Last reviewed

We all know cycling is far better for the environment than cars and buses, but with so many more people taking up cycling, are bikes environmentally friendly as we think? With that in mind, I looked at how my own bikes and the manufacturing history for each bike. What do you think?

My Bikes

  • China still produces over 60% of the world’s cycles which means the average bike may have travelled thousands of miles before even being ridden. My frames were manufactured in Irvine California and Mallabia Spain. Distance to UK around 6309miles.
  • My Mountain bike is an aluminium frame which requires a lot more energy to produce then my carbon fibre, but these are more recyclable at the end of its life.
  • My Carbon fibre bike although much lighter and stronger was very labour intensive to produce, water use is higher than aluminium and it is very tough to recycle at the end of its life, although there is an exceedingly small number of take back schemes for these.
  • Components such as wheels, brakes, derailleurs, and chains, are usually made of stainless steel. These components are generally made elsewhere and purchased by the cycle manufacturer. For example, my main components on each bike are Shimano and would have been manufactured in either Kunshan, China; Malaysia; or Singapore.
  • My tyres and inner tubes were manufactured in Indonesia, Italy, and china.

Note: Assembling frames needs to be more in-house, using sustainable steel – and then sold locally. However, the main supply chain is often obscured by the fact that bike brands change their suppliers between models, bikes can be manufactured with cheap labour abroad and coupled with low prices the move will be slow.

Although you could say the carbon footprint of each bike was high, we have to remember biking is still one of the best everyday steps we can take to reduce our impact. Personally, I would now buy a second-hand bike.  

 21 May 2021