Bicycle conclusions

The build process

Overall I would say that the design of my jigs worked very well. The acrylic jigs I designed and had cut did a good job of aligning and indexing the main frame parts during construction and allowed me to easily make the handed halves accurately.

Creating the curve to the top tube and seat stays complicated the build consderably and accounted for a good deal of the build time. Had I have designed a frame using striaght tubes then the build time would have reduced dramatically. I had my heart set on making the curve, but if you plan to make a bike and want to reduce 'faff' time then think about using straight tube sections as this will reduce your work load considerably.

I was unfamiliar with using West Sytem Epoxy. Had I not have contacted their technical team and sought advice then I would certainly not have made best use of their products. I am sure that use of the correct fillers, hardeners and mixes ensured a good outcome. When bending the pieces for the top tube and seat stays it is clearly necessary to clamp with reasonable force in order to achive the curve. The risk of excessive clamping pressure is that ou risk squeezing out too much adhesive and leave the joint starved and weak. Pre-bending the wood and mixing appropriate thickness of epoxy with the filler helped ensure strong joints. Where it was necesary to apply the greater pressure I increased the quantity of colloidal filler slightly.

I aimed to give the hollowed frame a wall thickness of 5mm. The bike feels solid so maybe I could have gone a little thinner and saved a bit of weight....? Likewise, I think maybe I could have slightly hollowed the inner core of the seat and chain stays to save some weight. I could probably have made the stays a little skinnier too, but I designed them for aesthetics and naturally preferred to err on the side of strength. 

I was very pleased with the steam bending in a bag method. I will certainly use that again. The build was time consuming, but very worth the effort.

The brass inserts I used for the internal cable guides are neat and work well. Once again, having full length outer throughout the frame will not be the best solution weight wise.

In all. If you fancy making a similar bike but weight is a big issue for you then there are a few areas where weight could be saved. 

Riding the bicycle

As of writing this I have only finished my summer bike, Lezard d'ete, and I have only ridden it twice. ( As I ride it more and as I complete my winter bike I will update this). The first ride is somewhat nerve-racking. I had my ears open ready for the odd creak as things settled, even if not critical. However, to date I have not felt nor heard a single creak. The bike rides true, so it looks like I got nice frame and wheel alignment. It is definitely the most comfortable ride I have among all my bikes. How much of that is down to the frame being wooden, the fact I tweaked frame geometry or the fact I am riding 28C tyres rather than 25c, is hard to say. Probably most importantly is that it is a joy to ride. It stands out from the crowd, is widelly admired and has made me a bit closer to being popular :) 

I have not managed to weigh the bike with great accuracy, but have done my best using home scales to compare it to my Giant Defy1. My estimate is that my bike is about 1.3Kg heavier than the Giant. I am fine with that as I am not out to win time trials. For what it's worth, I used a calculation system online that estimates the effect of bike weight on riding performance. On my local hill which is 1.2 miles in length at a good steady 10%, the estimate is that the extra 1.3Kg will slow down my run by 8 seconds! I can live with that.

If you plan to make your own wooden bicycle

Do it! Whatever design you come up with it is going to take a good deal of your time, so don't skimp on the wood you choose. Get something lovley!

Several hobbyists have built wooden bikes to the similar - two halves hollwed out - system. The ones I contacted proved helpful to me when I asked daft questions, so don't be afraid to contact people and share the knowledge.

Spend plenty of time thinking through just how you plan to address the build process. Some elements of the build will be awkward and a bit of head **** when thnking how to do things. Don't be afraid to do trials on bits of scrap or MDF because your lovely timber won't be cheap.

It will be a lot of work, so if you need to buy the odd cutter or tool that seems expensive then just do it - it's better than a half-arsed job. I bought a finger joint cutter for £70 to cut three joints and I am not sure I'll ever use it again, but it was worth every penny.

You are welcome to write to me if you think I can be of any help. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Good luck and thank you for taking a look at my site. x


© Christopher Thompson