At the world’s biggest bike expo, Eurobike 2023, igus showcased recyclable and partly-recycled components for bicycle manufacturers, including handlebars that are about to go into production. Bicycle manufacturer Advanced is the handlebar’s first customer.

Following last year’s launch of the plastic igus:bike, the motion plastics specialist is now exhibiting a new product range made of high-performance plastics for bicycle manufacturers. In addition to an all-plastic frame made of several components, wheels and cranks, a new handlebar is about to go into volume production and will be used on bike company Advanced’s Reco Bike.

The polymers used to make the handlebars are developed and tested in the igus recently expanded bicycle laboratory. The products are both recyclable and partly made from recycled material. Production will start in Germany and will then expand to Asia and North America to offer local supply chains to bike OEMs.

Resource conservation is becoming increasingly important in bicycle design and manufacture. The transport, energy-intensive production and subsequent disposal of bicycles and components accounts for a substantial quantity of CO2. “We see plastics technology as a new option for the industry, with all components in one place,” says Matthew Aldridge, Managing Director of igus UK. “Carbon reduction, recyclability, durability, and local supply chains are increasingly demanded by our customers. At the Eurobike show in Frankfurt, we have been showing some imaginative solutions that work”.

igus sees sustainable bikes as a growth industry and is investing heavily in this market. For new off-the-shelf products for bicycle manufacturers, igus will present ball bearings, cranks, steering head bearings, and a freewheel made of high-performance plastics specially developed for motion. Frames, wheels and handlebars will be available soon. The seatpost and saddle frame are also already in the pipeline. As a strong USP, igus offers OEM customers everything from a single source. igus has a large research and product development facility, and will soon be testing bicycle products on 25 new test benches developed solely for bicycle components.

igus has been supplying plain bearings and other motion components to many well-known manufacturers of bicycles and their suppliers for over 30 years. In the future, supplying parts for bike OEMs locally will be provided by 12 factories on four continents.

First customer: Recyclable handlebars for the Advanced Reco bike

igus has now completed its first customer project with bicycle manufacturer Advanced, a pioneer in successfully launching a next-generation e-bike on the market. The “Reco” bike’s key component is the frame, so-called because it is made of plastic and is 100% recyclable. To support Advanced’s low carbon approach, the Reco bike now also uses a handlebar developed by igus. It is manufactured from high-performance polymers in a special manufacturing process, and its strength and stability is equivalent to an aluminum handlebar, but its production requires significantly less energy and takes place locally at igus in Cologne, Germany. The handlebars are also 100% recyclable.

Thanks to injection molding, it is made of a single piece, with no annoying seams. “We have developed this manufacturing process for these curved parts with high stability from scratch. As a result, we are free to choose materials, we can choose different colours and even create holes for cables on the inside,” explains Matthew Aldridge.

Recycled plastic bicycle is a “live test laboratory” for bike industry

The development of the mostly-plastic igus:bike (the wheels and select components are 100% plastic, but some components are not), which was first launched at the Hannover Exhibition 2022, is progressing well in cooperation with co-developer mtrl from the Netherlands. The ambition is an all-plastic bike, with a frame and wheels made from post-consumer waste such as shampoo bottles and fishing nets, recovered from ocean waste. All wear resistant parts of the bicycle are made of the durable tribo-polymers from igus. The goal is a rust-free, lubrication-free and maintenance-free product that can be completely recycled. igus describes the project as a “live test laboratory for the bicycle industry”.

The first bikes are scheduled to be launched in Cologne, Germany at the beginning of September 2023. “Everything we learn and successfully implement for the igus:bike, we make available to bike OEMs as catalogue  or custom-made products,” says Aldridge. Part of this project is the igus:bike platform, an online forum that encourages further partnerships, ideas and knowledge exchange. The aim of this platform is to promote knowledge about plastics in the bicycle industry and to further develop the concept together with many other manufacturers in order to promote the circular economy for plastics – in bikes and other products – worldwide.