Recently, I discovered much to my surprise that one of my children had grown – again! I mean how dare he, it never stops! Of course, I say this in jest; but this does mean that as a parent we face a constant challenge to keep them in clothes that fit and most importantly (in my view) on a bike that is fit for purpose! With all the news coverage regarding climate change and many discussions with Modeshift’s very own James Hardie, I have begun to look inwardly at our own broader sustainability.

The Thinking

“I need to get a new bike for my child, but how can I do it more sustainable way”

I mean cycling by itself is sustainable right? No need for fuel, gives you some exercise and it doesn’t produce pollutants. But this got me thinking about the energy that goes into making the bike. I would take a reasonable guess to say that most children’s bikes manufactured on the other side of the world will travel further during shipping than it will during the life of that bike with a single child. I think you know where this goes next…

Now, full disclosure. I have been here before with the other child that wouldn’t stop growing. Before I continue, I am an avid cyclist and early on in my cycling life I invested in some tools a work stand and some manuals and became a self-taught bike mechanic. Having these skills certainly help but they are not essential as a local bike shop can easily help you out.

The Search

So, I start searching a very well-known online auction site and also a well know market place. What was I looking for? 20inch bike, with gears that looks in reasonable condition from a reputable brand with a reasonable price point to match.

Well, there are some good deals out there to be had. I would now like take the opportunity to mention that you must conduct some due diligence when reviewing the bikes. I must say I took my time to look at the listings over several weeks to find that just right bike (completely subjective).

The Investment

So £85.00 later and a collection on a journey that was already being made, we had the bike! Was that the end? Well, no, not quite. A check over, service and clean down later it was ready to go. Now if you don’t have the tools, don’t worry. You can support your local bike shop, they will do a thorough job and you will still save some money comparing to buying a new one!

I bet you are wondering what the issues were, well here they are. Apart from the chainset needing a good clean the bike was in good condition. Two issues – It did have the brakes set up for Europe – ie backwards to what we have in the UK AND the tyres were on backwards. Other than that the bike is great.

The best thing is, it is a fantastic bike and in great condition. The bike itself was manufactured in Cambodia, so I hope that it’s new rider will go some way to offsetting that mileage in addition to it’s first owner. And what about when he grows again? Well we will put it on the market and use our investment to reinvest in the next bike – you see a cycle!

The Learning

So what did I learn?

  • Giving a used bike to a child is no different to handing them a new bike – the reaction is priceless!
  • I love these projects – in fact enjoy them more as you can get really involved in the process.
  • It feels good to refresh a bike and know that it will continue to be used for the next few years.
  • It feels good to know that the energy gone into producing that bike will continue be offset.
  • Saving money was not the main motivation.
  • Hopefully my £85.00 went towards the purchase of another bike for the previous owner.
  • Kids grow – but I am sure there will be another child looking for a bike when that happens.

In Summary

If you are in the market for a ‘new’ bike, don’t discount what is already out there. Now, I am a huge advocate for support local businesses and of course if you want to buy new then absolutely! But if you are interested in re-CYCLING and bike do your research and give it a go!

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