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Selva handcrafted wooden bikes from the heart of Europe

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Selva_Night-Rider_wood-performance-bikes_rear-end-detail

We’ve looked at new wooden bikes off and on over the last few years, from the swoopy laminated frames of Studio Jan, to the off-road capable Connor Wood Bikes, and the most recent bamboo composite offerings like those from Boo. It probably comes down to fact that wood seems like such an odd, even inappropriate, material choice for a bike. That said, wood is clearly up for the challenge when the frame is crafted under a skilled hand, and these bikes from Selva seem to hit the mark. Built on the border of Switzerland and Italy, just north of Lugano in the Alps, Selva started out building fairly basic fixed gear city bikes a few years ago, and has grown both their craft and offerings to include more refined city bikes and even a new full-on road race bike. Take a closer look after the break…

 Selva_Ti-XXII_22_wood-performance-bikes_studio_complete

For me personally, part of the allure of a wooden bike frame also comes down to a lifelong experience with woodworking, somehow making a wooden frame seem like something I might be able to accomplish. While I have fabricated all manner of metal constructions by various welding and brazing techniques, short of enrolling in a proper framebuilding school, I wouldn’t really trust my skills on building a proper bike.

The newest wood bike from Selva is their Ti XXII road bike, which takes its name from the CNC titanium dropouts, ti bottom bracket insert, and ti components, and its 2 x 11 speed drivetrain, the first traditionally geared bike offered by the company. With a ti tapered fork, ti seatpost, ti stem, and carbon wheels the Ti XXII is claimed to build up to 8kg

Selva_Fashion-Racing_wood-performance-bikes_headtube-detail Selva_Fashion-Racing_wood-performance-bikes_studio_complete

Selva’s experience mostly came from building iterations of glue laminated simple bikes, like this Fashion Racing bike, which is available as either geared or a single speed. Using a hollow engineered wood construction, they are able to keep the weight reasonable and deliver what they describe as a lively ride.

Selva_Fashion-Racing_wood-performance-bikes_bottom-bracket-detail Selva_Fashion-Racing_wood-performance-bikes_seatstay-detail

One thing Selva really prides themselves on is their unique glued-up wood shaping and their use of different species for striking veneer laminates. Making no attempt to hide how the bikes are put together, they go the other way and actively highlight the different layers of construction through the use of a wide range of contrasting hardwood species and mostly clear finishes to accentuate the natural wood grains.

Selva_Night-Rider_wood-performance-bikes_studio_complete Selva_Night-Rider_wood-performance-bikes_studio_teaser

Their most basic bike, the Night Rider is also maybe the most practical. The flat bar city bike uses bonded in aluminum bearing contact points like the Fashion Racing and machined alloy dropouts, but is singlespeed only. Again a range of wood species and finishing is what makes these beautifully simple commuting machines.

And what’s next for Selva? We’ve heard that they are looking to expand their offerings again, with at least one wood mountain bike in the pipeline.

Selva.bike

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16 Comments
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Eric Hansen
Eric Hansen
7 years ago

Anisotropic materials are cool.

Technician
Technician
7 years ago

I’d like to try wooden bike to get a clue on riding quality.

Matt
Matt
7 years ago

“lively ride” aka “i’m riding a chair. i hope it doesn’t explode on this descent.” it is sexy to look at though.

David Lewis
David Lewis
7 years ago

It seems odd that you haven’t ever mentioned Renovo in these discussions. I’ve been riding one of their Elwoods I built up as an all-weather commuter a few years ago, and love the ride; mine is curly maple, padauk, and wenge, and is quite beautiful, at least to my eyes..

Erik
Erik
7 years ago

Wow. If I had dollar signs with many zeros behind it for wall art, this would top the list.

Denny
Denny
7 years ago

Gives me wood…

Ryan S
Ryan S
7 years ago

I have to ask the price, which means I probably can’t afford it. A Fashion Racing with some wood crank arms would be sweet though.

chasejj
chasejj
7 years ago

The only question that seems valid to my logical analysis of this and every bamboo, wood or whatever backwards material progression fad is next. Banana leaves, straw bales?.

Why?

Antipodean_eleven
7 years ago
Reply to  chasejj

@chasejj, that’s a pretty small view. Just because something is done one way doesn’t mean it’s the only way. What if, right at the start, the ‘modern’ bike as we know it was made of wood and not steel? Today we’d be thinking steel bikes are strange and pointless.

So many things today are the way they are not because it was the right choice at the time but because that was the decision made for whatever reason. Read this, this my friend’s bike and he’s now testing the second. He can’t stop raving about it > http://www.cycleexif.com/lyrebird-cycles-tonewood-project

chasejj
chasejj
7 years ago

Antipodean-Pure rubbish. You are really going to make an argument that wood is an advanced material? I prefer to live in realville.I still would like to hear a logical reason why?

Antipodean_eleven
7 years ago
Reply to  chasejj

@chasejj How about you give me some good reasons why not? I personally know several people, all of which I regard as serious, seasoned riders with decades of riding under their belts, who went out and gave it a go – they all love them and happily have them next to their steel and carbon bikes.

“You are really going to make an argument that wood is an advanced material?”

And you are going to tell me steel is? Steel alloys have been around for close to 1000 years. For that matter how about carbon? It’s been around for 50 odd years, maybe a touch longer depending who you talk to.

Dismissing something with zero experience or exposure, I hate to say is ignorant and blinkered. Wood may not be for everyone but neither is steel, stainless or carbon. It though is no more or less viable.

chasejj
chasejj
7 years ago

Anti-You do realize that steel replaced rocks and wood a 1000 years (your timeframe) ago and in the material science world it is both predictable, ductile and widely available to use as a structure. Loads can be calculated , tested and repeated without virtually any variations making it massively more advanced material than wood which is random and variable in quality and crude in comparison.
Aesthetics and weird exclusivity is in fact the only answer to my question of why. Frivolous and ill advised for anyone needing an actual machine for transportation or sport.

Ask yourself this question-Would you let your kid race one?

Antipodean_eleven
7 years ago
Reply to  chasejj

“Ask yourself this question-Would you let your kid race one?”

As much as I would any custom steel/carbon/whatever, where the fabrication variables are every bit as random as what you claim about wood as a material.

I have been in the test room of the big Taiwanese factories and seen CEN tests happen. We designed frames which failed tests as the tests stressed the frame in ways normal riding never would, in ways we could never predict, even under the biggest, strongest rider. The collective ‘we’ designed frames which passed these tests, in materials you say can be “calculated , tested and repeated” and they passed with flying colours, only to see production frames develop stress fractures after 6 months of use in ‘the field’.

I’d be very careful about claims about testing and materials as used in the cycling world; it’s not the aerospace industry by a very long shot.

And for what it’s worth, one of the most famous aircraft of WWII was made from… wood. And I am pretty damn sure, with its twin Merlin 12 cyl. engines and scope of use, it was far more stressed than any bicycle frame ever will be.

Jimmy G.
Jimmy G.
7 years ago

de Havilland Mosquito for the win.

chasejj
chasejj
7 years ago

Testing structures and materials are 2 entirely different endeavors. You seem to be avoiding the real questions and redirecting to anecdotal exceptions from ages ago.
Continue with your silliness. Out.

Bernd Vonau
3 years ago

Hi Folks,

after 20 years I still ride my wooden recumbent I made in 1999. >> http://tor8.de

Let me add some points from that long term experience.
I had the privilege to learn the craft of cabinet making. I also have experience in welding and brazing and bulit about 15 bicycle frames over the last 30 years. That said, I would choose wood again for some reasons:

The Material: warm and colored, natural growing and so on. Fits the whole vegan/climate fuzz. Weight is actually not that bad, depending which wood you choose. And I think in the right hand, it is another modern material like steel, aluminium, titanium but it lacks the “rocket science” appeal. (sorry for my bad english).
The material I used is Robinia, close to Akazia. Needs no coating, I seldom put some oil on for the “shine”

The Making: I like to work with wood, It is “my” material. The process to build a wooden frame alone is so much different and “softer” than with metal. OK, you can use a CNC mill, that would be a lot more “industrial”. My Bike was built of 4 Elements; Left and right sides two-layered 9mm, top and bottom only one layer 5mm. Some massive elements at bottom bracket, headtube and rear “fork”.

The Design: I know I have some limitations at critical areas, where construction needs a lot more effort to last, but I also have the design freedom I only find in Carbon. Me personally I like hollow structures built i.E. like a guitar. I don’t really like the rounded shapes and the fact, nearly everybody tries to copy the classic diamond shape of the metal frames. I little bit like a vegan Burger.

The Ride: Somebody compared my bike with a steel frame recumbent and agreed it was stiffer in the front end than his Lightning. I think the large diameter of the frame structure paid of in a very rigid frame without any noticable torsion or twist. Even at higher speeds above 60km/h (downhill) I feel safe and have a little bit of suspension left. I liek the fact, that after a crash a friend once had with my bike, I actually fixed that with glue and it still rides, even though this was in the middle the frame.

I’m in the progress to make another wooden bike in the area of 10kg, this time I want to use a belt for the drivetrain. Ideally that would be leather …

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