How Does It Feel To Ride A Bike Made Out Of Wood?

How Does It Feel To Ride A Bike Made Out Of Wood?

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Language: English

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00:03
i think you'd struggle to argue against carbon fiber being the ultimate frame material at least in performance terms i mean it can be incredibly light super stiff amazingly compliant and bonkersly aerodynamic there are though of course stacks of other frame materials out there from which you can build brilliant bikes steel titanium aluminium magnesium and then there's also wood now i have seen wooden bikes before at
00:36
bike shows and the like but i've always kind of thought they were a bit of a novelty item but are they today is the first day i'll ever have been actually able to ride one and i cannot wait to find out what it's like [Music]
01:13
this is a tumpus cycles gr1 and the frame as you can clearly see is made out of wood but this is no delicate road bike built for nursing along smooth tarmac this is a gravel bike now it's made out of ash which is a hardwood actually one of the strongest out there about on a par with oak but a lot lighter so this frame weighs just 1800 grams yeah that is considerably more than carbon but about on a par with top end steel and unlike both of those other materials
01:45
this one treads far lighter on the planet it is of course completely sustainable and it requires a lot less energy to manufacture now before i get to take this for a spin and see just how it feels to ride fortunately for us the owner of tumpur cycles has delivered the bike in person so i'm gonna go grill him now and find out just what this is all about andy you are a lifelong cyclist right engineer by trade furniture maker of 20 years if i'm correct that's right so as
02:16
qualified as anyone to make a wooden bike but i guess the question is why why would um it's not the obvious choice for a bike frame is it i'm a woodworker and an engineer and a lifelong bike enthusiast and an opportunity arose i had a conversation with a furniture potential furniture customer he previously had written a book about bikes it's all about the bike i think was the name of that book i thought maybe we should build
02:47
an ash bike in the end his publishers didn't agree the the publishing deadline was looming uh we'd never built a bike before and we built a piece of furniture but in my mind there was the idea for building a bike out of ash and what's an idea is in your mind if you're a maker then it tends to stay there and so it happened over a period of about two years i built myself an ash bike it was a purely personal project it was never intended
03:17
as a business or as something for for anyone else until i started riding it and then i became slightly some people would say overly evangelical about it so how's it compared to another material like a steel or or a carbon fiber in terms of the strength of it and the density of it so it does offer different properties a lot of the properties of a frame as you will know are in the design of the frame itself in the
03:48
geometry of the frame not necessarily in the material wood has unique properties at a micro structural cellular level the the cellular structure of wood is essentially a vast complex of spring damper combinations so this frame is made up of a large complex of micro suspension systems
04:20
and that has the effect of damping the vibrations which come through the road and into the frame first impressions well my very first impressions actually were that it feels it feels kind of normal in the sense that having spoken to andy
04:56
at length about this bike i still have this preconceived idea that it would feel like a wooden bike but yet it doesn't if i couldn't see where i was on it would be a normal bike now to give you a visual illustration of it one of the first things i do when i get on a new bike is the shakedown test which is completely unscientific not even very objective but i give the handlebars a little shimmy
05:27
just to see what kind of torsional stiffness is in the front end of the bike and this one is totally within the realms of a of a metal bike or a lightweight carbon bike so on a stiffness perspective it definitely doesn't feel it doesn't feel weird okay ready three two one go [Music] that must be at least 600 watts
06:04
and what about the kind of the stiffness and and the density of it compared to perpetual steel so 1800 grams for a frame yeah it is comparable to a top end steel frame but how strong is it in comparison well obviously the density is a lot lower than steel and that means that you can you can use a lot more of it without exceeding the weight of a steel of a piece of steel so the wall thickness
06:35
on these tubes varies between five and six mil depending on whereabouts it is um obviously as steel um steel frames you're looking at sort of 0.5.8 that kind of thicknesses so if you have a steel tube and a wooden tube you can have a lot more wood in other words your wall thickness can be a lot thicker the diameter can be a lot thicker for the same weight for the same mass of material it has a greater strength to weight ratio and when you combine that with turning
07:06
it into a tube that magnifies that effect again so it's a it's a very suitable material for building uh bike framework which are essentially choose what then about these famed vibration damping qualities i've got to put a big caveat here and say these are completely my first impressions i'm also using gravel tyres on here well admittedly i've got 60 psi in them but it definitely feels
07:37
very kind of quiet like i mean audibly quiet but also in terms of vibrations coming up through the bike now one way though that it does differ quite significantly from carbon fiber is what you'd call compliance which is kind of different to vibration damping it's it's in a more pronounced flex and i guess that's one thing you can't engineer into a wooden frame or at least not at this stage whereas with carbon fiber you stick a
08:09
d-shaped seat post on there and you can actually visibly see it flex or some frames have it designed in to the seat tube and the seat stays even up to 20 millimeters of movement so whilst you've got this whisper-like vibration damping it is perhaps more in line with a metal bike like an aluminium bike or titanium bike in terms of the compliance which is not a good thing or a bad thing
08:41
it's just what it is i guess so if you go crashing through potholes you kind of you can kind of you feel it but the sort of finer vibrations that come out from rough surfaces like gravel or uneven tarmac they're just not there as much managed bonkers i'm riding a wooden bike [Music] so so how is it actually made then like the fact that it's hollow i guess i probably should have guessed but
09:16
i mean i can see joins i can see like is it like built in a modulus system so it doesn't start these don't start as tubes and surprisingly they don't grow as tubes um the front triangle of this bike starts off as two triangles of jointed planks jointed together with this jigsaw joint here which locks those very firmly securely the end to end those are bonded um with epoxy
09:47
the planks are also laminated so that the joints are staggered to give so they effectively reinforce each other most of the machining is done on a cnc router the front triangle starts off then or becomes two machined half shells which are then bonded together along the center line and then after that the rear triangle the seat stays in the chainstays are bonded on chainstays are laminated out of six
10:19
pieces of of ash which is form on a former to give us the curves that we need they come together then at this end in a non-wood component which is been one of the most challenging aspects actually of building a wooden bike which are the the dropouts is the is the design of the bike the shape of the bike a product of the properties of the wood or have you got a bit of flexibility in terms of the look i mean could you for example make an aero wooden bike by sort of tailoring the
10:50
tubes making them into aerofoils you could do there's no reason that the tubes need to be round they will lose some strength if you change the profiles because you start to introduce stress concentrations a circular profile has no point on it that wants to act as a stress concentrator if you start to focus into into pointed sections then you do start to create slight stress concentrations but these are over designed and it's very easy to over design it to to make sure that's not a problem this
11:22
this is intended as a gravel bike and as such i anticipate heavier loads greater impacts and things on the frame if i was designing a an aero bike i would be able to reduce the sections slightly of some of these members and yes change the profile so they don't need to be circular section that's pretty cool so actually you've kind of got almost the same degree of flexibility as carbon fiber potentially in terms of shaping and yeah yes you do yeah there really is i mean there really is very little
11:52
limitation in the shape as long as you're putting enough material in the right places um and you're joining the different components the different elements of timber uh in in the correct way yeah the shapes are shapes are hugely variable what you are always going to be left with is the need to sweep these radiuses here again the same about avoiding sharp changes of direction which cause
12:23
stress concentrations here we've got these smooth curves which are avoiding those stress concentrators so that's a detail that i would personally always want to maintain on a design [Music] sorry i couldn't help myself it's a gravel bike after all i had to venture onto some gravel and
12:53
actually i'm really glad i did definitely adds a whole new dimension into that vibration damping quality and it's best illustrated by the fact that the front and the back of this bike feel quite different in that the back of the bike is really forgiving and it does absorb the kind of the gravel the bumps coming up from the trail whereas this fork which is an envy carbon fork absolutely top quality fork definitely still feels like it's translating more vibration and that's partly because i've got the tyres
13:23
pumped up to 60 psi because i've been riding around the road but the back doesn't feel like i've got 60 psi in it feels like i'm running about 35 which is a pretty significant difference and testament to the to the wood i guess what more can you say and like carbon fiber if you change i don't know like the the grain of of the wood or the direction you know can you change the properties of the bike or are you fairly fixed in terms of you know wood is obviously super strong in one direction and yeah you're right you're absolutely
13:54
right one of the one of the biggest challenges designing with wood is that wood is great has a great strength and tension along the grain it's great bending as long as the grain runs that way it will bend it's very stiff that way but as soon as you start to go across the grain that's when you get splits so designing with grain in the right orientation is absolutely crucial so have you got the lateral stiffness then if you've got the grain going down
14:24
the down tube like that to mean that it's strong enough how do you resist torsional that's where the oversizing right comes in um and the and the wall thickness because you're right picking up on that is something that very few people have done actually um so that that twist um is something which uh other manufacturers of wooden bikes have uh have used carbon internal uh a layer of cardboard internally it's just cheating which does seem like
14:55
cheating to me well it's not cheating i mean you know every way of building a bike is legitimate yeah when you did point out i wanted to build a wooden bike and i don't think there's any need for um for carbon in there no and so far uh i think i'm born out in in that belief and what about the toughness of the material i mean how resistant is it to to knocks and damage i mean could you put a dent in it for example you could dent it i'd rather you didn't uh that's all right yeah there's been a lot
15:25
of product testing there's been a lot of uh a lot of hard riding although of course most dents don't tend to come when we're riding our bikes most dents come when we're taking them in and out of cars and things like that well that's it or if you lay it down on some particular yeah exactly the the ability to absorb shocks which we've discussed before also means that um makes that makes it more resistant to to um to denting so whilst of course yeah you could damage it um you could bang it it is more resilient
15:55
to knocks than probably other frame materials now i'll confess until today i had never thought of wood as a performance material i know humanity has made and continues to make incredible structures from it but to my mind in a sporting context wood has always kind of meant blunt instruments like bats and clubs and sticks but here i mean firstly the scales don't like 1800 grams per frame
16:31
is 1800 grams for a frame and it's not nudely so maybe my prejudice about wooden bikes stems the fact that there just haven't really been any and perhaps more to the point there haven't been any in pro racing which for me and i suspect a lot of you too often serves like the barometer of success and credibility i've got no romantic visions of a pro cyclist dancing up maul von 2 a stride a wooden bike but that's not actually what bike riding is to
17:02
well probably virtually all of us yes performance really matters but owning a bike is an emotional thing and that emotion might come from knowing that you have the fastest or the lightest bike but it's also about the look of it and the feel of it and the the craftsmanship and the ethos behind it and perhaps yeah even the fact that it treads a little lighter on the planet certainly from talking to andy that side of things is really
17:34
interesting so he was explaining how a ton of processed wood contains within it about five or half a tonne rather of carbon whereas to make a ton of titanium releases about four and a half tons of carbon into the atmosphere so while it's small-scale stuff that can really matter to an individual and increasingly i think it should matter to an individual what's the future for
18:05
tumpur cycles then andy said at the minute production is limited to about 30 frames a year but he's confident that it's scalable until they can and hope to make more than that both stock sizes and also completely bespoke frames as well it's a premium product at the minute it's about 3 000 pounds or euros for the frame but you can certainly see
18:36
the time and the effort that goes into making them can't stop looking at it [Music] well hopefully andy's not gonna mind if i don't bring his bike back for another hour so quite frankly i want to spend a bit more time on it before i hand it back be very interested to know what you think though take part in our poll over on the gcn app wooden bikes hot or not would you ride one would you buy one please make sure if you enjoyed this
19:09
video as well that you give it a big thumbs up right i'm gonna do a little bit more

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