volunteer t-shirt design

EVERYBODY asks, “so what is a bike swap?”  Very simply, it is a bike buy, sell, and donate event. We put bike swaps on in four Alberta cities; Lethbridge, Calgary, Red Deer, and Edmonton. These are not little events, we have hundreds of bikes and thousands of attendees.  If you bring in a bike to donate there is no rack fee, and we’ll thank you for your kind donation.

Alberta Bike Swap Ltd. is a registered non-profit and funded out of lint-lined pockets to get more people on bikes. We’re Chris and Laura, and dozens of volunteers, who believe enough in building the cycling community enough to break a sweat putting on events like this.

This is a great way to sell a bike, it is a consignment event, all of 12%, and a fee to rack a bike ($10.00 if you are a member of AMA, or $15.00, if you are not).  This is a great place to buy a bike because all the bikes are tech-checked by a bike tech.  We also stand by what we sell.  We donate half the profit from the swaps back to the community (the other half stays in the bank to fund more swaps). We donated nearly $10,000 last year, and donated ~450 bikes to local groups in your city.

We thank Nate Lang, one of our amazing volunteers, for making the time lapse of our Calgary swap. (9 hours into 2-1/2 minutes)   Calgary Bike Swap 2014 – Time Lapse

Our mission:

  1. Give legitimate bike sellers a safe and convenient venue for access to thousands of buyers
  2. Give bike buyers access to hundreds of safe bikes in one visit
  3. Generate funds to support local safe cycling initiatives in Alberta

Some of our spin-offs:

  1. We pledge $50.00 to MS Bike Tour and Ride To Conquer Cancer cyclists if they bring in a bike to sell. Since we fund these swaps out of our life savings, we pledge each person $50.00, not $50.00 per bike.
  2. We give our bike racks to groups and community events so that they can keep great events green.  You’ve likely seen these bike racks at races, festivals, Canada Day, Market Collective, CANSuffer, Seedy Saturday, and more
  3. We support local bike groups with direct bike donations to our friends at Good Life Community Bike, Two Wheel View, Edmonton Bicycle Commuters, Red Deer Optimists, Lethbridge BikeBridge, Boys and Girls’ Clubs, and more.  The bikes stay in your community
  4. We partially fund the container costs for Bicycles for Humanity with the great bikes they bring in to sell at the swap

What we learned:

If the measure of success is seeing the smile on someone’s face when they find their perfect bike, the bikes swaps are a resounding success. If the measure of success is to make money, then we’ve failed. We acknowledge that we will not recover the significant outlay of cash for racks, hall and truck rentals, banking fees, and expenses. We put our money where our wheels are, and will continue to donate half the profit to community cycling-based initiatives rather than define success by money.

Bikes sold at the swap are safer than a garage sale or online purchase because our squad of volunteer bike techs, led by the Calgary Bicycle Service in Calgary and Edmonton Bicycle Commuters in Edmonton perform a basic safety and mechanical check of each bike.  If it’s not in the sale – there is something that would prevent the bike from being safely ridden away from the swap.  The issues we’ve had to deal with include a cracked frame, brakes that will never work, and hot property (it was great to watch a triathlete volunteer in full chase).  Some good bikes with a minor issue will go into the sale with a descriptive tag.

We are geared toward name brand, adult oriented bikes. We accept children’s bikes if they are rideable and useable, many children’s bikes are not accepted. Quality children’s bikes are sold at the swap.
There are thousands of new economy bikes available from a number of outlets, they are referred to as ‘Bicycle Shaped Objects’, that are better to look at than to ride.  Unless they come to swap in brand new condition, they will not pass the safety check.
We record all the serial numbers, there is paper trail of ownership.  There is no longer a National Bike Registry, but we strongly suggest the new owner keep the paperwork from their swap purchase, it has the serial number.  Oh yeah, the police and RCMP acknowledge our swap.