Maker Faire Goodies: Wooden Bikes

The TreeHugger crew was out in full force at last week's Maker Faire scoping out the creative bunch of DIYers that call themselves Makers. This week we will be featuring some of the coolest eco-DIY projects we found as well as the Makers who created them. The first Maker in our series, Tom Kabat, builds what was one of the biggest hits with the kids at the Faire (as well as big kids like TreeHugger's own Jacob), hand-crafted wooden bikes. And, as if Tom's affinity for human-powered transportation wasn't enough, his bikes are made from almost completely recycled and reclaimed materials - a combination sure to score major points with us. As a self-described "enviro-frugalist", Tom searches beaches, dumpsters and roadsides for discarded materials he can use to build unique bikes without taking from the environment or his wallet.

Although he had been long fasinated by home built bikes (he first saw a home built recumbent bike nearly 20 years before he started making his own), Tom initially felt that he did not have the abilites to make his own. "My epiphany came after making a big parade float out of bike wheels and an old hang glider. I needed a castor wheel for it (not a bike, so I felt no trepidation) so without thinking about it I drilled a hole through an old piece of redwood beam and mounted an old cheapo bike fork and fancy racing headset through the hole in the beam. It was such a delightfully incongruous combination of items that I was hooked.
After commuting on it for a week and confirming my co-workers' theories about me, I converted it to a tandem recumbent so I could "drive" my tolerant 10 year old daughter to school. I liked riding the big heavy medieval battering ram among the shiny clean luxury SUVs dropping off their kids. And those kids loved it too! " Now, he is building bikes out of driftwood, tins cans, duct tape, downhill skis, and just about anything else he can get his hands on. And, he hopes his one-of-a-kind bikes can inspire a new generation of Makers to continue what he has started, "You can get normal bikes from any shop or through the mail. But the only way you can get unique bikes is to make them yourself." ::Wooden Bikes