175 kids affected by Maui fires get new bikes, and more available through Krank Cycles
Ten-year-old Jayden was so excited as he watched his new green BMX Mongoose bike being put together on Saturday with help by little ones with wrenches: his 8-year-old sister Aliyah and his 6-year-old niece Lianne.
Jayden said he is going to ride the new bike with his friends — but probably not with his sisters or niece.
“It will make their butts sore,” he explained. “I wouldn’t recommend it for them.”
But no worries. Aliyah, Lianne and another sister, 3-year-old Aria, also got new bikes during a special event put on in Māʻalaea by Krank Cycles of Maui.
Bicycle companies Mongoose and Schwinn donated 400 bikes for Maui fire survivors, with Krank Cycles setting up a GoFundMe to pay the approximately $15,000 for shipping and for other bike-related fire relief projects.
Krank Cycle owner AAron “Moose” Reichert also needed a much bigger place than his shops in Makawao and Kahului to store and assemble the container full of bikes. West Maui Construction donated the Māʻalaea site with a warehouse; and Maui Rents owner Robert Crane provided tents and tables.
Reichert also paid for seven of his employees to work the event, including doing safety checks on the newly built bikes.
The “community build” event called for people affected by the fires to register and come with tools to help build the bikes.
About 225 people showed up, and in a little more than two hours, all 400 bikes were assembled — of which 175 were given on Saturday to children of all ages, and some adults.
Reichert said the remaining 225 bikes will be given to people, with verified Lahaina or Kula addresses, who have requested them. As of Saturday, he had a list of about 1,300 requests.
He said another container, with 225 Kona bikes, is on its way from Indonesia. The shipping will be less, about $10,000, but import tariffs of 5 to 6% will have to be paid.
His shops also have been collecting donated used bikes to give away, and in late August, just a couple weeks after the Aug. 8 fires, the company distributed 50 bikes to kids in West Maui.
In the 10 years Krank Cycles has been in business, Reichert said it has fixed countless bicycles for free and given away thousands of bikes over the years, including Christmas bikes for local families, bikes supporting transient and homeless people, and bikes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When this fire happened, I wanted to be a superman and do a lot of stuff, a worker among workers,” he said.
Then he got a call the Wednesday after the fire from a man from Lahaina who said the family used to ride their bikes every day and now his kids, aged 3 and 7 were “going crazy,” with the 3-year-old acting out by biting people and throwing rocks, which he had never done before.
So Reichert donated bikes to the family. The man called back, crying, and said the kids weren’t perfect but had settled down. They had returned to daily rides, which were helping them cope with the trauma.
“It hit me then,” Reichert said. “Do what you do best, Moose. Hook people up with bikes.”
On Saturday, Cierra Rickard — the mother of Jayden, Aria, Aliyah and a fourth child, a girl she had just given birth to on Thursday — was smiling as she watched the bikes being built.
“We lost everything in the fire,” she said. “They were just learning how to ride bikes when it happened. This is a nice opportunity to get them back to normal.”
Lucas Rickard, who helped put together the bikes for his sister’s kids and others, said: “A bike means everything. … For the kids, they can go see their friends. Everyone on the West side is bunkered up in places. They will be fine now and have so much fun. This is a really nice thing that they are doing. We really appreciate it.”
Ryan Stansel and his 12-year-old son Collin were assembling a light blue bike that said “Blast Off” and had training wheels for 2 1/2-year-old Dakota.
“Almost all my friends houses burned down,” Collin said. “My bike burned, too.”
He was happy to be getting a new bike, and his father was appreciative of the event.
“I think it’s a great thing they are doing here,” Stansel said. “We lost everything and then some in the fire. There is nothing of our house left. We had the clothes on our back and that was it. To be able to get the kids bikes is more than we could ever ask. And it gets him off the video games.”