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igus:bike Is Unimaginable: A Machine With a Composition of More Than 90% Recycled Plastic
"Yesterday's waste becomes tomorrow's mobility." These were the words that greeted me just over an hour ago while checking my e-mail. Intrigued, I scanned the message and saw the word bike. What was it about? A bicycle with a composition of over 90% from recycled plastics.

igus:bike Is Unimaginable: A Machine With a Composition of More Than 90% Recycled Plastic

igus:bikemtrl.bikemtrl.bikemtrl.bikeDrive BeltFrame and WheelsCrankBearingsCrankGearboxFlywheelRim BrakesFrame and Wheels
Folks, igus is a plastics manipulator from Germany that has been in this industry since 1964. With nearly 60 years working in an industry, you can bet your bottom dollar that this crew can do things with plastic that you never thought possible, and they can. From plastic robots to ball bearings and 3D printed "motion plastics," all are in the day's work for this crew.

Now, a plastic bicycle is nothing new; other teams are working on creating such a spectacle. For example, partnering with igus on this venture is MTRL, a Dutch start-up that has already put some plastic machines and components on city roads. Seeing as how they are in the business of manipulating plastics, too, a collaboration was bound to happen.

As for the machine these crews have put together, it's unlike any other bicycle I've witnessed so far in this lifetime; I really mean it. Because plastic is the base material, every single component had to be redesigned so it could withstand the pressures and torsion force exerted while cycling. Yes, not only is the frame built from plastic, but so are the wheels, fork, and rim brakes.

What about other essential components like the drivetrain, a chain, crank, and hubs? Guess what, plastic for the win! This is really where the igus:bike shines. For instance, the bike is heralded as being "maintenance-free" because the teams decided to internalize as many components as possible. To offer riders some sort of gear range, a proprietary gearbox had to be designed from scratch. The crank? Plastic again, and because igus:bike uses a Gates drive belt, the design was already thought out; they just had to figure out how to adapt it to being created from plastic.

In creating a machine like this, igus and the teams involved are achieving results that extend well beyond the cycling industry. You will no longer need to buy a new Shimano or Sram drivetrain, nor will you ever need to lubricate ball bearings or bottom brackets. Worried about leaving your precious machine out in the rain, snowstorm, or sandstorms? Everyone knows how hard plastic breaks down.

The reason why this bike even exists is that plastics are notorious for sticking around for thousands of years, which brings me to my next point. MTRL is planning to set up manufacturing facilities near garbage dumps, in the process, helping single-use plastics from ever reaching our oceans, which is already another source of plastic for the igus:bike.

With that said, the igus:bike will be available for order from new plastics for a projected price of €1,200 ($1,300 at current exchange rates). For €200 ($215) more, you can opt for the recycled plastics version. If you don't dish out the extra bucks and get caught riding a new bike, the shaming you'll get from your friends may make you feel like you should have taken the recycled version. Lucky, the new and old beauties can be recycled further, so you can just grab another and make things right.

Actually, making things right sounds really applicable to this article and machine. After all, only humans are to blame for the level of plastics floating around in our oceans and drinking water. Maybe, just maybe, with products like the igus:bike, we can make things right again. I feel it's worth the trouble; this planet and this life are beautiful. Let's make an effort and keep it that way. As you can see, you wouldn't be alone in that endeavor.



Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party. 

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