Motorcycle Mushroom

That Mushroom Motorcycle Jacket Will Never Go Out of Style – The New York Times

Science|That Mushroom Motorcycle Jacket Will Never Go Out of Style


Leather goods made of fungi are versatile and sustainable, a new study finds.

Credit…Antoni Gandia

There are traditionally two ways to make a leather jacket. One involves a cow, and takes years. Another involves synthetic fabric, and requires plastic. But there’s a third option: thick sheets of woven fungus, grown over a couple of weeks on anything from sawdust to agricultural waste.

“It feels a bit and smells a bit like mushroom, still, but it looks like a piece of old leather jacket,” said Alexander Bismarck, a materials scientist at the University of Vienna.

Over the last decade, companies in the United States, Indonesia and Korea have touted fungal leather as an ethical and environmentally sustainable replacement for both cow skin and plastic. Previously, there wasn’t much research to support their claims. But a study published by Dr. Bismarck and his colleagues last week in Nature Sustainability finds that fungal leathers stack up quite well when it comes to versatility and sustainability.

Wearing fungal leather doesn’t mean wearing a mushroom motorcycle jacket. Instead it’s made from a mat of mycelium, the underlying threadlike root networks from which fruiting bodies pop up after a rain. These mycelial mats grow easily on just about any organic material.

Beginning in the 1950s, inventors began to file patents based around fungal mats as a material for paper, wound dressings and a range of other products, but they never fully caught on, said Mitchell Jones, lead author and materials scientist from the Vienna University of Technology.

But in the last decade, companies like MycoWorks and Bolt Threads have begun manufacturing and selling fungal leather products.

With leather, you’re limited to the skin that an animal produces over its life, whereas mycelial mats can be grown to specifications,” said Sophia Wang, co-founder of MycoWorks.


Credit…Antoni Gandia


Credit…Antoni Gandia

Dr. Bismarck said the potential for custom materials is huge because different kinds of fungus have different properties, such as toughness, water resistance, and there are potentially millions of species to choose from.

Fungal leather is also potentially more sustainable than other leather sources. The tanning process is energy intensive and produces quite a bit of sludge waste — and the production of synthetic leather requires plastic, which involves oil. “You’re getting a biological organism to do all of your manufacturing for you, so there’s no real energy requirement,” Dr. Jones said.

“It doesn’t require light. And once you’ve got this material, you can process it according to quite simple chemical treatments compared to what you would normally do for leather tanning.”

But while fungal leather did quite well in the team’s durability tests, there are still some questions about its long-term toughness.

“Initial industry results indicate the durability is quite good compared to animal leather,” Dr. Jones said, “but some of the industry are cheating a bit because they incorporate a felted polyester and make it into a composite leather.”

The fungal leather industry is still in its infancy, and is largely producing proofs of concept for the luxury market: prototypes of Bolt Thread’s fungal leather handbag sold for about $400 when they were available, a similar price to a good-quality leather bag.

But Dr. Jones believes that the costs are likely to drop as the industry grows. “There’s already massive mushroom cultivation industries that are producing all kinds of mushrooms for the culinary market. The technology to mass produce mushrooms is already there.”

Fungal leather products might soon pop up everywhere, like mushrooms after a rain. The question is whether consumers will feel the magic. After all, if you regret those fungal leather pants you buy in the future, can you just throw them out in the yard and let them become compost?

“That’s all not yet been explored,” Dr. Bismarck said.

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Motorcycle Sturgis

Sturgis Motorcycle Rally Protester Kicks Biker as He Rides Past – Newsweek

A man has been arrested for allegedly kicking a biker at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota rally over the weekend during a largely peaceful protest.

Video posted on social media appears to show several police officers detaining the suspect while surrounded by a large crowd of bikers taking part in the annual rally.

One clip of the arrest was posted on Twitter with the caption “Antifa actually showed up to Sturgis today” although it is unclear if the anti-fascist movement were involved in the protest.

A second video also appears to show the moment the suspect kicks out at a biker as he rides past him on his motorbike.

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Geody VanDewater, Sturgis chief of police, said officers were aware of the planned protest against the large rally which went ahead amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of thousands of riders arrived from all over the country to the rally in the South Dakota town.

Mask-wearing was not mandatory and social distancing did not appear to be enforced in the bars and on the streets, prompting fears the rally could help spread the virus.

“They expressed their First Amendment right as well as the demonstrators and for the most part, it was civil and everybody was well behaved until one of the demonstrators decided to kick a motorcyclist on his motorcycle,” VanDewater told KEVN.

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The suspect, from Rapid City, South Dakota, was arrested for disorderly conduct, Vandewater told the Associated Press.

Eli Villarreal was one of those who recorded the protester being arrested by officers at the rally.

“The international attention right now is on Sturgis, with the COVID-19 and everything and I know that people are going to want to see this and see what’s going on here,” Villarreal told KEVN.

“We’re in the spotlight right now, Sturgis, this is the biggest event held in probably the world since the COVID broke out so all eyes are on us right now. That’s the reason I pulled out the phone so people can see what’s going on here.”

Sturgis Police have been contacted for further comment.

Elsewhere, the South Dakota Highway Patrol confirmed that a total of five people died while taking part in the mass rally, three more than last year.

A 64-year-old male riding a 1981 Harley Davidson XLH motorcycle northbound Sturgis Road, mile marker 43, within the city limits of Piedmont, died from his injuries after crashing on Friday, August 14. The victim was struck by a southbound 2019 Chevrolet Equinox that had crossed the centerline. Charges are pending against the 47-year-old driver of the Equinox.

A 56-year-old man who was thrown from his motorbike after crashing into a ditch on U.S. Highway 16A in Custer State Park on Monday, August 10, died from his injuries on Friday. The man, who was riding a 2003 Harley Davidson Heritage, was not wearing a helmet at the time.

Two people also died after being involved in a three-way collision on U.S. Highway 14A, mile marker 49, three miles west of Sturgis on August 10.

William Cooper, 22, of College Station, Texas, was airlifted to a Rapid City hospital where he later was pronounced dead.

Ronald Ratzel, 55, of Ceres, New York, was pronounced dead at the scene. Steven Peterson, 60, of Cuba, New York, also suffered non-life threatening injuries as a result of the crash. None of the riders were wearing helmets at the time.

Motorcyclists ride through downtown Deadwood, South Dakota during the 80th Annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally on August 8, 2020.
Michael Ciaglo/Getty

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