Forget the carbon-fiber bike that costs more than your house. How about one made of plastic? The Innervision bike is a design concept by industrial designer Matt Clark that ditches high-cost complex materials for pre-molded plastic parts.
Clark's design eliminates the labor-intensive welding and heat treatment process associated with modern bike manufacturing. The current prototype has an inner and outer frame that is made of polypropylene -- that could be replaced with recycled plastic in the future. Prototype components were thermoformed and welded together without adhesives, but future versions could be compression-molded. While we're not expecting Lance to saddle up anytime soon, a lower-cost alternative for more social riders might be of interest.
I understand that this is a prototype and sort of a proof-of-concept thing, but I'm waiting for something that's a bit easier on the eyes. "Conventional" steel, aluminum or carbon fiber frames are so amazingly beautiful these days that there's an aesthetic issue that has to be resolved with these plastic frames, unless these are just destined for the rent-a-bike market, like those in Holland. Right now, I would be embarassed to be seen on that, so I'm hoping for improvements in that area in upcoming iterations. It also looks jarring that there's this plastic frame with all those ordinary steel parts attached to it.
I'm also curious about weight and ride quality of those bikes, which was not adressed in the article.
I would like to know the weight of this plastic bike. And why did they choose polypropylene? There are quite a few other plastics, which can be injection moulded and even recycled, that would be much stronger.
A complete frame could be moulded with little need to weld the 2 halves together as shown. We just need to move away from our need to have a smooth exterior. Afterall, these bikes are for casual recreational use. We could live with all the ribs on the outside.
MarcusM, I think you may be missing the point. According to the article, "social riders" are most likely the target audience so this isn't a performance based design. The design isn't really out there. Just look at the Speedster and a decent portion of the other Carbon Monocoque set-up's out there. Even a few mountain bikes have frames like this. Just go to Canondale's web site. In any light, steelwolf_sg's got the idea with other recycled targets. There's another article on here about how they're using small black plastic balls to block out light in a reservoir in southern California. They're going to need to do something with the balls in about 5 years according to the article. The balls are made out of polyethylene (recyclable). This could be a good option I think. Turn them into bikes or other useful products using innovative ideas on how to lower costs and increase manufacturing speed and efficiency. Not to mention, I think the design would be "easy on the eyes" as MarcusM put it, if it were in black, matching the rest of the frame components. The white does make it stand out and is a good choice for showcasing the technology but it would be easier to win over the target audience (consumers) if they can bring it closer to the main stream product line-up that's already out there.
I really like how the gonna make they replacement parts for the bike made of recycled plastic parts in the future.This will save smoe resources in the near futue.
Back in 1972 a company was formed to make plastic bikes. Price was $100 each. Unfortunately, it went bankrupt prior to production. It's still a nice idea, perhaps even more timely.