Friday, October 24, 2008

Old Bikes Around the World

In most parts of the world, old bicycles are more than just a novelty or a hobby--they're a way of life. Old bicycles, many of which have already seen decades of use, are still used and maintained by people everywhere who can't afford to buy new bicycles, scooters, or cars.

Jakarta, Indonesia

Like the fellow in Africa who made his own bicycle-mounted radio and earns money taxiing villagers over unpaved roads, there are thousands of others who use, reuse, and innovate old bicycles as everyday transportation.

 Kolkata, India

In many cases, their livelihoods depend on being mobile, and old bikes are the only way for them to get around. As more folks in the industrial world fall upon hard times, the same "keep it running" ethic that has kept old bikes rolling in so-called "developing" nations must be adopted here--not only for bicycles, but for everything we use every day.

Bicycle Repair Shop in La Antigua, Guatemala
Photo by Rudy Giron

It's time--past time, really--to unlearn the "newer is better" mentality so many of us have grown up with. If we're going to learn to do more with less (and we will most certainly have to), we're going to need to turn away from brand-new retail shops and toward our garages, local yard sales, and thrift shops. Just like most of the world already knows, there are a whole bunch of very serviceable old bicycles out there (and everything else) just waiting to be used again.


  1. An excellent blog. I also like old bikes. My town bike, rescued from a lake some years ago, does thousands of kilometres a year and (almost) never lets me down.

  2. Thanks David! I'm diggin' your blog, too, and your baskets are amazing! I hope the dollar/Euro exchange rate equalizes soon, though, so I can afford one! For now I'll have to make do with a thrift store basket wired up with some coat hangers!