XO Bikes: Rebuilding Bikes and Lives

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XO Bikes is a bike recycling project based in London that’s doing just a bit more than bringing bikes back to life.

Since it opened in early 2022, XO Bikes has trained 14 prison leavers to become professional bike mechanics – or ‘Fixers’ as XO Bikes calls them. Relying on donations of bikes from the public, companies and the police, all bikes are fully refurbished to the Velotech Standard1 by a prison leaver, and all profits from bike sales go towards training and hiring more people coming out of prison.

XO Bikes is the first project from the Onwards and Upwards charity, which aims to break the cycle of reoffending by creating businesses that train, employ and inspire prison leavers. It was founded by lifelong advertising agency man, Stef Jones, who began volunteering part-time in Brixton prison a few years ago before deciding to quit agency life and take on the cycle of re-offending, which traps 48% of prison leavers and costs the UK £18Bn a year. Over 400 studies show that finding employment is the single biggest factor in whether someone re-offends, but over 75% of companies won’t employ prison leavers. XO Bikes is the first of five planned ventures from the charity.

Stef Jones, founder of XO Bikes said, “Since we set up XO Bikes, the fixers have been given new skills, new beginnings and new lives. We’ve refurbished over 300 Original Finish bikes, available to buy from our website, xobikes.com and our shop in Lewisham’

Original Finish bikes are what you’re probably used to seeing – refurbished bikes, fixed up and ready to ride. But there’s also the ‘Swag Black’ finish, where bikes are given a whole new look. Swagged steel and aluminium frames get shot blasted and powder coated, while the carbon fibre frames are hand sprayed. Both finishes are then ID’d using stencils and spray gun – this shows the number of the fixer that rebuilt your bike. If you really love the finish, you can even get your own bike finished in Swag Black, for a fee. Whether you go for the Swag or Original Finish, you can still see exactly who it was that built up your bike, and appreciate the difference the bike project is making to their lives.

Jamie Griffiths (fixer X02), is the second mechanic to be trained and employed by XO Bikes. He said of his past and future “I’m 29 and I’ve been in and out of jail 13 times. One day I woke up in my cell and thought, I don’t want to do this anymore. But it’s not easy. Most people won’t give you a job when they know you’ve been in prison. XO Bikes gave me that chance. Things are different now. I’m different. I wake up happy. I’m happy coming to work and I go home to my family happy. I’m doing something for my family. I’m doing something with my life. I’m around good people and I like it.” Here is is talking more about his experiences:

And here’s fixer X01, Tray, talking about working for XO Bikes:

The First50 (the low ID numbers) are on sale now, to coincide with the launch of the new website and e-commerce platform, xobikes.com. Prices start from £399 (Swag Bikes) and £199 for Original Finish bikes. At the moment, if you live outside the M25 you’ll need to go and pick it up yourself – and maybe then you’ll get to meet the person who put your bike together?

While you’re here…

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Hannah Dobson

Managing Editor

I came to Singletrack having decided there must be more to life than meetings. I like all bikes, but especially unusual ones. More than bikes, I like what bikes do. I think that they link people and places; that cycling creates a connection between us and our environment; bikes create communities; deliver freedom; bring joy; and improve fitness. They're environmentally friendly and create friendly environments. I try to write about all these things in the hope that others might discover the joy of bikes too.

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  • XO Bikes: Rebuilding Bikes and Lives
  • hardtailonly
    Full Member

    What a brilliant project!

    Full Member

    As Hardtailonly stated, a brilliant project. With 18 billion costs to the state you would think reducing reoffending rates would be high up on the Governments radar.

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