The Most Sustainable Bikes Are Purchased Used

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Originally published on Planetsave.

vintage bicycle roetz bike Environmentalists and active folks love bicycles, because they’re not only efficient and a fun way to stay fit, but they’re also probably the most sustainable method of transportation we have. But is buying a brand new bicycle really that environmentally friendly? After all, new bikes require an entire global supply chain to produce and distribute, along with the related environmental costs that an industrial system incurs.

One way that we can have a more sustainable and environmentally friendly bicycle is by riding a used bike, or refurbishing a vintage bicycle and extending its life for many more years of riding. However, not all of us are inclined to ride an older bike as is, or to overhaul a vintage bicycle ourselves, and the bike industry isn’t exactly supportive of us buying used bikes instead of a new model, because they make their money by selling brand new models and bike parts and accessories.

But a young bicycle brand based in the Netherlands, Roetz Bike, is working to make vintage bicycles and older bikes sexy again, by refurbishing them and putting them back on the road under their own marque.

vintage bicycleAccording to the company, more than a million bikes are sold each year in the Netherlands, which results in almost that many bikes being discarded thrown away. Roetz Bike takes the best quality of those vintage bicycles and recycles as much of them as possible into a “new” bike (or replaces the components that can’t be reused with others made from natural or renewable materials, such as wooden fenders/mudguards) that riders will be proud to pedal.

“In our opinion a bike is only sustainable when it has a long life. Therefore we make a robust bike. This means that for all components we choose for high quality and A-brands.” – Roetz Bike

This funky little animation introduces the Roetz Bike concept (it’s in Dutch, but still worth a watch):

Because these refurbished vintage bicycles aren’t mass-produced, each one is a unique bike, and come with a five year guarantee on the frame. These bike frames all come from discarded or abandoned bicycles, some of them from traditional Dutch “grandma” bikes, which could be up to 50 years old. Prospective buyers can specify the type of frame desired, as well as the frame size needed to fit them, and then each bicycle is assembled and built specifically to those specs in about 4 weeks.

In addition to building custom vintage bicycles, Roetz Bike also offers unique bike accessories, including “dress guards” for the rear wheel made from old conveyor belts, saddlebags made from wood and conveyor belts, cork handlebar grips, and locally-made wooden crates for hauling stuff on the rear bike rack.

Prices for Roetz Bike models start at € 539 (~ $738 USD), with the additional option for three- or five-speed gearing, fenders, lighting, transport packages (front carrier and crate), and more, depending on the model. Check out all your options for getting one of these refurbished vintage bicycles for yourself at Roetz Bike.

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Derek Markham

Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee.

Derek Markham has 467 posts and counting. See all posts by Derek Markham

2 thoughts on “The Most Sustainable Bikes Are Purchased Used

  • Of course. In general just about anything used is better because you don’t expend the embodied energy again.

  • “Recycles” ( here in Copenhagen are doing the same thing. It’s a great way to reduce waste.
    In my own company ( we’re building bike baskets that lasts a lot longer than the normal ones and are more practical. So we do our best to promote the bicycle culture!

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