Bikes have been built by cyclists for cyclists since the mountain bike boom at the end of the 1980s. In this corner of leisure activities, fads and functions have become sales arguments that the majority of riders cannot even experience or that have brought them little or no benefit. These sales strategies led to ever shorter half-lives of so-called standards for tyres, hubs, bottom brackets and fork steerer dimensions, etc.
What was hip one season was an old hat one or two years later already. That wouldn't be so bad if it weren't for the lack of spare parts and the non-reparability of many a bicycle resulting thereof.
The industry has been riding the electric bike wave for 10 years now, but largely ignores the fact that the “E” on the bike changes almost everything. Historically weight-optimised brake pads and discs that wear out after a few downhill rides, super-slim chains with equally filigree cassette sprockets that are scrap metal after less than a thousand kilometres, designs that are not able to bear the generally tougher loads due to extra weight, higher mileage and child transport and break, as well as continued hectic model changes in combination with poor spare parts supply quickly compromises the basically good life cycle assessment of e-bike riding.
Especially in the past few years, we have seen an extremely dynamic change in the market and thus in the industry, caused in part by the e-bike, which has made the manufacturers' cash registers ringing loudly. By now at the latest it is time to actually complete the transformation from the sports and hobby corner into genuine sustainable mobility. Otherwise, unsustainable production and products that wear out quickly may become the issue and our halo will get a scratch that can hardly be removed.
Dirk Zedler is graduate engineer, bicycle expert and managing director of Zedler-Institut, the reference lab for bicycle technology and safety.