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Silver's Custom CNC Wood Road Bike Project

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Silver's Custom CNC Wood Road Bike Project

Old 09-29-21, 11:22 PM
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SilversSpeed
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Silver's Custom CNC Wood Road Bike Project

Hi all,

I am starting a custom road bike project. I started working at a wood shop recently and they have a large Roctech 1530ATC CNC machine. I am going to design, fabricate and build a wood road bike. Frame, forks, cranks, wheels, all planned to be made from wood. The bike will be belt drive with standard Shimano or similar components like disc brakes, Alfine rear hub, pedals etc. The design is unique, intended to be something unusual, functional, and still uphold performance characteristics of strength, weight, and quality. This thread will follow the development of the bike from start to finish.

I have been an engineer for years and will implement things like CAD design, FEA stress simulation for rigidity and strength, CNC programming, and various wood assembly methods. I am far from a bike expert, but have enough experience with bikes to get by and there will be learning along the way. Feel free to offer suggestions, constructive criticism, and just enjoy along the way.

Just starting the CAD model attached.


Starting the CAD design

Last edited by SilversSpeed; 09-30-21 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 09-30-21, 12:26 AM
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Great idea and interesting project. However I suspect you will be better served using conventional wheels as they rely on tension of spokes to build up strength- something you likely can't do with wood. I suggest Jobst Brandt's classic Wheelbuilding book. You might be able to make the rims out of wood but the spokes likely need to be metal.
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Old 09-30-21, 12:29 AM
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i also suspect the drivetrain components will be more effective in metal due to the stresses involved.

The frame and fork I see no reason why it can't be made from wood.
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Old 09-30-21, 12:56 AM
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Dean V
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Renovo made some very nice looking wooden frames.
Seems they are no longer in business now.
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Old 09-30-21, 01:18 PM
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SilversSpeed
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Great idea and interesting project. However I suspect you will be better served using conventional wheels as they rely on tension of spokes to build up strength- something you likely can't do with wood. I suggest Jobst Brandt's classic Wheelbuilding book. You might be able to make the rims out of wood but the spokes likely need to be metal.

I will look into the book! I plan to build full wood wheels that are non-spoked. Also, all high ware/stress components like crank spindle, hubs, and neck will be metal or standard Shimano components. The wheels will be something similar to this:

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Old 10-02-21, 09:43 PM
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I've worked with wood enough as a tinkerer (I'm not quite an amateur woodworker, but have made quite a few odds and ends out of wood). I'm not convinced that this concept will work, as the biggest challenge would be splitting of the end grain, particularly in areas of high forces close to the exiting end grain, such as bottom bracket and axles. The rest of the frame would worry me as well, where it curves, due to end grain exiting there as well. Wood has decent compression and tensile stength, but very little strength against delamination. Some species are better than others, obviously - would need a fine grained wood for sure, like maple perhaps? I wish you luck though, and it will be worthwhile as an experiment and a work of art at least.
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Old 10-02-21, 09:47 PM
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seems sweet, can’t wait to see the finished model.
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Old 10-03-21, 07:59 AM
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The material for nearly all of this project needs to be laminated wood. There may be a couple of places where non-laminated wood will work but the strength for most of this needs to be multi directional and regular wood does not have that.
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Old 10-03-21, 10:43 AM
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My only advice: Don't get the wood from Home Depot or Lowes ;-)

Seriously, this looks like a very cool project - I'm along for the ride!
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Old 10-04-21, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by waters60 View Post
The material for nearly all of this project needs to be laminated wood. There may be a couple of places where non-laminated wood will work but the strength for most of this needs to be multi directional and regular wood does not have that.
I have 2 versions I plan to make, 1 is a plywood based version that is made from multi-directional hardwood plywood. Likely marine grade plywood or similar. That will be easier to setup and machine, also to work out any errors. Then a hardwood version which is made from sections of solid high quality hardwood like maple or sapele. The wood will be oriented to consider the directional strength variation of the wood.
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Old 10-05-21, 07:42 AM
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Enough on the BF. Get thee to thy mill, craftsman. We want to see progress pictures.

Seriously hope you do keep us updated. Really interesting project.
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Old 10-05-21, 10:55 AM
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I'm very interested in how this turns out - however, don't overestimate the capabilities of wood. For example, I honestly don't see how you can make wood cranks that won't simply splinter on the first hill - there just won't be enough material of sufficient hardness at the stress points (BB and pedal attachments) unless you radically reimagine what a crank looks like.
Years ago I made a new rudder for my racing dinghy - solid teak, slim, smooth - a thing of beauty. Other sailors (who knew better) regarded this work of art with some skepticism. Long story short - it snapped tight off on the first decent wind and we had to be towed in. The next rudder was a big thick piece of marine ply - not pretty, but up to the task at hand.
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Old 10-05-21, 02:41 PM
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Understood, I am aware of the strength concerns and will design accordingly. The cranks are going to be hybrid aluminum and wood. The spindle mounts and pedal mounts will be aluminum, and the crank reinforced with a metal plate. Things like the wheel mounts will also be aluminum.
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Old 10-08-21, 08:47 PM
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Update

Progress update

I've spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to shape the spindle section. Because of the frame design, it requires some wide supports at the base for the chain stays. I am working on a geometry that is strong but doesn't look bulky. Also adding curvature to the base shape of the frame. Also see some of the original hand drawings and details. The Bike will have integrated headlights, and tail lights. Also a picture of the large 5'x10' bed CNC machine.







Last edited by SilversSpeed; 10-11-21 at 07:42 PM.
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Old 10-09-21, 07:01 PM
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I've designed and built a number of high speed wood watercraft. I started with some known stresses and the DA Wood Handbook and just calculated the heck out of it. I suspect that there's no published stress data for road bikes. You might think about reverse engineering a metal road bike, cutting it up to get sections. Wood isn't isotropic which is both its huge advantage and the difficulty of engineering with it. Grain direction and species are very important. Custom carbon is much easier because on can simply add tows if an area isn't stiff enough. Wood is a little bulky for that.
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Old 10-10-21, 07:00 PM
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Dude, you had all weekend .... I expected you to be done by now. Where are the pics?
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Old 10-10-21, 10:41 PM
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One thing that could help with strength (if you don't mind the appearance) is to layer over the wood with thin fiberglass / epoxy in places. They use fiberglass over things like canoe paddles and wooden boats to keep the wood from splitting. I've used 4 oz / yd fiberglass, and when wet out with clear epoxy, it becomes almost transparent with 1 layer, and slightly more translucent with 2 layers. I believe they make even lighter fiberglass (but I haven't used anything lighter than 4 oz). Something like that would affect the finish though. Also, would want to use UV-resistant epoxy if doing that.

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Old 10-10-21, 11:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Maelochs View Post
Dude, you had all weekend .... I expected you to be done by now. Where are the pics?
CNC machine... should be riding the fourth prototype surely.
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Old 10-11-21, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jayp410 View Post
One thing that could help with strength (if you don't mind the appearance) is to layer over the wood with thin fiberglass / epoxy in places. They use fiberglass over things like canoe paddles and wooden boats to keep the wood from splitting. I've used 4 oz / yd fiberglass, and when wet out with clear epoxy, it becomes almost transparent with 1 layer, and slightly more translucent with 2 layers. I believe they make even lighter fiberglass (but I haven't used anything lighter than 4 oz). Something like that would affect the finish though. Also, would want to use UV-resistant epoxy if doing that.
That protects from casual surface damage, but doesn't add strength or stiffness because fiberglass stretches more easily than wood - that is unless you use a lot of it and the wood is just core. Glass and epoxy also adds a good bit of weight.
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Old 10-11-21, 07:45 PM
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The bike will be made from wood, certain sections bonded with epoxy. Fiberglass is not in the scope of the project. The wood will get finished with protective clear coat or a hybrid paint/clear scheme. Progress will likely be slow as I have several other projects going on. But I will try to keep a weekly update pace.
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