Over the last century, the bicycle as we know it has evolved slowly. The formula hasn’t changed much — just two wheels, two pedals, two handles and a crank. One designer is taking things forward by taking them back. Designer and wood worker Paul Timmer has created a new wooden bicycle using fine, solid ash and high quality bicycle components.
“The main advantage of a wooden frame is the ability to absorb vibrations. Like a tuning fork, steel keeps vibrating. Wood doesn’t — it feels great and solid.“
Paul Timmer’s Wooden Bicycle is different for its material construction and technical roots. In a time where carbon fiber and pedal assists are the trends du jour, Timmer injects some much needed material sensibility.
For the most part, wooden bicycles have been seen as a gimmick. They’re usually poorly-designed, a series of awkward looking bicycles that are justified by sustainable construction. Bamboo bikes may be the worst offenders, as they leave plenty to be desired in shape and style. Paul Timmer’s wooden bikes are refreshing and progressive by comparisons. They are visually elegant, fine and modern, presenting an appearance that a rider could straddle with pride.
The Paul Timmer wooden bicycles are hand-built with a solid ash frame, shaped into octagonal pieces that resemble classic bike tubes. The artist’s craftwork and inspiration are the marriage of two separate interest for Timmer. We asked Timmer a bit about his process, his inspiration and the result by email:
TheCoolist: Most of your wooden designs include furniture, products and interior design items. What inspired you to design a bicycle?
Paul Timmer: I’m a fanatic cyclist. Wooden bikes have been around for quite some time. It was only a matter of time for me to combine my love for woodworking & cycling. Also, most of the existing wooden bikes look, well, not so good.
TC: How was the process of designing and building this bicycle different from your other work?
PT: To design a bike, you have to deal with many different standards (wheel sizes, tires, disc brake dimensions, etc.). This made the design process quite time-consuming. Designing a bike is a lot harder than designing a table or cabinet. But still, Iwanted to keep the bike simple and elegant. Let the wood make it pretty. Like my other work.
TC: How does your bicycle’s solid ash frame compare to conventional metal frames on most bicycles?
PT: A wooden frame is built completely different. Steel tubes are welded or brazed together. The joints in a wooden frame need a lot of attention. I believe wood can be almost as strong and reliable. As a mentioned in the press release; in my opinion, the main advantage of a wooden frame is the ability to absorb vibrations. Like a tuning fork, steel keeps vibrating. Wood doesn’t — it feels great and solid.
TC: For a bike made of a traditional material, your bicycle has a refreshing contemporary design. What design opportunities does wood present that metal and other materials do not?
PT: Well, wood is very easy to work with. You can carve the frame in any shape or decoration you want. But it’s not my style. I want it to look strong and modern. On the other hand, I did make the tubes octagonal. From a distance it looks like its made from conventional tubes. These details make wood wonderful to work with.
TC: Are there any other inspiring wooden products you’re working on that we should be aware of?
PT: Yes you should, I am working on a windmill. A wooden windmill off course. If i where you, i’d order it already :)
TC: I’d love to see it when it’s completed, Paul. Thanks for taking the time to talk!