Schwinn's Vestige. Flax Frame Bike Glows At Night
Thought we covered this a month or two ago, but alas not. Schwinn won the Eurobike Gold Award, in the Cruiser/Designbike category, with their Vestige bike, touted as the first ever Flax Fiber Bicycle. Maybe they need to add Mass Produced to that claim, because a full year ago Jacob reported on Johan Museeuw's handmade flax road bikes. That anomaly aside, Schwinn's flax bike does have an intriguing story to tell. Especially at night when its translucent flax tube glow from the illumination of an internal lighting system. (See pic in the extended post.)Flax is the same plant that gives us linen for clothing, bags and furnishings. It also provides the highly nutritious linseeds. But in this instance the fibrous stems of the plant have been coerced into offering a material that is said to have the performance benefits as a carbon fiber frame, but with a much lower carbon footprint.
The media release suggests that natural flax fibre has "a high phonic insulation which gives it a superior ability to absorb and dampen vibration, even compared to carbon." The resin binding the flax fibres is considered to be non-toxic and biodegradable. To round out the eco story, the flax tubes are finished with what is said to be a bicycle industry first -- water-based paint. And the mudguards (a.k.a. fenders) and grips are made of bamboo materials. Plus those aforementioned translucent tubes are lit up at night by a lighting system that derives its power from a front hub dynamo, avoiding the need for disposable batteries.
There is some suggestion that the flax is organic, but it is not clear if this means it is independently certified as coming from a farm where no synthetic chemicals have been used for at least three years, or simply that the marketing department got a bit flowery in their language. And it seems somewhat disingenuous to claim the flax as recyclable. I imagine your local resource recovery centre would be far more able to recycle a steel or aluminium framed bicycle, than a flax one.
But it is encouraging to see renewable materials percolating up into the consciousness of designers and manufacturers. And bast fibres, like Flax and its cousins, Hemp, Jute, Kenaf, Ramie, Okra, etc, have proved themselves to be very adaptable materials suitable to a whole range of applications.
The Schwinn Vestige will be sold as a commuter bike, come cruiser, by Schwinn's parent company, Dorel, a US $2 billion company, whose Cycling Sports Group stable also includes Cannondale, GT, Mongoose, and Sugoi.
Unfortunately there is no additional information on the Vestige yet up on the Schwinn website.
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