A new partnership with Kit Up Africa

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Every time we introduce and promote bikes in African communities as a green and affordable transportation solution, we're always delighted to see that a certain group of folks immediately starts racing each other on the bikes.  Guess that's just human nature, no matter where you're from.  

As these racing groups start to develop and improve, they start wanting better and better riding gear - again, maybe just human nature.  

And on the other side of the world here in the States, every serious cyclist has a closet packed with bike clothing that's still in great shape but no longer in use.  That's where Adam Austin steps in.  

The opening message on his Facebook page says it all:

 

Hello, I'm Adam Austin.  Welcome to Kit Up Africa!  I am starting a non-profit organization that collects used cycling clothes (kits) and gives them to the growing cycling community in Africa.  With the help of Mike's Bike's Africa and Serious Cycling, we are launching our donation drive soon. 

Mike's Bike's Africa has been sending donated bikes to Africa since 2008.  CEO and Founder Ken Martin has offered to help in shipping the clothes with his bike containers and distributing them through their Sister Shops in Africa. They have shipped over 10,000 bikes to 7 countries in Africa. Check them out and donate at MikesBikesAfrica.com. 

Scott B. Johnson and Justin Shniderman are the owners of Serious Cycling in Agoura Hills CA.  I ride for their shop team.  They have joined in as avid supporters of the project and the central donation site.  In the coming weeks we will start collecting good condition cycling clothes - both men's and women's jerseys, bibs, shorts and shoes.  

Please start looking through your gear and setting aside your "hand me ups".  I soon will be contacting other shops to help as donation sites around the Los Angeles area (you know who you are!)

I can't tell you all how excited I am about what we all are about to embark on.  Just imagine someone riding in Africa wearing your kit. 

take care
Adam


Check out Kit Up Africa at www.facebook.com/KitUpAfrica

PODS of SF and Mike's Bikes Join to Collect 1000 Bikes for Africa Sister Shop Program

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Moving and storage company lends support for donations to Bay Area retailer’s African sister shops

For four weeks starting Sept. 16, PODS® of San Francisco is joining forces with Mikes Bikes as the Bay Area bicycle retailer collects donations for their ongoing Africa Bike Drive program. PODS® containers have been placed at 7 Mike’s Bikes stores throughout Northern California. The public can help fill them by donating new or used bikes that will then be sent to Mike’s Bikes Sister Shops in Africa, improving everyday life for Africans one bike at a time.

“Our past partnerships with Mike’s Bikes have been very successful at delivering much-needed bicycles to Africans,” said Mark Foley, Western Regional Director of Operations for PODS Enterprises, Inc. “We are thrilled to again lend our support to Mike’s Bikes and hope that during this year’s bike drive, we can break all records and help collect more than 1,000 bikes.”

In 2011, a great collaboration was born when PODS teamed up for the first time with Mike’s Bikes, the largest independent bicycle retailer in the U.S., helping them to collect more than 500 donated bicycles to help improve everyday life for Africans one bike at a time.

Mike’s Bikes began the Africa Sister Shops to build a self-sustaining supply of transportation bikes in Africa and to promote economic growth by teaching African entrepreneurs how to run a bike business. Mike’s Bikes sends donated bikes and start-up funding to African countries as well as provides mentoring to the owners of its Africa Sister Shops with the goal of creating African job opportunities. Bicycles are often the only reliable form of transportation in Africa, where roads can be rugged (or non-existent) and automobiles and fuel are outside the reach of most residents.

During the four week bike drive, donated PODS® containers will serve as temporary bicycle donation centers. At the drive’s conclusion, PODS will transport the containers to a central staging area where volunteers and staff will prepare the bikes for shipment to Africa.

All tax-deductible Mikes Bikes donations will be accepted through October 13th at the following store locations from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily:

2161 University Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

201 N. Santa Cruz Ave., Los Gatos, CA 95030

3001 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94306

264 Petaluma Blvd North, Petaluma, CA 94952

836 Fourth St., San Rafael, CA 94901

No. 1 Gate 6 Rd., Sausalito, CA 94965

1180 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA 95125

Touching message from Bike Drive donor

Ananda D posted this touching story on our Facebook page after donating a bike to our Africa Bike Drive:

"When my brother Todd died in December 1996, I inherited his mountain bike. It's actually too small for me and I only rode it for about two years. Since then, it's been sitting in my garage. Thanks to Mike's Bikes, Todd's bike is going to be spruced up and refurbished (as needed); then it'll be shipped to Africa in a cargo container with a whole lotta other bikes. Someone in Africa who doesn't have any other mode of transportation than their own feet will be getting Todd's bike. And it will change their life. 

I don't need a physical object to remember my brother. Todd is always in my heart. And his incredible generosity that was such a part of his spirit will continue to exist. It's time for me to let go of a "thing" and let it help someone else."

Ananda, we're honored to accept Todd's bike, to pass it along to change a life in Africa, and to have shared in your memory of your brother.

Container #14 Arrived

We are happy to report that container #14 arrived in Maseru safe and sound. Check out Simphiwe, overjoyed with her new bicycle kindly donated by Robert B Morms.

Simphiwe

Simphiwe

Thank you, Robert, and thanks to all of our bicycle donors out there! There will be plenty more containers to fill in the future, so if you have a bicycle in need of some love and attention, roll it out to one of our locations for a new life in sunny Africa. It will be appreciated.

500 Raleigh Bikes Goal - Smashed!

Our charge was to sell 500 adult Raleigh bikes between April 1st and June 15th. We are proud to shout out that we have officially knocked this goal out of the park. Thanks to our loyal customers, 545 total bikes were sold in total!

In keeping with their end of the deal, Raleigh bikes will now donate $10,000 to our Sister Shops in Africa.

Our partners in Africa are sure to appreciate this support as we continue to work together to develop a bicycle network infrastructure in this part of the world where the bicycle is uniquely positioned to empower individuals and advance a society.

Everyone wins!

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Spare Some Space for Some Life-Changing Bikes?

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Mike's Bikes is in need of a space in San Rafael, CA to park a trailer which we're using to collect donated bicycles from communities all over Northern California. These bikes will be subsequently shipped to Africa to create community bike shops that provide people with an inexpensive and non-polluting vehicle that enables access to employment, education, health care, and a better overall quality of life. Since space is limited at Mike's Bikes for our ongoing and hugely-successful bike drive, we're asking local businesses to consider donating space for the container to be parked. For details, please contact Mike's Bikes' CEO, Ken Martin: (415) 785-4944, ext. 242 or ken.martin@mikesbikes.com.

"Where did my donation bike go?"

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Blue

With the thousands of bikes our customers have donated, it's hard to keep track of where each one ends up. Lucky for us, Rob Carle at Bicycle Recycle in Botswana spotted a few bikes from an older post and updated us on what these rides are up to. You may remember these two showing up at our warehouse in San Rafael back on that rainy day in May 2011:

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Red

Well, they're certainly being used today! Rob explains what these bikes are up to in Africa:

"The blue Cannondale from the photo was actually used in the Tour Ya Botswana, a 1000km road ride from Kasane to Gaborone. The bike was used as an emergency / back up bike should any participant have a mechanical problem. At least three people were able to complete the Tour by using this bike. We swapped out the bars and created a great cruising road commuter.

Blue Cannondale

Blue Cannondale

The Lemond was restored by myself, and is being used by one of the top riders in the Gaborone Cycling Club development team. It's a really great bike."

red LeMond

red LeMond

Who would have thought that these bikes would be ridden hundreds of miles by several individuals throughout the continent of Africa? It sure is amazing what humanity can achieve when we all come together with support for the same belief. Bikes can (and will) have an impact half a world away if we contribute what we are able to, be that a 10-year-old bike that's been forgotten in the garage or a bag of components that never made it to a bike swap. Let's keep 'em coming and keep giving folks in Africa the opportunity to ride!

PODS Provides Extra Storage for Africa Bikes; Spring Cleaning, Anyone?

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PODS containers have landed at several Mike's Bikes locations, where they'll stay until the end of April to give us extra capacity to kick our Africa Bike Drive into high gear! We know the garage is a big part of your spring cleaning plans, so now is the perfect time to dig out that old dusty bike and send it somewhere where it will literally change a life. Bike donations are tax-deductible too. Huge thanks go out to PODS for providing this invaluable storage. Now we need your help to fill the PODS and get more bikes to our Sister Shops in Africa!

Find PODS containers at these Mike's Bikes locations:

San RafaelSausalitoBerkeleyPalo AltoSacramentoLos Gatos

Container #14: Loaded and Heading to Botswana

loading the container

loading the container

It was an exciting morning for us at our warehouse here in San Rafael. Tucked behind new bikes and parts inventory were 343 donated bicycles that were ready to be loaded into our next container headed for Bicycle Recycle in Botswana.

These donated bikes used to have a life with somebody in the Bay Area. Santa could have delivered the tiny pink bike to a slumbering toddler. The older steel road bike may have been somebody's first race machine back in the 1990s. The haggered mountain bike with spring suspension still has dirt from its last rugged adventure. They all had their place with somebody else and served their time for those experiences; they were tools for learning and exploring.

Now it's time for new homes, new rides, and new soil. These bikes will be forgotten no more, but rather restored and reintroduced into the world, reigns held tightly in eager riders' hands. It's time for new adventure and exploration in Africa's arms.

We've loaded containers many times before and it always restores faith in humanity to see everybody work together for the same goal; to get more people on bikes, happy and carefree, all over the world. We couldn't do it without the countless donations and give thanks to all those that have contributed. There will be plenty more containers to fill in the future, so if you know a bike that's been forgotten in a garage or tucked in a storage unit without much thought, roll it out to one of our locations for a new life in sunny Africa.

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Help Us Load Container #14 on Thursday 4/5

Thanks to the generosity of our customers, and Specialized Bicycles (who've provided a fleet of brand-new light cargo bikes), we now have enough donation bicycles to fill container #14 for our Africa Sister Shops. Demand on the continent couldn't be higher, as people from Botswana, to Namibia, to Zimbabwe, and now Lesotho, are snapping up affordable bikes to gain mobility in their lives. All are welcome to help load the container, or to just say hi and take a photo or two. Join us Thursday morning at 9am on 4/5/2012 at 24 Tiburon St. in San Rafael.

The Bike Will Find You

Many of us who have gone searching for a new bicycle have experienced the same thing; we somehow know when we've found the right one. There's just something about being smitten by a particular bike, and, once that has happened to some of us, we simply must have it.

Rob Carle of Bicycle Recycle sent us a photo of one of the first customers at Jerry's Bikes in Gaborone, Botswana. We think he experienced this exact phenomenon.

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This old man was convinced that he needed a gold racing bike, despite our best efforts to convince him that a relaxed cruiser was the way to go. He liked the bike and wasn't leaving without it.

-Jerry Kokwane

The Big Red S Comes Through in a Big, Big Way

Let it be known: Our friends at Specialized Bicycles have hearts as big as their bike-designing brains. Late last year they made the single biggest donation to our projects in Africa that we have ever received, and all of us here at Mike's are hugely grateful for their gift of bicycle-powered, well, empowerment. The first component of this gift was an entire 40' shipping container full of parts, accessories, and riding gear that was loaded up at Specialized's Salt Lake City warehouse. This was container #12 that we have shipped to Africa, and it was sent directly to our new distribution center Bicycle Recycle in Gaborone, Botswana. This sorely-needed equipment will be spread throughout our Sister Shops to help keep existing bikes running, help refurbish used donation bikes, and to help enable the local population to ride in greater safety and comfort.

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Having been familiar with our Africa Sister Shop program for some time, Specialized determined the most effective bike to donate considering the conditions in these developing communities would be a light cargo bike. When we agreed with this premise they shocked us by committing to donate no less than 100 of these bikes, brand-spakin'-new! The cargo bikes joined our customers' donation bikes to fill Container #13, which was loaded at our warehouse in San Rafael.

We could not be more thankful to have a partner in Specialized that not only produces the best bikes in the world for us to provide to our customers, but who also shares our belief in the power of the bicycle to make life better for those in need.

The Robin Hood Model

If you remember, one of the major goals of this trip was for us to get a better understanding of what Rob and Andrew are dealing with in the South African market and then to see the new Sister Shop distribution operation in Gaborone.  We spent a couple days in Joburg, traveling around to bike shops and meeting with their owners.  Through this process, we understood why Rob and Andrew are so keen on being a distributor, there’s a huge opportunity to supply that market with products that are less expensive or higher quality than what’s currently available, as well as some products that are not available at all.  The combination of our market position and the existing flow of containers to the region gives Bicycle Recycle a huge competitive advantage.  There are two main issues with the high-end bike market in S. Africa, the biggest being the lack of consistency in supply.  It is very common for the entire country to be out of basic items like Shimano SPD pedals or 29” tubes.  The other issue is that parts are very expensive due to the expense of transporting goods there.  There is typically one distributor for each brand in the country, and they are generally very poorly run.  They bring in a container of stuff and the country is flush for a bit, then they run dry for months while the distributor waits for more product.  With our assistance, Bicycle Recycle feels they can beat their competition in both of these situations. So after spending this last week with Rob, we feel we’ve come up up with a pretty cool distribution model that is sustainable and achieves multiple goals.  

Bicycle Recycle will receive our containers of donated bikes and warehouse them in Gaborone.  They will serve as the distributor for our Sister Shops and “sell” them bikes.  The price the shops will pay to Bicycle Recycle covers the cost of shipping the bikes from California to Gaborone, plus the import duties, which comes to about $40 per adult bike.  The markets where we have shops can typically afford $50 - $150, so this pricing model works well. Bicycle Recycle will also assist the Sister Shops in getting new bikes and parts from ProBike. The problems of transport and payments are solved by the involvement of Bicycle Recycle – they front the money to ProBike and they transport on their own trucks.  These new bikes will supply a growing “middle class” that can afford $200 - $500 for a bike – a market that is crucial for the success of the Sister Shops. By combining the needs of all the shops, Bicycle

BikeSmart in display at Complete Cyclist in Joburg

BikeSmart in display at Complete Cyclist in Joburg

Recycle can get ProBike to cooperate and supply their Gaborone warehouse.  These bikes and parts are then passed through to the Sister Shops with no additional mark up. You might be asking what’s in this for them, and why they would go to such trouble and expense for us.  For one, they just truly believe in the Sister Shop project and they want to help it succeed. But also, they’re now the BikeSmart distributor for South Africa.  They feel that our line of accessories could be very successful there, so they will be selling it to shops across the country.  They already have placed it in two high-end shops in Joburg and Cape Town, and so far the shops are very happy with it.  We are also working with a couple of our vendors in the US who don’t have any distribution in S. Africa.  Through our relationship with Wilier, Bicycle Recycle is also now the exclusive S. African distributor for one of the best bike brands in the world.  We will continue to help Bicycle Recycle build out a portfolio of brands that will be among the best in the country, and in exchange we achieve our goal of creating a sustainable supply chain of bicycles to a part of the world that could really benefit from it.  Pretty cool, huh?

Lend Your Support and Look Great Doing it

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mikes_bikes_africa_tee_shirt

Our friends over at Selfless Tee have whipped up this stylish t-shirt in support of our projects in Africa. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of each shirt go to directly to help fund our Sister Shop program. The best part is that the more shirts that are sold, the lower the production costs are and the higher the percentage of funding is to our projects. Pick up a shirt and support our efforts in style! Click to buy a tee or share it via social media.

We're getting to be pretty good at this

On Friday 9/23 we loaded up Africa Bike Drive container #11. The grand total was 460 bikes, and we got it done in just 3 hours and 22 minutes. These bikes have embarked on their journey to Botswana which is now our distribution point for all of our Africa Sister Shop locations. The shops will request bikes as their stock levels and finances allow, increasing the efficiency of their operations dramatically. Many thanks to all who donated, we couldn't do it without you. Keep 'em coming!

Friday We Load Container 11, and You're Invited

This Friday at 9am you're invited to come out and help (or say hi and take pictures) when we load up our latest container of Africa Donation Bikes. This container of bikes, bound for Gaborone, Botswana, and eventually our other Sister Shops as demand requires, will be #11 since we started our the program in 2008. If you've ever wanted to see what a load of 450+ bikes into one shipping container looks like, now's your chance! Container #11 Load: 9am-11am @ 24 Tiburon St. in San Rafael, CA

Africa Bikes, Ready for Loading

Container 9 Lands, Opening a New Phase in our Distribution of Bikes in Africa

Filled to the brim with 480 donation bikes, container #9 has completed its 10-week journey to Gaborone, Botswana, and should clear customs in a few days. This latest resupply container represents a new direction in our model for distributing bicycles in Africa.

In the past, one single Sister Shop has been the recipient of an entire resupply container, taking the entire cost of transport and customs into their overall financial plan. Some difficulties in this approach have been the high up-front cost for the Sister Shop, and a shortage of physical space to store such a large shipment of bikes.

For our new model we've partnered with two avid cyclist brothers, both Kalahari Challenge competitors, who own a freight distribution company. They have agreed to store the donation bikes and send them out to our Sister Shops in 'as-needed' batches.

This system of distribution offers many advantages for the Sister Shops and for the Mike's Bikes Foundation. First and foremost, the Sister Shops will be able to take delivery of inventory in smaller, more timely and more affordable batches, which eliminates the problems of lack of storage, slow resupply, and high up-front cost. Being able to forecast and plan inventories and expenditures accurately, the Sister Shops can now become more self-reliant and self-sustaining. On our end, this method of distribution enables the Foundation to focus its attention on increasing bike donations in the U.S. and gives us more time to devote to our new project in Sierra Leone. Because the new system ensures that shipping costs get reimbursed, the foundation will be able to afford to increase the number of shipments annually, while still allowing the bicycles to arrive at the Sister Shops cheaply enough for them to be affordable for buyers in the community.

In order to achieve the high-level goals of large scale distribution of bicycles in Africa and a widespread African transportation cycling culture, we need to speed up the flow of bikes to end users. The sooner we can scale distribution up, the sooner bicycle manufacturers will see opportunities to market their products and services in Africa. And with increased scale will come lower prices, enabling people in developing Africa to have a life-changing transportation option open to them.

This new model is a leap forward in long-term sustainability for the Mike's Bikes Foundation Africa projects. To our knowledge, it is the the first distribution program of its kind.