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The biggest problem isn’t the carbon footprint of the bikes, it’s knowing how much they’re being ridden before being thrown away. Bikes are a relatively low impact item but we live in such an “upgrade” obsessed society that perfectly good ones just get left to die.
Also, if you focus solely on carbon footprint then you are kinda missing the point anyway. Things are far more complex and interconnected than just raw outputs of CO2.
The best thing (and only really sustainable thing) we can do as a society is consume less. That includes material goods such as bikes but also things such as driving, flying and animal products.
I do think the point you end on cycling habits is a great one. It actually made me reflect on my own journey into bikes. I’m an adult cyclist and have ridden about 10,000km a year for the past decade. I fell in love with biking as a student commuter and that had extended to touring and now trail riding (I ride to the trail exclusively taking up to 2hrs at times incl. some train travel). I’ve lived car (and flight) free for the past 3 years.
Anyway I counted back and I’ve owned 8 bikes over my adult life.
1. Cheap Alu Beater (First bike, sold after 18 months, gotta start somewhere I guess)
2. 90’s Steel Roadie (fast and terrifying, quickly realised “road” riding wasn’t for me, sold)
3. Surly LHT (over 30,000km, rebuilt at least 4 times, most k’s I’ve put on any bike, now my Dad’s)
4. Surly Karate Monkey (Older model Rigid SS, such a fun bike, still riding)
5. Crust Dreamer (Upgrade from the trucker, light fast and comfortable, still riding and approaching 30,000km too)
6. Surly Straggler w/ Crust Clydesdale fork (great all around commuter, sold to a mate recently, looking to replace with an Omnium)
7. Surly Big Fat Dummy (Absolute do anything bike, touring the outback on it as I type this)
8. Custom Larkin Cycles Hardtail (Modern-ish geo with 130 fork and 29x2.6 rubber, more trail bike than I can handle)
Aside front that first bike which I bought with literally no idea, they’re all steel and still being ridden. And I can see all of them being ridden for another decade at least. Makes me wonder if Trek is selling any “sustainable” bikes at all.
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