How I Get Free Bike Parts Legally




Introduction: How I Get Free Bike Parts Legally

I like to build unconventional bikes from discarded material. Early in my adventures seeking out parts on the cheap I would go to yard sales and flea markets to buy old bikes. This worked but the costs added up and it took a lot of time.

Then a bike-riding friend recommended I contact a group in town called BikeAthens. It turns out they were a source of endless parts and advice. You probably can find a similar source in your town.

Step 1: What BRP Does

BikeAthens (Athens, GA) has a modest membership fee of $30 a year ( They are interested in all kinds of alternative transportation issues and work with state and local agencies promoting their agenda.

The key feature for me was the BRP (Bicycle Recycling Program). This is where I found the motherload of bike parts and friendly advice on all kinds of bike construction issues.

Step 2: How I Started Volunteering

Most BRPs (also known as a Bike Co-op) use volunteers to recycle and restore bikes. I started by cleaning and tuning up kids bikes for their Christmas program. I fixed up a dozen bikes my first year with BikeAthens and these were distributed (along with about 100 other bikes) to kids who otherwise wouldn't have had a bike for Christmas. They recycle kids bikes all year for distribution to needy families.

I have also helped clean and repair bikes that BikeAthens sells or gives away to needy individuals. For example, they help individuals in local DUI programs and homeless individuals.

Step 3: A Working Relationship

I eventually became a parts harvester. I have some metal working skills and tools. That filled a need at the BRP. I would take unrestorable donated bikes and strip them for parts. Then I would cut up the frames for various projects at BRP. Finally I would help by hauling the leftover metal parts to the recycling plant and sell them for scrap. The BRP got the money.

In return for my help they let me select used parts I needed for my homebuilt projects.

Step 4: Find a Similar Program Near You

There probably is a similar program near you. Ask your bike-riding friends if they know of a BRP or local Bike Co-op nearby. Chances are they do. If your friends don't know of a BRP then do a Web search on the terms "bike recycling" and "bike rescue" with the name of your town and/or state included.

If there isn't a BRP near you then maybe you should start one. It is a great way to go "Green" and get parts too.



    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Water Contest

      Water Contest
    • Creative Misuse Contest

      Creative Misuse Contest

    29 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Does anyone know where there is a place similar to this where I could get free-cheap spare bike parts in the Los Angeles, Ca area? I currently work for the Boys and Girls Club and would love to work on a program over the summer where my teens can assemble and produce their own bicycles as a projects.

    Thanks for the help!

    In Tucson, Az we have BICAS (bicycle Inter-Comminity Art and Salvage) You can earn $8 an hour breaking down donated bikes and apply that $$$ towards the purchase of used parts. Not only can you build a bike for FREE, there are classes on everything to do with a bike.

    3 replies

    BICAS is also a great place to buy parts and complete (used) bikes. With the 2 bike swaps a year and places like BICAS Tucson is a great bike community!

    i wish we had that here (belgium) i love working with bikes and making them shine again.

    Ask around. Europe is mush more hip on this stuff than here in the US. I bet you may be surprised and good luck!

    That program sounds really cool. I'd check if we had one in my area but my in-laws have enough old bikes that I could just bum one off of them. It does sound like a really good resource though.

    Also, I hate to be the one anal person in the comments who has to point this out but maybe change your title from "free bike parts" to "cheap bike parts" or maybe "how to get bike parts through volunteerism"? It sounds like you had to invest a lot of time, as well as some money (though $30 annually is admittedly a small amount) to get those parts.

    Try "Goodwill" or "Salvation Army" retail stores. I have bought bikes to just get a two speed axle and they were cheaper than the new part would have been.

    in Liverpool we have a bike work shop called Re-cycles at the uni guild tht help people get to know thier bikes nd lso have 173929893 spare parts. also down the rod their is a bike shop called the well on roscoe street which deal in second hand bike parts for a good price!

    For anyone wondering, in Davis, Ca there is a "Bike Forth" which is basically the same thing. They ask for a donation in exchange for not only bike parts but also information on repair and maintenance.

    Good idea. Try Facebook and Craigslist also. And whether or not you like hipsters, you might try to find some and ask about bike co-ops. Also salvation army might like a volunteer to fix bikes, and might give you access to dig in their dumpster or collect from unwanted bikes or broken bikes that people drop off. They only want stuff that is runing. Pawn shops and bike shops throw out lots of stuff, but are pretty protective of their trash and don't tolerate trespassing. You might be able to get permission or find one that doesn't care about dumpster diving though. Also, check the trash in the rich housing areas before the scrap collectors get there. Tons of people throw out a bike for a rusty chain or flat tire.

    Nice instructable!

    There are other sources of free bikes and parts.

    Our local landfill has a "take it or leave it" program. People with old bikes drop them off. People who want bikes pick them up. No charge in either direction. I've picked up a few good bikes to clean up, ride, and ultimately give away or sell, and have also grabbed a couple of junkers for parts.

    Our local police department has their share of the 30,000 bicycles stolen annually in our area. They don't have a lot of storage space, so after 60 days unclaimed bikes are disposed of, to charities or recyclers, benefit auctions and the like. I've picked up a few. Depends on the policy of your municipality and local station.

    We have a bike co-op here in Troy,NY called Troy Bike Rescue.

    how would i go about starting a bike co-op or BRP in my area (menomonie, wi)

    Helping kids, needy families, DUI persons, and the homeless with bike transportation is a very good thing to do. Congrats on your programs and the volunteer spirit! The bible says "it is more blessed to give than receive"! I fully understand that as I have been at both ends of the spectrum!

    1 reply

    I live in Menomonie wisconsin where we have two bike shops... but nothing for cheap parts. I did however start a project called "Free the Bicycles".

    the following is an article that the university news paper did on my project;

    If anyone in the area knows where i can score some parts or bikes, or would like to get involved.. .the help would be much appreciated.

    we have nothing like any of this in Monterey CA. the people here never share the road and bike lanes on roads or any type of signage is rare. we almost had something like the one in Arizona but the city shut it down with a quickness...