Wood bikes! Bikes from trees! Bow down in praise of Renovo.

Renovo. Stunning, woody.

Enough doping and rider transfers for a moment, right?

Let’s look at some beautiful bikes and some of the most stunning I’ve seen in a long while were on display ay the Levi Leipheimer Gran Fondo in Santa Rosa and a week later at the always fan Biketoberfest in our hometown of Fairfax, California.

“They’re made out of freakin’ wood” was my first, second and third reaction. That quickly wore off replaced by awe, excitement, curiosity and overwhelming need to have one.

We’re talking about Renovo Hardwood Bicycles of Portland, Oregon.

These are simply the coolest mountain, road and commuter bikes in existence right now. We got pretty obsessed (and still are) by the bamboo craze and now we are officially suffering from two grow-your-own frame materials.

We talked with founder Ken Wheeler — how’s that for a trustworthy bike name — and kept asking the same question a hundred different ways and Ken had a hundred different good answers. The endless question: Freakin’ wood?

Wheeler likes to call wood “nature’s carbon fiber” and will have you believing in tree bikes in five minutes. The following is a direct lift from the Renovo website and there’s plenty more convincing data to be found there. Then you can drool and lust without feeling like an uninformed fool.

  • Wood absorbs vibration better than steel, aluminum or carbon, producing a uniquely smooth ride.
  • The fatigue life of wood exceeds steel or aluminum, and approaches carbon
  • Wood is not susceptible to crack propagation from dents like the metals, nor is it notch-sensitive or damage-concealing like carbon.
  • The Renovo wood frame has much greater impact resistance than butted metal or carbon bike frames.
  • Wood is as stiff pound for pound as the metals, even as it’s better at absorbing road vibration.
  • And last but not least, wood is sustainable, recyclable, biodegradable, and has a tiny carbon footprint, while the primary production of steel, aluminum, titanium and carbon fiber are incredibly polluting and unfriendly to our environment.

Beautiful details

We came away pretty impressed and these Renovo bikes are simply rolling art works. Ideally, you would park them inside by your couch or bed so you could stare at them for hours on end. Early New Year’s resolution: mosut procur wood or bamboo bike in 2011. How ’bout you?

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  • Paul Wujek

    These are beautiful, but I'm still trying to figure out bamboo.

    1st bike turned out way too flexible (see."Paul W’s Bamboo" on https://bamboobike.wordpress.com/)

    Hopefully my winter project (bike #2) will be more solid.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Paul, send us a few photos when you're done and maybe we can do a post. I'm thinking it's in the smoking of the tubes. I found a great article on building your own bambee bike. Will post that in the next few days. Matt

  • IdeaStormer Jorge

    What?

    * Wood also transmits vibrations as good as most other materials! Ever hear of a guitar? OK you’re bike will sound better when you hit a hole.

    * Fatigue live exceeds steel/aluminum? My last futon would beg to differ on that, it required some steel inserts to keep it functional till it broke altogether.

    * Humm… not susceptible to crack propagation? Ever hear of splinters? Not just the kind that gets under a lion’s paw but like a baseball bat?

    * Impact Resistant? See above (baseball example). You’re gonna hit all your holes dead on right, never one across the grain, yea right.

    * Wood is stiff, till it gets wet! Better shellac the living daylights out of it. As for vibrations see guitar ref. above.

    * Recyclable, biodegradable, small carbon footprint? What are you going to use to mill and cut the wood? Wood? No, more metals. Then you’re going to paint it right, better use paint that has no shine just the dull biodegradable type, that will look nice!

    Can’t wait to see you on the side of the road with your wood bike.

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Jorge, check out the site and see what you think. He's got quite a buzz and orders are way up and his data and methods are pretty convincing. Matt

      • IdeaStormer Jorge

        I’ll wait till you buy one and test it out, thanks though!

  • Jockanese

    Woodworm and the deatwatch beetle?