OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Bico: Recyclable Bike Seat Covers

Bico is a recyclable bike seat cushion cover for the eco-friendly cyclist.

Photo of Brannon Veal
14 11

Written by

Bico provides affordable and recyclable bike seat cushion covers. The product incorporates Nike Grind Materials and is created for individual cyclists, as well as bike renters and owners.

Which Nike Grind materials will your idea utilize?

  • Rubber Outsoles
  • Rubber Flashings
  • Rubber Granulate
  • Mixed Apparel Textile
  • Mixed Footwear Textile
  • Footwear Fiber "Fluff"
  • Synthetic Leather

Please include a visual (can be either 2D or 3D) representation/prototype of your concept. (required)

What is the current stage of development of your idea?

  • Research & Early Testing

Describe your target market. Who will benefit from your product?

Individual cyclists who rent bikes from bike sharing companies are the initial target market. Bike share is growing at a fast pace across the U.S., with over 88 million trips made on a bike share bike since 2010. In 2016 alone, riders took over 28 million trips, higher than the number of people visiting Walt Disney World each year. With the increasing popularity of bike sharing, comfortability and sanitation are two growing concerns among consumers

How will you scale your idea? Please describe in detail your plan to scale your concept.

My initial plan to scale is through the development of partnerships with bike sharing companies to provide an additional vending option for their consumers. For example, when a cyclist rents a bike, they would also have the option to purchase a Bico seat cover. One of the main challenges of this approach is encouraging sharers to both purchase and re-use the covers vs. tossing it out. Pricing the product appropriately and providing recycling bins near the bike sharing racks where users can discard their old covers are two ways to overcome these challenges.

How is your idea innovative?

Bico is innovative and unique in its business approach. Servicing the bike sharing market with sustainable accessories that also provide comfort and sanitation is an area that is ripe for growth.

What inspired this idea?

As a cyclist and consumer of bike sharing services, I discovered need for making the experience more comfortable and sanitary firsthand. Having an option to purchase a cover at the point of paying for a rental is something I personally want for myself!

Tell us about yourself and your team. What is your background and experience?

I’m a design engineer and graduate student in sustainability at the Harvard Extension School. I have previous experience in power electronics and industrial design.

In what city are you located?

Austin

In what country are you located?

USA

Attachments (1)

Bico Canvas.pdf

Bico: Lean Business Model Canvas

14 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Spam
Photo of Muhammed
Team

These rental bikes are also visible in Sydney Australia. I believe the seat covers are standard size. If so, we can have these seat covers too. Any idea if we can reduce the making cost more?

Spam
Photo of Hamza Arshad
Team

hey that is a good idea for seat covers, but you can also use the grind material rubbers to replace the ordinary rubber break shoes used to stop bicycle. By changing the ordinary break rubbers with Nike grind material you can also save cost.

Spam
Photo of Yan
Team

Good idea,but do you consider that people using bike sharing may don't want to cost extra money for others and they may don't have consciousness of responsibility to protect bike seat cushion. But these just my own ideas. Because in china, I think there are more abandoned bikes than new ones.

Spam
Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Thanks for your feedback! You made some great points.

There are two strategies for overcoming the challenges you mentioned: 1) sell direct-to-consumers and provide low-cost covers at the point-of-purchase, making them both affordable and easily accessible; and 2) sell to bike sharing companies and include the product in membership costs. Option 2 would also be applicable when expanding to similar markets, such as cycling studios.

To your second point, abandoned bikes are a common challenge for dockless bike share programs; however, I believe this is more heavily influenced by business model design than a lack of responsibility on the part of consumers.

Spam
Photo of Yan
Team

Thanks for your reply, I think you consider many details about your business model, I hope your idea can be achieved.

Spam
Photo of Michael Coelho Sillman
Team

good idea

Spam
Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Thank you!

Spam
Photo of Renee Li
Team

Hi Brannon, I really like your idea. Is U.S market the only one market you want to target? Are you thinking of extending it to other countries?

Spam
Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

I would start in the U.S. market then expand to other countries afterwards. China is home to the world's largest bike sharing program and is closely followed by Paris, London, Barcelona, and Montreal. It would be nice to see Bico travel the globe!

Spam
Photo of Renee Li
Team

Thanks for your reply! Look forward to seeing your designs in China in the future :)

Spam
Photo of Michael Wiedeman
Team

Have you considered expanding your idea to encompass the entire seat and post? Frequent bike riders can get quite particular about the 3D shape of their seats, and they might be unsatisfied with the support structure beneath the seat cover.
If you envision the bike seat as a personal accessory the user brings with them to the bike, then your challenge expands, but maybe not too much. You will then need to:
1) Design a new type of bike seat that is collapsible and ultra-light weight, yet ergonomic and comfortable. It might be the first of many design variations. I think athletic shoe technology in general could help make this happen.
2) Form a partnership with the bike share company to enable on-the-spot swap-outs of seat tubes for those discerning riders, without causing undue hassle to the riders or the company, and finding a way to store the "extras".

Spam
Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Hello Michael,

The collapsible seat may be more difficult to develop. However, if implemented, it could also be leveraged as an anti-theft feature, considering that theft is prevalent among bike sharing systems. There’s less incentive to steal a bike you can’t sit on.

Thanks for the feedback!

Spam
Photo of Halima
Team

I like the idea of a carry-with-me accessory. I think one of the greatest challenges is the mixing of different quality materials resulting in a different final product i.e. elasticity, comfort, thermal properties. Have you thought about how this might be controlled? I would propose creating a specification range of how much of each mixed waste stream you can include whilst creating something of consistent quality.

Spam
Photo of Brannon Veal
Team

Great question! There are three things to consider in regards to quality control: 1) make the seam materials elastic to account for thermal and mechanical deformations, 2) restrict the waste streams while controlling the recycling processing parameters, and 3) implement post-processing chemical treatment of the new recycled fabrics to enhance durability. I provided more detail regarding how the material streams are used below. Note: The percentages are broken out by material weight.

Interior Support (40%) | "Rubber outsoles, rubber flashings, and rubber granulate." Consistency in quality control for the interior support will come from creating a composite rubber material that consists of a mix of approximately 20% outsoles, 20% flashings, and 60% granulate. High power ultrasound will be used to break the chemical bonds so that the rubber can be cured again into a fairly uniform material.

Cushion and Support (20%) | "Footwear fiber fluff." The fluff will be processed and refined into smaller fibers to make a more homogenous and comfortable cushion.

Top of the Bike Cover (20%) | "Synthetic leather." Similar to the process Nike uses to make “flyleather,” the synthetic leather fiber will be re-blended to create the top portion of the cover. This process has already been used to make footwear out of recycled synthetic leather.

Side of the Bike Cover (20%) | "Mixed apparel/footwear textile." The apparel textile will be used to create a standard version of the cover, and the mixed footwear textile will be used to create a more durable “sport” version for more active riders.