A collection of bike mechanics, bike co-ops, and various nonprofit advocacy groups has started a campaign for more durable and repairable bikes.
The petition asks that the industry stop producing and selling bikes that won't last and can't be repaired: "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," it reads.
The differences are stark between the bikes made to last and those that aren't. Bikes that don't have long-term futures sometimes have design choices that prevent repairs such as riveted-on chainrings. One of the petition's early supporters, Mac Liman of Denver's Bike Together nonprofit shop and advocacy program, told Bicycle Retailer and Industry News
that over time, she's started to see more and more bikes with threads that strip immediately and frames that fall apart at the welds. She also said one of the first things she teaches new mechanics is how to spot the bikes that can't be fixed - criteria that is outlined in a blog post
about the issue.
The petitioners describe the practice of selling such bikes as predatory. All bikes sold are made to appear as if they'll be reliable, the petition explains, but the appearance of quality is deceptive, and nonprofit mechanics - particularly those who work at community bike shops designed to improve access to biking - are tired of telling their customers that their bikes are made too poorly to fix.
"Frankly, you should be ashamed of selling bikes to your customers that last 90 some riding hours," it continues.
The campaign was born from a discussion at last fall's Bike!Bike!, an annual conference for community shops, organizers, and advocates.
The petition's requests are as follows:
- 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
- Stop creating and selling bikes that are made to fall apart
The petition is available here