Eco bike care and maintenance
Unlike driving, riding a bike is a wonderfully eco-friendly way to travel. But, as with everything we do, there are always ways to make bike ownership and travel more sustainable. Read on to discover our tips for eco bike care, maintenance and riding.
5 minutes to read
How eco-friendly is your bike?
Even though riding a bike is a more sustainable way of getting around than most other methods, there are still areas in which your bike can have an environmental impact.
For instance, when your bike was first manufactured, it took energy (and its associated emissions), resources and packaging to create it and get it to your door.
Once you have it in your possession, several factors can affect your bike’s eco-credentials, including how you clean and maintain it, how you ride, where you ride and even how you choose to fuel yourself as the bike’s “engine”.
Benefits of travelling by bike
There are huge benefits that come with choosing cycling as your method of transport, and they’re not all environmental. Firstly, cycling helps build muscle, improves cardiovascular fitness, alleviates stress, improves your mood and gives you a dose of vitamin D in the form of sunlight.
Economically, it’s cheaper to own and maintain a bike than to run a car. And of course, the environmental benefits are huge. You won’t be creating any noise pollution, the emissions are tiny in comparison to cars, it’ll reduce wear and tear on roads and reduces the number of vehicles (private and public transport) on the roads too, especially when cycling is adopted by a large proportion of the population, like in the Netherlands.
Eco bike maintenance tips
Keeping your bike well maintained will improve your riding experience but also ensure it stays in good condition for many years. By repairing and maintaining your bike regularly, you’ll reduce the need to replace it, saving the environmental impact of manufacturing and packaging new bikes.
To reduce the carbon footprint of your bike’s maintenance needs, try the following:
- Service your bike (or ask a professional to do it for you) regularly and replace smaller parts sooner rather than later
- If you have an e-bike, charge it using renewable energy
- Use biodegradable cloths and/or waterless cleaners, but check they’re not toxic if they are likely to run into waterways and affect wildlife and water quality
- Use a bucket, not a hose, to reduce water use
- Responsibly dispose of rubber and plastic parts
- Patch and repair tyres where possible instead of replacing them
Eco bike equipment and purchasing
It’s inevitable that some parts of your bike will need to be replaced, and eventually that you’ll need to replace the bike itself. You will probably also want to buy other equipment, like a helmet, bags, a water bottle, or a GPS. There are some ways you can reduce the impact your purchases have, though, and being conscious with your purchasing choices is a great way to make bike ownership as sustainable as possible.
When buying equipment and replacement parts, try to do as much research as you can into the manufacturers’ sustainability policies, how they ensure a green supply chain and how they treat their suppliers, staff, and the planet. It might take a little longer to make a decision, but it’s time well spent if it helps reduce your personal impact on the planet.
Whenever you can, buy second-hand. This is especially good if you’re a new cyclist, as costs can soon mount up. Be aware though, buying a second-hand helmet is usually not recommended for safety reasons, so unless you are sourcing from someone you completely trust, and can guarantee it’s in good condition and never been involved in a collision, helmets are best bought new.
Once you’ve finished with a particular accessory, or the bike itself, look into ways you can sell them on locally. The more local your buyer is, the less impact because packaging and shipping shouldn’t be needed for someone nearby.
If you’re not ready to purchase yet, why not try renting a bike first, so you can make sure the bike you eventually purchase is exactly what you need.
Eco bike nutrition
Even though a bike doesn’t need fuel in the sense we usually think of it, you’ll still need to fuel yourself well for cycling.
Firstly, make sure you’re well-fuelled before you set off. This article about pre, during and post-ride eating says that for a fairly low-intensity ride of less than 2 hours, you shouldn’t need a snack top-up. However, that is dependent on what you ate before you left, and how intense your ride is likely to be.
It can be tempting to drop into a local shop or service station to pick up snacks on your journey, but with some pre-planning, you can make your cycling fuelling plastic-free and much cheaper too. Try making a small reusable snack box or bag with high-energy items such as nuts, then take it along for the ride. If you are taking pre-packaged snacks with you, make sure you’re taking all litter home, and dispose of it properly. It’s also a good idea to invest in a refillable water bottle, so you don’t need to stop to buy a single-use plastic bottle en route.
Being a conscious cyclist
In terms of how cycling can affect or help the environment, there are two main things to consider. Firstly, be careful about where you ride. If you’re cycling off-road, be aware of any signage that tells you whether using the route might disturb wildlife such as nesting birds. If this is the case, pick a different route, and leave the wildlife in peace.
However, travelling by bike can actually make you more aware of your local surroundings, and what you might be able to do to help. For example, have you spotted a patch of land or a park that might benefit from a wildflower area? There’s never any harm in contacting your local authority to make suggestions, and chances are, you probably would have sailed past in a car without a second thought.
Did you know that the single most important factor when it comes to riding enjoyment, comfort and efficiency is to make sure your ride height is correct. It’s very commonly overlooked, but very important. After all, if you don’t enjoy cycling, or it isn’t comfortable, you’re less likely to want to ride your bike. Also, the more efficiently you can ride, the less fuel you’ll need! For an easy tutorial on how to adjust your saddle to the correct height on a road bike, check out this article from Road Cycling UK.
Eco bike ownership – anything else?
We know there are a lot of keen cyclists out there, so if you have an eco bike tips for us, please drop it in the comments below so people can benefit from your knowledge and make even more of a difference.
If you’re ready to change more of your habits, inluding reducing your waste, considering green alternatives to everyday products and much more, click the links below to download the Ailuna app today and start building your habits with impact.