Image: Museeuw Bikes)
Finally, a bike made of linoleum. Indeed, flax, from which traditional linoleum is made, is the secret ingredient in the polymer smoothie that makes these ultra-high performance bicycles. Johan Museeuw, the retired Belgian racer and winner of 11 world cups, is the man behind the eponymous line of road bikes. These handmade flaxen beauties, like the blue model below, sport components made from flax blends as high as 80%, with the remaining content good old carbon fiber. Flax is one of the oldest cultivated crops and the basis for linen, linseed oil, linoleum, and more.
Museeuw shows no sign of promoting his line of bio-polymer bikes as eco-friendly; he's chosen flax for its high performance: "Flax fibre is one of the best natural fibres on the planet in regards to stiffness, strength and shock absorption," says his site. Third party testers seem to agree that it makes for a darn fine ride, and a ten year warranty says something for longevity.
Flax is starting to look like quite the team player: you can wear it, skin your surf board with it, insulate your home with it, blend it in your post-ride smoothie, and as we're told in this interview, fighter plane wings were built from it as early as WWI. Such delicious performance doesn't come cheap, though. Museeuw's US distributor in Cambridge, MA, Velocon Sports, told me that frame sets range from $4,000 to $5,000.
Here's a video showing some of the production process, which looks more like a textile mill than a machine shop.
The images below were sent to the folks at Bicycle Design by a French tipster attending a Paris trade fair. Bicycle Design reports: "Pierre pointed out that the frame and tube at the show were rejects, but that they were interesting to see without any finishing, paint, or varnish. He mentioned that he "could see the surface texture had linear small grooves similar to those you'd see the surface of wood.""
Bicycle Design notes that these do not represent the Museeuw finished products, which seems a pity because it really is a beautiful finish. It'd odd how high-performing racing bikes are so often decorated like a pair of garish BK Knights from 1989 when the simplicity and rigor of the technology could just speak for itself. Regardless, a top-shelf line of bikes made from a serious percentage of renewable fiber is nothing to scoff at and we hope to see more.