Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

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Comedian
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Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:00 pm

I found this article... pretty interesting. It seems that if you want to do the right thing by the environment, carbon isn't a great choice. I'm conscious that many bikes that are primarily aluminium, steel, or titanium may still have many carbon parts.

It would appear the best thing you can do is choosing a bike that lasts longer and replace them less often - rather than when the colours change.

“It wasn’t just one thing. It was many,” he says, recounting how his lungs burned after an easy ride outside Dongguan, China, where coal-fired power plants cast a cloud over the industrial city. At the factory that was to make his frames, Kokkonen saw just how much water, electricity, and human labor is required to lay, mold, and bond the carbon, a process that entails working with toxic resins. Then there’s the waste. “We knew that carbon fiber is not recyclable, but our idea was to create a frame that was indestructible, so at least we could increase the product lifespan,” Kokkonen says. But when he asked what the facility did with the excess carbon trimmed off each frame—about a third of every carbon sheet is wasted—he was shocked by the answer: “They said they dump it in the ocean.”


https://www.outsideonline.com/2261721/dirty-secret-hiding-your-high-end-mountain-bike

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baabaa
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby baabaa » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:11 pm

and here with a first-time when it is worth reading the (495) comment
Carbon Conundrum - Pole Bicycles Ditch Their Plastic Project
https://www.pinkbike.com/news/carbon-co ... oject.html

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby trailgumby » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:19 pm

I posted it on a few FB groups. Lots of page views but next to no comments. Seems like the question "but is it (carbon fibre) an ethical choice?" was a bit uncomfortable.

That said, I have a CF bike and lots of CF componentry (rims, bars, seatposts) on my alloy frames. How manufacturers handle their carbon waste will definitely be a factor in the next bike I purchase.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby g-boaf » Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:53 pm

Comedian wrote:It would appear the best thing you can do is choosing a bike that lasts longer and replace them less often - rather than when the colours change.


Actually, it would seem the best thing you can do is not buy bicycles of any sort. Just walk.

All bicycles have to be manufactured somehow, and that manufacturing is not good for the environment either. There is inevitably some negative impacts of this manufacturing.

What is the environmental impact of using titanium?

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MichaelB
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby MichaelB » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:57 pm

It would be interesting to do a proper comparison between the relative inputs of ALL the key manufacturing items/materials in terms of power, water, raw materials, fuel etc to produce.
Citing an example of pollution in China is a bit of a misnomer and attributing it solely to CF is waaaay off the mark.

Pollution (air, land and water) is a major issue (and and understatement) there due to the export push.

That said, better recycling would be a step fwd

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby find_bruce » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:13 pm

Given that aluminium is solidified electricity, I am strugling to see how that could be an more environmentally friendly alternative.

But yes, re-use is better

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:40 pm

g-boaf wrote:
Comedian wrote:It would appear the best thing you can do is choosing a bike that lasts longer and replace them less often - rather than when the colours change.


Actually, it would seem the best thing you can do is not buy bicycles of any sort. Just walk.

All bicycles have to be manufactured somehow, and that manufacturing is not good for the environment either. There is inevitably some negative impacts of this manufacturing.

What is the environmental impact of using titanium?

Good question. Titanium like most metals is recyclable .. in fact it sounds as though "titanium solids" are sought after. Whether it happens or not I'm unclear. I've only ever met one person with a Ti bike that has been scrapped/retired. I'm sure they would rather deal with scrap from an aeroplane which might have several tonnes of Ti.

http://www.tmr.net.au/services-scrap-titanium-nickel/exotic-metals/

The thing is this article got me thinking.. my Ti bikes probably have nearly as much carbon fibre as titanium by weight. At a guess I'd say my 7kg bike would be probably about 2kg of titanium (of which the frame is only a little over half that), probably another couple of steel, probably another 1.5kg of CF components, and I guess the rest would be varying alloys and plastics.

I remember talking to a lady who ran a bike touring operation in Europe. Her bike (Litespeed) had circa 170k on it - but the frame was the only original bit as everything else had been replaced, some components many times..

I think the takeout is to have less bikes, and make them last longer whatever they are made out of.
Last edited by Comedian on Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:43 pm

trailgumby wrote:I posted it on a few FB groups. Lots of page views but next to no comments. Seems like the question "but is it (carbon fibre) an ethical choice?" was a bit uncomfortable.

That said, I have a CF bike and lots of CF componentry (rims, bars, seatposts) on my alloy frames. How manufacturers handle their carbon waste will definitely be a factor in the next bike I purchase.

See my comment above.. even my Titanium bikes have a significant percentage of CF by weight. Most aluminium bikes I can think of on the market are much the same.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby duncanm » Tue Nov 28, 2017 8:56 pm

'toxic resins' -- ooga booga!

Really - your best bet it to not buy anything out of a cheap (dangerous to workers, no environmental controls, etc) manufacturing source like China.

Just about anything manufactured involves something toxic to humans somewhere in its process. Paint, primers, glues, plastics, etc.
Epoxy resins aren't especially toxic.

Are you worried about the 2-pack paint on your car? Think Bhopal.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby human909 » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:37 pm

Most carbon based bicycle are sold more on BLING BLING than on practicality. Do you see much carbon on dutch commuter bikes? Even as far as road bikes go the difference in performance is pretty much equivalent to emptying your bladder. Everybody is free to have a passion and a hobby. I used to spend(waste) money on computer BLING BLING. But lets at least be honest to ourselves.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Lukeyboy » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:38 pm

Don't buy any bike parts. They all cost too much and will break eventually :)

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Lukeyboy » Tue Nov 28, 2017 11:42 pm

human909 wrote:Most carbon based bicycle are sold more on BLING BLING than on practicality. Do you see much carbon on dutch commuter bikes? Even as far as road bikes go the difference in performance is pretty much equivalent to emptying your bladder. Everybody is free to have a passion and a hobby. I used to spend(waste) money on computer BLING BLING. But lets at least be honest to ourselves.


All my commuter bling keeps getting flagged on Strava :(

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby fat and old » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:21 am

human909 wrote:Most carbon based bicycle are sold more on BLING BLING than on practicality. Do you see much carbon on dutch commuter bikes? Even as far as road bikes go the difference in performance is pretty much equivalent to emptying your bladder. Everybody is free to have a passion and a hobby. I used to spend(waste) money on computer BLING BLING. But lets at least be honest to ourselves.


I'm.......with him! :shock: :lol: Except on the bladder thing. i'm 53 see.....

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Nobody » Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:58 am

Haven't knowingly bought CFRP for about a decade. None on my, or my family's bikes. Living in an affluent society, I'm sure I already contribute much to the destruction of the environment without unnecessarily adding to it.
Last edited by Nobody on Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:57 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby human909 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:01 am

Lukeyboy wrote:All my commuter bling keeps getting flagged on Strava :(

If you're getting flagged on Strava for fast times I think you should give credit where it is due. (It isn't the carbon or the 9th, 10th, 11th cassette sprocket....)

Lukeyboy wrote:Don't buy any bike parts. They all cost too much and will break eventually :)

Eventually should be a couple of decades or preferably more.

(And as your own photos show it isn't just carbon that is the culprit.)

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby duncanm » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:44 am

If you want to do the right thing - buy used, keep it running for as long as practical.

I have a 25yo carbon composite bike which does me fine.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Comedian » Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:58 am

duncanm wrote:If you want to do the right thing - buy used, keep it running for as long as practical.

I have a 25yo carbon composite bike which does me fine.


There is one lady who races locally.. she's on her third CF Giant in 12 months. I'd say she's not as much of an outlier as you. :mrgreen:

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Cyclophiliac » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:13 am

I bought a CrMo alloy framed touring bike 9 years ago, and have done 110,000km on it since then, mostly on commutes. The only original parts are the frame, brifters and handlebars. So I like to think that its impact on the environment has been as minimal as possible.
My only other bike is a CF framed road bike, bought 5 years ago, which I've done about 10,000km on, and I plan to use that for as long as possible also.
I don't like switching bikes often, anyway, because then I feel like they're not really mine, but just a "loan", so I wouldn't get as attached to them.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby g-boaf » Wed Nov 29, 2017 9:30 am

Funny thing, I never saw any of those stereotypical commuter bikes in Europe. It was all just mountain bikes or regular old flat-bar bikes, but nothing looking like a step-over bike or any of those bikeshare bikes we see all over the streets here in Sydney.

Comedian wrote:
duncanm wrote:If you want to do the right thing - buy used, keep it running for as long as practical.

I have a 25yo carbon composite bike which does me fine.


There is one lady who races locally.. she's on her third CF Giant in 12 months. I'd say she's not as much of an outlier as you. :mrgreen:


What on earth is going on? Third CF Giant in 12 months? Mine are absolutely trouble free and I do heaps of kilometres on them. Mine I've had for a lot of years. I use them for commuting, fast rides, one has gone overseas with me and survived air-travel no problem.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby silentC » Wed Nov 29, 2017 10:46 am

Image
"If your next bike does not have disc brakes, the bike after that certainly will"
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby RonK » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:11 am

Chinese steel mills are such environmentally friendly places...

Image

Use once and discard. "But" you protest - "steel bikes are recyclable".
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby RonK » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:20 am

Our very own polluter - the aluminium smelter at Boyne Island, Gladstone.

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby silentC » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:21 am

I've given up worrying about this stuff. Humans as a species are beyond saving. Individuals are motivated and conscientious but collectively the apathy is overwhelming.
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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby Calvin27 » Wed Nov 29, 2017 11:26 am

A environmental impact assessment would be interesting. I rekon the carbon frame would come out on top - theoretically it has infinite fatigue life unlike steel or alu. However the former cannot be easily repaired. The problem however is no one makes really robust carbon frames, they are almost exclusively race weight weenie stuff. A Hard nosed carbon I suspect might last a pretty long time.

However all of this pales in comparison to the environmental damage of bloody bicycle standards. Meaning it forces the consumer to change bike more frequently than they would.
Fast light bike
Cushy dirt bike
Workhorse bike
No brakes bike
Ebike :)

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Re: Carbon bikes - environmental disaster?

Postby hamishm » Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:03 pm

Calvin27 wrote:A environmental impact assessment would be interesting. I rekon the carbon frame would come out on top - theoretically it has infinite fatigue life unlike steel or alu.

Obviously you didn't read that other thread where people are claiming that a carbon frame with 40k km on it is a death trap :-) viewtopic.php?f=12&t=96484

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