MB)

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Tue, 20/10/2015 - 16:15

Re~Cycle Bike Sale 31st October

Saturday 31st October 2015 - 9am – 1pm

Roughly 1-2% of the bikes donated to Re~Cycle are either unsuitable for Africa (such as thin framed racing bikes) or are bikes with disc brakes which are parts that are not readily available in Africa and thus less likely to be usable. Instead of recycling these bikes we sell them at the local University of Essex and our warehouse in Colchester, generating a sustainable income to help cover our running costs. These bikes are sold at affordable prices starting at £75 and many of these bikes are sold to students or people just starting out as cyclists and therefore looking for a good bargain.

There will be a choice of over 60 new and refurbished bikes including Specialized, Pashley, Boardman, Raleigh and Carerra as well as a good selection of children’s bikes. We will be operating on a first come first served basis and will not be taking reservations, so please come down early if you want to grab yourself a bargain. 

Cash or card payments accepted.

Opening hours: 09:00-13:00


Unit 8 The Grove Estate
Colchester Road

By: Luke Dubuis

Posted: Mon, 21/09/2015 - 15:55

In February 2015 Gary Taylor, from Ipswich, set off to cycle around the world for Re~Cycle. He’s taken on this mighty challenge on his own, unsupported and adhering to the Guinness World Record rules. We caught up with Gary for an update of his most recent travels. You can support Gary by making a donation via his Virgin Money page here.

“So, I had to leave Azerbaijan in a bit of a hurry due to me being deported. Something about me failing to register my stay with the authorities. The guys at the migration office were actually pretty friendly and gave me extra time to get out because I was travelling by bike and trying to hitch a ride on a cargo ship. It didn’t really matter though, by the time my visa for Uzbekistan came through I was more than ready to leave.

When I entered Kazakhstan it was immediately obvious that I was entering a stretch of harsh desert. The roads were surprisingly good but it changed during the first full day of riding. My previous description of “your average garden centre car-park, ploughed vigorously, after a meteor shower then buried in an inch of fine, dusty sand” might have been slightly generous with hindsight. I crossed into Uzbekistan and watched in horror as the road surface actually deteriorated. I made it through twelve days in the dust and heat before I got into the first proper town, Nukus, with my bicycle and sanity just about in tact and finally found a hotel.

The heat peaked at 52.6c by my thermometer, but it hovered around the fifty mark for most of my time riding in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. My daily routine descended into sleeping and riding whenever it was even slightly comfortable to do so. Usually just getting 3 hours sleep whenever I saw a patch of shade that would last that long. Then doing most of my cycling distance in the night, if the roads were clear enough. Uzbekistan threw in bureaucratic and authoritarian challenges again with a registration system that is hard to follow, mainly because nobody (including the border guards!) can tell you what it is. I found out the rules quite late on in my time in the country; register every 72 hours. I failed twice to do so but luckily nobody at the border seemed to care. I had avoided deportation this time!

Arriving in Samarkand was a highlight of the region and my trip so far. I met a tonne of other cyclists who were following a similar route, The day I arrived there were 13 of us in the hostel and the policy seemed to be roughly 2 out, 2 in each day during my stay! It seemed my fears of increased loneliness in central Asia were not completely warranted as although hostels are few and far between, the route is quite popular for cycle tourists and with really only one road, it’s hard not to bump into the other cyclists.

Unfortunately nearly all of the other cyclists were intent on following the Pamir highway through Tajikistan and although this was something I had considered, I decided to take the easy route; north then back into Kazakhstan again and then across into Kyrgyzstan. Avoiding the most brutal and coldest of the mountain passes. This meant parting ways with almost everyone, luckily for me there was another cyclist, Alex, heading my way towards the Chinese border so we rode and camped together for a while.

Driving standards throughout central Asia are, without doubt, the worst I have experienced. The only bicycles around are fully utilitarian objects for farmers getting to and from their fields. Even these are extremely rare and don’t seem to be allowed any space on the road. You are expected to take to the tiny strip of dirt at the side of the road any time a car wishes to pass another. Bike fitting is obviously not a service in this area of the world either, I regularly saw young boys aged between 7 and 10 riding full sized frames, standing up on the pedals with barely any clearance from the top tube of the frame. But then I guess boys of 7–10 are expected to work in the fields here like everyone else.

In Kyrgyzstan I had the opportunity of a rest break and spent some time relaxing before I had to fly. I started the process for my Indian visa after lengthy negotiations at the embassy. To get the longest visa possible (India is big…) the consul agreed to issue my visa the day before I flew, which made me a little nervous but I decided to trust him. 21 hours before I flew I collected the visa and it was all as promised so I could breath a sigh of relief at last! I decided to take a flight to India for a few reasons, but mainly for ease of co-ordinating my arrival with that of a close friend of mine from home who has flown out to meet me. Also, because travelling south through Tibet or the Kashmir region of Pakistan/India would be challenging and expensive. As this would have been north-south travel it would, technically, not contribute towards my west-east based goal of circumnavigation and would stretch my tight budget with no overall gain. Although I would have seen some amazing scenery!

Arriving in Delhi was quite a big shock to the system. The heat was slightly lower but humidity here is stifling, like breathing through a sponge. Also, as you may have heard, it’s noisy and busy and dirty. A world away from the relaxation of Kyrgyzstan! As I arrived by plane there was no gradual transition for me, I was thrown right into the middle of it all. I reassembled my bike and broke my chainbreaker in the process, luckily I found a “bike shop” just down the road from our hostel who could no doubt help. He placed my chain on an old nut, placed a ball-bearing on top of the pin and hit it with a hammer a few times. I could have done that myself and saved 20p, but it was probably foolish of me to expect a more professional approach so far from my normal European luxuries like Parktool equipped bicycle workshops. All the same, it did the job.

After a day of rest came the usual fun of securing the visa for the next country, in this case, Myanmar. Myanmar has only recently opened up to tourism and the political situation there (especially around the borders) is sketchy at best. I was aware I needed a permit to cross the border by land as well as my standard tourist visa, but my visa application was refused because I didn’t have the permit. My permit applcation was then refused because I didn’t have the visa. A lot of emails back and forth, three return bike rides through the city, some help from the ambassador and a lot of swearing and I had secured the visa. I am now waiting for the permit to process. I will be cutting it fine as usual, because I will find out if I get it just a few days before my Indian visa expires.

As soon as my visa was stamped and signed, I was able to leave India’s capital city and carry on with my route, this time, with Nancy for company. We headed south for two days to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, which is where we are now. The traffic, as expected, is extremely chaotic. But, I have to say, despite it’s challenges it’s a lot of fun. Rules of the road are completely disregarded (priority on and off of roundabouts is reversed for some reason that I simply cannot fathom) and everybody seems to think they have right of way at all times, but there’s a certain element of respect and focus among road users that is lacking back in Europe. The best thing about Indian roads is that bicycles are everywhere, carrying everything! This means motorists are well conditioned to driving in their presence and as a result, the roads are, ironically, somewhat less intimidating than Europe. In roughly 900km of riding on Indian roads, I am yet to see even a minor collision OR a single angry exchange between road users.

I continue east across India until the 10th of October, when, all being well, I will cross into Myanmar and begin to head towards Australia, a country which is now back on the schedule. Heading to Oz is just one of many changes I have made to my route but my target for completing a full circumnavigation, adhering to the rules in the Guinness Book of Records is still on track!”

“Donations have now reached £3289.31 and I’m well happy with that, so I’d like to thank everyone who has donated or helped to spread the word! Keep it up and I’ll keep pedalling!” Gary Taylor