Wooden bike hopes to set world record, not catch fire


[Michael Thompson] has been hard at work for well over six months building a bicycle made entirely of wood. The project started as a bet between two friends, and has become much more over the last few months. The SplinterBike, as it is being called, has been constructed solely from wooden parts, as well as glue and paint – but not much else.

The bike uses many different woods in its construction, each chosen to fulfill a particular purpose. The axles are made from hardwood ekki, while all of the gears, wheels, and frame parts were constructed from birch plywood. Oiled ironwood was chosen to serve as a replacement for metal bearings wherever moving parts came together due to its durability. Other parts were constructed with random scraps that [Michael] had sitting around in the shop, such as the handlebars which were cut from an old broomstick.

Now that the bike is complete, [Michael] and his friend [James] are gearing up to set a wooden bike land speed world record. It should be doable, as they have calculated that the bike should hit about 31 miles per hour provided [James] can pedal fast enough. A date for the record attempt has yet to be set, but keep an eye out – it’s likely to be an entertaining show.

[via Gizmodo]


  1. chango says:

    The article says it’s never been out for a test ride for lack of a smooth enough surface to ride on for any distance.

    Maybe they can ride in one of the tunnels here: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/

  2. vmspionage says:

    They should have added cork shocks

  3. macw says:

    @chango — or they could just find a velodrome. The wooden wheels might have a problem with the woooden planks of the track but I’d guess that the right kind of wax or something could take care of that.

  4. LordNothing says:

    you know rubber is a tree product, so you could probably get some treads on it without deviating from the all wood mentality.

  5. Ryan says:

    Thats insane. I’ve been impressed by the aesthetics of wood bikes for a while now but going all the way with wood bearings is hardcore.

    I’m really curious to see how it holds up.

  6. Mike says:

    All great things start as a bet between buddies.

  7. Ivan says:

    It sounds like it will be a bumpy ride. Unless, as vmspionage says, they use a cork-like material for 1. The seat and 2. the wheels.

  8. Steve says:

    Seriously, there’s a world record for speed of a wooden bike?

  9. Hirudinea says:

    I’ve got to admit I love the giant cog to replace the chain, I’ed love to see them on all bikes.

  10. jeditalian says:

    aww, no wooden chain? lol. that would be a huge PITA. i wonder if any wood could hold up well enough to function in a wooden internal combustion engine, for my setting of a record for wooden air speed + distance.. perhaps if you could petrify the wood after milling?

  11. syale says:

    I had a wooden bike once but it wooden ride properly.

  12. Digital says:

    It looks like a cow.

  13. nubie says:

    OK, why can’t they run it on a rubber-surfaced running track?

    Amazing, it is really cool what can be done when you are determined.

  14. unaB says:

    If that seat breaks off, youre in big trouble

  15. Mr. Name Required says:

    @unaB LOL!

  16. error404 says:

    No link to the actual project page, but instead a weak Guardian article, wtf?


  17. So, if it weighs the same as a duck…then…

    A WITCH!

    Subtle but required Monty Python/wood quote.

  18. rallen71366 says:

    I thought this might be related to the Splinter supercar, (http://www.joeharmondesign.com) but still, cool.

  19. Amos says:

    Gotta love the giant cog.

    Regarding shock absorption: what about making a wooden version of the wheel from a “Skip Doctor” (http://www.ineedgifts.net/images/cd_skip_doctor_ts.jpg)

    @jeditalian: Petrified wood is actually stone, so it wouldn’t count.

  20. JediTalian says:

    isn’t it just wood soaked in minerals? wouldn’t be as light though, but fireproof, for my wooden internal combustion engine!

  21. I hold two World Land Speed Records at the Bonneville Salt Flats and am ready to help you acccomplish your goal. Contact me if you want some help!

    Billy Shoemaker

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