Known as the most efficient transport mode in the world, the bicycle makes a strong case for the future of how we get around, and also on how we have fun. It’s popularity across the globe continues to grow and with its highly effective chain/cog system, light weight and zero emissions, the future looks healthy.
However, manufacturing bikes does have an unavoidable impact on the environment. Arguably less than so the average SUV, it still has an impact. Like with any products, fabricating frames using the popular materials and methods available can be a resource- and energy-hungry pursuit, and with the many ingredients used, even toxic.
Moving part of our production to the EU afforded us the chance to investigate reducing our impact on the environment and those who inhabit it, while still ensuring the highest possible quality. Looking closely at how the bike industry paints framesets, we found some opportunities to improve, taking the decision to relook our entire finishing process. Borrowing from European automotive industry knowledge, we now use a complete waterborne refinishing paint system – this new technology points the way forward, moving away from the traditional harmful solvent based solutions.
When it comes to reducing the impact on the environment, these waterborne products reduce solvent emissions by up to 90% when compared to conventional solvent borne basecoat systems, and they comply with strict EU environmental (VOC) and European Solvent Emission Directive regulations. In some cases the system exceeds them, all resulting in cleaner air in the facility and the air around us.
There are some significant spin-off effects too. The new pigmentation technology makes for greater opacity, saving up to 30% of material use and reducing time in the spray booth. The paint is packaged in specially designed bottles, and this, combined with the advanced formulas used, makes them easier to mix, saving more time. Also, the technicians are able to use up the residual paint, reducing waste and the disposal of the paints. This is especially important with our custom colour program offering.
We continue to look for more ways to reduce our impact on communities and on the planet. Although our switch to the latest painting technology makes no difference to the slick, shiny finish you see on SwiftCarbon frames, it certainly does to the planet.