Japanese shipbuilder creates wooden bicycles

Here’s some handmade wooden bike loveliness that will be shown at the Japanese Handmade Bicycle Fair [2010 ハンドメイドバイシクルフェア] which begins this Friday.

Shipbuilder Sueshiro Sano is the owner of a 200 year old business that handcrafts oceangoing wooden sailing ships for an international clientèle in Japan. In the fall of 2007, Sano began to experiment with a mahogany laminate bike. This initial build was a mostly solid bike with an aluminum seat tube wrapped in thin laminate, a big honkin’ wooden head tube with a metal sleeve for the steerer, a solid wooden fork with metal fork ends, and wooden seatpost.

Bike number 2, built in 2008, was their first hollow frame with a goal toward bringing the total bike weight under 8 kg (17.6 lbs) built up with wooden saddle, wooden drop handlebar, and Shimano Dura Ace components.

Sueshiro SANO has only built a small handful of these wooden bicycles for sale. If you can’t afford the complete bike, you can get mahogany laminate handlebars, seatpost and wheels for your minivelo bike.

There’s a tremendous amount of information on how these bikes are designed and built, including details on the craftsmanship and thinking going into these bikes at the SANOMAGIC website. Several movies are also available for download as WMV files.

If you understand Japanese, there’s this interesting talk with the bike designer and ride along on the SANO MAGIC mahogany bike on Youtube.

Yohei Morita visited SANO MAGIC last weekend. See his Flickr photos here.


  1. If I'd stayed there just a few more days, I'd definitely have gone to that! Maybe next year.

  2. Dear Mr. Sueshiro Sano;
    Where do you get such beautiful wood? I was going into the woodworking business myself, but sometimes bad things happen to good people 🙁 .One thing I liked about Japanese saws is they cut on the pull stroke, this gives the woodworker much more control over the cut. I keep my hack saw blades,”backwards in the frame”, this makes for a much more controlled cut in metals. I also consider the green Japanese stropping compound to be superior to any other I have ever tried.
    Your wooden bicycles are very beautiful, Have you ever tried laminating in building your bicycle frames? The English De Havilland company used a process, “during WWII”, that used a balsa wood core. That had the balsa wood grain running the length of the fuselage of their (Mosquito) airplanes. Then they used a spiral of hardwood veneer on the outside and inside of the balsa wood core. These hardwood lamination spiraled in one direction on the inside and the opposite direction on the outside. This construction method, made for a very light but strong aircraft.
    Perhaps you could use a similar method in building your bicycle frames. You could roll a thin, (1/16 inch or 1 mm. ) layer of hardwood veneer in a left hand spiral. Wrapped around a rod or some kind of oval shaped former. After first covering the former with a, (release material) some thing that the glue being used would not adhere to. Then roll this with a thin, (1/16 inch or 1 mm.) layer balsa wood with the grain running the length of the former. When using balsa wood this thin, it can be soaked in warm water and then it can be rolled into a tubular shape easily. When the balsa wood layer is dry, then add a right hand spiral of (1/16 inch or 1 mm.) thick hardwood veneer, let it all dry then slide it off the former, and you have a light but strong hollow tubular formed that can be epoxied into a bicycle frame. I only wish I could fax you a drawing of what I am talking about here.
    Here’s my e-mail address; davewoundedbear57@gmail,com I look foreword hearing from you. And the best of luck with your ship building company.

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