A London non-profit for former offenders has officially launched its own range of refurbished bikes.
XO Bikes, based in Lewisham in South East London, helps train prison leavers to become bike mechanics, and has recently made the leap into bike sales.
The limited edition XO First50 range have been refurbished and rebranded by former prisoners, and we unveiled with the help of cycling commentator Ned Boulting.
Boulting said: “I’m blown away with what’s going on here in Lewisham. Beneath the cool ‘Swag Black’ exterior and mechanic’s ID, every XO Bike is a top brand. I was expecting to see people fixing bikes, not bikes fixing people! It’s such a positive cycle – take a bike with a past and a person with a past and give them both a future. Whilst there might be 1,000 people riding around on a shiny red Cannondale Topstone, there’ll only be one person riding around on a Swag black one, branded XO1-004. It’s simple, life changing, and all in all bloody brilliant!”
The First50 Limited Edition all carry XO branding and a unique ID of the ‘fixer’ (bike mechanic). The range includes hybrids, road, mountain, step through and single speed bikes, from brands such as Bianchi, Cannondale, Specialized and Trek, as well as some vintage icons like Roberts and Orange. After being fully refurbished, they were ‘swagged’ (powder coated in swag black – a tough, gritty, street-ready finish) and ‘tagged’ (with the fixers unique ID and the number of the refurb).
Stef Jones, founder of XO Bikes said: “Since we set up XO Bikes, the fixers have been given new skills, new beginnings and new lives. We’ve refurbished over 300 Original Finish bikes, available to buy from our website, xobikes.com and our shop in Lewisham. We wanted to mark Spring 2023 with a limited launch edition of our ‘own’ bike range – to give members of the public the chance to not only own an exceptional unique bike, but also to be part of a unique story that rebuilds lives.”
XO Bikes, which opened its doors in Spring 2022, is the first venture from charity Onwards and Upwards, and aims to break the cycle of re-offending by training prison leavers for future careers.
So far 14 former prisoners have been trained up by the organisation.
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Jamie Griffiths, the second mechanic to be trained and employed by XO Bikes, said: “I’m 29 and I’ve been in and out of jail 13 times. One day I woke up in my cell and thought, I don’t want to do this anymore. But it’s not easy. Most people won’t give you a job when they know you’ve been in prison. XO Bikes gave me that chance. Things are different now. I’m different. I wake up happy. I’m happy coming to work and I go home to my family happy. I’m doing something for my family. I’m doing something with my life. I’m around good people and I like it.”
The First50 are on sale now, to coincide with the launch of the new website and e-commerce platform, xobikes.com. Prices start from £399 (Swag Bikes) and £199 for Original Finish bikes.