Why we’ve removed Decathlon bikes from the Budget Cycling website

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Budget Cycling has been set up to help people find ways to start cycling on a budget, but we only want to recommend ethical sources of bikes and cycling products.

For this reason we won’t, for instance, advise buying a cheap Brompton on Gumtree, or a $70 electric bike from Wish…

A company we had wanted to include on Budget Cycling is Decathlon. Sadly, we’ve become aware that the company is actively promoting and profiting from the killing of songbirds and small migratory birds, as well as particular species, including thrushes, lapwing, turtle doves and more.

To quote from one listing on the Decathlon website:

“Our hunting engineers designed this developed this powerful, consistent cartridge, specially adapted for thrush hunting.

This cartridge performs at both medium and long range and has a consistent spread. This makes it the ideal cartridge for hunting thrush, songbirds, redwing, fieldfare, and mistle thrush.”

This particular listing has been removed from the UK website and Decathlon UK have apologised, but it is still live on other Decathlon sites, such as the French Decathlon site, to name one.

There are other items sold by Decathlon’s various stores in the EU that are designed specifically to capture songbirds and thrushes. For instance:

Decathlon have made a statement on Twitter about this:

Hi everyone, we have been made aware that some of the information in our in-store and online signage has promoted hunting small migratory birds and songbirds.

We want to apologise, as there have been issues both with the translation of some product information and also products we don’t sell in the UK (cartridges for example) appearing on the website, even if they were not available to purchase.

We want to assure you that we are not supporting or encouraging any activities of this sort. We have removed all products that fall into this category or have any translation issues.

At Decathlon UK we are committed to having a positive impact on the environment. We will continue to improve on this in the coming years.

We have have no reason to doubt that Decathlon UK are telling the truth here about selling these products in the UK. However, these products continue to be sold in Decathlon shops elsewhere in Europe. We asked Decathlon UK about this, and this was their reply:

Hi Dave, we have not been selling those products in the UK ever. For some reason they existed on our website but there was no possibility to buy them. We can only apologise for this.

Each country, within Decathlon, operates as a separate business, following the local laws and regulations. We have passed the feedback to the Solognac brand for them to act on with the other countries.

In our view this isn’t about local laws, but about doing the right thing. We shouldn’t expect anything less from any company that says they are ‘committed to having a positive impact on the environment‘. And it isn’t acceptable for Decathlon UK to claim that they are somehow independent of the Decathlon company as a whole. After all, in Decathlon UK’s own Twitter bio, they state:

We are Europe’s Largest Sports Retailer!

Until Decathlon make a clear commitment to stop selling items connected to the killing of “songbirds” and “small migratory birds” we won’t be promoting any of their bikes. Links to Decathlon products have been removed from this site (unless we’ve missed any…).

Leaving Decathlon bikes out of our Budget Cycling Guides is a real shame for all kinds of reasons, but it is the right thing to do. Budget Cycling has been accepted onto the Decathlon affiliate scheme, but we won’t be sending any of our website visitors their way until this changes. But we hope they will listen, and if, and hopefully when, we hear that Decathlon have altered their stance and stopped selling these products, we hope that we will once again be able to list their bikes.

Fortunately there are lots of other ways and places to buy a bike without spending a lot of money – see our Budget Cycling Guides for more details.

Follow us on Twitter at @budgetcycling for regular cycling-on-a-budget tips and cycling inspiration.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us in this. It would be great if you could make this more widely-known. There’s a petition calling for Decathlon to stop promoting slaughter of songbirds and migratory birds here.

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