The other day I spotted a plastic bike in a display of vintage bicycles.
In the 1980s Volvo, the Swedish car manufacturer, brought out a mostly plastic bike. It was introduced in 1982 and by the end of production in 1985, 30,000 bikes were made.
This plastic bike was not popular for a number of reasons, mainly because it was so different from the norm, but also because the material broke easily on impact.
The idea of a plastic bike does not sound quite so futuristic today as it would have done in the 1980s. Many road bikes are now made of carbon fibre a material with more strength than the fibre glass from which the Itera was made. In the 1980s carbon fibre was an expensive, new material used only in high end manufacturing. For example, 1981 saw the first carbon fibre monocoque introduced to Formula 1 racing cars by McLaren. If this bike was made of the same material it simply would not have been affordable.
Louise Dennis (Assistant Curator)