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From Plastic Bottles to Bikes: Student Design Team Wins Prize for “Juicy” Idea

fancy bikes
Students from Appalachian State University figured out how to make working bicycles out of recycled plastic bottles. Image from

A friend of mine from high school was part of the winning team that took home the grand prize for the first annual Juicy Ideas Competition, sponsored by Google, for his and his teammates’ innovative and environmentally responsible bicycle design.

Squeezing Ideas out of a Throw-Away Item
Google Student Blog
March 2, 2009

How would you define innovation? Environmentalism? Or entrepreneurship? The Juicy Ideas Competition asked college students to demonstrate all three. Attracting nearly 900 college students from roughly 30 schools, The Juicy Ideas Competition asked students to create an innovative product out of a “throw-away” item. They were then asked to post a video that illustrated these three factors and post it to YouTube.

Videos poured in from all over the country – we saw everything from blankets made out of plastic bags to coffee tables made out of Gatorade bottles. But none of the ideas stood out as much as the four students from Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Spencer Price, Ryan Klinger, Andrew Drake, and Justin Henry created a working bicycle out of used water bottles to win the Juicy Ideas grand prize trip to the Google Headquarters in Mountain View.

At the famed Googleplex, the guys not only got to ride around on the whimsical conference bike (there are pictures on Facebook to prove it!), but they also presented their winning video and its “version 2.0” (about how to make the plan a reality) to a group of Google employees. Watch their 30-minute presentation to Googlers here.

Plastic bottles are an abundant recyclable material. Bicycling is an economic and eco-friendly mode of transportation. Merge the two together and you create a self-sustainable business model that turns trash into treasure in the form of affordable, carbon-reducing community bikes.

The completely recyclable plastic (polyethylene) bicycle frames are created from a mold, which reduces production and labor costs. The plastic bikes are also one-eighth the weight of regular steel bikes. And finally, they help to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, compared to motorized transport.


The Appalachian State team has since launched a Web site and “business concept,” showing off their sleek designs:

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