Demotech, design for self reliance

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Tin Bicycle: Introduction to the Tin Bicycle

Introduction to the Tin Bicycle

Introduction by Reinder van Tijen
Dieren Februari 12th 2002-02-12

In the early seventies, also the early days of Demotech, I took part in a Japanese design contest. It was about bicycles, any bicycle, anything bicycle-like for personal transport was welcome to be admitted.

A few years before I had quitted my job as a designer at a well-known Dutch bicycle factory. So I knew quiet well the ins and outs of bicycle manufacturing. But on behalf of this design contest, I formulated for myself different design criteria. Such as being applicable in an economic environment where capital would be extremely scarce and craftsmanship would be readily available. As purchasing power of potential buyers would be low, the production of the bicycle should be highly efficient. As the need for personal transport is high the product should match at least the existing expectations.

My entry, named the ‘Tin Bicycle’ was rewarded a third prize. For that reason it got some publicity and we got some support in the construction of a prototype of this design. We could demonstrate that ‘tin’, being 0,3 mm thick steel sheet metal, coated with tin or paint, was well suited for the job. A ‘tin’ bicycle frame was produced and tested under normally to be expected loads. It stood well up to it.

No further development followed, as all attention within Demotech had to be focussed at the development of the rope pump.

I hope for the chance to renew work on this design. There is a huge need for a bicycle that even surpassed the design criteria I choose for the ‘Tin Bicycle’. With all the experience I gathered in design for local manufacture, I have high hopes such criteria can be met. Also see: The "Tin Bicycle", a sustainable way to produce bicycles

Tin Bicycle: Introduction to the Tin Bicycle