Would a Woodchuck Chuck a Bike Made of Wood?

Wood frame bikes have long given way to aluminum and space age materials but designer Arndt Menke thinks we were too hasty in giving up on one of the strongest, resilient, and lightweight natural materials. There are over 60,000 woody plants worldwide but we use less than 300 of them in a terribly unsustainable way. The Holzweg bike’s frame is totally made of wood and weighs a scant 2.3kg. Could wood frame bikes make a comeback?

This diploma thesis for Menke’s master’s degree demonstrates how careful attention to wood’s natural retention, expansion and anisotropic properties can be advantageous in design. The end result is an incredibly light weight bike, strong and pretty darn good looking too. I really want one.

Designer: Arndt Menke


  • cornelius says:

    It takes a lot until I am saying something like this: But is this not nearly the same as Ross Lovegroves “Biolove” for Biomega. http://www.flickr.com/photos/cemepe/407629422/
    But apart from this I like it very much to see that someone builds a real prototype instead of just rendering.

  • confucius says:

    Ho hum. Looks the same to me… kudos for making a prototype though.

  • Henrique Staino says:

    I love it! Specially the seatstays! Real nice…

  • jimmythefly says:

    If you haven’t seen Renovo or Calfee, look ’em up. I’m sure there are others as well.

    Also, I think “totally made of wood” is being a bit generous. Looks to me like anything painted white is metal.

    • Henrique Staino says:

      it surely is! just like those bikes made out of bamboo. And a few decades ago, road bikes frames were build by glueing metal tubes to each other! Just like this!

  • p says:

    those seatstays are freakin delicious, very nicely done. reminds me of the prince or roubaix. I think your next project should be a similar fork (like the prince) that’d be awesome. Great model though, I agree with cornelius- you could have easily just rendered this, but It’s good to see the real thing.

    sigh…it had to be a fixie though didn’t it? If calfee ever makes on I might cry.

    • Dobie says:

      Calfee has and does. Many of his bikes are custom. I had customer walk in with a 13lb’r

  • Hingurt says:

    This is good but, for me heavily inspired by Ross Lovegrove’s version.
    Saying that, it’s more clean and precise.

  • kamajii says:

    Wood annnd bamboo, and way past prototypes!

  • krimsonite says:

    Ok, wood really looks good and sexy as a bikes frame but, what makes this more sustainable rather than other wood stuff? You have to chop down trees to make it, right? Well you might use old wooden stuff to recycle but I don’t believe that will be as durable as a bike supposed to be.

    Oh by the way, a bike that can be destroyed by a little tiny termite, no thanks!

  • krimsonite says:

    Ah, that “world goes green” silliness that we stuck into! This is the most misunderstood trend I’ve ever seen.

    Wooden bike frame, looks sleek and sexy. And as a bike rider, I agree with ride, absorbing vibration, weight and stiffness benefits indeed.

    But, can anybody explain what makes this more sustainable rather than other wooden stuff? How you can get wood without chopping down trees? Reuse of wasted wood? If so, what makes you believe it will be durable as much as it supposed to be? It all depends a tiny termite or other invader insects, moisture and heat, right? Can you play your Fender guitar under the rain? One keeps it in a leather case which packed with velvet, polishes with lime oil, cleans after every use, so it is durable for many years.

    Using natural materials such as wood in a product doesn’t mean it is green. It means you have to gather it, sooner or later it will die and will be wasted as always. This is why composite materials stand for. Please leave the trees on the earth. Thus, it can absorb all the toxicity comes out while wood protective products fabricated. Face it, wood is mostly sustainable and green as a tree.

    • Brian says:

      Come on people,

      Wood is a “greener” product first of all because it is a renewable resource. Other common bicycle materials, like aluminum, are not, they are finite resources. Yes, wood comes from trees that get cut down, but harvesting trees is more sustainable than mining. I think a valid question would be, where did this wood come from, was it sustainably harvested, or did it come from a clear-cut in Central America somewhere. Still, I would be willing to bet that the parts that go into a wood bike like this one have used less energy to be made than those of conventional bikes.

  • Max says:

    We love this bike, where can i buy it ????
    We suport the wooden bike, its fantastic idea.
    we buy for my childrens the wooden bike from Bugabike. We love it.

  • Hanno says:

    It sounds nice to use wood for a bicylcle, but with the connections made out of metal you get more disadvantages than advantages from the material. Also wood tends to crimp over the years so you’ll get problems here with the joints as well (Lovegrove’s bike has the same problem). My conclusion: nice that you took the effort to make this prototype with some nice details, but as an experienced aeronautical engineer/industrial designer I would go for composites.

  • Mike says:

    love the design, but please don’t call 2.3 kg scant – it’s three TIMES the weight of a carbon frame.

    steel frames ~2kg, aluminum ~1.3kg, and carbon frames down to 0.7kg

  • Justsayin says:

    Jeez, weight weenies.
    As Lon Haldaman said ‘If your bike weighs under 20 pounds and you get dropped, it’s not the bike’s fault’

  • mike says:

    You can plant more trees, which cycle carbon on the way to becoming a building material. You can recycle steel, but you can’t plant more iron ore. But the main difference is that steel has a massive carbon footprint even when compared with all the energy required to mill and deliver and shape the wood. Termites are a less reasonable strike against this frame than rust is against a steel frame, and as for taking it out in the rain, wood can do fine in the rain, as when it is growing.

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