February 3, 2009

Waste not, want not

People often ask me “Mr. Cippolini – which is the greater joy: making love to a beautiful supermodel, or winning a stage of the Tour de France?”

I mean, they ask me “do you have any scrap tubing I can have?”

I get asked that first one too, though. Sometimes.

Anyway, with the exception of tiny little cutoff bits, I really don’t usually have scrap tubes laying around – because I re-use almost everything.

Here’s a picture of the reject tube bucket. There are 3 things that go into “Homer” here:

-Tubes I cut too short, or that I mitered wrong, or that I bent wrong, or did who knows what to mess up. These will (mostly) live to see another day on a smaller frame. I take a magic marker and write the part number and what’s wrong, then try to remember to root through when I’m building a bike for which the tube might work well.
-Tubes I ordered that I decided I didn’t like or want. This usually has to do with some kind of miscalculation on my part, but sometimes someone will change their mind mid-stream and decide, for example, that they want a compact road bike instead of a, say, tandem Penny Farthing (just kidding, I’d never build a compact road bike). I usually don’t charge anyone for the tubes unless they’ve made me order something *really* weird, because I figure I’ll use everything sooner or later.
-Orphans. Orphan tubes, that is. This isn’t the kind of shop in Dickens, after all. Usually things like 1″ steerers (I like to keep a couple around to make sure I can do a 1″ fork quickly if needed) and other parts that would get easily lost if thrown in with other stuff, but aren’t numerous or important enough for their own box on the shelf.

My favorite re-use trick: Cut off the top of the steerer (which is .049×1.125″ OX platinum) and use the pieces to make fork crowns. Great stuff, and especially nice since the steerers come 15″ long stock (a bunch of that’s gonna get cut off and thrown away unless I use it for something). Also saves me a buck or two on each fork, since I don’t have to buy 4130 by the foot to use to make crowns. In some cases, of course, this won’t work (for CX forks, for example, I use 1″ stock for the crowns) but I’m easily able to use all the extra steerer material I have.

In any case, I only make a trip to the recycling center about once every 6 months, which is something I’m pretty proud of. Reusing stuff beats recycling it any day, and the amount of effort we put into making things out of refined metals, to then throw them away astounds me.