Rolling art

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Wooden-frame bicycles are challenging to make and provide a softer ride.

Wooden-frame bicycles are challenging to make and provide a softer ride.

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Avid woodworker and cycling enthusiast Chris Connor fused both of his interests when he opened Connor Wood Bicycles of Denver in 2012. His company offers handcrafted hardwood-framed bicycles which give the end-user a most unique riding experience.

“Wood has a wonderful ability to soften the ride a little bit. It takes the edge out of things which is why a lot of carpenters prefer a wood handle hammer to one that’s made of steel or fiberglass,” says Connor. 

“You’re also on something totally unique that tends to wow and inspire you and others around you. Part of the fun of the wood bikes is that people don’t believe you can actually ride a wooden bicycle. It defies logic, but when done right it really works.”

Learning the proper woodworking techniques didn’t happen overnight. Connor started as a hobbyist furniture maker in Colorado, then joined his brother’s guitar-building shop in Cape Cod (Mass.) and built wooden boats on nights and weekends.

Now, his custom bicycles are bought and used for everything from leisure rides to endurance races in Colorado and around the world. They are typically made with American white ash or black walnut. Some parts get sliced, steam bent and reassembled with aircraft grade epoxy and Kevlar strips for strength.

“Wood bicycles in 2012 were a novel concept. Nobody had really been using curved or bent or laminated wood in their designs. Knowing you need exceptional strength for a frame, I knew you would need to bend the wood instead of cutting curves across the material. I realized if I did some things with steam bending and composite lamination, that I could make the wood bicycles exceptionally stronger than anybody else who was doing it,” says Connor.

Connor’s frames weigh about five pounds, nearly that of a steel frame and are built to order. He makes cruising, mountain, touring and other types of bikes that sell for $4,000 to $10,000.

For more, visit www.connorcycles.com.

This article originally appeared in the January 2019 issue.

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