This bicycle was built by Alchemy Bicycles, then in Austin, Texas. At the time I lived and worked in Houston, Texas.
My bike followed me on my travels to Den Haag in the Netherlands, and finally to Kuala Lumpur.
The travels of this bike had something to do with international commerce. I would not own it if I hadn’t been working in Texas. My Bike Chick and I were able to live outside Malaysia because we worked for organizations trading in multiple countries. Organizations that encouraged the international relocation of some of their staff.
Keeping the bike running depended on international commerce. A new saddle from an Italian manufacturer. Chains and cassettes from an American company with manufacturing in Taiwan. Tires from Germany.
The rear derailleur hanger did its job for ten years. Cut to a month ago. I had just started a ride when I heard a “crrrrrruuuuunch”. The rear derailleur had over-shifted into the spokes and snapped at the lower knuckle. The hanger had bent as it tried to do its job of protecting the derailleur.
I had a spare derailleur on hand. I did not have a spare hanger.
The mechanics at my local bike shop managed to bend the hanger back enough for it to be usable. There were signs of a crack, and it would be just a matter of time before the hanger broke in two.
There are hundreds of derailleur hangers available. No bike shop stocks them all. International commerce to the rescue.
First, I had to identify the hanger I needed. Wheels Manufacturing LLC is in Louisville, Colorado. Their website lists more than 350 different hangers. Alchemy is not among the bike brands in the Wheels Manufacturing database. I searched for hangers with two fasteners. There are more than 160 to choose from.
I was not sure if I found the one I needed. Wheels Manufacturing warns that an incorrect hanger will not fit.
Next, I did what I should have done to start with. I emailed Alchemy Bicycles Inc, which is now in Boulder, Colorado. I got a quick reply with a link to Paragon Machine Works in Richmond, California and the hanger that I needed.
It is a good thing I checked. The hanger I needed was shorter than the one I had initially identified.
A few minutes later, I placed an order on the Paragon website for two hangers. International commerce in action again via the magic of the Internet.
By the end of that day, a package was on its way to me from Richmond via Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The two hangers were in my hands four days after I had placed the order.
Up until a month or so ago, I took international travel and the Internet for granted. Globalization, despite its drawbacks, was here to stay.
Then the novel coronavirus spilled out across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has already badly affected global trade. International travel is at a standstill. Economies worldwide are staggering. It may be well into 2021 before we see the end of this pandemic.
Cracks have already appeared in the global economy. How big will those cracks become? How will international trade be affected?
In the meantime, all the local bike shops are closed until at least the end of March. Thank goodness the Internet still works.