Bicycles

Scrap metal Bike Shift Lever cuts costs for cyclists

Scrap metal Bike Shift Lever c...
One Street Components' Bike Shift Lever is made from scrap aluminum, along with a bottle cap, hose clamp, and a regular nut and bolt
One Street Components' Bike Shift Lever is made from scrap aluminum, along with a bottle cap, hose clamp, and a regular nut and bolt
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One Street Components' Bike Shift Lever is made from scrap aluminum, along with a bottle cap, hose clamp, and a regular nut and bolt
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One Street Components' Bike Shift Lever is made from scrap aluminum, along with a bottle cap, hose clamp, and a regular nut and bolt
It can be used with front or rear derailleurs, through all gear ranges
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It can be used with front or rear derailleurs, through all gear ranges
One Street is now offering Bike Shift Lever packages to nonprofit bike programs around the US and the rest of the world
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One Street is now offering Bike Shift Lever packages to nonprofit bike programs around the US and the rest of the world
Scrap aluminum being melted down in Sue Knaup's first furnace
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Scrap aluminum being melted down in Sue Knaup's first furnace
Aluminum getting the same treatment in the second furnace
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Aluminum getting the same treatment in the second furnace
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For millions of people, bicycles are more than just a source of recreation – they're a depended-upon means of transportation. Unfortunately for many of those people, however, they can't afford to buy decent parts when their old ones wear out. That's why Arizona-based bicycle advocacy nonprofit One Street Components has announced a new project, which will allow partnering groups to make shift levers from readily-available materials including scrap aluminum and bottle caps.

The Bike Shift Lever was conceived by One Street's executive director Sue Knaup, after she learned that bicycle-supplying/repairing programs around the world were having trouble locating quality affordable components – particularly shifters.

"A bike shift lever only has to pull a cable," she says. "Everyday cyclists should not have to choose between junk shifters made from plastic and pot metal or race-designed shifters that cost a month’s wages. Both types wear out within months of daily use and cannot be repaired."

The non-indexed lever that she subsequently designed consists of two parts made from waste aluminum that's been melted down and cast in a mold, along with a bottle cap, hose clamp, and a regular nut and bolt. It can be used with front or rear derailleurs, through all gear ranges.

Scrap aluminum being melted down in Sue Knaup's first furnace
Scrap aluminum being melted down in Sue Knaup's first furnace

The first furnace that she made to melt the aluminum was housed within a flower pot, and utilized charcoal fanned by a hand pump as a heat source. She has since moved up to a brick furnace that utilizes a hair dryer.

One Street is now offering Bike Shift Lever packages to nonprofit bike programs around the US and the rest of the world. Groups have to pay a one-time licensing fee, after which they will receive a casting mold, casting training, a finishing jig, network marketing, and technical support. They're then free to produce and sell all the levers they want, keeping the proceeds to further their own work.

Should you just like the look of the lever and want one for yourself, you can buy them direct from One Street for US$20 a pop. They also work as throttles or chokes on things like motorcycles, boats or yard equipment.

Source: One Street Components

View gallery - 5 images
7 comments
Bill Bennett
The hose clamp is a big turn off, at least use a German clamp, or a crimp type clamp.
wle
SO silly a. how many ppl ride a bike enough to break or wear the shifters out? b. how much metal is in a shifter? c. how much energy is used in melting scrap etc.? they could just ship some crappy generic shifters to the places that need them how much easier can it be to acquire, operate, store, maintain these things? [except that i assume it all came from some government pork barrel..] wle
Slowburn
I would use wood.
Sean Killackey
I don't understand this.. I have been an everyday, year-long rider for 12 years in Toronto. I am quite hard on the 2 bikes I've had. I have never had a shift lever break.. what are people doing to them?? I'm all for the overall concept and goal.. but why shift levers.. I've never heard my cash-strapped cycling friends say.. "I'd bike, if only I could get cheap shift levers."
Lee Bell
@Sean, You probably keep your bikes inside. A lot of us don't have that capability or room. When left outside in the sun those cheap plastic levers will degrade within a couple of years and become brittle and snap right off without a problem. An aluminum replacement will last the life of the bike whether it's inside or out. This isn't a new idea though. I make some levers for a bike of mine a couple of years ago casting them from scrap aluminum. I like this design better than the one I used though. I really don't like the plastic crap levers. Quite frankly I don't want anything plastic on my bike if I can get metal stuff instead. Preferably not pot metal either.
Sean Patrick
@wle I actually read this article a while back and thought the same, yet when my standard plastic shifter shattered on me today, It made me think again. Granted the shifter was 17 years old, but that doesn't matter to me. When I buy a replacement I want it to be durable enough to outlast its predecessor and easy to install, which these shifters seem have going for them. If my LBS doesn't have a cheap replacement for me, Ill likely purchase one of these.
Ishmael del Sur
Kind of a waste of energy when you can make a shift lever from angle iron or any other scrap which happens to be laying around, which I have seen done, without paying some out-of-touch hipster for a mold. People in impoverished regions are ingenious at engineering parts for machines, so give the people some credit. As for paying $20 for one of these I think the only person dumb enough to do that would be another hipster, what with all the good used aluminum Shimano levers out there for cheap.