Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Feb 11

Wooden Bicycles

Posted in Pedal Power | Transportation

Wooden BicyclesThe first bicycles were made of wood, and were called Velocipedes. The first known wood bike is thought to have been designed by Leonardo da Vinci. While there is a lot of controversy surrounding the discovery of Leonardo’s wood bicycle, the following resources make it clear that the popularity of the wooden bike is gaining momentum. Inventors all over the world have designed and built their own wood bikes, some for artistic value and others that have practical uses as a mode of alternative transportation. This article summarizes some of the best designs and provides links to the best of today’s wooden bike resources.

Auto CanoeAuto Canoe

The Autocanoe Is a Pedal Powered Amphibious Recumbent Tricycle and a Roadable Pedal Canoe! The configuration is that of a Recumbent Tricycle with the two forward wheels driving and the single rear wheel steering both on land and in the water. It can travel over the road and through the water with comfort and grace. Transitions from land to water and back are accomplished smoothly and seamlessly without leaving your seat. On the road it is stable and secure. On the water it is tractable and relaxing. This human powered vehicle appeals to bicycle enthusiasts as well as wooden boat fans.

Art Wood BikeDesign Boom Wooden Bikes

Design Boom is a Tokyo company. This page showcases images of six wooden bicycles for a variety of applications. They display a wooden tandem, a wooden micro bike, a wood road bike, an art wood bike, a wooden micro-scooter and an ike-a-bike ‘mountain bike’ design.

Gota Wood BikeGota Wood Bicycles

Gota designs and builds original wood bicycles for sale in Brazil. Their designs are inspired by natural shapes, they strive to build bikes with clean lines and quality construction. Their bicycles are produced with maritime ply-wood and compressed with a high-resistance glue. Their products are intended as practical transportation solutions or as home art pieces.

Italian Wooden BicycleItalian Wooden Bicycles

Bicycle historians argue over whether Leonardo da Vinci was the inventor of the bicycle, but there are no doubts that a modern day craftman from the same area of Italy made a workable modern two-wheeler from wood. Vinicio Magni has been making wonderful wooden bicycles since 1995 when he patented his first wood bike design. Since then he has produced several interesting designs including a wooden racing bike.

Wood RecumbentMonne Ligfiets

A flash-driven website that showcases two wooden recumbent designs, the “Sputnik” and the “Vostok”. The purpose of the Sputnik was to get some experience in building bikes. The Vostok is the short-wheelbase version of the design. The seat is made of a single sheet of beech plywood. At the moment the bike still has mostly old parts. The site is foreign language, but a link to the English version is provided.

Wooden RecumbentWood Bikes you can Make

Instructions for building a wooden bicycle, based on one builder’s experience with wooden recumbents. Tom’s design uses a single piece of wood for the main frame with no joints. A piece of plywood on each side takes the place of seat stays and chain stays, to support the back wheel. His first two bikes are built around redwood lumber 4x4s. His third is a semi recumbent built around a sloping 2×4. The 4th is made from a driftwood log in a beach bike theme.

Wood Road BikeWood Eye

This resource has two pages of wooden bikes on display. Bicycles on display include: an 1898 Chilion ladies bike, the treebike, Italian wood bike designs by Giuseppi Matera, a wooden town bike by The Amazing Wooden Bike Company, fine wooden bicycles by Tino Sana, a modern racing bike design by Peter Dahlberg, the 1896 Hickory Ladies Model, wooden wheel building, the Dragon Bike, Magni Vinicio’s line of Italian bikes and much more.

Wood LowriderWood Lowrider Bicycle

A custom lowrider bike design called “The Woody”. Iran started his wooden lowrider design four years ago. He began by sketching out cool bike designs that would soon be crafted out of solid pieces of wood. Once all of the sketches were done, his next step was to transform these one-dimensional drawings into a 3D fixtures. His finished bicycle includes a wood frame, forks, rims, chain guard, tank, light, mirror and custom engraving.

Wood Mountain BikeWood Mountain Bike

Bicycle Frames from fine hardwoods (using iron fittings). They have both single speed and MTB designs. They design and build wood frame bicycles that improve ride quality. Their frames provide the feel and responsiveness of steel and the ability to absorb bumps and road noise like carbon fiber, thus giving a very quiet and controlled ride without excessive lateral flex.

Africa Wood BikeWooden Bicycles in East Africa

Several images of wood bikes in use in Africa. Most of the bikes are built for utilitarian purposes like hauling potatoes and other items like wood poles and personal belongings. A few of the bicycles were designed and built with children in mind. The images are all from Adam’s trip to western Uganda in 2000, where he “stumbled across very clever wooden bicycles being used to transport goods.” The page includes several links to other useful pedal power websites. (This photo: Boy with wooden ‘bicycle’ and woman headloading in Tanzania)

Wooden Bike PlanWooden Bike Plans

The Wooden Bike Plans include patterns and simple instructions for making your own wooden bike and include a license to make one. The bike works well for riders under 140 lbs at slow speeds. Heavier riders, speed or bumpy road conditions are not recommended. Wooden members should be thicken to handle heavier loads. The site warns that the bikes are prototypes and have not been tested to be safe and it is there for to be built and used at the user’s own risk.

Wood Recumbent BikeWooden Recumbent Bicycles

Wood recumbents from wood workers who have the tools and experience to make things from wood. Charles Brown, a Michigan Human Powered Vehicle Association (MHPVA) member and homebuilder has built several nice bikes using white pine for the frame. These bikes look cool, are reasonably light and, with Charles riding them, do quite well in MHPVA events.

Here are some more images found on the wood work forums:

Woodwork Bike Wooden Bicycle Wooden Bike Small Wood Bike

YouTube: Our Wooden Bike Project

  • Marco Facciola


    I was wondering if you have herd of any fully wooden functional bikes. Meaning everything is made of wood and there is no metal or plastic, even the chain and wheels are made of wood.


  • Drew Trip
  • Greg

    There’s one very nice bike missing.
    Actually nominated for the
    Volvo Eco Design award, right now.
    Fully unctional and very stable frame.

  • david

    Wooden bike without pedals :
    I like it.

  • Holy Smoke!

    What happens if your wooded bike catches fire while riding in the fast lane? It could spell out problems. OSHA standards may require carrying a certified and inspected fire extinguisher for public safety.

  • Burkhard

    I am looking for plans to build my own push or balance bike for my son.
    I am trying to mimik the design from Skuut or from

    Any idea?

  • Zip Foxtaur

    What’s not explained here is what makes a wooden bike desirable, rather than the more typical metal bikes commonly available. Why is the wooden bike concept so intriguing?

  • mark7479

    This guy posted some balance bike plans. very nice of him.

  • mike

    Another project, the poor mans ecological vehicle… that is a strange project, lets hope it will work!

  • Friend Wood

    Wood is very good for monocoque structures. Velomobiles are practical for daily personal transport. Hence the WoodVM.

  • Nick

    For the not-so-poor-man there’s Renovo Bikes. Absolutely gorgeous bikes (from the pictures). I’ve never seen one in person, but the site claims the frames are 3.5 – 5.5 lbs (16.5 – 20 lbs for the complete bike) and can be stiffer than carbon if desired, more durable, too, and with a silky smooth ride.

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