Production starts for shift levers made from cans and bottle-caps

Carlton Reid
Production starts for shift levers made from cans and bottle-caps

The Bike Shift Lever from One Street Components is made from scrap aluminum, a bottle cap, a hose clamp, and a bolt and nut. The shifters are available via bicycle advocacy nonprofit One Street.

Executive director Sue Knaup designed the shift lever in response to complaints from their bicycle programme partners around the world. These programs provide bicycles to people who ride daily, but can no longer find basic, durable bike parts, especially shift levers.

“A bike shift lever only has to pull a cable,” said Knaup. “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."

Not only does the Bike Shift Lever work with both front and rear derailleurs through all gear ranges, its design includes a simple production method to ensure that anyone, even in the remotest areas of the world, can produce them. Ms. Knaup began the design process by talking with metal casters and mold makers. A permanent mold along with a charcoal furnace to melt scrap aluminum offered the easiest production method even in areas without electricity. The first molds were funded through a Kickstarter campaign in 2013.

Three years ago, as she began the design, Knaup knew little about aluminum casting. As a former bike shop owner and welder, she understood metallurgy basics, but not the intricacies of casting. After working with local casters and reading around the subject, she built her first charcoal furnace using a flower pot and a hand pump. She has since upgraded to a brick furnace that uses a hair dryer for its air supply. With future license partners in mind, she captured every step in One Street’s new book, Backyard Aluminum Casting.

One Street is now seeking license partners to produce the shifters in around the world. Any nonprofit that focuses on bicycle programs can apply. After qualifying and paying a one-time fee, licensees receive a casting mold, casting training, a finishing jig, network marketing, and One Street support. They keep all proceeds from the shift levers they produce and sell.

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