28 February 2013

The Wooden '90's

Until the 1950's, track racers commonly used wooden rims.  They are still made today by Cherchi Ghisallo in Italy.  However, they are not allowed in races because, while they are light and give a comfortable ride, they can shatter upon impact and release a cloud of sharp, jagged projectiles.  

There are a few enthusiasts who will ride nothing but wooden rims.  Those cyclists feel that the increased cost and maintenance, as well as the fragility, of those rims is worth the improved comfort and performance.  They can only be ridden with tubular (sew-up) tires and without rim brakes.

What even many of those wooden-rim enthusiasts don't realize is that at the turn from the 19th to the 20th Centuries, entire bicycles were made of wood. Well, the frames and the parts that didn't have bearings were, anyway.  I understand that some of those bikes even had wooden saddles!

Now Ojira Yoshima, a student in the Craft & Industrial Design department of Musashino Art University in Tokyo, has revived and updated the concept:

I find it interesting that his frame design is at least somewhat similar to that of Softride bikes of the 1990's. He designed his wheels like the Tri-Spoke wheels made by Spinergy, Zipp and other companies during that same period. The aerobars could also have come from the Indie Rock era.

I wonder what the ride is like.  

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