100% Wooden Bike Sets Land Speed Record

Photos via www.splinterbike.co.uk

UPDATE: I am a bit late on updating this information. However, rider James Tully did set the 100% Wooden Bicycle Land Speed Record on Thursday, August 18th 2011 with an average speed of 11.3 MPH. If you wish to see the bike, it is off to the British Transport Museum in Coventry on permanent loan. Or you can just check out the SplinterBike documentary in the comfort of your own home.

The SplinterBike is a bit of an engineering marvel. The bike is made completely from wood; no screws, bolts, metal, plastic or rubber. Just wood, and most of it reclaimed!

Craftsman Michael Thompson was inspired to build the bike after the Tour of Britain zipped past his Norfolk home on September 16 of last year. It was really more of a double-dog dare by Norwich triathlete James Tully than inspiration. Michael always said he could make anything from wood and James called him on it.

While wooden bikes are nothing new, this might be the very first one completely made of wood that is actually rideable. All in all, it has taken over 1,000 man hours to build.

It weighs in at 71 pounds, has one fixed gear and no brakes.

The bike dons salvaged broom handles for pedals and handlebars. Its axles are made from ekki, all of which has been reclaimed from the Norfolk Broads river system. Ekki is quite common in the construction of wharf's and bridges. Along with being strong, it is extremely resistant to decay. The cogs, wheels and frame are furniture-grade birch
plywood.

Thompson says that because some hardwoods are known to naturally excrete oils, certain components will effectively be self-lubricating. For example, the "metal bearings" are made from the naturally-oily iron wood.

But how do you make a wooden bike chain?

You don't! The chain was replaced with a huge 128-tooth cog linking the chainring and gear on the wheel. To strengthen the frame, the drivetrain exists on both sides of the bicycle.

Tully will be riding the bike, and hopes to achieve at least 30+ miles per hour--provide the thing stays in one piece. It will be the first Land Speed Record for a wooden bike.

Ironically, the biggest obstacle to setting the Land Speed Record is not their wooden bike, but plain ol' cash. When Michael and James embarked on this journey it was simply riding the bike, following it with a car and recording it. They were wrong. The Speed Record Club has many official rules all of which will cost the duo around $12,000 to comply.

"But it doesn't work like that. Not if you want to be going into the history books. There are a lot of rules," Michael told the Gaurdian.

They are currently taking donations on making history.

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More on Wooden Bikes
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Waldmeister: Handmade Wooden Bike Wins Award
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Tags: Bikes | Transportation