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  1. #1
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    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180803_091548-x2.jpg

    After successfully building and riding my wooden gravel bike earlier this year (http://forums.mtbr.com/gravel-bikes/...e-1066231.html ), I decided to take on a wooden mountain bike frame. It will be a modern geometry (slack, long top tube) 27.5+ frame. It is formed by laminating 12-5mm lamello's, 6 per half. Subsequently, the frame tubes are formed by routing out the inside and rounding over/sculpting the exterior. Given the intended use, the frame is significantly reinforced with carbon/Kevlar hybrid cloth between the laminates and the inside of the frame tubes are lined with two layers of carbon fiber cloth. I expect the frame to weigh in around 6.5 pounds, not light, but I know from my gravel bike that it will ride lighter than the numbers indicate, with a nice balance of compliance and rigidity. The wood is walnut on the outside, one layer of cherry, then ash. Thanks to Vermont Plank Flooring for hooking me up!

    Thanks,
    Wardo

  2. #2
    will rant for food
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    Oooo subscribed.

    If you build your own stuff you know that the frame doesn't even need to be light, it's the light components that make more of a riding difference.
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  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    Oooo subscribed.

    If you build your own stuff you know that the frame doesn't even need to be light, it's the light components that make more of a riding difference.
    That is true. My gravel frame is just around 6 pounds, and the total bike weighs 21. It is a dream to ride, and is literally my favorite gravel/road bike of all time. I suspect this will be much the same.

    Wardo

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    Nice! Is that purpleheart? I love the stuff, but it's both gummy and abrasive on the CNC tooling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by armyofevilrobots View Post
    Nice! Is that purpleheart? I love the stuff, but it's both gummy and abrasive on the CNC tooling.
    Walnut, which has ideal properties for a bicycle frame. It has a good weight to torsional rigidity ratio. Purpleheart actually looks pretty good in this regard as well, but I don't like working with it as well. I prefer local hardwoods although I do have a thing for Sapele. Here is an excellent website that discusses some of the engineering concerning using wood in bicycle frame construction: https://ligneusbikes.wordpress.com/w...-talk-numbers/.

    Wardo

  6. #6
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    It doesn't seem very practical. Other materials seem better suited for the job. I love it!
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  7. #7
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    Thanks for posting, keep us updated on your progress. I'm intrigued by wood bicycle frames. I'd love to ride one, I bet you can really feel the difference vs. metal.

  8. #8
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    Ooooooh. This is going to be good.
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  9. #9
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    This gives me wood. Pun intended.
    "These things are very fancy commuter bikes or really bad dirt bikes, but they are not mountain bikes." - J. Mac

  10. #10
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    Cool. Walnut is pretty sturdy as well.

    As an aside, when I built my hickory and purpleheart handlebars, I stumbled upon this paper from the US forestry service:
    https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/f...tr113/ch04.pdf

    It has some neat mechanical properties of a _vast_ number of different species of wood.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by armyofevilrobots View Post
    when I built my hickory and purpleheart handlebars
    Your what now?! Post pictures!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Diller View Post
    Your what now?! Post pictures!
    Oh Boy, did someone mention Handlbars........
    If I don't make an attempt, how will I know if it will work?

  13. #13
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    Handlebars.

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-handlerbars_1.jpg

    The two compound bends were a PITA.

    IIRC; it's 820mm wide, 3 deg backsweep and upsweep.

    380G or so.

  14. #14
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    Man that is friggin sweet. Great job.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by armyofevilrobots View Post
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The two compound bends were a PITA.

    IIRC; it's 820mm wide, 3 deg backsweep and upsweep.

    380G or so.
    Nice! I thought of making bars, but haven't gotten around to it.

    Ward

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wardo78 View Post
    Nice! I thought of making bars, but haven't gotten around to it.

    Ward
    That's funny. I've been meaning to make a wooden bike, but... well... you can guess

  17. #17
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    That bar is solid wood? I've seen catastrophic carbon bar failures, how do you re-enforce single tube, wooden bar to take such stresses?
    Looks amazing but I'd be scared to ride it.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by slowrider View Post
    That bar is solid wood? I've seen catastrophic carbon bar failures, how do you re-enforce single tube, wooden bar to take such stresses?
    Looks amazing but I'd be scared to ride it.
    Although I can't speak specifically to evil robots bars, I can tell they are solid bar formed from laminates. They are likely steamed then put on a bending form. Once they have cooled, the laminates are put back on the form with adhesive, I am guessing epoxy. The process creates a very strong structure, there is tension between the laminates that adds rigidity, and by having different layers, you reduce the chance that it will fail along a grain line since each laminates grain pattern if different.

    Wardo

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    Wardo78 nailed it. There are 70 pieces of wood in that lam-up, although, while solid, the thicker area contains a section of cedar at the center which is much lighter than the hickory and purpleheart.

    Oddly, this is the third bar I created, and the glue used here is actually weld bond III between the laminates (although it has a coating of system III epoxy on the exterior). In testing, the weld-bond was actually stronger. In any case, the bond always failed in the wood instead of in the glue itself. I suspect the weld bond penetrates the wood better than the epoxy, and reinforces the bond boundary.

    Also, this bar flexes FAR less than my ~250 gram Chromag OSX downhill bar. The first two were tested to failure, and the second failure test was weighted on one side with a very significant drop that actually bent the stem it was clamped in. While the test wasn't up to normal safety testing rigor, I am not concerned about getting injured using it as an XC/cruiser bar.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by armyofevilrobots View Post
    Wardo78 nailed it. There are 70 pieces of wood in that lam-up, although, while solid, the thicker area contains a section of cedar at the center which is much lighter than the hickory and purpleheart.

    Oddly, this is the third bar I created, and the glue used here is actually weld bond III between the laminates (although it has a coating of system III epoxy on the exterior). In testing, the weld-bond was actually stronger. In any case, the bond always failed in the wood instead of in the glue itself. I suspect the weld bond penetrates the wood better than the epoxy, and reinforces the bond boundary.

    Also, this bar flexes FAR less than my ~250 gram Chromag OSX downhill bar. The first two were tested to failure, and the second failure test was weighted on one side with a very significant drop that actually bent the stem it was clamped in. While the test wasn't up to normal safety testing rigor, I am not concerned about getting injured using it as an XC/cruiser bar.
    70 lams is considerable! I am interested by your glue results. I use epoxy not because I have tested it, but because it is what boat builders use and over the years I have learned to work with it. I use Weld Bond III for most of my normal projects, so I am glad to hear it performs so well!

    Ward

  21. #21
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    This is a great thread, I love wood bikes. I remember seeing a Renovo road bike a number of years ago and thinking I need to make one. The tubes were massive. I've been working on my design for a while now. Many years of research and several design iterations have lead to this. I'm currently working on perfecting the tool paths for my CNC router. This version doesn't show all of the fillets that will be on the final product as they not going to be included in the tool paths.

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-29_27.jpg
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by phattruth View Post
    This is a great thread, I love wood bikes. I remember seeing a Renovo road bike a number of years ago and thinking I need to make one. The tubes were massive. I've been working on my design for a while now. Many years of research and several design iterations have lead to this. I'm currently working on perfecting the tool paths for my CNC router. This version doesn't show all of the fillets that will be on the final product as they not going to be included in the tool paths.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I elected to take the opposite tack. I researched for a week, designed for a day and was riding my gravel bike 4 weeks later. I am not fluent in CAD, nor CNC, plus having spent years developing my pattern and jig making skills, these make sense for one off, or very limited production projects. If I were making a significant number of frames CNC would totally be my choice. How are you planning to bend the stays? Are you going to laminate the rest of the frame? What woods are you considering? I had to take a significant break from my project because I had an allergic reaction to the walnut sawdust, but I should have the frame ready for sanding by the end of this weekend.


    Wardo

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    After the extended hiatus due to my walnut sawdust allergic reaction, I am back at it. At this point, the frame is basically structurally complete, so final sanding and then finish application are next. With any luck it should be ready to be built up in a week. Here are pics as of today:

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180831_104755-xl.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180831_104809-xl.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180831_104915-xl.jpg

    Wardo

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by wardo78 View Post
    I elected to take the opposite tack. I researched for a week, designed for a day and was riding my gravel bike 4 weeks later. I am not fluent in CAD, nor CNC, plus having spent years developing my pattern and jig making skills, these make sense for one off, or very limited production projects. If I were making a significant number of frames CNC would totally be my choice. How are you planning to bend the stays? Are you going to laminate the rest of the frame? What woods are you considering? I had to take a significant break from my project because I had an allergic reaction to the walnut sawdust, but I should have the frame ready for sanding by the end of this weekend.


    Wardo
    My plan is to laminate both stays. The seat stays and top tube are one piece. I'm going to make a handful of these and I'm looking to make them from oak, maple, ash and hickory. The plan is to make the first one out of doug fir with really thick walls as I can work out the bugs easier in a softwood. I will be machining all weekend to complete the first one.
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by wardo78 View Post
    After the extended hiatus due to my walnut sawdust allergic reaction, I am back at it. At this point, the frame is basically structurally complete, so final sanding and then finish application are next. With any luck it should be ready to be built up in a week. Here are pics as of today:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Click image for larger version. 

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    Wardo
    Really nice work!
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  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by phattruth View Post
    My plan is to laminate both stays. The seat stays and top tube are one piece. I'm going to make a handful of these and I'm looking to make them from oak, maple, ash and hickory. The plan is to make the first one out of doug fir with really thick walls as I can work out the bugs easier in a softwood. I will be machining all weekend to complete the first one.
    I look forward to seeing the results!

    Wardo

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    Although there are a few things that need to be resolved, it looks complete and I was able to ride it around a bit. I will wait to get some miles on it before I try to determine if it is a success or not. First impressions are that it rides like a mountain bike should, that the stand over is a bit high for my stature, but I knew that was going to be tough. I wanted to use a longish head tube to reduce the likelihood of structural failure, and that pushed the top tube up a bit. It weighs more than I anticipated (7+ lbs for the frame), but again I was structurally conservative... although it is only as strong as it's weakest bit, so it may be overbuilt in the wrong areas. I'll report back when it has a few real rides on it. Here are some pics:

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180907_180455-xl.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180907_180427-xl.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180907_180845-xl.jpg

    wardo

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    Quote Originally Posted by phattruth View Post
    My plan is to laminate both stays. The seat stays and top tube are one piece. I'm going to make a handful of these and I'm looking to make them from oak, maple, ash and hickory. The plan is to make the first one out of doug fir with really thick walls as I can work out the bugs easier in a softwood. I will be machining all weekend to complete the first one.
    Did you make headway on the project?

    Wardo

  29. #29
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    Congratulations, Wardo! Time will tell if the ride is to your liking, but it is certainly an aesthetic triumph! Love it!

  30. #30
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    That is beautiful! Truely a work of art. Good luck with it.
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  31. #31
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    Dang! Well done.
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  32. #32
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    Personally, I wouldn't ride that. I'd hang it on my wall! That is gorgeous.
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  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by scatterbrained View Post
    Personally, I wouldn't ride that. I'd hang it on my wall! That is gorgeous.
    Thanks, I built it to ride and that I will!

    Ward

  34. #34
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    Today, I took the new whip on a two hour ride on a trail system I know well and has an eclectic array of climbs, descents and technical features. I was delighted to be riding a mountain bike frame that I built from scratch, so that put a little spunk in my spin and of course my perspective is biased. At 28.5 pounds, it is the heaviest hard tail I have owned in a long time, but I had already adjusted my expectations from my usual racier hard tail to trail oriented one, and judged by the latter criteria it fit the bill perfectly. The wood frame is quite stiff laterally, but dampens some of the smaller chop. It climbed in and out of the saddle well and the rear wheel hooked up on the slippery bits. Interestingly, the head angle looks a bit steeper from the saddle than the 27.5+ bike it replaces. I am not sure why this is, the wheelbase, angles etc match the previous frame as was my intention. Maybe the rockers in the rear raise it up a tad (although I believe I accounted for this), or maybe it is just a visual illusion due to the taller head tube and thicker frame overall. It really doesn't matter as the real test is how it rode, and here I was very satisfied. It tracked sweepers well, flicked in the tight stuff and didn't feel pitchy on the drops. The headset loosened up a bit (probably the lower cup settling in a bit) so there was a tiny clunk on descents that had my stopping to do a safety inspection. A good start for the two of us, the pic is the bike meeting some of it's cousins.

    Wardo

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180909_125806-xl.jpg

  35. #35
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    I dragged the fleet of wooden bikes out for a family portrait as well. The balance bike is for my grandson, but it is his Christmas present so it is living with us until then.

    Wardo

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180909_161424-xl.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180909_161626-x2.jpg

  36. #36
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    Beautiful bike(s), Wardo!

    I do a bit of woodworking myself, but that's on another level!
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  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cornfield View Post
    Beautiful bike(s), Wardo!

    I do a bit of woodworking myself, but that's on another level!
    Building a wooden frame isn't that difficult if you have the right tools and the time. Mostly it takes the Chutzpah to just start!

    Wardo

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    Do you have any process photos of the balance bike? I've got a 3 month old at home and work at a millwork shop, so I've got enough time to mess a few try's up before he's old enough to ride one

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyle_vk View Post
    Do you have any process photos of the balance bike? I've got a 3 month old at home and work at a millwork shop, so I've got enough time to mess a few try's up before he's old enough to ride one
    Sorry, I didn't take any pictures of the process. I basically took the dimensions off an existing bike, drew up some plans, made a form the matched the plans, cut the laminates and glued them up. The "chain" stays were done seperately and glued on after the main spar was drilled for the seat post and headset. It is really pretty easy if you are handy... it took me a few days of part time fiddling.

    Wardo

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    A couple of better pictures:

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180721_163702-x2.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180721_163716-xl.jpg

    New project: Laminated wood mountain bike-20180721_163734-xl.jpg

    Wardo

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    Thanks, i appreciate it! Looking forward to your next project!

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