Bluey the bike

I took my bike into a shop to get it serviced last week.  The last time it had been near a bike mechanic was about February.  When I came back the next day to pick it up the mechanic shook his head sagely at me and said that I needed new wheel rims, chain, wires, cogs, pedals etc… sum total quote $675.

Problem was this quote was for a bike I bought for $699 two and half years ago.  I’ve subsequently seen a newer model of the same bike for sale in another shop for $599.  So, ethical question for Green consumers: Should I repair (‘completely refit’) my bike and not buy a shiny new one, thus costing myself money, or should I buy the new bike and get rid of the old one, thus unnecessarily adding to the amount of unneeded stuff in the world?

It’s a good bike that has been loyal and I have rode it nearly every day up or down the hill I live on, which is why the rims and wires have had such a rough life. And I know that either choice is cheaper than the alternatives – a bus pass or a car. But it seems funny that repairing a bike costs more than buying a new one. There’s something out of kilter with our economic system there.

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12 thoughts on “Bluey the bike

  1. I’d get a second quote for the work.

    It would be interesting to understand how much of the pricing is labour and how much materials. I the bike is made in a low-wage producer economy (v. likely) then it is no surprise a new one can be built and shipped here, with profits extracted at every step, for less than what it costs to get an expensive local resource to fix it. Particularly if they’re doing a zillion at a time. Consumer economies like us basically have to have higher wage rates to sustain their consumption, and yes, this does cause more waste.

    Disclaimer: I’m not a proper economist (but sometimes play one on the interweb) – I just calls it like I sees it.

    How much of the work can you competently do yourself, and do you have the time?

  2. K1 – i did get a second quote – slightly less but not significantly. Obviously influenced by quality and brand of components. The point you make about the competitive advantage that large low wage economies have over small high wage ones is right. Although labour ($80) is not the significant component of that $675.
    I’m not a competent mechanic. I even hate changing tires and brake pads. And I’d rather pay someone who wants to do it so I can spend my time being paid to do something i want to do 😉 Thanks for the advice.

  3. Have you seen the bamboo-framed bike? With one of those in your stable, you could grow your own replacement parts! I’m wondering if bamboo might be the answer to metal and plastic parts in essential ‘tools’ like glasses-frames etc. And for sucking carbon out of the air and putting it into the soil (does it make good charcoal?) Pressure coming on makes for creative thinking, I find 🙂

  4. Well steve, I feel your pain; ive spent about four to five times the purchase price on bike repairs in the last two to three years; it got so expensive I just started taking the bus to uni (its free, lol).
    We certainly need some new way of creating these products, eaither that or, shock, horror, they stop desiging in planned obselecance – now that is a very non-green sales plan!

  5. You could always try to find someone with a similar bike that has completely different broken parts and create some sort of monstrous hybrid superbike that-

    Okay, excuse me, I’m geeking out. 🙂

  6. My last dump bike cost $10 only required inflation of tyres and after being – appropriated by a flat mate is still going strong.

  7. Yvonne: Interesting comment, since metal and plastic in their respective ages have replaced bamboo (and other organic/wood materials) as a building block of choice.

  8. Yeah i had the same problem – I bought my bike second hand for $200 and took it into get fixed…they quoted me $250…so I asked them to bring it down under the cost price and just fix what REAAAAALLLY needed to be fixed – $130 in the end. Of course I may die, when one of the parts I didn’t replace craps out hurtling down Symonds Street, but I feel better about it 😀

  9. Dan – next year is the ‘year of the fibre’ or something along those lines. It will be very interesting to see what modern artifacts can be produced from natural fibres. Hemp is the emperor of fibres of course, but there are many others. In NZ we have the vastly under rated harakeke. Have you seen the korari surfboards? Very nice. Raupo (bullrush) is an amazing material – incredibly light and insulating. There are opportunities here for us to hit the front of the manufacturing wave, if we are quick.

  10. Yeah, Xavier’s plan seems like the best alternative – go for the most basic maintanence possible within your budget – gears and brakes most likely. Do the components really need replacing?

    See how little you can get done and get away with – I’m sure they’ll understand, and if they don’t, then find a friendlier mechanic!

  11. Its good up here at massey turitea, we have a charity group called ‘green bikes’ that takes old bikes that are donated and remakes them. they give them to students and such to use for free for as long as they want on the condition that they return the bike when you nolonger need it. they do free repairs and such if they have the parts or you bring the parts to them. though they are quite underfunded and need more old bikes.

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