While many companies play it safe and start out with basic steel or aluminum frames before working towards more unique or complicated designs, you have to respect the gutsy boutique brands who dive right into the deep end. The folks behind Perth, Australia’s HTech believe wood can make a great riding bike, so they jumped right into hand building custom wooden frames.
Htech’s debut model is an endurance road bike called the Aeriform. A disc brake version of the Aeriform is also currently in the works, and there are already plans to create other frames in the future.
Htech says the natural vibration damping qualities of wood makes it ideal for creating a compliant bike that can keep you comfortable throughout long days on varying road conditions. They also quite like the aesthetics of a wooden frame, and make a point of showing off the natural grain and accents within their material of choice…
HTech primarily uses jarrah, blackbutt and marri wood to build their bikes, all of which are found locally in Australia and renowned for their strength and aesthetic qualities. The builders carefully select wood for their frames based on its grain direction, moisture content (both of which can affect the frame’s performance) and color.
HTech uses monocoque technology to construct their frames- something we’re more used to seeing with aluminum or carbon. The two halves are made from a number of individual pieces bonded together, then externally and internally routed to finish shaping the tubes inside and out. The halves are then glued together using industrial grade epoxies.
The Aeriform features HTech’s Solid Hardwood Dropouts (SHD), which are built as an integral part of the frame’s rear triangle. The company claims the connection between metal dropouts and a wood frame is typically a weak point, so by eliminating any bolt-on bits their design is inherently stronger. The dropouts are constructed from several layers of 2mm thick hardwood.
The Aeriform’s compact frame uses beefed up asymmetrical chainstays and a wide PF86 BB shell to increase stiffness where the power is put out. The frame also offers clean and aero-friendly internal cable routing, and the entire frame was designed to be as aerodynamic as possible. The name Aeriform actually means ‘having the form or nature of air’.
Each frame is sanded for over 12 hours and finished with multiple coats of marine spar varnish. This varnish will flex with the frame to ensure your bike boasts a showroom shine and stays protected from the elements. As for the weight, an Aeriform frame made from jarrah wood hits the scale at 3.74lbs (dimensions not specified).
Htech’s bikes are outfitted with the brand’s own wooden forks as well. The fork looks great matched up to the frame, but more importantly HTech says their woods are stronger, harder and stiffer than what other brands are using. Their fork is safe and solid where needed but still offers a smooth ride and a weight of 560g.
Htech’s custom frames are built to each buyer’s personalized sizing, geometry and desired ride qualities, plus you can select the type of wood and finish you prefer. The first ten frames are being sold at below cost pricing of $2970 Australian dollars, with GST included (approx. $2195 USD). Framesets and full builds are also available, but you’ll have to contact HTech for more info.