The Wooden Bicycle
Handcrafted bicycles. To a cycling freak–nothing sounds more titillating. Having something you love as much as a bike custom-made for you, to your specifications–is the pinnacle of bike-love/lust. Immediately one thinks of Seven Cycles, the Boston-based company with some racers on their roster. But here in western Massachusetts, there’s a new kid on the block. And in keeping with renewable resources and local community politics–these bikes are made a little differently. They are made of wood.
I thought it was a little wacky when I first read the article this morning on the front page of the Hampshire Gazette by Bob Dunn “Local builders use local trees to create world-class bikes.” Sylvan Cycles of Sunderland creates works of art out of a wood composite technology that is aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and 20-30% lighter than steel–with the same flexibility/stiffness that cyclists expect from a bike frame. The wood also has shock absorption properties that are superior to steel. According to the article cited above, the bike is so light it “disappears underneath” the rider. Wood is both rigid and lightweight–an ideal for bicycle frame construction.
But if you expect to see these bikes in your local bike shop–think again. Since the first prototype in January 2009, Sylvan has produced just 12 bicycles. They are looking for ways to ramp up production for the $5000 bicycle. The dealers that carry the bike so far are Flye Cycles in Sunderland, as well as dealers in Tennessee and Wyoming.
For more information, check out the company’s official website at Sylvan Cycles.