Re-cycling Our Way into Used Mountain Bikes

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It turns out having our mountain bikes stolen was a blessing in disguise. If not for some scuzzbag, we might never have found our way to Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery and the Trips for Kids organization, where we were able to re-cycle our way into some new-to-us, used mountain bikes.

Now, about a year after discovering Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery, we have put our new-to-us mountain bikes through their paces and still love them.

“With biking, there’s no limits.
You can go anywhere you want.”

Reyes Juarez, Trips for Kids volunteer

Those of you that have been following us for any amount of time know that we’re all about craft beer, mountain biking, and snowboarding, amongst other travel adventures. You might also know that as 2019 came to a close, we had our mountain bikes stolen while we were in Ensenada, Baja California

We contemplated trying to replace them during the weeks of travel through Arizona and New Mexico en route back to Denver to visit family, but opted to wait for familiar territory… and perhaps fuller pocketbooks.

The fuller pocketbooks didn’t get all that full, but we couldn’t be happier with our choice to wait until we returned to our stomping grounds to find new-to-us, used mountain bikes.

The Search for Used Mountain Bikes

We’re not expert downhillers or crazy-ass rock droppers, but we love to ride intermediate to lesser-advanced trails and we also use our mountain bikes as one of our main sources of transportation since we don’t pull a towed behind our 24-foot motorhome.

We couldn’t afford top-of-the-line mountain bikes, but didn’t want to buy the cheapest new ones either, as we’d probably destroy such a bike within a few months of riding. We opted to try and find used mountain bikes that might be good enough to handle what we throw at them without breaking the bank. (Our bank is already broken, but it is under repair!)

“The initial cost of a bicycle prevents people from riding a bicycle in the first place. And often times, even when somebody can afford a bicycle, the first flat tire or broken chain prevents them from riding a bicycle beyond that.”

Dave Cowan, Trips for Kids, Executive Director

Pawn shops were a bust. So, what to do?

We could have tried private parties on Craigslist and the like, but April started searching deeper for used mountain bikes and came across a few used bicycle shops. It made perfect sense to us. If we looked hard enough, perhaps we could find used mountain bikes that could do what we needed, would fall into our limited price range, and still be somewhat refurbished so that we knew we were getting something good.

Used Bikes on a Mission To Do Good

Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery

In her search for used bikes, April came across a novel concept: used bike shops that give back. Enter Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery and Bikes Together.

Lucky Bikes and Bikes Together don’t simply gather used bikes, refurbish them, and then sell them to folks like us. They are laser focused on improving the lives of others in the community.

Bikes Together’s Mission:

We want to get people on bikes and keep them there. We strive to foster bicycling in Denver as a viable means of transportation, and as a means to address wealth and health disparities that exist in our communities. We seek to empower individuals to take control of their transportation, health, and sense of community.

Though we found some great bikes at awesome prices at Bikes Together, we didn’t quite find the bikes that suited us. We found those at Lucky Bikes Re-cyclery, which is the fundraising arm of an organization called Trips for Kids. As you can tell from the name, Trips for Kids is primarily focused on Youth Initiatives.

Trips for Kids Mission:

To provide transformative cycling experiences through a network of chapters that promote healthy, recreational lifestyles, environmental awareness, and personal empowerment for young people of all communities, especially those most in need.

Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery is a used bicycle shop where you can go and buy a bike, gear, and clothes. You can also have maintenance and repairs done there as well. 

What really drew us to Lucky Bikes, however, was their focus on involving kids in the process.

There are three key components to Trips for Kids

  • Discovery Trail Rides get kids outside on bikes, teaching them how to ride and about bicycle safety. Discovery Rides sprouted out of the vision of “social activist and cycling legend Marilyn Price, who pioneered the practice of bicycle trail riding to deliver lessons in personal responsibility, achievement and environmental awareness through the simple act of having fun.”
  • The Earn-a-Bike program in which kids learn about bike maintenance and safety, as well as mentoring their peers in doing the same. All the while, these kids are earning credits toward owning their own bikes and ongoing maintenance, parts, and other supplies.
  • Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery, where they take in donations of used bikes, parts, and supplies. The bikes are refurbished and an affordable option for people looking to buy a bike. The proceeds fund the rides and Earn-a-Bike program. Lucky Bikes also performs bike repairs, general maintenance, and tune-ups for any bicycle in your arsenal – and at great prices, I might add – so even if you don’t need a bike, you can support the program by having them work on your current ride.

It was a no-brainer when we found what we were looking for at Lucky Bikes. They took the time to help us find the proper bikes, helped us decide which ones best fit our riding style, and helped size them up for a comfortable ride.

Lucky Bikes - Richard - Ken - Supporter

They also talked to us about strategies for locking our bikes in a manner that would mitigate the chances of them getting sniped again. There is no full-proof way to thwart every thief, but you can make it a helluva lot tougher and more time consuming for them. That is what deters the vast majority of thieves looking for a quick cut-and-run opportunity.

We Finally Got New Used Mountain Bikes!

That might have been a little bit of a long-winded way to say, yes, we finally replaced our bikes. But we were able to do so with bikes that make us grin from ear-to-ear and in our hearts. We didn’t only get better bikes, we’re also now part of a program that is doing something bigger than simply selling bikes. These types of win-win scenarios always make us happy.

Ken and Ape - new Lucky bikes snow trail

So thanks to that scuzzbag that swiped our old bikes, we got new-to-us bikes that are levels higher on the quality scale to what we previously owned. We also learned about these awesome programs that we will be forever shouting from the rooftops to garner supporters.

Take that scuzzbag… good overpowers evil again! 

“Don’t be an asshole.”

Bobby – Back Pew

An Update on our Used Mountain Bikes after about a year of use

A few months into our new-to-us bikes we were pretty darn pleased. And now, about a year or so later, we’re still happy with the bikes.

Yes, we’ve had a couple small mechanical issues that have needed to be fixed, but they’ve usually been because we made a wrong move on the trail, not because the bikes didn’t hold up.

April is loving her Specialized bike with the dual-suspension. But as we might have mentioned before, she is confident that she needs to move 26-inch wheels up to 27.5 or 29-inch wheels. The great thing about that? We didn’t spend $2,000 or $3,000 on a new bike for her to figure that out.

April’s migration will probably happen some time in the next few months. There’s that damned matter of funding the move, while still taking care of all the other details of life.

Me, I’m very happy with my Frankenstein bike, which I’ve come to nickname “Frankie.” I’m finally getting the hang of riding on 29-inch wheels and still don’t mind that I’m on a hardtail.

April named her bike “Squeaky,” because of a small issue with the brakes. That issue has since been fixed thanks to a fantastic wrench named Jose, who owns a fantastic bike repair shop in Tucson, Arizona, called J J Bicycles. If you are in the Tucson area and need any bike services, I’d highly recommend giving Jose a call.

Frankie (Kenny's bike) at Horse Gulch in Durango, Colorado

Pedal the Peaks Bike Shop in Durango, Colorado

I had an issue while we were riding around Durango in 2020, where I blew up my shifter. We were riding Horse Gulch in Durango, Colorado, and I think I just shifted at the wrong time. I was really pressing down on the pedals while going up some steep stuff and mistakenly tried to shift mid-crank. I think that is probably what did most of the damage.

The good thing about that? We found another great bike shop in Durango. It was late in the afternoon. All the bike shops were closing for the day. But the folks at Pedal the Peaks answered and even stayed late to take a quick look at my shifter.

They couldn’t do the repair on the spot, but got to it quickly the next day, and had me back on the trail by mid-afternoon. They also didn’t charge a rush charge.

When the folks at the repair shop go out of their way for you, it’s not a bad idea to leave them with a couple of cold beers.

Just as Lucky Bikes has been a great source for us to purchase bikes and get them tuned/repaired, Pedal the Peaks is a fantastic and friendly bike shop in Durango. They also, of course, sell bikes and rent bikes. So if you ever find yourself with any bicycling needs in or around Durango, give Pedal the Peaks a look.

Pedal the Peaks Mountain Bikes in Durango, Colorado

Cheers! ????


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The Intrepid Sojourner: Traveler, Brewer & Biker

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4 years ago

Yaaaaayyyyyy!!! I love all-in-one happy endings + new beginnings. You guys deserved it.

I love the way the shop gives kids a path to a bike of their own, while teaching them how to care for bikes.

Also a fan of high quality secondhand gear. I got a used Trek hybrid in late fall at a bike shop in Indiana. Could use some beginner trails (and springtime weather) to practice & gain confidence.

Ken Pishna
Ken Pishna
4 years ago
Reply to  Teresa

It really did turn into a great experience, if not extremely frustrating at first. But we’ve already been talking up the bike shop and program to get bike friends to donate.

Can’t wait for March! There are a some fun trails around that should be great for your bike.

Debbie LaFleiche
4 years ago

That’s awesome. Can’t wait to see them. And to get them from a place that supports a nonprofit is great. As someone who spend nearly all of her career in nonprofits, I cannot even begin to tell you how heavily they rely on individual support.

Ken Pishna
Ken Pishna
4 years ago

Thanks Debbie. It really was awesome to find Lucky Bikes. It’s a great concept to have affordable bikes and help kids learn some great life skills.

Jon Pasquini
4 years ago

Hi Ken, I’m the new Executive Director of Trips for Kids Denver and we appreciate the love!


Jon Pasquini

4 years ago
Reply to  Jon Pasquini

No problem Jon. We truly appreciate what you guys are doing with Trips for Kids and Lucky Bikes. We would have been a long way off from being able to replace our stolen bikes with the quality of what you guys provide for such a reasonable cost. And we get to feel like we did something good to help out the program.

Linda Hark
Linda Hark
3 years ago

I discovered Lucky Bikes more than a year ago and it has become my go to bike shop! They do all my repairs and take all my unwanted bike gear! Nice folks too!

Ken Pishna
Ken Pishna
3 years ago
Reply to  Linda Hark

That’s awesome to hear Linda. We really fell in love with the concept, but get the added bonus of relatively inexpensive bikes that are solid and good people doing good things. Win! Win! Win!