Ananth Kutuva is a tinkerer.
He also is a collector.
But the 16-year-old student in the International Baccalaureate program at Land O’ Lakes High School never thought he’d collect so many bikes, so fast.
“I just wanted to get 100 (donated) bikes,” Kutuva said. “All I did was post it on Facebook and NextDoor, and a lot of people contacted us with bikes. So, yeah, it was just crazy how many were ready to donate their bikes.
“Like I said, I just wanted to get to 100 (bikes), but now, I think maybe 250 because at the pace we’re going, I think that’s easily reachable (laughs).”
Kutuva began collecting used and unwanted bikes from neighbors and others in his surrounding communities, starting in his neighborhood, Seven Oaks in Wesley Chapel.
But then, people from near and far got in touch with him.
Soon, the lanai patio at his house was full of bikes — 60 to be exact on Aug. 20, not even a full month into his bike drive.
As Kutuva collects bikes — he is approaching 100 — he gives them to WellBuilt Bikes, a Tampa nonprofit bike shop that sells refurbished bikes at affordable prices and invests the sales revenue into its Earn-A-Bike program, which allows people with little to no money to access or own a bike.
The program works like this: Put in the volunteer hours at the shop, either helping out or fixing up bikes, and it goes to getting a fully refurbished bike.
This is how Kutuva became familiar with the shop and its program — he wanted a place to work on bikes. He has been volunteering at WellBuilt since he was a freshman, but has never taken a bike.
He just wanted to fix them up.
His interest in bicycles dates back to seventh grade.
“I got him a mountain bike,” his father, Ramesh Vasudevan, said. “He assembled it himself.
“But he said he needed to do more than just biking,” the boy’s father said. “He wanted to take it to the next level and thought how could he use his bike repair skills.”
His dad explains that when Kutuva made repairs at WellBuilt, he noticed how happy the people were who were getting bikes.
“He was just like, ‘Wow, there are so many bikes around us and in the area. Why can’t I get those for other people? How do I get those to (WellBuilt) so people who want, or need, can have them?’” his dad added.
“That kind of ambition, I encouraged it immediately.”
Through volunteering at WellBuilt, Kutuva wanted to learn more about bikes in general. Everything else he had already learned came from YouTube videos, and trial and error.
Now, Kutuva has restored and fixed up about 10 bikes, which have been sold or earned at WellBuilt, and the whole process takes a few visits to finish.
“The hardest part is just getting the tools because it can take a lot of specialized tools made specially for that bike,” Kutuva said. “I am logging volunteer hours, but I really just wanted to learn more about bikes when I first came to WellBuilt.”
Once the bikes were stockpiled on the lanai, WellBuilt Bikes CEO Jon Dengler would bring over a trailer to load them up and then take them to storage. The initial collection of 60 took two trips for Dengler.
He was blown away by the teenager’s efforts.
“If someone takes the time and initiative to look, especially in the suburbs, there are probably two bikes laying around that just need a little work or are perfect for donating,” Dengler said. “Ananth just put in the work and went out and gathered them by tapping these different networks.
“No matter what, when someone puts that many bikes together, we’re on our way, but when it’s just a teenager in high school, that’s amazing.”
For now, Kutuva will continue his bike drive.
There’s also the matter of getting to WellBuilt to tinker around.
“Well,” the teenager said with a smile, “I’m pretty busy at school, so I’m always looking to find time.
“But I will try hard to find the time. Because I really want to fix up more bikes,” he said.
Ananth Kutuva collects bikes in any condition and then donates them to Wellbuilt Bikes, a nonprofit bike shop that sells refurbished bikes at affordable prices. Wellbuilt is in the University Mall, 12256 University Mall Court, in Tampa. If you would like to donate a bike, but are unable to transport it to the shop directly or need more information about the drive, contact Ananth Kutuva at or 813-701-7870.
For information or to volunteer at WellBuilt Bikes, visit BikeShopTampa.com.
Published October 05, 2022