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Half of This New Plastic Bike Is Made of Recycled Waste

The groundbreaking bike from igus is now in production.

The igus:bike is made of 92 percent plastic.
The igus:bike is made of 92 percent plastic.
igus GmbH

Igus, a company primarily known for its work in motion plastics, announced last week that its nearly all-plastic bicycle has gone into series production. The igus:bike is made of 92 percent plastic; about half is virgin plastic, but the balance is sourced from recycled plastic waste, including old fishing nets.

After a long development process, the company's partner, Netherlands-based, is now manufacturing the first 100 units. At the same time, igus is building a new production line at its factory in Cologne, Germany, to boost production capacity to 10,000 units by 2026. 

Once the bike is approved for road use, igus will begin deliveries. Some 1,500 customers have pre-ordered the igus:bike for about $1,300.

Series production was scheduled to begin a few months ago, but the partners ran into snags over time-consuming optimizations they deemed essential to the bike's sustainability. For example, the team wanted to increase the number of plastic parts — in earlier prototypes, components like the seat post and brake lever were still made of metal. Back in September 2022, the company teased a functional 3D-printed prototype at IMTS 2022, a biennial international manufacturing show held in Chicago, Illinois. 

Engineers have increased the steering angle of the handlebars so it's easier for riders to take corners. Additionally, designers included a freewheel in the drivetrain — so the wheels turn without pedaling — and a two-legged bike stand. They also added igus' more wear-resistant xiros ball bearings to make the wheels run a bit smoother (and without lubrication).

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The bike weighs about 37 pounds. The team uses rotational and injection molding to make several components from recycled plastic granulates. According to Sven Terhardt, head of sales and marketing for the igus:bike, the company is investing in R&D to quickly increase the amount of recycled plastic parts to 75 percent. The long-term plan is to reach a bicycle made entirely of plastic waste. "Plastic in the world's rubbish dumps is becoming an increasingly valuable resource," Terhardt said.

Igus CEO Frank Blase launched the project about three and a half years ago, hoping to transform the mountains of plastic in landfills into durable, maintenance-free urban bikes that are corrosion-free and dirt-resistant. As the first 100 bikes hit the road, Blase comes one step closer to his vision of transferring plastic waste to a circular economy while building the future of urban mobility. 

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