Igus presents Bike made from recycled plastic
company unveils Urban Bike at the Hanover Fair 2022
The concept of a robust and durable urban bike made entirely of plastic from the frame to the bearings to the toothed belt was one of the highlights at the igus stand at the Hanover Fair. The special feature: In a planned recycling version, most of the material will come from used plastics. "The plastic in the garbage dumps of this world is becoming a valuable resource," explains Frank Blase, Managing Director of igus. It was also he who had the idea for the bicycle later called "igus:bike" while on vacation on the Atlantic beach. In conversations with employees of a bicycle rental company on the beach, he found out about their major problems with beach bikes. These were permanently exposed to sand, wind and salt water and sometimes only lasted three months before they had to be replaced. Maintenance and replacement are often expensive and time-consuming in this industry.
According to igus, the igus:bike is easier to care for than other bicycles. Owners can safely leave the single-speed bike outdoors in wind and weather and clean it in seconds with a garden hose. "Since all the components are made of plastic, nothing on the wheel will rust," says Blase, adding: "Even in the gearbox. A bicycle gear made of plastic was unthinkable for a long time.” Light and lubrication-free high-performance plastics are used everywhere on the bike, from 2-component ball bearings in the wheel bearings to plain bearings in the seat post, brake levers and pedals. All of these components have integrated solid lubricants and ensure low-friction dry operation - without a single drop of lubricating oil. Sand, dust and dirt cannot settle. These tribo-plastics from igus have been used successfully for a long time, they are used in more than 70 industries: in automobiles, agricultural tractors or robots. And they have also had fans in the bicycle industry for decades. They have proven themselves there for a long time, for example in mountain bikes and e-cargo bikes.
New development with experience from the industry
In the igus development laboratories, eight developers are currently working on all moving components of the all-plastic bicycle. Ball bearings, brakes, sprockets, gears and drives were coordinated by Andreas Hermey, the long-standing development manager for energy chains, and in close cooperation with the bicycle start-up MTRL from the Netherlands. Existing developments from igus that have been tried and tested in the industry were adapted to the new application. MTRL is a start-up that has successfully brought 400 bikes with plastic frames and wheels onto the streets of its home country. "In the founders Johannes and Benjamin Alderse Baas, we have found partners who share our vision 1:1," says Blase, who is himself an investor in MTRL. "Together we are tackling the further development of all-plastic bicycles." The bicycle start-up will start producing and selling an adult bicycle for cities and a children's model by the end of this year, and the market launch in Germany will start in early 2023. There will also be other versions in the future , for example an e-bike. In the future, the all-plastic bike will be available both in a version made of new plastic and in a version made of 100 percent recycled material. The first prototypes have been successfully produced and tested, for example from old fishing nets. The adult bike made of new plastic should cost 1,200 euros. For the variant with recycled plastic, there is an additional charge of 200 euros. MTRL plans local manufacturing facilities around the world near plastic landfills. "From ocean plastics to motion plastics - the concept of the igus:bike has what it takes to become an ecological high-tech product," says Blase. "We still have many ideas, for example installing condition monitoring using smart plastics from igus. You can use your smartphone to see how many thousands of kilometers the bike has left. And with that we can hopefully convince many people who are still skeptical about plastic today.”