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  1. #1
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    Wood Vs Composite?

    Hi everyone!

    So I was doing some research and came across the Renovo bicycle website and it got me thinking. With todays technological advancements could we ever see a wooden framed bicycle in competition with a frame made of composites? Sounds a bit bizarre but I was just wondering what your thoughts are on these wooden frames. I think they look great but as for competing with, say, carbon fibre I'm not so sure.. What do you think?

    Lewis.

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    So ah...

    Guess from what material the first bicycle was made!
    Last edited by SlimRider; 02-18-12 at 09:05 AM.

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    Don't really need to guess, it was wood. Though that's not what I was asking, I'm talking about the modern day. Do you think we could see a wooden framed bicycle in the velodrome for example? Or even the Tour de France? Would be interesting to say the least.

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    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Wood has been used for boats, cars, airplanes, bikes, etc. Better materials and processes have been developed and largely supplanted wood for these purposes. Wood is really a great material for trees and I don't see trees going away from wood any time soon. Same for bamboo.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SlimRider View Post
    So ah...

    Guess from what material the first bicycle was made!
    And guess why they moved away from wood on the second bicycle ever made
    Stuart Black
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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    There are some bamboo frames, which is kind of fascinating. They are light, strong and pretty resilient.

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewblack101 View Post
    Don't really need to guess, it was wood. Though that's not what I was asking, I'm talking about the modern day. Do you think we could see a wooden framed bicycle in the velodrome for example? Or even the Tour de France? Would be interesting to say the least.
    I doubt that you'll see a wooden bike at a professional level anytime soon. Wood has a low strength to weight ratio compared to metals or carbon fiber. It's also highly variable in it's composition. You have to use more of it to insure that you overcome that variability.

    It also has some inherent problems with strength in different directions. In compression, i.e. pushed on from top to bottom, wood is very strong. That's why it's great stuff for studs in walls where it's used with the grain of the wood. But pushed on from the side. like you would for a down tube, it's not as strong by a huge factor. That's why studs are used standing up and not laying down. If you are going to use wood as a header in a wall, for example, you have to support it every 16" or make it really, really thick. A floor beam made of straight grain wood, for example, needs to be 12" by 18" to support a floor load. Even then, you have to orient the beam in a specific direction to gain the most strength.

    You could reinforce the wood with various compounds but you still can't thin it out like you can with carbon fiber and retain strength.
    Stuart Black
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    And guess why they moved away from wood on the second bicycle ever made
    What's with the rolled eyes, Cyccomute?....I don't get it!

    - Slim

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    rugged individualist wphamilton's Avatar
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    I think it's the flex that makes them unsuitable for high level competition.

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    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    When comparing frame materials people tend to lock onto one set of criteria and overlook everything else.

    Gary Bontrager said it best: "Strong, light, cheap. Pick any two."

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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    There are some bamboo frames, which is kind of fascinating. They are light, strong and pretty resilient.
    http://www.bikebamboo.com/ for one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    But pushed on from the side. like you would for a down tube, it's not as strong by a huge factor.
    All tubes on a bike are loaded in almost direct axial compression or tension, not compressed from the side. Look up 'Slingshot' bikes.

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    Loving the bamboo bike! That slingshot one is pretty cool too, not seen one of those before.

    I can understand the point about about flex etc. I guess that wood is a tricky and not always reliable material, mass production would be a slow process with checking for defects and the like, not exactly the most cost effective solution.

    So would any of you consider buying a wooden framed bike? Could aesthetics ever outweigh performance?

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    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewblack101 View Post
    Loving the bamboo bike! That slingshot one is pretty cool too, not seen one of those before.

    I can understand the point about about flex etc. I guess that wood is a tricky and not always reliable material, mass production would be a slow process with checking for defects and the like, not exactly the most cost effective solution.

    So would any of you consider buying a wooden framed bike? Could aesthetics ever outweigh performance?

    Only a Calfee or a Bamboo of equal quality. Even they use CF for forks and bottom brackets and joints between head and seat tubes. My fear would be about getting a scratch and then the material gets wet. I have had slit drums made from Bamboo that have split over time from humidity and heat. Don't know if Calfee has solved that problem but maybe they have.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

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    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
    There are some bamboo frames, which is kind of fascinating. They are light, strong and pretty resilient.
    and termite resistant.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

  16. #16
    Senior Member cyclist2000's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lewblack101 View Post
    Loving the bamboo bike! That slingshot one is pretty cool too, not seen one of those before.

    I can understand the point about about flex etc. I guess that wood is a tricky and not always reliable material, mass production would be a slow process with checking for defects and the like, not exactly the most cost effective solution.

    So would any of you consider buying a wooden framed bike? Could aesthetics ever outweigh performance?
    Sure I would buy one to hang on the wall as a piece of art maybe but not to ride. Now bamboo is a bike frame material that I would buy.
    I don't do vintage, I bought them new, rode them, kept them. Now they are just old bikes
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/bustercrb/sets/72157623483647522/

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    Quote Originally Posted by lewblack101 View Post
    Don't really need to guess, it was wood. Though that's not what I was asking, I'm talking about the modern day. Do you think we could see a wooden framed bicycle in the velodrome for example? Or even the Tour de France? Would be interesting to say the least.
    I know a couple people who race one Renovo wood bikes, they love them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beaker View Post
    I know but this is BF.

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    Technically, bamboo is a grass, not a wood

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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deep_sky View Post
    Technically, bamboo is a grass, not a wood
    Not even technically. Bamboo is a grass and only very distantly related to gymnosperms and, while they are angiosperms, they are monocots rather than dicots like deciduous trees. Part of the reason that bamboo can be easily used for bicycle frames has to do with the morphology of the stem. Instead of being layers of cells, bamboo consists of long longitudinal fibers that are bundled together around a hollow core. The outer derailer cable for indexed shifters is a good model for what bamboo looks like.
    Stuart Black
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Mobile 155's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    Not even technically. Bamboo is a grass and only very distantly related to gymnosperms and, while they are angiosperms, they are monocots rather than dicots like deciduous trees. Part of the reason that bamboo can be easily used for bicycle frames has to do with the morphology of the stem. Instead of being layers of cells, bamboo consists of long longitudinal fibers that are bundled together around a hollow core. The outer derailer cable for indexed shifters is a good model for what bamboo looks like.
    well then that changes my answer to no.
    Life is like riding a bicycle - in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. ~Albert Einstein.

  21. #21
    Warning:Annoying to jerks RaleighSport's Avatar
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    Renovo uses a proprietary laminate system where they hollow out the frame after they cut in half (they also weigh in around 4lbs).. A lot of the homebrew bamboo bikes tend to have foam left in the tubes and an epoxy coating to seal them, also hemp lugs do seem to be durable but the carbon fiber ones definitely are stronger if built right. But to answer if we're really going to see these frames in racing any time soon, no.
    “Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”


    ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson in His Journals

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    Senior Member kv501's Avatar
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    Don't know about the rest of you but I can say I'd never get on anything made of wood, moving on concrete, at more than a couple miles and hour. Engineering undergoes "natural selection" of concepts also, and usually the people who try to buck it are the ones who split their skulls open after their wooden bike frame finally has enough UV rays, dry rot, and humidity changes and breaks in half.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kv501 View Post
    Don't know about the rest of you but I can say I'd never get on anything made of wood, moving on concrete, at more than a couple miles and hour. Engineering undergoes "natural selection" of concepts also, and usually the people who try to buck it are the ones who split their skulls open after their wooden bike frame finally has enough UV rays, dry rot, and humidity changes and breaks in half.
    Yeah. And if this were 1987 and we used the same reasoning, there would be a ban on making bicycle frames out of aluminum.
    Also, I would bet a wooden house collapsing on you hurts almost as much as a bicycle frame breaking undeneath you. Although I have never had a house collapse on me to check this out.

  24. #24
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    A combination, an And , rather than an either-or Vs,
    Johan Museeuw , another retired pro bike racer involved in a bike brand
    bearing their name,
    has a Belgian made composite frame set made using a combination of carbon and Flax
    in the weave,
    Is said to be a bit more comfortable on the ancient Cobbled race courses
    in the Flanders-Waloon & Belgian-French border regions.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johan_Museeuw

    http://www.museeuwbikes.be/
    Last edited by fietsbob; 02-20-12 at 11:55 AM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kv501 View Post
    Don't know about the rest of you but I can say I'd never get on anything made of wood, moving on concrete, at more than a couple miles and hour. Engineering undergoes "natural selection" of concepts also, and usually the people who try to buck it are the ones who split their skulls open after their wooden bike frame finally has enough UV rays, dry rot, and humidity changes and breaks in half.
    You might want to keep the door to your mind open just a crack to allow for some new ideas. I recently scanned a series of posts on another board by a fellow who is building himself a wood velomobile body. I expected it to be heavy and to look quite cumberson but the reality is quite the opposite.

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