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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Made in America: Chris King Bicycle Components [Adventure Journal]


There are so many dogs and cats (yes, cats) at Chris King bike components that there are signs in the factory warning of no-animal zones to keep the critters safe. Workers, some of them anyway, are dressed about as far down as you can dress and still be allowed in public. Upstairs, in the cafeteria, a full-time chef prepares healthy meals at low cost. Downstairs, in the bike room, the walls are painted with portraits of Marco Pantani and Eddy Merckyx, and in the locker room, the lockers themselves are vented with warm air, to remove the funk of Portland weather that clings to cycling clothes.
Nothing about Chris King is business as usual. Especially its successful effort to make the best available products in America in an environmentally sensitive way while treating workers right — and still making a profit.
A good example is on the factory floor, where low-VOC soybean oil is used to lube the cutting machines that reduce Ohio-milled aluminum into the first likenesses of headsets. The goal is to reduce waste, but the cutting tools used to cut down parts from ti or steel or aluminum stock have to be lubricated, and if that oil were petroleum based it would contain all sorts of toxins that would have to be managed. Respirators would need to be worn; vent systems would have to filter the nasties out of the air and do…something with them. Solvents would have to be used to strip away the grease, and then the solvents would also need to be carefully monitored. As it is the soybean oil just makes you think you’ve visited a commercial kitchen with an Asian bent. The air is faintly spicy with it.
So it’s not toxic. But it is expensive. It still needs to be recycled. [KEEP READING AT Adventure Journal]

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