As you probably know I previously owned a business renting out top-quality bikes in Tenerife, Canary Isands [unfortunately that is no longer operational, but the website still works]. And I also sell the world’s best cable housing for bicycles. So I am still directly involved with the bike industry, and I have been an avid cyclist for at least 20 years.
But the trouble with the bicycle industry today is that all of these hybrid composite materials cannot be easily recycled, recovered or reused. It wouldn’t be quite so bad except new standards are introduced at such a rate, they drive frames and components obsolete within only a few short years. What is the expected lifespan of a frame today? It used to be ten years or more.
The reason I first rode a bike to school (almost 25 years ago now) was not just for enjoyment and practicality, but also for the environment. I think the bike industry is falling behind in that respect… way, way behind. The industry is all too keen to introduce new wheel sizes, new bearings, new fangled ways of attaching seatposts, new axle widths. I’m still waiting for the humble pedal thread to get superceded. It’s… it’s… it’s an entire industry.
And most bike magazine reviewers certainly don’t help the matter either. Why? Because they encourage people to buy ever more shit that they really don’t need. Why? Well, because if they don’t, they’d be out of a job, that’s why. What makes me say that? Because they get a lot of revenue for bike component advertising. And no component manufacturer in their right mind would advertise with a company that promotes minimalism, would they?
One of the very attractions of bicycles is that they are supposed to be “eco friendly”. When frames only last a few years because of the introduction of new standards, I think adults are forgetting why they started buying quality things to begin with. I think we’re forgetting why we all got into cycling in the first place!
One of my most memorable rides of all time was riding around Bora Bora on an old French steel bike. The thing only had one speed, but I enjoyed that ride more than all of the others I can remember. So we don’t always have the most fun or even the best experiencex on the most advanced bicycles.
I actually think bicycle companies should be more like Calfee Designs. If I could have my time in Tenerife again, those are the bikes I would buy today. Take a look: