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There have been numerous attempts to create an all-plastic bike. However, most have never made it past the prototype stage. Igus, a Germany-based manufacturer of high-performance plastics, and Dutch start-up MTRL aim to change that with the igus:bike — the world's first urban bike crafted almost entirely from recycled polymer.
Igus CEO Frank Blasé first got the idea while vacationing on a Florida beach in 2009. A conversation with employees at a rental company made him aware of the challenges of maintaining beach bicycles. The continuous exposure to sand, wind, and salt water caused the bikes to rust rapidly. Many had to be replaced in as little as three months.
The igus:bike, unveiled at a German trade show on May 31, 2022, is maintenance and rust-free. It can be left outdoors in all weather and does not require lubricant oil to reduce friction between parts. Since it does not attract sand, dust, or dirt the bike can be cleaned with a garden hose in seconds.
"As all components are made of plastic, no part of the bike rusts, even the gears – bicycle gears made of plastic were unthinkable for a long time," Blasé said.
The igus:bike will also help alleviate the world's plastic pollution woes. The company says a single adult bike gives new life to about 35 pounds (16 kilograms) of single-use plastic that would otherwise clog our landfills or waterways. For example, the first prototypes were made of material from old fishing nets.
Currently, 90 percent of the igus:bike is made using plastic. This includes the bicycle's sturdy but lightweight frame, bearings, pedals, and wheel rims. Igus and MTRL believe future versions will be made entirely from plastic.
"From ocean plastics to motion plastics — the igus:bike concept has what it takes to become a high-tech ecological product," says MTRL co-founder Benjamin Alderse Baas.
The plastic bikes are expected to come to market in early 2023. An adult model, made entirely from recycled plastic, will cost about €1400 ($1430). A slightly cheaper version, made using new plastic, and an electric bike are also in the works. Igus also plans on sharing its technology with other bicycle manufacturers. "We want to enable the bicycle industry to produce plastic bikes," says Blasé
Resources: New Atlas.com,bikeradar.com, igus.com,