For years, the possibility of plastic consumer bikes have been pitched and pitched again. Concept bikes with rotationl mounting, injection moulding and 3D printed frames are not new, genuine production of a consumer ready ‘plastic’ bike has not yet been a reality. According to the German brand Advanced, they are releasing the first bike with a plastic frame that compares with a traditional steel or aluminium framed bike. It is an ebike called the Revolution RECO and has a starting price around AUD 8000 (£4549).
The bike looks like a current generation commuter / leisure ebike though the frame is a composite with a plastic and carbon mix. It is manufactured with injection moulding (injecting melted plastic into a metal die). The challenge of this approach is that a bike frame is a very difficult shape and form for this manufacturing process. With a production partner in Europe and German manufacture of the frame, this announcement coincides with a broader trend to localise production and reduce the reliance on Asian production.
For Advanced, it is more than just being able to produce a frame in this manner, their calculations suggest that this production approach has 68% fewer Co2 emissions, it shortens the transport routes and the bike can returned back to the brand at the end of its lifespan where it can be completely recycled. The frame material is a composite has 40% made up of carbon which is sourced as a by-product (waste) from automobile production. (Once again, bikes are solving car problems again.) The exact makeup of the material is kept under wraps, though carbon composite materials are commonly used in other bike gear already (such as the soles of road-cycling shoes) where the carbon provides reenforcing properties while being cheaper than a complete carbon fibre production which is usually has a poor ecological rating.
In the Eurobike 2022 presentation, the display model had a few minor imperfections, notably behind the seat-post a 3D printed blender (cover) has been used though a staff member assured me that customers will receive a cleaner frame. Customers get a 30 year guarantee on the frame which reveals the level of confidence the brand has in their frames, however the website simultaneously specifies a 4-year warranty on the frame – the UK distributer assured me it is 30 years guarantee for the first-purchaser and for the Bosch ebike motor, they extend the regular warranty from 2 to 4 years. A 2022 Design Innovation award Jury report suggested stable and smooth handling. (A demo model was available for testing at Eurobike however a tight schedule didn’t allow me to test-ride.)
The injection moulded process allows wall-thickness to be controlled plus the ability to create internal structures to define strength and compliance. The headset section includes an in-moulded
steel aluminium tube to ensure stability. A bosh performance CX motor provides the ebike with road-legal max 25kmh pedal assistance and the bike is available with belt-drive and chain options as well as step-over or gentlemen’s (top tube) frame styles.
Due to the cost of set-up for injection moulding (the complex dies cost hundreds of thousands of dollars), the available sizes are limited with and they have S-M size and a L-XL size.
The German brand was founded in 2011 it was name “EBIKE. DAS ORIGINAL.” and has morphed into Advanced Ebike. The Frankfurt based brand has a strong portfolio of retailers across Germany, a handful in Switzerland and Lichtenstein. A young team have now taken on UK distribution and it appears they will focus only on the new Revolution RECO model (though this is an unconfirmed assumption).
Actual customer availability is suggested to be 1-2 months. This means that German and UK customers should be able to purchase in August or September. This opens opportunities in other countries for distribution partners, though also means that despite the product release, this bike still may be difficult to purchase in other regions.
As the main website is only in German (www.advanced.tech) the English language website of the UK brand-partner is a reference for further information: advancedbikes.uk