Wooden Bicycles: The Two Types You Need to Know

Wooden bicycles are made either entirely or predominantly from wood. The first bicycles were made of wood, which is still used today, particularly in kid’s balance bikes. The wood may be laminated or solid.

The first version of the bicycle, made of wood, was designed in 1817. They were known as dandy horses, hobby horses, and velocipedes. Over the years, technological advancement has resulted in a remarkable improvement in bicycle construction.  

Composite lugs or steel can be used to reinforce the wooden bicycle frames and to attach other parts. Most wooden frames are made from plywood, bamboo, or plywood.

Renovo Hardwood Bicycles

When he saw their samples on display, Renovo Bikes of Portland, Oregon, caught Meade Gougeon’s attention during the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington. Being a seasoned cyclist and woodworker, Mr Meade knows better than most the importance of using wood in the construction of bicycles. And when Renovo offered him a job, he saw this as the perfect opportunity to combine two of his greatest passions: woodworking and cycling.

Renovo bicycles’ attractive, brilliant, satisfying appearances are only a small part of what they offer the experienced rider. Renovo bikes are fast, light, and feature exceptional frame rigidity, resulting in a quiet and smooth ride. Moreover, their hollow wood and laminated bamboo frames provide exceptional performance, allowing raiders to optimise their strengths.

Meade requested Renovo to design him a custom bike using wood and WEST SYSTEM® Epoxy, and the outcome was excellent. Ken Wheeler, a member of the Renovo team, explains Meade’s bicycle frame: “The middle wood is curled maple with a wenge pinstripe. The material used for the outer layer of the laminate is made of Padauk. For the stays, Port Orford cedar is used for the inside layers and wenge for the outside layers. The front triangle is very stiff. For a smoother ride, the rear triangle has around 80% of the rigidity of S2.”

Renovo Bikes started with a basic CAD screen and pieces of wood. They’ve exported thousands of wooden bikes worldwide and earned global recognition for their exceptional designs and new bike models. Quality has always been their primary concern, not quantity, and most of their early designs have covered more than 10,000 miles without experiencing complications. Moreover, Renovo has tried to enhance its frame designs.

However, due to the decline in profits, they’ve recently changed their approach to expanding their manufacturing pace. In the same effort,  Renovo has increased its operations from 5000 square feet to 7500 square feet of additional working space while improving its designs and production procedures. Fortunately, a significant increase in output has been achieved without compromising their quality.

Boo Bicycles

Boo Bicycles, by Fort Collins, a Colorado-based manufacturer of nice wooden bicycles, is another option; they own a manufacturing facility in Vietnam. The Boo Bicycles’ bikes are made from bamboo. In addition to being a competitive cyclist and multiple-time national champion, the company’s founder, Nick Frey, had only graduated from Princeton with a degree in mechanical engineering. Despite the apparent uniqueness of their selected frame material, these are high-performance bikes, just like Renovo.

Frey opted for bamboo frames because they have similar structures to carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic. The strength and ductility of bamboo offer excellent material for making structures rigid. Bamboo tubing has a more excellent strength-to-weight ratio than steel. Bamboo is less prone to vibrating than steel.

For their bicycles, Boo uses a bamboo type known as “iron bamboo,” A.K.A Dendrocalamus strictus. Bamboo is grown nearby their plant in Ho Chi Minh City. Once it matures, they harvest enough for a whole year’s supply. The poles must be baked in the sun for at least four months before being placed in a dehumidified drying room. To avoid splitting, the moisture level of the wood is carefully controlled, and the strength of the poles is tested before they are used in the construction of bicycles.

Using epoxy, Boo Bicycles joins the bamboo tubes in a customised jig. This is the same process used to build titanium or steel bicycle frames. In a thermo-regulated facility, they cure the joints by wrapping them in carbon fibre and applying the epoxy. Lastly, they compress the fibres to eliminate any extra epoxy. A lacquer is applied to each frame after it has been hand-sanded, signed, numbered, and decals.

The bamboo frames are durable, like the carbon and metal frames. A thin layer of WEST SYSTEM Epoxy is applied within the tubes—the layer seals them against water to prevent the bamboo fibres from expanding and contracting. In Nick Frey’s view, bamboo absorbs more impact than carbon material.

Boo and Renovo bikes are competitive, highly efficient, reliable, and stylish bicycle designs convenient for professional cyclists.

Visit Boo Bicycles to find out more about these excellent companies and their products. Sadly, the doors of Renovo Bikes were shut down in 2018.

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