A RARE - and not very practical - bicycle was among items stolen during an overnight burglary at the Bakelite Museum in West Somerset.

Thieves made off with the distinctive Itera bicycle, which had been a popular exhibit at the museum, in Williton.

The bike is famous, but not for all the right reasons, according to museum owner Patrick Cook.

The first ‘all plastic bicycle’, the Itera recently featured on BBC News as one of the ‘50 greatest failures’ exhibited at the Museum of Failures Exhibition in Sweden.

Mr Cook, who lives above the museum, said: “I was shocked when I came downstairs to find items missing from the museum. 

“It had been a windy night so I must not have heard anything but the door was broken.”

The thieves also made off with tools, garden machinery and furniture in the raid, which happened overnight on July 21.

“They must have been desperate, they even tried to steal some of my artwork,” Mr Cook aid.

First produced in 1982 by Swedish manufacturer Volvo, the Itera bike was famous for failing on a number of counts.

“The Iteras were sold in kit form but a large number of the kits were packaged incomplete and returned to suppliers,” Mr Cook said.

“Because of the nature of the materials, various parts would stress and crack, including the handlebars and spokes, and the bike was being renowned for being too heavy and incongruous in design.”

Mr Cook picked up his bike for museum from an auction Beaulieu National Motor Museum and it is now thought to worth up to £300.
He said the item always attracted a lot of interest at the museum, particularly with visitors from Germany and Holland.

Mr Cook appealed for anyone who had seen the bike to get in touch.

“Keep your eyes peeled for a strange plastic bicycle, possibly abandoned as it would be too difficult to ride,” he said.

“Although mass-produced, this one has a number of identifying features and has recently been restored.” 

Anyone with information should contact police on 101, reference 5217/166633.