Hardwood is great for furniture, terraces and .. Renovo bikes?

Renovo R4 Hardwood bike

Bikes have always come in many forms and materials, but they started out from wood. Eventually lighter and more durable materials emerged, such as steel, titanium, aluminum and lately – carbon fiber. Wood was still around for a long time: The first Tour de France was in 1903, but they only allowed other than wooden rims to be used in 1937, because the founder Henri Desgrange stood against the use of multiple gears and for many years insisted riders use wooden rims, fearing the heat of braking while coming down mountains would melt the glue that held the tyres. The monsieur had many other interesting theories and hijinks while he was running the show.

The circle is now complete, said Vader, for wood is back. In a way at least, I can’t say it’s made any massive breakthroughs but when I bumped into Renovo’s site I was mesmerized by their devotion to their craft (and the use of Finnish birch in their bikes). So why a wood frame, they asked themselves on their website? Lo behold, they answered:

The short answer: Wood, nature’s carbon fiber, has unique engineering properties that promise superior ride quality and durability compared to man-made materials, and…it’s sustainable. When the right wood is combined with an array of advanced technologies, it becomes a high performance material that will forever change your understanding of ‘wood’.

Renovo wooden frame highlight
All you need is a cigar and a glass of brandy

What I read from their site, the reason there haven’t been any real wood frame bikes apart from the heavy, novelty ones is because of two things: They didn’t have computer-assisted wood working machines before and they didn’t have epoxy. The MacGyver of adhesives. They also use monocoque technology (can you call it that?) in creating their frames, which is making identical halves and epoxying the hell out of them until they will never ever touch air molecules. Sure, there’s a lot of science in different wood grains, species and types, lots of engineering magic and .. seems like they’re not selling that well. At least according to their reference site.

But why is that? They’ve won plenty of awards, wood is repairable as a material, it’s sustainable and what I looked, it’s not even totally out there with the price. The only issue I have with them, is their brand, which to me looks like they’re trying to fit in Wal-Mart when they should be hanging out at the Apple Store with a minimalist design and brand.

Does anyone have experience on modern wood frames? Especially Renovo bikes? And Renovo, if you ever see this post and want to send us a bike for a review or fly us to your neighborhood to check out your wood collection, we’re happy to oblige. I’m looking for a new bike anyway.

Check out their site, they have pretty interesting facts and scientific thingamajigs in there.

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By Markus Sandelin

Markus is a bike commuter gadget freak who is learning the ropes of the bike world, you can find him all around the web - but you can start with his twitter at @banton.