A Bike for life: Beyond the bike

As I am looking for a bike for life (or in other words a bike that is going to last me out) then there are other factors beyond the physical bike that make a difference and are important to me.

This is going to be a significant investment for me and so I want it to make a whole range of connections with the rest of my life. I want my investment to be as effective as possible in fitting with my world view and with the choices I make everywhere else.

In this case my first choice has been to choose British made items wherever I can. Unsurprisingly enough given the state of British manufacturing this also tends to mean small companies and not a complete bike. I’ll be giving full details as I go.

I am also trying to choose components with least bad environmental costs. Local helps that as does the choice of components with a long lifespan. Similarly the choice of materials such as a steel frame over carbon or aluminium (of course smaller British companies are also more likely to offer steel frames and they also fit other goals such as comfort).

In terms of Ethics I am not doing a full scale search. Instead I am relying more on my expectation that small companies making bicycle components are unlikely to be involved in the arms trade, or in unfair trade practices (because they just don’t have the financial muscle to do so). Again their size and location means that they are also unlikely to be using child or bonded labour. From an environmental perspective again they are unlikely to have any power to influence those who inspect factories or receive their waste. The local suppliers are also subject to British (or at least European) legislation which includes health and safety, employment law and so on.

Another factor that influences me is trying to support innovation, companies and products that have potential to have a significant impact. So I am willing to pay the price of being an early adopter when I feel it makes sense. On the other hand in other cases I feel that the better option is to go with small companies producing highly traditional products (such as my Brooks B17 Select saddle which will be moving to the new bike).

Of course I can only directly control any of this for the layer above me, ie the companies I buy from (or one layer up when I specify specific products). In some areas there is little choice as there is only one supplier of some of the parts I want to use (eg Gates Carbon Belt Drive). In others I have been unable to find a local supplier and so have gone for a recommended branded product (eg wheel rims)

A whole lot of this is hard or impossible to measure, it is about feeling and preference rather than hard logic. So even if you were looking for the same type of bike with a similar budget my choices will be different from yours. There is no simple answer but I get a lot of satisfaction from exploring and considering.

The Series so far:

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  1. Finally, Giant and Dawes are two of the bigger bike manufacturers. Both of these companies offer a wide range of different commuting bicycles, as well as a huge variety of other bikes of all shapes and sizes. Both companies cater for all comers; their bikes start at £250 and go up to as much as £2,000, if you have that kind of budget. Giant are a global company that manufacture in Taiwan, whereas Dawes are a well known British company who are experts in bike manufacture. The choice is yours. [Ed: advertising url removed]

    • silver price,

      if you want to slip your spam comments past me then you will have to actually read the posts.

      Just a reminder that I was looking for small, local, ethical companies who actually make their products in the UK. So I am not sure why you think the world’s largest bike company (Giant who are Taiwanese) and a British company who have their bike frames make abroad fit the bill.

      There are many other choices, but you won’t be getting any hits from here to help you make yours.

  2. A bike for life « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:02 am
  3. A Bike for Life: A suitable challenge? « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:02 am
  4. A Bike for Life: The Frame « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:04 am
  5. A Bike for Life: Carrying stuff « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:04 am
  6. A bike for life: Cascading decisions « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:04 am
  7. A Bike for life: Dependability « 42 Bikes - pingback on July 23, 2012 at 6:05 am
  8. A Bike for Life: The British bits | 42 Bikes - pingback on December 31, 2013 at 6:42 am

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