This story of a “carpenter and his bike” began with an e-mail in Portuguese, followed by another in English from a carpenter in Portugal who built a wooden motorbike he named after his daughter, Daniella.
Carlos Alberto, a carpenter, cabinetmaker and stair maker from Lousada, Portugal, read a report in 2000 in an Italian magazine about an Italian carpenter who built bicycles out of wood.
“I see the report in a magazine, and, working in wood and enjoying the challenges, I thought I was also able to make bicycles in wood,” says Alberto, who decided to make a wooden version of the Vespa VN1 motorbike, also known as a “wasp,” which was manufactured in Italy in the early 1950s. The carpenter was delayed several times in starting his project, but finally got under way in 2007 and finished the functioning work of art a year later.
“Because the structure of a ‘wasp’ with the open framework raised me some difficulties, I was arranging solutions, time and money,” he says. “In the middle of 2007, I started to gather all the information to start building a wood ‘wasp.’ I started by taking some pictures of the model of a wasp VN1 of 1951.”
Alberto used 10 wood species for his Vespa wooden reproduction: rosewood, ebony, beech, satinwood, jatoba, tacula (padauk), afzelia, lignum vitae, sucupira and sycamore.
“I had some difficulties in the construction of the wasp such as arranging the engine to be equal to the original model, making the shape of the headlamp, the handlebars and their accessories, especially the wrist gas, and the rear wheel.”
The mechanics of “Daniella” are not made of wood. It has a maximum speed of 75 km/h (46.6 mph), weighs 107 kg (236 lbs.), has a seat height of 760mm (2'6"), wheel base of 1,170mm (3'10") and length of 1,715mm (5' 7-1/2").
Contact: Carpintaria Carlos Alberto, Plaina_Figueras, 4620-204 Lousada, Portugal. www.carpintariacarlosalberto.com
This article originally appeared in the April 2009 issue.