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How to Upcycle or Recycle Your Old Bike

Staff writer
February 23, 2022

If you’re a parent, you enjoy family time with your kids by upcycling your, or their, old bike. Along with going for a bike ride, creative experiments are fantastic bonding activities. All it takes is a few tools and some elbow grease to give your old bike a new life.

Read on for some upcycling ideas, as well as a list of places you can donate your bike if you want to make a difference in someone’s life. Plus, we’re running a competition on our Instagram page to give away upcycled bicycle accessories - see the bottom of the page for how you can enter!

What’s the Difference Between Recycling & Upcycling?

While recycling converts waste materials into new objects, upcycling re-purposes a used product and converts it into something “new”. The big difference between the two is that recycling breaks down the material first, and upcycling means using items in a different way.

Each option has its pros and cons, but ultimately the best option is one that you’ll carry through.

There’s not much point in leaving your old bicycle at the back of your garage for years thinking, “One day I’ll get around to upcycling it” - so if you’re not crafty or don’t have much space in your home for more furniture or decor items, it might be better to go ahead and donate or recycle it.

Why You Should Upcycle or Recycle Your Bicycle

In 2020, the transport industry contributed to over 17% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, making it the third largest source of emissions in the country.

Here are some of the sobering facts about Australia’s carbon emissions:

  • Cars are responsible for almost half of Australia’s transport emissions.
  • Cars in Australia have the same level of emissions as Queensland’s entire electricity supply.
  • An international scorecard ranked Australia second-worst for transport energy efficiency.
  • Despite agreements to reduce emissions, Australia’s emissions continue to rise.

It’s no secret that cycling has the power to reduce our carbon emissions and contribute to saving our planet, but it’s not all sunshine and roses.

A bicycle tyre takes on average 50 - 80 years to decompose in a landfill. While your carbon frame should last you a lifetime (you might even be able to pass it onto your kids!), aluminum frames have less longevity but are easier to recycle - provided that you take it to a recycling plant.

If you’re trying to reduce your carbon footprint, it’s not enough to simply switch out your transport for a bicycle (although that certainly helps a lot). You should also be conscious of the materials your bicycle uses, and how you can recycle or upcycle them.

DIYs Ideas for Upcycling Your Bicycle

It’s easy to find furniture, decor, and fashion items upcycled from bike parts for sale online, but you can even try upcycling yourself if you’re crafty,

Here are some of the most popular ways bicycles are upcycled:

What to do With Your Old Bicycle

If you’re not the handy type and don’t want to upcycle your bicycle yourself, there are still loads of ways to dispose of your bicycle in an environmentally-friendly way.

Here are some organisations in Australia that are doing amazing things with bicycles:

Wheelchair Trust

Wheelchair Trust turns your bicycle into a wheelchair for those less fortunate. They’ll find a use for all bikes, no matter how old or damaged they are. You can drop your bike off at their premises on Wednesdays or Saturdays 8AM - 12PM at the Surfers Paradise Surf Club in Queensland.

If you want to get more involved, you can even volunteer your time at their workshop and help turn old bicycles into wheelchairs.

Bikes 4 Life

Bikes 4 Life is on a mission to replace the cycle of poverty with a cycle of hope by giving bikes to those in underprivileged indigenous communities in Central and Northern Australia. In many of these communities, bicycles are the only form of accessible transport and your donation could help someone get to school or work, or access water, healthcare, and food.

They have branches in Melbourne, Sydney North, Sydney South, and Brisbane. Before donating your bike, check the donation guidelines in your city - some of the branches accept all bikes and accessories, while others only accept bikes in good working condition.  


Revolve ReCYCLING aims to divert bicycle parts from landfills, stimulate job creation, and provide access to cycling. They welcome donations of bicycles, e-bikes, scooters, and personal transport vehicles.

You can drop your bicycle off on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays from 10AM to 6PM. If you’re in the Greater Sydney area, they can also collect your bicycle from you.

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