This City Bike Is Made Almost Entirely From Recycled Plastic

Bearings and bicycles have a long history of innovation. According to The London Economy:

“In 1869 there was a success when French bicycle mechanic Jules Pierre Suriray designed the world’s first radial bearings. These were used to great effect by the British James Moore when he won the world’s first bicycle race between Paris and Rouen on Penny Farthing. By adding ball bearings to his innovative safety bike – the forerunner of every bike you see today – JK Starley has solved the problem of smooth axle rotation and freedom of pedaling that paved the way for the high-performance bikes we see today. ”

German company for plastic engineering Igus makes tribological plastics that go into self-lubrication, chains and other parts used in industry. They explain that “tribology deals with friction, wear and tear and lubrication and the technologies for the optimization of friction processes.”

So it seems like a decent and almost historic full circle that Igus would get into the bike business. There are real benefits to plastic bearings; CEO Frank Blase explained that he first got the idea after talking to a beach bike rental company during a vacation.

“These were continuously exposed to sand, wind and salt water and sometimes lasted only three months before they had to be replaced,” Blase said. Maintenance and replacement are often expensive and time consuming in this industry. ”

Plastic bearings do not need lubrication:

“Lightweight, non-lubricating high-performance plastics are used in all parts of the bike, from two-component ball bearings in the wheel bearings to simple seat bearings, brake levers and pedals. All of these components have a solid integral lubrication and ensure low-friction. dry operation – without a drop of lubricating oil. This ensures that sand, dust and dirt cannot accumulate. ”

Igus is in the trading business, not the bicycle business, so it has teamed up with a Dutch company. MTRL, who worked on the design and production of a plastic bicycle for a time. Bicycles are usually assembled from parts that come from all over the world. My e-bike has a Dutch frame, a German engine, Japanese shovels, and probably a whole bunch of Chinese fenders and armor.

Igus notes: “If sustainability is important, then cycling is the best choice for urban mobility. But it’s not that easy. Raw materials bought from distant lands, too long supply chains and high material wear and tear – not every bike is equally sustainable.”

This is also a problem when you need parts in a hurry or there is a supply chain crisis as we have thanks to the pandemic. MTRL says, “Since 2016 we have been rethinking every part of the bike, its purpose, material and origin. We are strongly committed to innovation, launching even more strategic projects in the fields of recycling and domestic production, to further minimize. The footprint of our bikes . ”


bicycle parts.

Igus: bicycle


With the Igus: Bicycle, almost every part comes from one supplier. They can be molded or 3D printed from the different high-tech plastics needed for bearings and other critical parts, while the frame and other components can be made from recycled plastics. Note how there is a description of each part; the RE bar is the degree of recycling. Most of the complex moving parts are special plastics.


gears and free wheel.

igus: bicycle


Parts are redesigned to suit the materials; note that instead of a normal crank, there are planetary gears that distribute the load. In many ways, it’s a better bike.

According to MTRL:

“Imagine your current bike. What if it never rusted, never needed oil, never needed cleaning? Imagine you could make a whole new bike out of your old one. Made locally, without waiting for parts to be shipped from Asia.”

The prototypes were made from recycled fishing nets, and MTRL says it plans factories near plastic dumps around the world.

“From ocean plastics to moving plastics – the igus: a bicycle concept has what it takes to become a high-tech eco-friendly product,” says Blase.

Igus has bigger plans than just working with MTRL. “We want to enable the bike industry to produce plastic bikes,” Blase said.

MTRL will meanwhile launch a children’s and adult bicycle in the Netherlands until the end of 2022. Interestingly, the bicycle made of virgin plastics will cost 1,200 euros and one made of recycled plastics will cost 200 euros more. This is not surprising: We have noted many times before, recycling is virtuous but it is expensive. The current rise in the price of oil could change that and bring the recycled plastic closer in price.

This post might seem a little strange on a website where we complain endlessly about plastics, but this is the plastics industry at its best. It uses recycled materials; it is the antithesis of single-use; it is low maintenance. And hey, maybe it looks so weird that the guys with the angle grinders will give it a go. More on Igus: bicycle.

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