More about Cardiff Cycle Workshop 

Cardiff Cycle Workshop Ltd (CCW)

Started 2007

Location: Cardiff, South Wales

We spoke to : Jon Howes, Co-ordinator, Instructor and Director; Richard Evans , Director,  Chairperson and volunteer.


Cardiff Cycle Workshop (CCW) is a cycling repair, refurbishment , education and bike sales enterprise located in the Cardiff Council owned Gabala Workshops.

“How we try to run the company every day: make sure the quality is always there – the training, the bikes we sell, and make sure everyone’s happy in their job ; relying on the fact that you’re a social enterprise won’t guarantee you’ll be successful in the business sense.”

“Volunteers are crucial to the enterprise - having volunteers helps with the input of bikes – if we were just a profit making enterprise I don’t think people would be happy to donate their bikes”

“Your help was really , really great – it helped us move from a position from where staff felt unsure about where they were . We ‘ve moved to a much more efficient and straightforward situation.”


Photo: Jon Howes in the new Meeting area



 “We started off in a room in Ely probably the size of this room ( a meeting room) let alone the whole of the building !” CCW was founded  by  Nick Canham and Andrew Burns 15 years ago .The current location in Cardiff’s Gabalfa Workshops comprises meeting, training, workshop and office space.


Aim: Cycling for better health and environment

“The overriding aim is to get more people cycling - the benefits of cycling to society are well documented, and if we can just try and increase that generally, locally in the city in terms of air quality and on a much wider scale in terms of climate change and CO2 emissions”.


Activities and services

Sales of reconditioned bikes, bike maintenance qualifications and training for individuals and groups ; servicing and  repair. Merchandise includes aprons, drinking bottles and mugs. CCW also work with organisations such as youth services and housing associations to provide bike maintenance services to children, young people, and adults. In addition, some Doctor Bike mechanics are qualified youth workers offering outreach opportunities. CCW can also offer maintenance training for groups.


Why a social enterprise?

“It’s the idea of trying to have a business and organisation that had aims other than just making money”. 100% of CCW’s profits are re-invested in the business.


Social Firms Wales support – Updating the governing document

The changes in how the enterprise wanted to operate were not reflected in the organisation’s governing document  - updating the document was critical to their success.

CCW needed to change the company memorandum and articles (rules) “ The membership was very wide; making sure our meetings were functional and quorate was difficult – it meant that anyone who wanted to become a member could-  they weren’t necessarily allied to the organisation and our aims – we approached Social Firms Wales to help us through that. “ Richard


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The activities also changed : “Originally we did schools training - we moved away from that and we’re about promoting cycling in a more generous sense.”

We needed to change the Objects (aims), allow staff to become board members of the board - Andrew and Jon didn’t have influence yet they were doing the work“

SFW’s Governance Advisor Vina Patel worked with the directors to consider other legal structures, develop new objects .Vina advised that members be kept updated of proposed changes up to  the voting at the Extraordinary General Meeting to ensure the process ran smoothly.                                                                                                                               

Photo: Vina with chairperson Richard


Impact and sustainability

People feeling valued, useful, included 

CCW has 3 full time and 5 part time staff, a pool of freelancers and 20 volunteers attending throughout the week.


A person working on a bicycleDescription automatically generated with medium confidenceStaff identified changes the organisation needed – 2 are now on the Board of Directors  “I think it works – staff members feel they have a proper role to play in the company - it’s made a huge difference  - you’re a staff member and now have a role at a strategic level”

We’re committed to the living  wage - we offer a flexible working in an informal way – it’s up for negotiation”

“The volunteers benefit - it addresses issues around social exclusion, mental health benefits ; people want to give their time and learn new skills” - the team of 20 volunteers refurbish bikes to a high standard and are crucial to the people orientated ethos and bike recycling and selling aspect.


Photo : A regular volunteer 


Some volunteers now work for CCW- 3 are staff and 1 is freelance for CCW “Some volunteers hav been with us for over 10 years - quite unusual ;  when I speak to other organisations,  having volunteers for such a long time is quite huge.”

Most previous trainees are now volunteers . “That’s a demonstration of how people feel about the training that they get and about us in general – we really value them”.



More than 4000 bikes have been saved and over 65 tonnes of material from entering the waste stream - over 425 tonnes of CO2 ( the equivalent of 425 return flights to Paris per person) saved from entering the atmosphere via the production of new bikes.



In 2022 680 reconditioned bikes were sold. Each recycled bike means “serious savings for customers”. The income from sales, training and repairs covers staffing and running costs – grants are sometimes used for one-off capital items such as refurbishment to support sustainability.



The growing enterprise had to move to larger premises in Cardiff ; the new meeting and training space in the workshop will support long term income generation and sustainability.



“The revenue did take a bit of a hit. We survived – it was quite intense.” During the pandemic bicycle shops were allowed to keep trading but without volunteers or income from training; they were solely reliant on bike repairs and bike recycling “Everybody wanted to buy a bike!” 

Social distancing restrictions led to online appointments – the system is now permanent: “It makes operating sales much easier and each customer gets good attention”

We’d like to be more diverse – we’ve got a project with refugees ( The Oasis project) ; in Newport a group of refugees are doing up their own bikes rather than having them as volunteers – if we could develop that side more”

“Energy bills like anybody – should we have solar panels?  Are there other ways we could mitigate that?” The large building is a challenge to heat.


Jon’s Advice

“First : the idea of being a social enterprise is not enough to get people to come and buy your products – your product or service has to be as good as or better than others – our bike repair has to be as good as the bike shed down the road. The fact that we’re a social enterprise may help people make the decision but you have to make sure your products or services are the best they can be. Relying on the fact that you’re a social enterprise won’t guarantee you’ll be successful in the business sense.”

“Second : you’ve really got to look after the staff - that’s part of social enterprise ; be very aware of the wellbeing of your staff and making sure that they’re happy and being supported, they’ve got what they need, you listen to them and they feel they’ve got a stake in the company – it’s one of the things important to us , getting staff members on the board of our company”.

“We rely on word of mouth and customer recommendations , which is where that whole idea of  trying to make sure that whatever you do , you do it to the highest standard and make sure you produce quality because then you customers are always happy to tell other people, to come back “CCW have a new website and sometimes use social media  - Twitter, Facebook, and pay for adverts.

“Those are the bottom lines and probably after that comes the making money – by doing those three things, we achieve our aims. “

 “There’s always temptation to try and grow your organisation . That’s good & works for some people ; it has inherent challenges – staffing, managing, resources. We have thought about  a franchise for but it always comes back to that idea that what we do we do really well . Potentially we might offer to do electric bike servicing because that’s the way cycling’s developing”


Website :    Cardiff Cycle Workshop - Award-winning bike recycling centre

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