wooden bicycles — part 2
July 16, 2014
Read part 1 here.
With advances in technology and materials, wood has emerged (or re-emerged) as a practical choice for bicycle construction. But, what are the attractions of wooden bicycles? You have to admit some of them appear toy-like and look impractical.
Wood is a naturally sturdy material; think of all the houses made of wood. Wood is also durable and more impact tolerant than metal. A dent in a metal or carbon fiber frame could weaken the structural integrity, while a wood frame could tolerate a dent without much structural weakening.
Wood absorbs vibration much better than metal. Vibrations transferred from the wheels to the frame are dampened more. This dampening quality makes wooden bikes ride smoother.
One the disadvantageous side, a critical issue with wooden bicycles is preserving the wood. Wood is vulnerable to decay and deterioration from environmental factors such as water, oxidization, fungi, bacteria, and UV light. Epoxy coating and polyurethane are used to seal the wood and protects it from damaging environmental conditions.
Wood is a renewable, and often locally available. Some of wooden bicycles appeal maybe it’s a more “green” bicycle? Although, the epoxy and polyurethane needed to protect the wood. are less environmental friendly.
Another advantage is wood has longer fatigue life. Material fatigue describes how continual and repeated stress weakens a metal faster than wood. While others have expressed concerns that wood could be more prone to catastrophic failure. When wood fails, it breaks into shards of splinters.
As you might have surmised, there are advantages and disadvantages. If there were only advantages, then we would all be riding wooden bicycles already.