Working Bikes Cooperative

Working Bikes Cooperative

1125 S Western Ave
Chicago, Illinois
(312) 421-5048

927 S Western Ave, 2nd floor

It's nearing the end of summer, which is also prime biking season. We've talked a lot about bikes on AT, where to park them, crazy people who steal them, and pretty ones to obsess over. If you're in the Chicagoland area and still don't have a bike to call your own, Working Bikes Cooperative is a sure bet for a variety of used bikes. Working Bikes is not only a cool resource for bikes and equipment, but by buying from Working Bikes you are keeping bicycles out of the landfill and helping fund their programs to send bikes to places of need around the world…

Working Bikes is a volunteer-run not-for-profit organization that obtains landfill-bound bikes through reclamation at the landfill, scavenging and donations, and then restores them to working condition. They have a wide range of recycled bicycles such as the ever-popular vintage cruisers (lots of Schwinns), fixed gear, single speed, road bikes and mountain bikes. Many of the volunteers also get the opportunity to customize and build their own bikes. A warning - the bikes aren't perfect, they are used, but they're a good deal if you're in need (or want) of a bike and don't need a brand spanking new one. Costs vary and depend on the condition of bike, but we got a vintage Schwinn cruiser for about $35 – good deal!

Working Bikes Storefront

The Working Bikes storefront is only open Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday from 12-5, and get there early because the good stuff goes fast. Early means 10-11am if you're eager – not 11:45. Once you've found a bike you get to take it for a test ride, and if you like the price, it's yours. However, it is hit or miss, and if you're looking for something in particular it'd be worth making multiple visits. If you can hold out until the winter you'll find a better and less picked over selection.

Check-out at Working Bikes

Working Bikes is not just about saving bikes from the landfill and fixing them up for the masses. Working bikes is a not-for-profit volunteer-driven cooperative. All its operations are funded through the sale of bicycles at its storefront. Working Bikes uses that money to provide bicycles to charity organizations within Chicago and also ships bicycles to the Gulf Coast, Cuba, Guatemala, Ecuador, and many other places of need.

Bike Turned Trike in Ghana

"In the countries to which Working Bikes ships, a bicycle can often mean the difference between work and unemployment. The bicycle is the primary means of vehicular transportation for the majority of the population and is used both for personal transportation and for carrying cargo. Due to wage differences, a bicycle worth $20 in Chicago can be worth the equivalent of $1,000 in Africa. Each year Working Bikes gives away over 5,000 bicycles locally and internationally. It distributes about 500 bicycles and wheelchairs in the Chicago area alone: to City programs, refugees and day camps."

Bike-powered Water Pump in Guatemala

The Working Bikes Cooperative storefront is located at 1125 S Western Ave, the warehouse (for donations) is located at 
927 S. Western Ave., 2nd floor. Check out the website for more drop-off locations around the Midwest.

Top photo of bikes in warehouse by Andrea Small, all other photos via danlitchfield1

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