Icon gets materials makeover

Velocipedes were the first pedal-powered bicycles in history, made famous in the UK by the Penny Farthing. In a recent project between German design agency DING3000 and materials specialists BASF, the pair decided to revisit the design concept, but use high performance plastics as well as electric mobility technology.

The ‘Concept 1865’, is inspired by the bicycle of choice in 1865, the year BASF was founded. It essentially asked the question: how would the first pedal cycle have looked if the pioneers of the bike had had today's advanced materials to work with?

The bike uses an electric drive and 24 different polymer applications including bearingless all-plastic pedals made of amorphous thermoplastic Ultrason as well as light and puncture-proof tyres made of Infinergy, an expanded thermoplastic polyurethane.

Velocipedes were known for their enlarged front wheels that improved the transmission ratio. Here though, the Concept 1865 is assisted by an electric drive in the rear wheel which intelligently assists the rider with an electric motor when needed. In addition, the crank is made of a long fibre reinforced Nylon 6 material called Ultramid D to withstand high stress.

A spring-loaded slide is pulled at the rear within the recessed grip to unlock and remove the seat. The seat of the Concept 1865 is supported by a micro-cellular polyurethane elastomer Cellasto spring element for excellent sprung comfort. Inside the detachable saddle is the battery for the electric drive.

The brake hoses are made from a thermoplastic elastomer called Elastollan, and are designed to give optimal bursting behaviour under pressure, are highly wear resistant and permit the tight bending radii that are essential on bikes. The transparent Elastollan used here also renders the oil inside visible and thus makes it easier to check bubble-free filling and hence reliable braking behaviour.

Justin Cunningham

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