Green Gear Cycling, Inc is committed to making environmentally benign decisions in our choices of the products we make, the materials we use and the processes with which we manufacture.
Bike Friday was born out of a love of cycling. We ride to get away from the stresses of modern society, to fill our lungs with clean, fresh air, to be surrounded by the natural green of the grass and trees.
To ride with others. Things like blue sky and wild animals are important to the experience! Cycling, however, is not very enjoyable when the air is foul and the scenery is the color of concrete.
Many people do not know that our company name is not Bike Friday. That is the name of our bicycle product line. Our company name is Green Gear Cycling, Inc. We named ourselves this to remind us that we have a choice of how we use resources, in the decisions on what we produce and how we sell. It has helped us keep a small footprint, a very important attribute if you are trying not to step on the flowers.
Manufacturers are often associated with pollution and waste. Putting economic desires over the good of the communities in which they reside. Polluting the air and water, but more astoundingly, poisoning the people who work for them and buy from them. What happens to the generations that come after us? What kind of world will they inherit? As I write this, my daughter is just turning one. I've always felt that our actions should consider future generations, but now there is a sense of urgency that has suddenly become personal. We have seen the degradation of our region in our lifetime.
Green Gear/Bike Friday is trying to do its part to be a solution instead of part of the problem. We have made many choices over the years that could have had much different results if we didn't consciously decide on the benign.
Here is a short list of past projects in which the decision to reduce waste and toxicity were consciously made:
Just in Time manufacturing. "JIT" has been lauded as a production system that increases quality and reduces waste. What you don't hear too often, is that it is a more benign production process. If applied properly, JIT attacks waste on all levels and includes the people that work within the system to identify where waste occurs. Waste in all its forms. From poor ergonomics, to what gets recycled and the system that handles the materials. Anything that goes to the landfill is a potential revenue source and is viewed as waste. The ultimate goal in JIT is to have full cycle manufacturing where nothing exits the production stream other than the desired product.
Powder Coating. We adopted Powder Coating at the very beginning of the company in 1991. This was at a time that it was understood that Imron spray paint was the bicycle finish of choice. However, we knew that automotive quality spray paints were full of organic poisons. We wanted to be good neighbors and conscientious employers. So what if we could get a fan and wear special clothing. The waste liquids and vapors have to go somewhere and a lot of them cannot be controlled. The real cost of that kind of activity are never fully understood.
* Powder coating is a highly durable coating with an excellent finish. It has near zero volatiles and the waste can be baked into a block and is inert enough to be put in the landfill. (We are trying to find a use for it though so it doesn't go into the landfill.)
Metal Preparation. Most bikes are still made of metal of some sort. Metals are often prepared for painting by using acid etching chemicals. These are used to both clean the surface and to prevent the surface from flash rusting while it is sitting around waiting to be painted. Green Gear learned early on that these chemicals were not good for our employees or the environment. They consume large amounts of water in the buffering process that deals with waste before they are flushed into the sewer system (yes, flushed into the sewer system). What we discovered with our JIT production system, which deals with each bike individually (not in batches), was that the bikes don't sit around in the air long enough to flash rust. Now each Bike Friday get fully sand blasted and immediately coated. Blasting provides a cleaner surface with a rough texture that holds the powder coating better and doesn't put the operator at risk and we don't need the thousands of gallons of tainted water that would enter our waterways if we used chemical etching.
Bike Friday's Pre-loved bike program. How about a system that kept bikes running long after most other bikes had been relegated to permanent storage or the dump. That's the beauty of the Bike Friday Certified Pre-loved bike program. It is modeled after the European concept that companies should be responsible for the products they put out into the public throughout the products full life cycle. Our pre-loved program does that and more. From what we can tell, Bike Fridays have the highest resale value of any bike on earth. Our customers like quality and innovative bikes and Bike Friday is happy to deliver them. But what happens to the old bike when a customer decides to upgrade? Does it sit slowly rotting away in the garage like many bikes? Is it sold at fire sale prices? No, Bike Friday gives a substantial portion of their original purchase price back to the customer when they trade up. Instead of disposing of the bikes, we refurbish them, give a near to new warranty and offer them at a reasonable price to someone who may not be able to afford the latest models. When a bike comes back that is just too worn, we part out the good stuff and recycle the bad stuff. About the only thing that still goes to the dump are the tires and old saddles.
Eugene's Toxic Right to Know. This is probably the strictest toxic material reporting law in the country. Even though Green Gear/Bike Friday has continued to grow, our programs to reduce waste and toxins in our system have kept us well below the required reporting level. This is where we want to stay.
Where do we go from here? Green Gear Cycling has plans for the future. We will continue to banish waste wherever it is found. Bigger projects include renewable energy sources to run our shop. We are considering putting in a generator that runs off of used fryer oil and adding solar panels to the roof.
You have our commitment to the future.
Bike Friday co-founders