Every so often, an innovative idea is born ahead of its time. I discovered one such notable example at the IJ-Hallen flea market in Amsterdam. The Swedish made Itera plastic bike, with the aim to modernize the bicycle using plastic materials. But due to technical issues, the project ended in failure after three years.
Reminiscent of an era featuring Atari game consoles and audio cassettes, the Itera bike was first unveiled in 1981. Backed by nationwide advertising, nearly 100,000 Swedes indicated that they were interested. In February of 1982, production began but sales were slow. The bikes were delivered unassembled with tools provided in the box.
Problems began when boxes had missing parts, leaving customers frustrated and unable to assemble the bike. The following year, many of them were returned along with broken parts. Plastic was not a viable substitute for metal. It was also impossible to use replacement parts as they were not compatible. Several campaigns were introduced, among them offering lower prices. Ultimately they proved to be unsuccessful and production came to an end in 1985.
In total, approximately 30,000 Itera bicycles were produced. Majority of the stock was sold to the Caribbean Islands as they became popular as a rust free alternative to metal bikes. Others met a more undignified end, while a few aptly branded a rarity, hope to extend their life in the hands of a collector.