3D Printed Bikes: Riding into the Future
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3D printed bikes and bike accessories are quickly gaining popularity with consumers and sellers alike. The lightweight materials involved in 3D printing make for faster and easier-to-control bikes, and the easily modifiable designs are popular for their range of use and added accessibility.
Bikes are versatile vehicles. Whether riding to the store or cycling cross-country, reliability and safety are important factors regardless of the manufacturing process involved. From 3D printed mudguards to entire frames, 3D printed bikes and bike parts are recognized for their sturdiness and light weight without sacrificing safety.
In this article, we first discuss the advantages of 3D printed bikes before highlighting some of the most exciting fully 3D printed bikes and bike frames. We also include 3D printed bike parts and accessories.
If you’re a cyclist interested in 3D printing your next ride, or a 3D printing enthusiast looking for a good way to make your commute easier, there’s plenty to talk about.
Advantages of 3D Printing Bikes
- Lighter: 3D printed bikes are lighter than traditionally made bikes, making them faster and easier to control
- Easier to upgrade: can easily and more quickly improve your bike with add-ons or repairs
- Accessories, such as 3D printed water bottles and phone holders for bikes, can be made at home
- Accessibility: 3D printed bike parts and accessories are easily modifiable for accessibility
- Eco-friendlier: 3D printing bikes and bike parts locally is an eco-friendlier alternative to importation
Fully 3D Printed Bikes
While 3D printed bike parts, accessories, and additions are pretty cool; the philosopher’s stone-level legend here would be a bike made entirely by 3D printing. While this is a while off yet, breakthroughs and testing show that it may be closer than we think.
Arevo’s Superstrata – A Peek at the Future of 3D Printed Bikes
In 2018, Silicon Valley-based startup company Arevo unveiled their concept for a fully 3D printed bike frame.
Because it’s printed as one solid model, the Superstrata has no extra parts holding it together. This eliminates the need for soldering, welding, or gluing, and also avoids any wear between joints because there aren’t any!
In 2020, under the brand Superstrata, they released their first fully formed 3D printed carbon fiber bike frame.
Arevo state the importance of their use of carbon fiber in this full bike model as an upgrade to the various held-together pieces involved in traditional machining, which are prone to breaking under pressure.
Carbon fiber (such as NylonX and Pro FLEX) is quickly being recognized in 3D printing for its heat resistance, durability, reliability, and longevity. Every one of these benefits is great for cyclists looking to go down the 3D printing route for future endeavors, with Arevo in particular advertising the increased impact resistance their 3D printed bikes offer.
- You can also check out our guide to carbon fiber 3D printing.
Carbon fiber bikes are high-performance rides, often costing upwards of $4,000. Arevo opened their preorders in July 2020 for their Superstrata range from $2,799.
While 3D printing full bikes with carbon fiber polymer is still expensive, 3D printing one single part saves money compared to importing other parts needed for assembly, further highlighting the importance of 3D printing bikes for sale as a way of getting good quality, quickly made 3D printed bike models to consumers at a lower price.
On this difference in manufacturing and product costs, Arevo founder Sonny Vu has said ‘We don’t really care about margin that much. This is about almost a market demonstration of the tech.’
While this may not sound like the kind of idea someone would take straight to the bank regarding 3D printing bikes, it shows a faith in the future of the technology that companies are clearly keen to express.
Kingdom Bike’s The Void – The Importance of Field Testing
In 2020, Kingdom Bike committed to lowering their carbon front by embracing additive manufacturing.
They hope to make a greener name for themselves by lowering the need for imports, replacements, and extra tools that are often necessary in traditional manufacturing.
In January 2021, Kingdom announced their intentions to begin prototyping new 3D printed bike frames made from titanium, which they have named The Kingdom Void.
The Void was made with the idea of reducing the wasted materials that often come as a result of traditional or CNC machining by 3D printing a working bike frame.
It’s worth keeping in mind that safety and reliability are still of utmost importance, so exciting as breakthroughs and technological developments in 3D printed bikes are, they are nothing if not safe for the rider. Because of this, many innovators are hesitant to release their products without rigorous testing, and Kingdom is no different.
Their testing process is made simple on their website, which states ‘We will ride and ride and ride until the wheels fall off.’
Kingdom is cutting no corners in their use of additive manufacturing to make their 3D printed bike frames, but safety is always going to come first. This can be easily seen in their constant and rigorous testing.
The OBI 0.5 – An Old Idea Worth Revisiting
While industrial concepts for 3D printed bikes are still fairly new, Netherlands-based students Paul de Medeiros and Stef De Groot shared their idea for an open source 3D printed bike back in 2015.
The idea was to both reduce the cost of buying and maintaining a bike, and take some of the strain off public transport. The result was the OBI 0.5, a DIY 3D printed bike prototype for anyone to make and use.
While the project never seemed to get off the ground, and the pair’s site has since gone down, the idea for a home-printed bike remains a feasible one.
The project may seem to have vanished, but the breakthroughs in fully 3D printed bike wheels, frames, and accessories since then have brought us closer to making our own bikes.
3D Printed Bike Parts
Any cyclist will tell you that an aging bike is a dangerous bike. Unlike a car, the rider isn’t covered by any kind of roof or screen. It’s integral to replace worn bike parts before your safety is put in jeopardy.
BigRep – 3D Printed Bike Tires
As well as pedals, 3D printing company BigRep made waves in 2018 with their first 3D printed bike tires. These tires use a prototype filament called Pro FLEX, which they claim is ideal for a bike wheel as its rigidity does not compromise flexibility.
- We also have a complete guide to every type of 3D printer filament.
Like NylonX, the German 3D printer manufacturer boast Pro FLEX’s high heat resistance and durability when showing off their new parts.
The benefit here is easy to see. 3D printed bike tires that don’t rely on rubber or air will never go flat, and the heat resistance ensures maintained reliability through high-friction contact.
3D Printed Bike Accessories
As well as different parts, 3D printed bike accessories are a great way to add customizations and practical additions. These additions include water bottle holders, cell phone carriers, or even speakers that attach directly to the frame.
Most accessories are simple enough, but creative 3D printed bike additions can be found all over the internet. Some of our favorites include a 3D printed water bottle holder with additional slots for bananas, a 3D printed stereo speaker system that attaches to the handlebars, and a beer bottle holder.
Avid cyclists highlight customizability as one of the best reasons to own a bike. 3D printed mudguards and valve caps are an excellent way to make your bike your own.
Fans have also designed 3D printable parasol/umbrella holders, carry handles for folding bikes, and even a handlebar-mounted bubble machine.
3D printed phone holders for bikes are essential for regular riders. If you’re riding for exercise, they’re handy for keeping on your favorite music and podcasts while on the track. And if you’re traveling, many of these phone holders are attached to the handlebars to give better access to maps for directions.
3D printed bottle holder here / 3D printed cell phone holder here / 3D printed bike speakers here / 3D printed beer bottle holder here / 3D printed handlebar bubble machine here / 3D printed parasol holder for bikes here / 3D printed mudguards here
3D Printed Bike Accessories for Accessibility
As well as these cool and practical additions, 3D printed bike accessories can also add accessibility. 3D printing artist and designer Kurt Boutilier has released several add-ons for bikes that can be 3D printed and modified for any use.
These additions are not simple accessories, and include grip aids, brackets, and palm rests to aid in maneuvering, braking, and overall comfort for bike riders who may be suffering from injury, nerve damage, arthritis, or any other debilitation that would otherwise limit bike use.
All of Boutilier’s CAD models for 3D printed bike accessories for the handicapped are available for free here.
From 3D printed phone holders for bikes to fully formed 3D printed bike models, and everything in between, the technology for 3D printed bikes, bike parts, and accessories is constantly under new development.
The true benefits of 3D printing bikes are still to be confirmed. While companies such as Matterhackers and Arevo are still optimistic about the future of strong, durable carbon fiber filaments in bicycle production; the future of the industry lies in the further development of these materials.
Matterhackers have been using NylonX to make 3D printed bike parts, saying ‘When you need something that is going to be facing some strain and has to be tough, NylonX is our material of choice.’
If nothing else, cycling enthusiasts and casual riders alike should keep a close eye on how 3D printing is changing bikes. From safety and accessibility, cool and useful accessories, and even fully 3D printable bikes, anyone with an interest in cycling would do well to keep an eye on the new technologies.
With new innovations and filaments being used and tested for safety and reliability, the future of 3D printing bikes is a bright one indeed.