It’s pretty interesting that creative designers and engineers sometimes build bicycles to pursue the study of new ideas or concepts. It piques our interest even further when the frame construction materials are a little outside the box…or perhaps part of the box (or crate)!
Two rather peculiar bikes have recently been created as engineering projects, one made almost entirely from cardboard and the other featuring an architecturally inspired wooden frame. While neither was made with the specific focus on producing a marketable bicycle, the Aero wooden bike seen above may not remain a prototype forever.
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This rudimentary looking bike is made almost entirely from cardboard, with a few 3D printed pieces to finish it off. The contraption was built for and introduced at the Bay Area Maker Faire, a design expo held May 16 and 17th in San Mateo, California. The designer wasn’t exactly shooting for a production-ready bicycle, in fact his only goal was to ride it in a 10 foot long straight line three times.
The cardboard bike was built by aerospace engineer Jose Ramil Seneris. Seneris spent just over two months working on the design and construction at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose. It’s certainly not the first cardboard bike, as Seneris took some inspiration from one he had seen at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, built by Izhar Gafni. Technically Seneris’ is the first cardboard bicycle that was built with 3D printed parts.
The bike’s wheels are 24” diameter and it its basic proportions are similar to a mountain bike. Most of the bike was made from cardboard pieces cut and assembled with simple tools like knives and glue guns, including the frame, fork, handlebar, pedals, and even the axles. The front and rear sprockets were 3D printed, and the crank and chain remain a mystery… Seneris did describe this bicycle as a first prototype, so we might well see an improved version in the future. No word yet on cardboard space shuttle development.
This aesthetically linear bike is called the Aero Bicycle, and the wooden framed prototype was designed and built by architects Martino Hutz, Atanas Zhelev, and Mariya Korolova. The bicycle debuted at Milan Design Week 2015, which is not surprising as it’s quite a looker! While this design is a lot more feasible than the cardboard one above, this bike was actually created to study how thin sheets of wood (lamellas) could be applied in large building construction.
Lamellas are 0.9mm thick strips of birch wood glued together in layers, which resemble front-to-back leaf springs on the bike’s frame. At the stubby seat mast and bottom bracket the strips spread slightly apart, and sandwich together at the head tube and rear dropouts. The grain in each strip of wood is aligned to provide additional strength, and the designers found this method proved to be lighter, more flexible and more durable versus traditional wood construction materials.
The Aero bicycle began as a university project, and the team has been working on building it since June 2014. The architects are also exploring the idea of incorporating carbon and aluminum layers within the wooden frame to achieve more strength without compromising the design. The frame is designed to provide ride damping as the wood beams flex, and since they’re calling it ‘the first product from Aero Bikes’, perhaps someday we’ll get to find out how a real production model rides. Check out more details on the Aero bike on Facebook or the designer’s websites.