An innovation which appears good on paper but turns into a commercial fail: this is the story of the Itera bicycle developed by Volvo. Substituting metal with plastic was the peculiar idea of a Swedish designer. In 1978, funding was released for this composite plastic bicycle project by a Swedish organisation, The Swedish National Board for Technical Development. In 1980, a functional prototype was produced and in 1981 the first models were presented to the press and to the retailers. In 1982, the bicycle models manufactured in a factory in Wilhelmina (Sweden) appeared on the market. Made of composite material with injected fibreglass stick rims all tinted in the mass along with polyamide wheels, the Itera is equipped with 3-speed Sturmey-Archer derailleur in the hub, including the dynamo, an anti-theft key, and an XM9 Iscaselle saddle.
The bike was delivered unmounted in a cardboard box, but there were complaints from purchasers about missing pieces or tools for the mounting. There were many reasons for the failure of this model including difficult maintenance, lightweight structure and replacement and replacement parts becoming out of stock to name a few. Plus, the Itera presented a certain fragility depending on the climate: if it was too cold, the frame could break and it was unbalanced. In reality, the perfect concept wasn’t quite so perfect: nothing could replace the good old metal frame. The Itera wasn’t the commercial success hoped by Volvo. The production ended in 1985 after approximately 30 000 copies and Itera became a collector’s item.
The Itera is on display in hall 3 of the Museum and is on loan from a private collector.