Despite what Detroit’s nickname of the Motor City may suggest, many parts of Detroit are easily if not best explored by bike. Back Alley Bikes (3611 Cass Ave., Detroit MI) is a go-two source for all things bicycular, whether you’re looking to buy a new set of wheels, want to learn some mechanical tips, or get involved in a number of youth and volunteering programs.
If you need a new bike to call your own, you can skim through a detailed list of current bikes for sale at thehubofdetroit.org. The list describes everything from the cushiness of the tires to the shiny-ness of the paint job, although the best option though is to just make a visit to the store, called the Hub of Detroit, at 3611 Cass Avenue. Arrive on foot, leave by bike. Most of the bikes are made out of recycled old bike parts, and one hundred percent of the profits made at the hub go to Back Alley Bikes programs.
Yes, Back Alley Bikes is way more than what you’d find at other bike stores; in fact, its main focus is its youth programs. Youth-Earn-A-Bike is a free program for eight- to seventeen-year-olds in which children and young adults learn how to actually build a bike…and then keep it! Other youth programs include the Teen HYPE Bike Program in collaboration with the Detroit Public Library, Mechanics in Training–a paid internship program for Detroit high schoolers, and the Youth Ride Club. Back Alley Bikes also offers adult mechanics classes for a suggested donation, as well as a number of other volunteering opportunities outlined on the website.
And there’s something for people who prefer a bag of potato chips over a bike ride (sort of). Back Alley Bikes hosts progressive dinners, which essentially involves biking a few miles…eating at a cool Detroit restaurant that you probably didn’t know about…and repeat. The first of three progressive rides of 2013 is on May 26, and registration can be completed online.