Jackie Thompson

While no one knows for sure how many bikes there are in the world, estimates have totaled the number at more than one billion. A whopping 364,000 bikes are produced and 47,670 are sold every day. In fact, bikes are produced at a rate two times higher than cars. Considering these staggering numbers, it’s no surprise bike waste is a problem worldwide. It’s estimated roughly 15 million bikes are discarded by their owners every year. And, unsurprisingly, many of these unwanted bikes end up in landfills. The problem of bike waste can be helped with recycling. Although bike parts can be recycled into numerous innovative new products, it’s also possible to recycle them into brand new bikes.

Bicycle recycling: a growing trend

Bike recycling is increasing in popularity with much-needed shops and non-profit organizations springing up across the country. For example, Durango Cyclery in Durango, Colorado takes in old and unwanted bikes and recycles every part — even tubes and tires, so nothing ends up in the landfill. The recycled bikes are then sold on. Prices range from free to several hundred dollars depending on how much work went into building the bike. If a bike doesn’t require any work, it’s given away for free. Durango Cyclery has given away roughly two hundred bikes free of charge (mostly to young people).

Additionally, Recycle-A-Bike is a Providence non-profit, which recycles bicycles for the local community. They save roughly 600 bikes a year from ending up in landfills. Recycle-A-Bike empowers the local community by holding classes on how to fix and repair their own bikes using donated and recycled bike parts. The recycled bikes are also donated to local charities in need. For example, Recycle-A-Bike recently donated bikes to the Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, which needed to provide a reliable method of transport to refugees.

Do it yourself

If you have old bike parts you want to recycle into a new model, it’s possible to do the job yourself. Simple projects may just require you to get rid of any rust and apply a fresh coat of paint. When putting your bike together, it’s important to pay particular attention to the bicycle frame. The bicycle frame is the predominant factor that determines how comfortable (or not) your ride will be. In this respect, it’s even more important than the saddle. An easy way of determining whether the frame is the right size for your body is with the step-over test. To do this, simply stand upright over the middle of the frame. Make a note of how much space there is between your body and the bike. You want there to be at least one inch of clearance.

Alternatively, if you’re putting together a mountain bike, aim for two inches. It’s also important to position your saddle correctly. If the saddle is either too high or too low, you won’t be able to pedal effectively. Additionally, this can also leave you with back and knee pain over time. Make sure the saddle is in the right position by sitting on the bike while it leans against a wall. When your foot’s at the lowest pedaling point, your leg should bend about 90% of the way. This position should allow you to pedal efficiently while remaining comfortable.

Bike waste is a concerning problem all over the world, which needs addressing as soon as possible. Recycling and refurbishing your old bike is something you can do by yourself at home. Reusing whatever parts you can will help reduce landfill waste and make a positive impact on the environment.

Photo by Everton Vila on Unsplash