Beat those no-bike blues

By on April 30, 2013

A few weeks ago at the TEMPO bike festival, I ran across a new bike coop that had been founded quite recently by a burly mechanic who washes his hands with mineral oil. This hardcore bike enthusiast was Marcus Fetch, and he had a vision for the city. He envisioned a city in which bikes are used ubiquitously for transportation as well as for exercise and entertainment. In order to make this dream attainable for anyone, he decided to open a bicycle cooperative deep in the heart of Avondale.

Marcus Fetch, the founder of Redemptive Cycles, tinkers on a bike as part of the normal proceedings. Sarah Adkins/ Staff Photographer

Marcus Fetch, the founder of Redemptive Cycles, tinkers on a bike as part of the normal proceedings. Sarah Adkins/ Staff Photographer

Although Marcus hopes to grow his enterprise into a business with a store front in the Avondale-Crestwood area, he its still actively working to make this vision a reality. Located in a warehouse located on the corner of 5th avenue south and 51st street, Redemptive Cycles is the conduit by which Marcus aims to make his dream a reality. Marcus feels a strong need to ensure that the venture is about community involvement and service, and as such, donations of both grants and old bicycles are an integral part of the model.

In their warehouse, the team of bicycle mechanics made up of Marcus, Johanthan Patrick, Majaliwa Mzombwe, and James Beary are busily harvesting components from donated bikes for resale as well as for use on other bike frames. It is this practice that is an integral part of the Earn-a-Bike and Build-a-Bike programs. In keeping with the community centered feeling of the store, the Earn-a-Bike program is a way for people to have a bike although their income is low.

In this program, the candidate uses recycled components from other bikes and assembles their own bike and in the process learn basics of bike building and maintenance. In return, the candidates are asked to return to volunteer in the store. The Build-a-Bike is essentially the same as the Earn-a-Bike program, except for one key difference. This difference is that these candidates are expected to purchase some of the parts or provide some other donation. Upon doing so, one of the mechanics will teach them how to build their very own bicycle.

According to Majaliwa Mzombwe, building a bicycle isn’t terribly difficult, but it can be physically demanding. However, this is only a problem when lifting bicycles, which aren’t usually heavier than 50 pounds, and in that case, the mechanics will be glad to lend a hand. The actually building of the bikes is not difficult either. You don’t need to be extremely handy and the process only requires the knowledge of how to use basic tools and follow instructions. Majaliwa says, “If you can cook eggs, you can build a bicycle.”

Redemptive Cycles also has a wide selection of used bicycles that are for sale with a broad spectrum of bike types and levels. There are kids bikes that are relatively inexpensive as well as road bikes and mountain bikes for adults that range from a few hundred dollars to about 400 dollars for a carbon fiber racing bike with great components. Furthermore, the cooperative offers plenty of maintenance services such as checking tire pressure and inflating tires, greasing and cleaning bicycles, and replacing old or worn components.

For you college students looking to save money, participating in the Build-a-Bike program could cut out all of their city driving gas expenses for essentially the cost of a tank of gasoline or two. This money would be earned back quickly if the bike is used around town. If you are interested in getting a bike to save money or simply to exercise and have a good time, contact redemptive cycles at or call (205) 31-CYCLE.

Babi Baruani
Features Editor

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