Sunday, October 12, 2008

Itera Plastic Bike


This is a nice one. A super-rare Swedish early 1980s all-plastic Itera bicycle, spotted on a Finnish online auction site. I actually remember when these were around, how could you forget something as cool as this? I was pretty young back then but that was the days of Tron, remember?

"The Itera Plastic Bicycle was an attempt in Sweden in the early 1980s to modernize the bicycle by replacing metal with plastic fiber composite materials and using injection moulding. The project ended after three years as a commercial failure..."

If you read the bike's history on Wikipedia, you realize that it just was like IKEA furniture, only 20 years before IKEA went big:

"... The bikes were delivered unassembled with tools provided in the box. In autumn 1981, more than 100,000 Swedes indicated they were interested. ...  However, sales were slow and the news media lost interest. The fact that not every box contained every part to assemble a bicycle frustrated many customers. ... Boxes of bicycles piled up in shops. Among them were returns, mostly with broken. Where metal bends, plastic breaks."

Anyhow, there was a kind of a happy end to the story of Itera:

"Production ended in 1985. The stock was sold to the West Indies where they became popular as rust is a problem with metal bicycles."

Oh, I would so like to see a picture of a Rastaman happily riding that bike in Kingston's Shanty Town back in 1986. 

But who will buy the one linked above, just for the front wheel? The fork is also pretty funky. 

10 comments:

Tuukka said...

I actually saw one of these riding down Mannerheimintie the other day. First one I'd seen live.

Anonymous said...

I have just purchased one of these funky bikes at a second hand store, complete(including key to the lock!) in pristine condition... any clue as to its value?

Kurt said...

Anonymous: It has no value, you're a fool for asking.

Granted, your comment is the laugh of the day for the entire cycling community - it shows that there remains someone stupid enough to believe they just MIGHT be able to retire via selling what is unquestionably one of the worst bicycles ever produced.

Anonymous said...

Actually, collectors value these at around 400 USD.

Anonymous said...

I sold mine for $500 8 years ago, Kurt is a fool for thinking he knows.

Anonymous said...

I have one for sale, tan color, all original.
any interest?

john said...

hi, just looking to see what i could find out about this plastic nightmare ive just bought, and had the missfortune of riding home. its like riding a jelly.
john

Anonymous said...

I actually visited the factory in Vilhelmina Sweden back when production was going on. I was given one of the bikes... Still have it, in absolute mint condition, it has got to be the worst bike ever made. Kurt is right to say that they have no practical value. There are however people who value odd-ball items and have more dollars than sense...

Anonymous said...

Tried one of these out for the first time yesterday. They are unbelievably awful, in every single way.

Anonymous said...

I found one of these in the basement of Tetley Hall, Leeds University in 1990. I fixed it and rode it around a bit - it attracted a lot of attention but was truly absolutely appalling. The handlebars were flexible, like a soft plastic ruler, the wheels flexed, everything flexed and it weighed a ton. Dreadful. Even with the prospect of selling it to a collector I couldn't be bothered handing onto it.

Cheers for the photo!

Swanky (@urbanecommuter)