Conspicuous with its wheels of different sizes, the velocipede was the first pedal-powered cycle in history. BASF has now rebuilt the 19th century bike – as a modern e-bike with plastics from the BASF product range. But why?
With its Concept 1865, BASF is taking a trip back into its own history – to the year 1865 –, when the Badische Anilin- & Soda-Fabrik (BASF) was founded and this was the point in time when Karl Drais wooden »Dandy horse« was given its first pedals, which launched the bicycle on the road to global success.
As a tribute to this era of enthusiasm for technology and invention, BASF has embarked on an unparalleled thought experiment and asked: How would the first pedal cycle have looked if the pioneers of the bike had had today´s advanced materials to work with? In cooperation with the DING3000 design studio, the company has developed a velocipede embodying the current state of the art technology. In doing so, the innovative one-off quotes the geometry and mechanics of the first pedal cycle. The crank directly drives the front wheel (39") which, in order to improve the transmission ratio, is much larger than the rear wheel (24").
BASF has made with Ultracom™ for Front Wheel Rim, stands for a package of three components: continuous fiber reinforced semifinished products, adapted overmolding compounds and the complementing engineering support. In a single process step, Ultralaminate™ and Ultratape™ – reinforced continuous-fiber laminate and tape semi finished products – are thermoformed and subsequently stiffened with a structure of short-fiber reinforced Ultramid® COM. In this process, the BASF specialists combine the mechanical superiority of continuous fibers with the processing benefits of short glass fibers. The 19th century pioneers of the bicycle used solid rubber tires. This type of tire never really caught on because it was considered too heavy and too hard. For the tires of the Concept 1865, BASF has carried out its first tests with expanded thermoplastic polyurethane (E TPU), a light, durable and very elastic material.
The pedals has made with Ultrason® KR 4113 is a true high-performance plastic. Owing to the outstanding sliding friction behavior and dimensional stability of this Ultrason grade, the designers of DING3000 were able to dispense with ball bearings on the pedals. The outcome is maintenance-free and low-wear bearings for everyday use on the roads. These characteristics are achieved by integrating carbon fibers, graphite and polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE).
The frame has made with The frame and the fork unit with the stem and handlebar derive their strength from a reinforced continuous-filament of carbon fiber fabrics. BASF has two different matrix polymers – epoxy and polyurethane systems – available for these composites. These new, high-strength lightweight materials are produced by Resin Transfer Molding (RTM). In this process, fabrics of carbon fiber are laid in a heated mold.
The e-bike´s battery is concealed in the interior of the seat. To facilitate regular recharging of the battery, the mount has a bearing- and maintenance- free mechanism making it possible to mount and clip on the saddle. Based on its good sliding friction behavior, inherent flame retardance and insulation properties, carbon fiberreinforced Ultrason® E2010 C6 is ideal for both the battery´s electrical.
The motor have 250W integrated in the rear axle has been discreetly concealed behind a cover of polyamide. The blue cap in fact has another important function as well; it protects the motor from the wet, dirt and stone chips. For such applications, the plastics of the Ultramid® B family are ideal, even if the requirements can vary according to the design of the electric motor. The Ultramid B portfolio offers customers a broad array of material types.