Posts: 4

The problem with preaching personal responsibility to save the environment

One of the things that bug me the most about the frankly amazing increase in environmental awareness and the pressure put on governments, is the focus on "personal responsibility", meaning the contribution each one of us can make to save our planet.

Granted, it makes sense for every single person to do everything they possibly can to put less strain on the environment, and personally I'm trying to do my part as well. For example by not using my car for grocery shopping anymore.
I also don't doubt the concept of social proof, to show others that living a comfortable life without being destructive is possible.

Still, I find it concerning that "personal responsibility" is what a lot of media organisations and governments present as the best possible way to reduce CO2 emissions and help the environment. These increasingly feel like attempts to place the blame for environmental deterioration on the shoulders of consumers, when the big polluters are a few large corporations. The following comic by Alex Norris encapsulates the issue brilliantly:

Comic by Alex Norris (@dorrismccomics on Twitter)

I recently saw a tweet that I sadly cannot find anymore which neatly juxtaposed two articles in the Guardian about helping the environment. Luckily I remembered the headlines:

19 Jan 2017, Chris Goodall:
How to reduce your carbon footprint

10 July 2017, Tess Riley:
Just 100 companies responsible for 71% of global emissions, study says

Climate change and the catastrophies it's going to bring with it is a given and we're feeling the effects already (although not as much as people in developing countries). Doing one's part to reduce carbon emissions, waste, and other factors of driving our planet over the cliff, is undeniably important and a good thing to do.
What mustn't happen, though, is big corporations directing focus towards personal responsibility when they practice none and continue destroying the planet. We have hold the polluters and the institutions enabling them accountable.

Bike re-build project, part 1

About two months ago I switched frames, taking the majority of components from my Canyon Inflite AL 9.0 cyclocross bike and moving them to a Litespeed T5G gravel cycling frame. Since then I’ve been enjoying riding the new bike madly and I’ve tried to sell the Canyon frame set online. Sadly, nobody was interested in it.

Having given this some thought and since I’ve been contemplating ways to use my car even less, I decided to build a new bike using the Inflite AL frame set.


This new bike is going to be used as a commuting and shopping bicycle, to be used when riding downtown (literally, because I have to roll downhill and pedal uphill) and when I do my big weekly grocery shopping trip in the shops close by.

Since I don’t want this to become too nice of a target for thieves, it’s not going to be spec’d with expensive components. I’m trying to find a balance between fairly recent technology and reliable, fuss-free components, buying used parts whenever possible, to end up with a versatile bike.

Component choices

These are the basic ideas I’ve had:

  • Flat bar instead of a drop bar for riding position simplicity and easy installation of brakes, grips, and shifters.
  • A mountain bike 1× system. I’ve pieced together a SRAM NX Eagle 1×12 group that will have a 11-50 cassette in the back and likely a 32-tooth chainring in front.
  • Why such low gearing? Because we have a lot of hills here with ~ 12% incline, meaning a) I want to be able to cycle downtown and back up without ending up a sweaty mess, and b) when I have the dog/shopping trailer attached to the back axle (which by itself weighs 13 kg) I need to be able to make it up this kind of hill at all, even if I do end up a sweaty mess.
  • As for wheels, I might’ve gotten a good deal on a new DT Swiss P1800 SPLINE db23 wheel set. I’ll believe it when it’s here and once I’ve switched it from ThruAxle to classic quick release, hopefully with the adapters I still have from converting my CR1600 SPLINE db 23 from QR to TA.
  • Not sure which tyres I’m going to get, yet, but I want a road tyre with 35 mm – 37 mm width for comfort and grip. Sadly, most of the puncture-proof stuff Schwalbe offers has an ugly reflector strip on the side of the tyres.
  • Brake-wise, I’m looking at some variant of Shimano’s MTB post mount disc brakes. Everyone I spoke to tells me these are the most reliable brakes I can buy, requiring little bleeding over time. I know, I know, mixing components is a no-no for some purists but I don’t care.
  • Saddle and grips: For these I’m likely going to go with Ergon. For one because they’re a company from this region, secondly because I can get them easily, and thirdly because for what they cost, they’re very comfortable.
  • Fenders. Yes, fenders. This things will be ridden in sunshine and rain and I still have a fitted pair of fenders for the frame anyway.

Current state of things



Potential problems

There’s really only one: the bottom bracket and crank set choice.
There are so many [dickquotes] standards [/dickquotes] out there, I’ve had a hard time wrapping my head around it when I built up the Litespeed frame. The Inflite AL frame has a PressFit 86 bottom bracket housing, meaning a width of 86.5 mm and a inner diameter of 41 mm. So far so good.
Currently in there is a Rotor 4130 PressFit BB30 bottom bracket that—of course—is not compatible with any of the BB30 crank sets SRAM offers. So far so bad.

What I ended up ordering for now is a SRAM NX Eagle crank set using their DUB “standard”, a matching SRAM bottom bracket, and a few spacers because the crank set is built for a 89 mm or 92 mm bottom bracket.
The big question here is not going to be whether it will fit but whether the chain line will work out, since I’m going to be using a MTB cassette on a road back wheel equipped with a Shimano 11-speed freewheel hub.

I wasn’t able to find any information about compatibility, just SRAM’s recommendation of a 49 mm chain line up front and the rough estimate that barring any changes, the chain line on the back will be 45.5 mm. So far so ARGH.

I’ll just have to put everything together and see if I get a straight chain line across the center of the cassette when I put everything together. If this doesn’t work, I’m going to have to replace the NX Eagle crank set with one of SRAM’s road bike crank sets, which are much more expensive and will also require the purchase of a smaller Direct Mount chain ring.