From the old bike to the new load thanks to the Botch workshop

It would be too much to say that freighters run through the streets, but they are gaining ground, biting the public space. The cargo bike is for the racing bike what the utility bike is for the sports car. And above all, it is the healthiest alternative to many uses of the car: we use it to buy, to leave our children in school (primary), to deliver or transport their work tools. in version long tail (on two wheels), it makes its way through the traffic and, in the city, many artisans have adopted it.

During his studies, and before working in Russia as a journalist and translator, Thomas Gras had fallen in love with this means of travel and had promised to return there on his return to France. Of which they act, or almost. Four years ago, he returned to Toulouse and set out to find the vehicle of his dreams, but he faced reality: not only was the average budget of a cargo ship high, but availability was low. .

From discovery to encounter

He knows nothing about bicycle mechanics, let alone welding or metal work. But, curiously, explore this news unknown land called the Internet, and begins his education. In addition, sensitive to the idea of ​​recycling, launches for the first time: “ I took — others had — an old adult bicycle and a child bicycle. I motivated a friend, we did a load. The following weekend we did another, then a third … »

Then begins what he calls ” spiritual pursuit “In fact, it learns and thinks not only about how to make it beyond DIY, but also about the cycle market and its actors. Trying to.” acculturate, catch up “discover” the price of the pieces, fashions, standards, highly calculated technical incompatibilities »And understands, although he is already looking for a way to do it differently, that a cycle manufacturer« it depends on a handful of suppliers “.

“Our main goal is to recycle the material that went in the trash”

It goes from discovery to encounter. Thus he met Jean Lagard, a potter by trade and a welding trainer, who became his partner. So he also realizes that his idea and ethics are already implemented by a small Italian company with which he makes contact and contracts. He will be in charge of the rear while the front “cage” of the cargo ships will be outsourced to Officine Recycle, based in Modena (although now the project is to relocate all production).

Recycling, a time-consuming process

Today, the Botch workshop – “botch” means “crazy” in Occitan – is based in Toulouse. More than a product, Botch cargo ships are a philosophy. In fact, its co-founders strongly believe in the public utility of the cargo bike as an alternative to the city car or van, which is why they focus on a market segment and an affordable offering. ” What we offersays Thomas Gras, is a Kangoo or a Doblo. Nothing prevents those who can switch to Audi or Mercedes. Some want very sharp things, they absolutely want an exceptional environment. But our main goal is to recycle the material that went in the trash. »

In France alone, it is estimated that 1.5 million bicycles are dumped a year and more than 10 million could be put in cellars and garages. These ancient frames therefore provide the raw material. ” The old steel mountain bikes of the 80s or 90s are the least desired bikes these days. continues the founder of the brand. Mountain bikers no longer want 26-inch skates! However, they are often of excellent workmanship and are an ideal starting point. »These outdated frames, brought to the workshop by the customer or supplied by a collection association involved in the circular economy, are disassembled, released, disassembled, realigned and adapted on a case-by-case basis (removal of any brake blocks). useless, transition to standard 135mm, etc.), before being cut there and attached to the front.

The process takes a long time, Thomas Gras points again. Confiscated pieces take an eternity. Basically, it’s more complicated than making a new bike. But it all makes sense. To balance this cost over time, we weld with TIG, so as not to have too many hours of polishing. To contain costs, we are looking for alternatives to the main brands of components and, above all, we are careful not to over-equip the bikes. “ Most bicycles travel very little in the city: only between home, school and the supermarket. You don’t need a crazy drive train or 180mm discs for that! We remain modest, pragmatic. “On departure, a custom cargo ship, designed without ostentation and adapted to the exact needs of the customer.

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