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Working Bikes is a not-for-profit, government recognized 501c3 organization that is completely funded by their retail operation and donations, with no outside foundation support. The system is beautiful—donated bikes are taken in and categorized with the highest quality bikes slated for repair and eventual sale through the retail operation and others funneled to various groups in need. Low-end ten-speeds are given to local charities that help the homeless and working poor, kids bikes are given to Chicago youth programs, and department store and other lower end mountain bikes are slated for shipment overseas. In the developing world the simplicity and relative durability of low-end mountain bikes, not to mention that many repairs can be made with a stick-welder, lead to these being the bulk of the bikes and parts loaded into shipping containers for destinations such as Ghana, Guatemala, Tanzania, Ecuador, Angola, etc.

Working Bikes partners with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across the world that then work to repair and distribute these desirable fat tired models.
By any measure, Working Bikes is experiencing significant success in fulfilling its mission with 6-8 shipping containers of bikes heading overseas each year, totaling some 3000-4000 complete bicycles plus as many other parts as can be jammed in to fill space. Countless other bikes have been put back into service in Chicago, saving them from landfills or general neglect in a nameless garage. On weekend mornings when the retail operation opens it is not uncommon for the line to stretch around the block, and all bikes to be sold out by early afternoon. In the spring of 2009 their new location was opened, ushering in a new era for the Working Bikes operation as everything is now housed under one roof, whereas in the past it was split between various locations. Five full time employees and a volunteer base of roughly 30 make it all happen, cranking out repairs and moving focus from container to container of bikes destined to a new life.

Some ten years on, Working Bikes seems on solid footing to continue serving their community and those abroad. Their model is simple and powerful, with an impressive track record of successes. Working Bikes Cooperative is located at 2434 S. Western Ave., Chicago, IL 60608 and can be found online at