After more than 25 years of repairing bikes for donation, the Silicon Valley Bike Exchange based in Mountain View is now searching for a new home. For nearly its entire history, the scrappy club of bike enthusiasts has operated out of a Leghorn Street garage, but members say they will soon need to leave.
Through its history, the Bike Exchange and its small crew of volunteers have fixed up thousands of abandoned or neglected bicycles. On average, about 900 bicycles are repaired each year and put back on the road, said Jack Miller, an active member. After being fixed up, most of these bikes are donated to local charity groups such as the Community Services Agency, Hope's Corner, Life Moves or similar nonprofits.
For a nonprofit, the Bike Exchange has kept a low profile and its membership is relatively small, consisting of about 25 active members. The group has no professional staffing and it operates on a lean budget of about $12,000 a year, much of which goes to purchase repair supplies.
But what it lacks in resources, it makes up in passion, Miller said. The members love bicycles and are eager to teach their know-how to others. The club's workshop, tucked behind an auto shop, is bustling with activity on its scheduled workdays on the second or fourth Saturday of each month.
"All of our guys just want to share their fixing skill and take bikes that were abandoned and return them to the community. That's always been the driving force," Miller said.
Part of what helped the Bike Exchange prosper for so many years is the low rent charged for its 2,500-square-foot workshop. That situation changed recently after the longtime owner of the property died, and his family indicated they planned to sell the property, according to Bike Exchange members.
Now, the Bicycle Exchange is actively searching for a suitable new home, one large enough to house its inventory of tools and about 100 bicycles in various states of repair. Members say they will need to move by July.
Anyone with suggestions on a new location for the Silicon Valley Bicycle Exchange is encouraged is contact the group at (650) 691-5989, or firstname.lastname@example.org.