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I am working on an academic project that examines the sustainability metrics for bicycle frames made from different materials. I would greatly appreciate it if I could get some feed back on the following questions. You can answer in this thread, or send me an email to [email protected] Thanks.

With regard to the bicycle frame only,

Which of the following materials do you prefer?
Carbon Fiber
Titanium
Aluminum

Why?

Do you know of any possible human or environmental exposures to toxic substances during manufacture?

If you did, would that influence your material of choice?

When you bike is "out of service", what do you do with it?

How long does a typical frame last?

Do you have any idea of the relative amounts of energy used for production of a frame made with the materials above? (in other words, which frame takes the most energy to make)?
 

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Laminar said:
I am working on an academic project that examines the sustainability metrics for bicycle frames made from different materials. I would greatly appreciate it if I could get some feed back on the following questions. You can answer in this thread, or send me an email to [email protected] Thanks.

With regard to the bicycle frame only,

Which of the following materials do you prefer?
Carbon Fiber
Titanium
Aluminum

Why?

Do you know of any possible human or environmental exposures to toxic substances during manufacture?

If you did, would that influence your material of choice?

When you bike is "out of service", what do you do with it?

How long does a typical frame last?

Do you have any idea of the relative amounts of energy used for production of a frame made with the materials above? (in other words, which frame takes the most energy to make)?
Is steel not an option?
 

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Titanium is by far the most costly to produce but it looks like new technologies are coming down the pipe which will change that.

Steel is by far the most economical (from a long term use and dependability standpoint) material to make frames out of. It is durable, repairable, and with proper care can last a lifetime.
 

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Laminar said:
I am working on an academic project that examines the sustainability metrics for bicycle frames made from different materials. I would greatly appreciate it if I could get some feed back on the following questions. You can answer in this thread, or send me an email to [email protected] Thanks.

With regard to the bicycle frame only,

Which of the following materials do you prefer?
Carbon Fiber
Titanium
Aluminum

Why?

Do you know of any possible human or environmental exposures to toxic substances during manufacture?

If you did, would that influence your material of choice?

When you bike is "out of service", what do you do with it?

How long does a typical frame last?

Do you have any idea of the relative amounts of energy used for production of a frame made with the materials above? (in other words, which frame takes the most energy to make)?
I prefer titanium or a good cromo steel (alas not always available as an option). However, titanium frames are not made in the dimensions (geometry) that I prefer, so I go with cro-mo steel or aluminium.

I can't think of any overly hazardous effects of bicycle frame manufacture... but if you are doing this for uni, it shouldn't be beyond your capacity to investigate the full 'value-chain' or supply-chain connected with bike manufacture i.e. aluminium extraction, smelting, tube creation, cleaning, welding, transport, etc.

I think bikes are wonderfully environmentally friendly.. not only is bike riding more efficient than walking, but bikes produce zero emissions (apart from those used in manufacture)... so no, I would not be concerned overly with the processes used in manufacture of an aluminium, cro-mo, titanium, or carbon frame. I would however be happy that people had jobs making bicycles; especially if some of those jobs were retained in the West. If you want to examine an enviironmentally unfriendly industry - look at the computer industry or the electronics printed circuit board (PCB) industry in general.. they use some real nasties.

How long does a frame last? How long is a piece of string? Might last 1 year, or may last 10 years.

Yers, I have an idea of the energy used. Do you?
 

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lucifer said:
Titanium is by far the most costly to produce but it looks like new technologies are coming down the pipe which will change that.

Steel is by far the most economical (from a long term use and dependability standpoint) material to make frames out of. It is durable, repairable, and with proper care can last a lifetime.
Steel frames might last forever, but aluminium can be recycled very efficiently. So the economics is far from clear-cut...

http://www.kent.gov.uk/sp/waronwaste/materials/metal.html

http://www.wastewise.wa.gov.au/pages/recycling_aluminium.asp
 

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Laminar said:
Do you know of any possible human or environmental exposures to toxic substances during manufacture?
The frames are made primarily of tubing. You should be able to find info in the web for the manufacturing process of steel, alum, titanium, etc, tubing.

Welding creates fumes. Type "welding fumes" into your favorite web browser.

Paint has human and environmental issues. Frames are either wet painted, powder coated, or annodized. Try these searches:
"anodizing environment"
"painting environment"
"powder coating environment"

Sounds like an interesting project you're working on.
 

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What? You can't recycle steel? The average joe doens't recycle steel cans because the pay rate is a lot lower per pound than for aluminum, but steel recycles just fine.
 

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I'm afraid of your "academic" project. Don't save us!

Laminar said:
I am working on an academic project that examines the sustainability metrics for bicycle frames made from different materials. I would greatly appreciate it if I could get some feed back on the following questions. You can answer in this thread, or send me an email to [email protected] Thanks.

With regard to the bicycle frame only,

Which of the following materials do you prefer?
Carbon Fiber
Titanium
Aluminum

Why?

Do you know of any possible human or environmental exposures to toxic substances during manufacture?

If you did, would that influence your material of choice?

When you bike is "out of service", what do you do with it?

How long does a typical frame last?

Do you have any idea of the relative amounts of energy used for production of a frame made with the materials above? (in other words, which frame takes the most energy to make)?
The net effect to the environment of people using a bicycle is so superior, that I am afraid that some "academic" project is going to come out and tell us the dangers of this or that material..........
ANY bicycle, made in any material is GOOD. And if the frame is thrown into a land fill after 5 or 10 or 15 years......that is still OK.
Please don't come up with some foolish study that shows some bicycle frame material to be more "friendly" to the environment......leading to some foolish laws that either tax or promote some superior material. (ususally more expensive or less efficient for riding).

Its bad enough that some nut-cake legislators in California are already suggesting a recycling fee be added to every bike that is sold.

Environmentalists............LEAVE BIKES ALONE.......(leave well enough alone)

The best thing environmentalists can do is to leave their car at home and ride their bike.
Lead by example rather then doing studies showing us the proper materials to use to be environmentally correct.

ANY bike is good when ridden in place of a car, or bus, or fuel burning transport.
Bikes are a hundred times better than a Prius for the environment.

Huff, huff, huff..............................
 

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I don't know if molten metals off gas anything toxic (I think some do - possibly Ti?), but the epoxies used in making carbon fiber frames is definitely on the "don't breathe this" list. If you do cure your own carbon fiber, you might first want to visit the Pink Floyd thread, because you'll catch a wicked buzz.
 

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Rufudufus said:
My favorite frame: Magnesium alloy. Light and strong like aluminum, with the "give" of steel Keep away from open flames. :)
I thought magnesium is one of the worst materials from an environmental point of view though, as the manufacture can be done from Magnesium Chloride, giving off Chlorine as a by-product. I belive Michael Moore (not the greatest place to start I agree) said that the EPA's biggest polluting factory in the US a few years ago was a Magnesium factory in Utah.

For me I'm changing from aluminium bikes to some high quality Cro-Mo bikes. To lessen the impact I'm waiting till the aluminium bikes are shagged before replacing them.

Titanium is good, but I've also heard that it produces significantly more CO2 in production than steel, so I'm still sticking with steel here.

Carbon is all good, but I have large doubts about the life of it. I have no plans to buy carbon frames at all.

Bikes do have emmissions though ... as you burn more food and produce more CO2 when riding a bike compared to doing nothing. However, if you have to make a trip and can't do it by using natural power (wind, eg boat, or gravity eg down stream trips in a river), then bike or walking are fantastic options that I use as often as I can. Bikes also comsume oil for lubrication, rubber for tires etc. I'm not trying to be a di%k here, just trying to point out that cutting back your impact is easy, but having no impact is impossible in most cases.

-Chris
 

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bmadau said:
What? You can't recycle steel? The average joe doens't recycle steel cans because the pay rate is a lot lower per pound than for aluminum, but steel recycles just fine.
Yeah... but you need twice the temperature. Don't know how other processing steps add up though.
 

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stillkeen said:
I belive Michael Moore (not the greatest place to start I agree) said that the EPA's biggest polluting factory in the US a few years ago was a Magnesium factory in Utah.
Michael Moore is a great American.
 

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stillkeen said:
For me I'm changing from aluminium bikes to some high quality Cro-Mo bikes. To lessen the impact I'm waiting till the aluminium bikes are shagged before replacing them.

Titanium is good, but I've also heard that it produces significantly more CO2 in production than steel, so I'm still sticking with steel here.

Carbon is all good, but I have large doubts about the life of it. I have no plans to buy carbon frames at all.

Bikes do have emmissions though ... as you burn more food and produce more CO2 when riding a bike compared to doing nothing. However, if you have to make a trip and can't do it by using natural power (wind, eg boat, or gravity eg down stream trips in a river), then bike or walking are fantastic options that I use as often as I can. Bikes also comsume oil for lubrication, rubber for tires etc. I'm not trying to be a di%k here, just trying to point out that cutting back your impact is easy, but having no impact is impossible in most cases.

-Chris
Firstly, the emissions produced in manufacturing a zero emissions vehicle is minimal and relatively inconsequential.

As for your other waffle about increased CO2 expended through exercise... well, now you are being totally rediculous. The impact is minimal, regardless of how much oil you get through on a bicycle. 1 gallon is 8pints. Even the most wasteful oil wastrel is unlikely to use more than 8 pints in a whole lifetime of bike ownership.

Don't look at bikes. Look at your ridiculous American cars. They are the cause of global warming, peak oil, war, and your impending destruction.
 

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b12yan88 said:
Michael Moore is also a liar.
But Bush and co are bigger liars. Moore did a little selective editing in his documentaries... so what? Your media lies much much much much much much more than Moore; and they do it everyday.

Moore doesn't change the truth by much.
 

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kronik said:
But Bush and co are bigger liars. Moore did a little selective editing in his documentaries... so what? Your media lies much much much much much much more than Moore; and they do it everyday.

Moore doesn't change the truth by much.
If you put it that way, "Clintoon and co" are liars too......so what ? I don't really see your point. His selective editing changed the whole thing.
 

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kronik said:
Firstly, the emissions produced in manufacturing a zero emissions vehicle is minimal and relatively inconsequential.

As for your other waffle about increased CO2 expended through exercise... well, now you are being totally rediculous. The impact is minimal, regardless of how much oil you get through on a bicycle. 1 gallon is 8pints. Even the most wasteful oil wastrel is unlikely to use more than 8 pints in a whole lifetime of bike ownership.

Don't look at bikes. Look at your ridiculous American cars. They are the cause of global warming, peak oil, war, and your impending destruction.
Just pointing out that even the bicycle isnt emissions free.

Very bad calculations give me this. Say you burn 1000 calories per hour cycling, and cycle for two hours. Thats 2000 calories, so you need to consume 500 grams of carb's to give you that energy (4 calories per gram of carbs from what I've read). If your body converts that to CO2, then you'd produce around 1700 grams of CO2? (working from C + O2 = CO2). If you'd sat on the couch and read a book you'd have only burned maybe 200 calories. I don't have the time to actually google this to see if its even possible to view a human like a car engine .... If someone knows if you can do this please redo my calculations and see what you get. Maybe 1000 calories an hour is too much too?

When I purchase bicycle parts, or most other things these days, I look into the life expectancy of the product, the pollution in its manufacture and use, and the ability to fix it and keep it running. Also more and more into the company behind the product.

I purchased a second hand (better for environment than new) steel track frame last night ... so now I've got 50% steel bikes, 50% aluminium bikes). The next two bikes on the drawing board are also steel bikes. If I was really serious though, then I'd just use one bike for everything ... baby steps though, first I make better choices of bikes .... next who knows.
 

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b12yan88 said:
If you put it that way, "Clintoon and co" are liars too......so what ? I don't really see your point. His selective editing changed the whole thing.
No it didn't oh deluded one.
 
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