Are you worried about the environmental impact of replacing parts on your bike? Now, a new bike from the German plastics company igus may be the answer to your worries.
The igus: bike is said to be a completely maintenance-free and recyclable bike made of plastic. Yes, that’s right: the whole bike is made of plastic, including frame and wheels, brakes, freewheel, bearings, gearbox and timing belt.
The bike is still in its early stages of development, but igus says the first model should be available by the end of the year.
According to igus, the CEO of the company, Frank Blase first had the idea for a plastic bike when he was on vacation on a beach.
“In conversations with employees of a bicycle rental company on the beach, he came to know about their major problems with beach bikes. They were constantly exposed to sand, wind and salt water and sometimes took only three months before they had to be replaced, ”says igus.
Building a bike made of plastic solves this problem because plastic does not rust.
“Because all components are made of plastic, no part of the bike rusts, even the gears – bicycle gears made of plastic were long unthinkable,” says Blase.
Owners of the igus: bike can be left outside according to the igus in all weather conditions and cleaned with water.
It will not even need lubrication, because the components have integrated solid lubricants, which ensure dry operation with low friction. Because there is no wet lubricant, sand, dust or dirt will not accumulate on the integral parts of the bike, igus claims.
Igus says the tribo-plastic used in bicycles have been successfully used in more than 70 industries, including in cars, tractors and robots.
It says there are currently eight developers working in their labs on the moving components of the bike. The project is being developed in collaboration with MTRL, a bicycle start-up from the Netherlands.
A sustainable platform for all markets?
In addition to developing its own bike, igus says it will set up the igus: bike platform. This will make the concept of a fully recyclable, plastic bike and the components available to all bike manufacturers.
The concept could prove to be music to the ears of many bike brands. Shift Cycling Culture explained to BikeRadar last year that many bike builders were looking for alternative materials in a bid to reduce emissions, but that it was “early days”.
Brompton’s CEO, Will Butler-Adams, also told BikeRadar that the emissions associated with steel production are one of the biggest problems the market has in terms of hitting net zero.
In theory, the igus: bike platform will provide solutions to problems like these – if brands are willing to use the platform, that is.
The cycling platform will also help markets move away from a traditional linear economic model and towards a fully circular economy, according to igus.
This means that brands can switch from relying on the extraction of raw, unusual materials to recycling plastic.
This makes sense on an environmental level, but it also makes sense on a more practical one, in Blase’s eyes.
“The plastic in trash all over the world is becoming a valuable resource,” he says.
Igus and MTRL have already tapped into this source, producing the first prototypes of the bike from old fishing nets.
According to igus, MTRL intends to structure itself in a way that gives access to this resource, planning production facilities near plastic landfills around the world.
Igus says it has many more ideas for the future of the project, including installing condition monitoring in the bikes.
“This allows you to use your smartphone to see how many thousands of kilometers the bike can still cover. That will hopefully convince many people who are still skeptical about plastic, ”says igus.