Alex Bellini Sets Out to Explore Alaska and Other Polar Regions on a 3D Printed Bicycle

Published on February 28, 2024 by Madeleine P.

3D printing in cycling for the production of high-performance bicycles is becoming increasingly popular. Just think of the success of Filippo Ganna, who entered cycling history thanks to his very personal 3D printed Pinarello Bolide F HR 3D. Or the 3D printed bikes that are expected to help British athletes at the 2024 Olympics. This time it is explorer Alex Bellini who will attempt a record-breaking mission, using, for the first time for a trip to Alaska, a fully customized 3D printed frame mountain bike.

Bellini has been traveling for 20 years in the most extreme conditions, exploring the globe to chronicle the world and raise awareness of environmental issues. Now, he has decided to attempt a one-of-a-kind adventure exploring Alaska, Greenland and the Arctic Ocean on an Impact mountain bike. The project, called “Eyes on Ice,” has just set off from Italy and will last a full three years. The bike used is a custom-made 3D-printed bike made specifically for this mission, designed to fit the needs and physique of the explorer and his traveling companion, Alessandro Plona.

L'esploratore Alex Bellini

Alessandro Plona (left) and Alex Bellini (right)

From Alaska to the Arctic on the Impact Mountain Bike

The “Eyes on Ice” project hopes to travel the polar areas of Earth in only three years. The goal for Alex Bellini is not only to explore them, but more importantly to bring attention to the environmental issues these areas are experiencing: from melting glaciers to all the other consequences of climate change.

To do this, Alex Bellini and Alessandro Plona’s journey will go from Anchorage, Alaska to the village of Nome. The route includes a mission to Alaska this year, a crossing of Greenland in 2025, and then concluding in 2026 with an attempted crossing of the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. In total, the duo will cross 1,800 kilometers between February and March riding the Impact mountain bike: a prototype made by 3D printing with a frame made of industrial recycled plastic.

This is not meant to be simply an exploratory trip, but with Eyes on Ice we want to take a proactive role in understanding, popularizing and protecting polar ecosystems. Our history and our future are closely linked to ice” explained Alex Bellini. Indeed, this project completes a journey that began in 2019 with the “10 rivers 1 ocean” project, a mission in which Bellini explored the world’s ten most polluted rivers.

First tests of the 3D printed frame

Making the Impact Bike With 3D Printing

In communications about the project, in addition to information on the purpose of the mission, of course, great importance was given to the realization of the Impact bicycle using 3D printing, and to the desire to contribute to the emergence of a recycling supply chain for polycarbonate, an exceptional material that unlike PE, PP, or PET, is now burned post-consumer instead of recycled. Envisioned and assembled by Daniele Rinaldi (Renaldi Telai) based on the requests and technical needs of Alex Bellini and Alessandro Plona, the IMPACT frame was designed and fabricated from scratch by the eXgineering/Gimac/X-engineering team, which, led by Francisco Martins Carabetta, continued for the next few weeks to refine form and function based on field tests and the feelings of the two adventurers.

The frame was printed using the RAM (Robotic Additive Manufacturing) 3D printing process using recycled polycarbonate pellets enriched in stiffness by 30 percent carbon fiber. The unique and sustainable design takes its cues from the already well-known New01Bike. Production and refinement of the prototype took about 15 days, intertwined with testing and modifications, to make it as reliable, high-performance and comfortable as possible. “Impact is the result of innovation and sustainability: thanks to polycarbonate, which is re-machinable and reprocessable for at least five cycles,” Bellini added.

Tested on the snowy trails of Valtellina, Impact was also subjected to the climatic chamber of the Politecnico di Milano, at -40°C: an environment that mimics the extreme conditions, loads, pedaling and unevenness of the trail. For those curious about the journey, the two explorers shared a tracking link to allow all to follow their journey live HERE.

What do you think of Alex Bellini’s mission to ride the 3D printed Impact bike? Let us know in a comment below or on our LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter pages! Don’t forget to sign up for our free weekly newsletter here, the latest 3D printing news straight to your inbox! You can also find all our videos on our YouTube channel.

*All Photo Credits: Alex Bellini/Alaska 2024

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