Bad business model for bikes takes off

CASTRO VALLEY — Billy Bradford is not the type of person to keep still for very long, much less while away his free time lounging around at home.


When the Portland, Ore., native isn’t working as an information technology manager at a San Francisco law firm, he stays busy by planning Castro Valley Pride; advocating for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights; attending Chabot College; riding his bicycle around the East Bay; or being a father to his 22-year-old son, Desmond.

“I don’t want to be the old, grumpy guy home alone whining and complaining,” Bradford, 61, said Monday at his Castro Valley home.

In the past two years, Bradford has been immersed in a new role and hobby that has taken on a life of its own: building or restoring bicycles using donated parts and then donating them to random people who ask for them.

“I don’t know how you get fascinated by bicycles, but it has certainly happened to me,” Bradford said as he cleaned one in his garage while washing a load of laundry and cooking dinner.

“There are people who have lathes and stuff in their garage and they make stuff out of wood on the weekend, but I could never do that. But, bikes, I don’t have issues with them,” he said.

Bicycle tires and vintage bikes hang from Bradford’s garage ceiling, while much of his work space takes up the left side of the garage. Bikes also are lined up in rows on both sides of his home based on condition: those that need a lot of work are on the left, while those on the right are…

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