Since opening its doors in Spring 2022, XO Bikes’ program has trained 14 ex-prisoners how to become professional bike mechanics.
Relying on donations of bikes from the public, companies and the police, all bikes are fully refurbished by a former inmate, with all profits from bike sales going towards training and hiring more people coming out of prison.
This past week, award-winning cycling journalist and commentator, Ned Boulting, has lended his support to the not-for-profit’s “First50” range of branded bikes, giving cyclists the opportunity to own one of the first ever XO branded bikes that’s fully refurbished and rebranded by parolees.
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 & 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, the First50 are “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). As such, each bike is totally unique.
Commenting at the launch of the “First50” XO branded bikes, Ned 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 Topside, 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!”
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.”
Jamie Griffiths (X02), the second mechanic to be trained and employed by XO Bikes, said of his past and future, “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 (the low ID numbers) are on sale now, to coincide with the launch of the new website and ecommerce platform, xobikes.com, with prices starting at £399 (Swag Bikes) and £199 for Original Finish bikes.
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