Bike Check: The Full Suspension Bike Made From Plywood

Jul 16, 2021 at 4:01
by James Smurthwaite  


Our friend Alex at the European Bike Project has been featuring a collection of wooden bikes this week with everything from drop bar speed machines to the Earthbound high pivot enduro bamboo bike featured. There have been a few projects on there that really caught our eye so we decided to take a couple and do a deep dive on the tech and builders behind them.

First up is a plywood, linkage-driven, single-pivot from a German builder called Bene Mack. Bene studied product design and also took a six-month internship in the design department of a German bike company, so he decided to take those skills and build himself a bike for the first time. The bike was his chance to try out some ideas he had been working on using Fusion 360 and also try out the boundary-pushing geometry that is being tested by some bike brands.

Details
Frame Material: Plywood / aluminum
Wheelsize: 27.5"
Rear travel: 154mm
Suspension Design: Linkage driven single pivot
Head Tube Angle: 63°
Seat Tube Angle: 80° (79° at 25% sag)
Reach: 484mm
Weight: 18kg (9kg frame)
More info: @bene_mack

So, to get the most obvious question out of the way first, why plywood? Well for Bene, it was simply a matter of practicality. Bene says, "Since I never welded before and without any access to the necessary facilities, I decided to build the frame out of plywood. The frame was designed to be built from 2D parts, which gives the bike that unique look." Thankfully he owns a jigsaw, a belt sander, a router, and a drill press in a small workshop and a friend owns a lathe, meaning he could create the bike with the required level of precision.

Ensuring the headtube didn't snap was one of the biggest challenges of the project for Bene.

After around 500km of riding on the bike, Bene is starting to pick out some interesting performance benefits to wood too. He says, "It's the quietest bike you can imagine. And the feeling of extra damping that wood provides is something I could get used to." However, he's unlikely to ever suggest that plywood bikes are the future. Apparently, the front triangle flexes under hard pedaling and although he's had no issues with it yet, he says he'll never trust the headtube 100%.

36 M8 bolts in the rear triangle and a solid wood construction contribute to the 9kg frame weight.

Some aluminum parts are used to help the construction come to life.

Bene decided to build the bike around a linkage-driven, single-pivot as it was a design he liked while also allowing him to increase the stiffness in the rear triangle. The system offers high anti-squat values to help you get the 9kg frame to the top of the hill and a progressive leverage ratio. Bene thinks it would work better with a coil shock but he just built this bike with spare parts he had lying around.


Views: 12,722    Faves: 2    Comments: 1



The next steps for Bene are riding, testing, and modifying the bike, and possibly developing a steel version. If the results are promising Bene could consider making a commercial project out of it too. If you want to follow his progress, follow him on Instagram, here.




239 Comments

  • 428 2
 These days wouldn't a plywood bike cost more than carbon???
  • 145 0
 I think that is maybe the point? Every one wants to have the most baller bike so logically this was the next step.
  • 24 0
 Linkage design is cool
  • 13 19
flag kkse (Jul 16, 2021 at 11:30) (Below Threshold)
 Not anymore. Wood prices are dropping as fast as they went up. But, LOL anyway.
  • 15 11
 @kkse: yeah people finally figured out that paying 50k over asking price for a house or build isn’t going to keep the mortgage cheap. Bunch of sheep.
  • 1 0
 My would-be comment exactly.
  • 66 0
 @jeremiahwas: Wood-be.
  • 30 0
 plywood may become the more poplar material
  • 40 0
 @adrennan: certainly a novel way to spruce up frame design
  • 2 0
 See!!! I f@@kin said it!

Ref bamboo bikes from outside
  • 6 0
 That’s kicked off my investigation into making one from light cured dental composites.
  • 4 3
 Heavy as heck, ugly as sin, desperately needs some finessing and sanding but it's a fun idea so... winner winner chicken dinner!
  • 1 1
 No joke. At one point n US, lumber was up 280%, but now has fallen to more reasonable prices per board foot.
  • 1 0
 @Andykmn: this is the comment I came here to read. And right at the top!
  • 2 0
 @adrennan: it’s a hard wood to be green with envy about
  • 5 0
 @kkse: our local guys haven’t moved off the highs on OSB yet. Still $65 a sheet at Rona and Home Depot. When I built 2 years ago it was under 10. But yes, futures prices are way down. Saw it’s down 50% in the last 30 days. Will see how long it takes to trickle down the chain.
  • 5 0
 Can I borrow your bike, we are low on firewood?!
  • 4 0
 @kkse: you’d think. Go to your local lumber supplier. Prices at the end of the supply chain haven’t dropped. At least not here. $90 for a sheet of 23/32 ply. Good grief.
  • 1 0
 @mixmastamikal: I hear you! Unfortunately with the price of the frame being so high you get pretty poor components. Not a fan of the Bike-Oak dropper, splinters for days!
  • 1 0
 I get your joke though lumber has already fallen 75% from the highs. Only reason price went that high is because of futures traders.
  • 1 0
 @rtclark: An added problem is youcan't even find a good used bandsaw to mill your own. Wood Mizers (proudly North American made) are a year behind on orders and every second hobbiest is hoarding off cuts like they are an investment. Boom Bust in the forestry industry is not new. The problem for some of this goes quite a bit beyond the futures traders. Fallers are happy to take Covid Relief payments rather than constantly watch out for wido-makers dropping from the snag 30metres above their heads.And,,, the average age of log scalers is now over 60 on the West Coast. The kids can't do it because it needs the "Art" as well as those amazing hand held devices and that takes time to aquire. The lack of scalers is very real and since the companies are trying to cut everything posible, as fast as possible even with the fire ratings well into the extreme (make hay/sticks while the sun shines) there is avery real wall to the ability to ramp up wood production. No Scalers,,, the saws stop, the trucks sit and the mills cry for feedstock. Kinda like the story of - "for want of a horseshoe nail an empire fell" The traders who saw this coming make plastic money and the late arrivals get shaven.
  • 117 1
 But wood you want to ride it...
  • 70 0
 I think it looks treemendous
  • 53 0
 @sewer-rat: idk I feel like you'd get board of it pretty quick....
  • 36 1
 such a sick ride you'd have to ply it out of my hands
  • 15 1
 This bike would bush through corners creating new branches to your local trail.
  • 16 0
 I wood
  • 52 0
 Does it have a leaf spring?
  • 25 1
 @cjeder: Knot all leaf springs fit.
  • 24 1
 The design is unbeleafable!
I’d carve my wife’s name on it but that might be too sappy.
  • 36 0
 I'd ride it fir sure. I bet it'd fit great on my trunk rack. A bit of thrashing would root out any issue with headtube. Given the appearance I'm willing to go out on a limb and say the design isn't all bark and no bite. I'm sure after all these puns someone will log a complaint.
  • 9 0
 He would win any seeding run
  • 8 0
 Sure! Would yew?
  • 8 0
 I think this designer should branch out
  • 8 0
 I pine for the day I can test one
  • 16 0
 He's definitely going against the grain using this material. I reckon he must've been three sheets to the wind when he came up with the design.
  • 3 1
 This thread keeps on growing, I love it!
  • 8 0
 i hate to be a stick in the mud but I think this concept is barking up the wrong tree
  • 3 0
 @theedon: lmao
  • 6 1
 I wood ring it out until I'm petrified
  • 22 1
 I'm going fir a ride, later beeches
  • 7 1
 If a wooden bike carves a loamy trail in the woods, and no one is there to hear it.. is it really shredding the knar?
  • 6 0
 back to the roots of bike design!
  • 4 0
 Quit larching around, I’m board with this, it’s beyond a oak.
  • 2 0
 @cypher74: Alder options would be too mesquite for me.
  • 1 0
 I Take tree of them wood, plyse!
  • 14 0
 I don't find this palletable.
  • 4 0
 I think it would be sycamore wooden bike builders sprouted up. I can just imagine milling about a shop, pining over the latest frame I saw.
  • 2 1
 @davidccoleman: *You wood have to ply it out of my hands.
  • 11 0
 He could do a nice tabletop
  • 4 0
 You all are being pretty sappy here.
  • 15 0
 I only ride bark
  • 3 1
 Can’t ride today…..a woodpecker pecked my bike to bits
  • 5 0
 This bike kicks some serious ash!
  • 2 0
 You’re sure to stump every landing
  • 3 0
 Fir the record, this is pulp fiction...
  • 2 0
 Wonder if the puns were the icing on the cake during negotiations between Outside and PB.
  • 2 0
 @PocoBoho: I’m sure they’ll leave some the puns outside the pay wall
  • 4 0
 Yet another splinter group making something different.
  • 3 0
 Whoever planted the seed for this idea was definitely thinking out side the (wooden) box.
  • 2 0
 Looks like a Y-Tree.
  • 3 0
 A Haiku:

It’s a little rough,
wood I ride this plane frame bike?
I’m on the fence here.

I’m knot good at these hard wood puns
  • 53 0
 He should spruce it up with some decals.
  • 21 0
 I cedar what you did there, and fir what it's worth I think the decals would be a real birch to keep clean. Truthfully, I would always be scared of the headtube snapping and going ash over teakettle.
  • 46 0
 Is this Morewood's new design?
  • 37 1
 9kg plywood frame is a great metaphor for what the free content will be like.
  • 25 0
 I guess it's made for 4-ply racing.
  • 22 3
 Still looks better than Orange bikes.
  • 4 0
 The wood came from an orange tree though.
  • 14 0
 This is totally unrelated but has anyone noticed there is no Pinkbike podcast this week? I can't help but think the news on Wednesday had something to do with the episode being released on Thursday which they typically do.
  • 48 6
 It's behind the paywall.
  • 20 0
 @brianpark replied to a comment in another thread. "we were just busy at Field Test and being yelled at on the internet. Podcast will be back next week."
  • 1 1
 @PTyliszczak: it’s weird eh, the comments and the associated readers are what makes Pinkbike, but they actually loath us.
  • 6 1
 @srsiri23w, nope, it just delayed since there's a Field Test currently going on. Don't worry, it'll be back next week.
  • 6 0
 @mikekazimer: If worse comes to worse and pinkbike cuts the podcast, I better see an independent Mike vs Mike mountain bike podcast
  • 14 1
 I wood love to try one. Where do I apPly?
  • 12 0
 What's next, wooden chairs? wooden canoes? some people have too much time on their hands.
  • 4 0
 Comeback of the wooden rims?
  • 10 0
 I was interested until I saw it was part aluminum. Riders are never impressed with less than full wood.
  • 1 0
 ALL OF THAT! TO ACCOMMODATE ALUMINUM!
  • 11 0
 Knock knock...
  • 5 0
 Who's there?
  • 2 0
 Woody who?
  • 5 0
 I woody made a better joke
  • 3 0
 Woody Allen Key
  • 1 0
 woodpecker's there.
  • 1 0
 @ridingofthebikes: Hi Sorry I'm late..... did someone say my name three times? (or failing that a close approximation?)
  • 10 1
 woodn't that be cool to have
  • 8 0
 Neat practical approach to prototyping
  • 9 0
 Everybody in here making jokes or questioning the practicality of it. It's explicitly stated in the article that it's a prototyping process for geo and suspension. I'd say this is an excellent and economical for a one-person operation to ease into the business without having to invest too much up front.
  • 4 0
 I definitely agree that it's more suited to a coil shock...with 65% progression and the shape of the LR I'd guess the end of the travel is practically unusable if you set the bike to industry 'normal' sag percentages, especially with the natural end-stroke ramp of an air shock. I'm curious how it would ride with around 35-40% sag, since the anti-squat is still a fair bit above 100%.
  • 4 0
 Respect for the creativity and the follow through on the idea. I guess Bene has better things to do, but I'd love to take a sander to that frame and give it a nicer shape, you could probably knock off a kilo of unnecessary weight and make it look a whole lot better.
  • 1 0
 Yes it would be a nice looking thing, rounded and polished, even if it's not meant to be used anymore.
  • 7 0
 Plywood is made from elements found Outside.

Interesting….
  • 6 0
 Because carbon is too inexpensive...
  • 6 0
 Sold at IKEA some assembly required
  • 4 0
 Build the whole thing with that shitty hex wrench they give you!
  • 1 0
 @FatTonyNJ - one point - If you have to role out the word "shitty" - start with the directions - you can replace the hex key......
  • 4 0
 @dldewar: Or start with the correct "roll".
  • 4 0
 I am good looking and think I am funnie. English not so good @ReformedRoadie:
  • 6 3
 As a woodworker by trade, i can’t even say I’m that stoked on this. Wish he would have atleast taken a disk shaper to that headtube.
  • 5 0
 still hoping for a hemp full sus bike.
  • 14 0
 That'd be dope.
  • 2 0
 Hey where did you get the plywood bike? Wooden you like to know. I’m only here for the comments so I barely looked at the article however at first glance it looked like the designer nailed it!
  • 2 0
 Nah mate he screwed it up. ;-)
  • 2 0
 @WishIWazFaster: ahhhhh now that I read the article you’re right, either way it’s fasten-ating!
  • 1 0
 If you want to see the job done right, check out Renovo bikes XC MTB. www.puretimber.com/renovo-bikes Or the link to the article in Single Tracks about the bike introduced at Sea Otter back in 2018 www.singletracks.com/mtb-gear/wooden-29er-renovo-can-built-21lbs Renovo had a long history of building very high end road frames that were stunningly beautiful. As the owner of the Bad Ash 2, frame #2 of 3, I can tell you the dampening characteristics of wood are real and significantly improve the ride of a hard tail. For those of you who played baseball, think about the difference between a wood and aluminum bat. Very cool bikes and great to be “at one” with the woods!
  • 6 1
 Looks like a session
  • 2 0
 you didn't!
  • 4 0
 Wood ya look at that...just look at it!
  • 3 0
 I heard he left it unlocked outside the corner store and when he came out it had varnished.
  • 1 0
 This wins the puns and and I read them ALL!
  • 1 1
 @stingmered:
What did the penis say to the vagina as he waved goodbye ?
See you next Tuesday
  • 1 0
 You could sandwich layers of alloy and home made micarta, choosing a siutably strong textile, 2D alloy plates for stronger juction points, no welding, no heated pressure mould, just a basic press and wood working tools.
  • 1 0
 "he says he'll never trust the headtube 100%." - 10/10 for honesty but not the most ringing endorsement .... I certainly wouldn't ever ride it with that in the warranty details...
  • 3 0
 Bike shortages are really driving innovation. First Bamboo, now plywood.
  • 4 1
 Woodn't be able to afford that, buying an Unno instead.
  • 1 0
 This is cool and all but a 9 kg frame?! THIS is the bike you need Dangerholm quads for (as opposed to any of the super light bikes he makes).
  • 3 0
 Sam pilgrim needs ti send this hard lol
  • 1 0
 Next up: Bike made of cloth! Then different types of cheese. How about whip cream, lobster shells, toothpicks, or dried spaghetti strands?
  • 3 1
 I'm so board I wood pay for content like this.
  • 2 0
 Nice to see a frame maker going against the grain.
  • 2 0
 27.5 all round for the win!! I'd even take the wood!
  • 1 0
 it's all fun and games until you have to put a foot down in a hurry and get splinters in your sphincter......
  • 3 0
 Huck to flat
  • 1 0
 Heat treat the wood with some flame to surface. The burnt look would be hot
  • 1 0
 It's like a grown-up Skuut... Those pretty much hold up for crap so I'm with the builder on this one... Not to be trusted!
  • 1 0
 Wood possibly buy it is I didn’t have so many splinters and blisters on my hands
  • 2 1
 Couldn’t afford a regular bike because he’s saving up for the paywall...
  • 3 0
 That leverage ratio tho
  • 2 0
 Seriously.. what a 66% ish progression! Goodness
  • 2 0
 Hah, so plywood is currently outperforming the Pole machined aluminum?
  • 1 0
 My man needs to hit some of those edges with a router, that thing will cut you up QUICK
  • 2 0
 Does the warranty cover termites?
  • 1 0
 The only bike pinkbike users can afford after paying for the outside subscription
  • 1 0
 I just appreciate a full 27.5 trail bike I don't care what it's made out of
  • 1 0
 Wouldn't it warp after getting wet? I guess you would have to treat it on occasion
  • 1 0
 Marine grade ply can handle getting wet.
  • 1 0
 Just don’t get it wet or it’ll swell up bigger than my right knee after 4hr ride.
  • 2 0
 Give it to Sam Pilgrim! Free Bike Challenge!!!!!
  • 1 0
 I've run out of good Outside puns already... wood be nice if I could think of a few more for this article.
  • 1 0
 take a router to those top tube edges ! my inner thighs hurt looking at it.
  • 2 0
 The design flaws are hiding behind a thin veneer.....
  • 1 0
 This is great, all it needs now is some vinyl laminate.

But err... how does it ride?
  • 2 0
 That bike is Cherry and at that price it should be very Poplar!
  • 2 0
 Donate a frame to Sam Pilgrim and see what it’s capable of!
  • 3 0
 I’d say it’s capable of keeping the fire going for at least 30minutes longer.
  • 1 0
 I want 3D printed full suspension bike please - make sure it’s got a mullet and it’s made of recycled plastic.
  • 2 0
 Chainstay length grows in wet conditions = winner
  • 1 0
 Can you guys see the video of thus thing riding or is it only the plus customers?
  • 1 0
 Haha. You had me at 9kg frame. Looking forward to seeing a concrete bike next though.
  • 1 0
 Works for boats I hear. Just use plenty of rebar. You know for strength.
  • 1 0
 Frend: Hi, dud. What’s up. Do you wanna go for a ride.
Me: Sorry, can’t go, termits ate my bike…
  • 1 0
 @kkse I'm a joiner and I can assure you they are not, at least not in England.
  • 1 0
 Every freaking wood =====D comment taking already so I must go with the Low Blow
  • 1 0
 Still disappointed that the fork, rear shock, dropper post, handlebars,wheels and tires are not made of wood.
  • 1 0
 Could have at least rounded over the edges. Imagine extracting the splinters after crashing that thing.
  • 1 0
 The weight tho. I was looking for the motor...
  • 1 0
 Well, that is a creative way to get around the frame shortage.
  • 1 0
 I bet it's splintering fast.
  • 1 0
 it will float in water and make great snacks for termites
  • 1 0
 Reality Check: The Mountain Bike Readership Built of Broken Dreams
  • 1 0
 Should be koa with a maple/abalone inlay.
  • 1 0
 This is the new composite
  • 1 0
 @mikelevy Podcast??? 7/15
  • 2 0
 Gonna be a bit late - we're all at Field Test right now, but will likely record this coming Tuesday Smile
  • 1 0
 Just because you can doesn't necessarily mean you wood..
  • 1 0
 How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
  • 1 0
 a woodchuck would huck as much wood as a woodchuck could huck wood!
  • 1 0
 How much wood could a wood sled shred
If a wood sled could shred
WoodWink
PS
I am not your father
  • 1 0
 Woody ALlenrich this bike ?
  • 1 0
 more environmentally friendly than ebikes!
  • 2 1
 That's going against the grain.
  • 1 0
 The company's name should be "Morning", followed by the frame material....
  • 1 0
 Morning has broken?
  • 1 0
 Wedding Crashers comes to mind...
  • 3 2
 Well wood ya look at that
  • 2 1
 wow, this leafes me stumped!
  • 2 0
 stick this in any trail and it would stump any competitor
  • 1 0
 Is it really a head "tube"
  • 1 0
 Kill it with fire. Better than ever...
  • 1 0
 I love it in the abscence of making one can i buy one
  • 1 0
 Too bad Morewood was already taken.
  • 1 0
 Nice bike but That leverage ratio is excessively progressive
  • 1 0
 No bottle mount which means not a full woody lol
  • 2 0
 Huck to flat!!!!
  • 1 0
 Is it April 1st already..? Time do fly
  • 1 0
 Sweet bike, it gave me a woody
  • 1 0
 Why wood you even bother ?
  • 2 0
 Looks like a Session...
  • 1 0
 Shreds splinters.... grows roots.... and leaves!
  • 1 0
 Next up: a bike made from recycled ocean plastic
  • 1 0
 I built my suspension out of wood but it wooden work
  • 1 0
 The comments it inspired are actually more impressive than the bike.
  • 1 0
 Surprised this isn't behind a paywall.
  • 1 0
 Bike designs are getting more and more warped.
  • 1 0
 He's barking up the wrong tree.
  • 2 0
 JumpStumper !
  • 1 0
 you have to yell "TIMBER !!!" when dropping in.
  • 1 0
 love it even more then the hardtail !
  • 1 0
 Aight I'll hop on 'board'
  • 1 0
 That bike will surprise you with "a geometry twist" after the rain
  • 1 0
 I guess you could drill it and cork it to lighten the frame weight?
  • 1 0
 Wood is 50% carbon. Just stayin’!
  • 1 0
 THE WOODEN BIKE REVOLUTION HAS BEGUNNNNN!!!!!
  • 1 0
 Looks like Blk Mrkt Roam hammer link design. Not a bad thing by any means.
  • 1 0
 dork discs for all
  • 1 0
 This bike needs a name.
  • 2 0
 The big woody, the little woody is the trial bike, stiff woody is the hardtial
  • 1 0
 Genius!
  • 1 0
 Plywood, interesting idea. Laminated sheets like plywood but carbon, no molds. Probably heavier than traditional carbon frame. DIY carbon bike….
  • 1 0
 @Gweet: Frame is 9kg! That's heavier than some complete BIKES never mind frames. Still I think it's wonderful.
  • 2 1
 Plywoodwall
  • 1 0
 I wanto shred that wood!
  • 1 0
 I woodn't rip it...
  • 1 0
 Got here just to PLYWALL
  • 1 0
 Just sand it!!!
  • 1 0
 Tree-ly incredible
  • 1 0
 Looks flexy.
  • 1 0
 Huck to flat!
  • 1 0
 This gave me wood.
  • 1 0
 More like splinters...
  • 1 0
 Ok I'm BOARD
  • 1 0
 Not Why? Yew!
  • 1 0
 9kg frame ffs lol next
  • 1 1
 Cut more trees .
  • 1 1
 Why?
  • 5 7
 jesus, stick this thing behind a paywall PLEASE

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