Andrew Denham

About Andrew Denham

Founder and Director of The Bicycle Academy
Author Archive | Andrew Denham

Thanks

It’s important to say thank you to all those who have helped us get this far:

Maria, Dan, David, Nic, Matt, Matt, Luke, Gavin, John, Cecile, Chas and Fay have all helped loads, in different ways, and are responsible for The Bicycle Academy getting this far, along with many other friends of course.

Things like this don’t happen without the help and support of kind and generous people, we’re very lucky to know so many.

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The Bicycle Academy is now everywhere to make sure people ‘like‘ us, follow us around and generally stay up to date with what we’re trying to do.

We’re making a documentary too, as part of our crowd funding attempt, so here’s a little teaser of things to come produced by Dan Irons of Facade Photography.

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The beginning

Back in November last year I wrote a blog post about an Idea of mine that I thought could become something real.

That blog post was read by a number of people including a friend who thought that a certain Brian Curtis might be interested in helping me out. Matt spoke to Brian and sure enough Brian was keen to know more…

I’ve been mulling over this idea for a few weeks now, it’s something that came to me whilst driving my van and daydreaming about helping the Bristol Bike Project and separately about building custom bike frames for the Cobble Wobble. The two threads of thought got tangled and without intending to I realised that I’d come up with something that was pretty interesting. The idea has evolved to become The Bicycle Project (it’s a working title), something that I hope will develop into a real thing…

The purpose of the Project is to generate useful bicycles for people who really need them by creating learning opportunities for others.

The Bristol Bike Project is a wonderful example of this kind of thing, however this Project is different in a number of important ways:

1. The people who will receive the bikes are in the 3rd world.

2. The bikes will be designed specifically for these people, as tools.

3. The frame will be made, and bike assembled, by paying students and volunteers in the UK.

The intention is to create a working bicycle that is as useful as can be, taking into account everything from frame design to maintenance of components through out its life.

Rather than raising money to make these bikes in a factory the project will engage with local riding communities in the UK to offer affordable group learning opportunities (such as frame building and bike mechanics) to build the bikes from scratch and fund the purchase of their constituent parts.

By developing a single utility bicycle design and standardising its components the Project will be able to address many of the problems associated with suitability, maintenance and sustainability that other bicycle distribution charities encounter.

So there it is, just a seed of an idea at the moment, but one that I’m actively watering….

Things have moved on since then; we’ve spent the past 3 months trying to turn the idea into something real and viable, into The Bicycle Academy. Today is the first day of Bespoked Bristol, our official launch, and we’re really excited (well I am, Brian is super cool as ever).

Over the next few months we hope to be able to move into a workshop and open the Academy for everyone to enjoy. We’re going to attempt to crowd fund the start up costs so will need the support of those who want to make it happen; we’ll set a target, then offer courses, custom frames and other goodies in exchange for funding. If we reach our target then everyone wins; we get to kit out the workshop and everyone gets their goodies. If we don’t then people get to keep their money and we’ll try and think of another way of raising the funds.

Hopefully before long we’ll be opening our doors and teaching our first students, after that we’ll be giving our first bikes to Re~cycle, and then seeing graduates riding bikes that they have made for themselves. I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty good to me…

If you’d like to know more come and say hello at Bespoked Bristol this weekend, read this or get in touch via email or phone.

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