Refrigerators, dishwashers, and other such products used to be made to last a lifetime. If they broke, there were repair people and parts available to keep them running. These days, appliances like these simply can’t be fixed. They’re made with a built-in lifespan and repairers and spares are nearly impossible to come by. Unfortunately, this manufacturing mentality is trickling into the budget bicycle industry—a result of the increased market during the pandemic—and bike mechanics aren’t happy about it.
Mechanic Mac Liman has been wrenching on bikes for nearly two decades and acts as the program director for Bikes Together in Denver, a non-profit that provides bicycles, repairs, and education courses to members of the community. Liman recently spearheaded a petition to end the sale and manufacture of “built-to-fail” bicycles. These aren’t just budget bikes, but bikes that come in flat-packed boxes, often misassembled with inherent problems that can’t be repaired. Read the statement below and scroll down to find a link to the petition and the original article in Vice magazine.
Dear bike manufacturers and major bike retailers,
We — the undersigned bicycle shops, nonprofits, co-ops, bicycle mechanics, and cycling advocates — are calling on you to stop producing and selling bikes that fall apart after a few months of use. These products are harmful to the environment, erode public confidence in the usefulness and joy of bicycles, and waste the money of the mostly poor and working class people who buy them.
When someone gets a bike to commute or get to school and that bike breaks down in short order, it undermines trust and access to biking. It’s predatory — these bikes are made to appear that they have functional, reliable and repairable qualities when they do not, and people don’t expect a bike to fall apart so quickly.
We are tired of telling distraught customers and riders that their bikes are made too poorly to fix, and we are tired of seeing these bikes filling up our waste streams. Frankly, you should be ashamed of selling bikes that last some 90 riding hours.
We call on you to:
- Set a minimum durability standard for bicycles to last at least 500 riding hours before breaking down,
- Design bikes to be serviceable and hold adjustment, with replaceable and upgradable components, and
- Stop creating and selling bikes that are made to fall apart.
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