European designers have created a prototype wooden bicycle frame from layers of birch to test timber structural techniques that can be applied to architectural construction projects
The bicycle was designed by Martino Hutz, Atanas Zhelev and Mariya Korolova during their studies at the University of Applied Arts Vienna, while investigating a potential wooden structural design of a London house.
“We received lots of interest from structural consultants following the design of the house,” explained project manager Zhelev. “To further develop our ideas and the technology for large-scale buildings, we chose to start at a smaller scale by creating a bicycle.”
The design of the wooden bicycle uses Lamellas, which are very thin layers of wood, laminated together. Each length of wood was cut into 0.9-millimetre sheets, which were then glued together to form the frame.
The natural fibres of each wooden piece were specially aligned to enhance overall strength as well as increase rigidity. Owing to its specific material properties, the use of birch wood was highly important.
According to the designers, this design is said to replace conventional spring-based suspension systems, providing structural lightness, improved flexibility and greater strength.
The designers have since investigated incorporating layers of carbon fibre and aluminium into the birch lamellas, which have the potential to increase strength and reduce the overall material.
Final prototypes of the wooden bicycle are scheduled to be manufactured this year and will be subject to testing to establish the bike frames long term reliability and viability.
The prototype was first shown at Milan Design Week 2015 as part of a presentation by Ezgaat Architects. The digital renders in this article were done by maveo.net.