This yearâ€™s North American Handmade Bicycle Show (NAHBS) in Louisville, March 6â€“9 will feature a bike built for one of Louisvilleâ€™s signature brands, Louisville Slugger. Connor Wood Bicycles from Denver, Colorado is working with Louisville Slugger to produce a wood bike made from Sluggerâ€™s ash wood baseball bat billets. Connorâ€™s bikes are renowned for their beauty, amazing ride and the strength of their wood. American white ash wood, traditionally used to make the Louisville Slugger bats is known for both itâ€™s strength and amazing striking capability.
Following the show it will be installed at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, in downtown Louisville and will be used as an interactive display at the museum. Visitors to the museum will be able to see the bike, spin the cranks and hear the familiar sound of a baseball card flapping in the spokes.
Customization of this bike starts with the frame, which is made entirely from baseball bat billets. Connor received raw billets from the Slugger factory and machined them into a fully wooden bicycle frame. The frame is presently at the Louisville Slugger factory, so that it can be branded with the signature Louisville Slugger logo and have the same durable finish that is applied to its bats applied to the bike. Following this process the frame will be assembled by Connor back in Denver, CO. Once finished, the bike build will showcase a Gates belt drive, wood handlebars wrapped with Sluggerâ€™s bat tape, and a customized leather saddle made from Sluggerâ€™s baseball mitt leather. Completing the build are 29â€™ custom wheels, with a drum brake hub, and carbon fiber forks.
A wood bike, really?
Connor Wood Bicycles founder, Chris Connor points out that, â€œWood is a natural choice for bikes; think of its toughness and vibration dampening properties when used in sledge hammers, baseball bats, skis and snowboards. And when cared for, wood will last and stay strong for decades. If you showcase the beauty of the material with flowing lines and curves you can create something with a look unlike anything out there.â€ The uniqueness of wood isnâ€™t just limited to its beauty, the wood frame absorbs vibrations from the road and makes a uniquely luscious ride. Says Connor, â€œWhy do you ride? If you do so for the love of the experience, thereâ€™s no better way to appreciate riding than on something so beautiful and with such an amazing ride quality. You just canâ€™t beat it.â€
Lots of people wonder if wood bikes are heavy. Theyâ€™re not. The frame weighs around 6 pounds, which is about 2-3 pounds heavier than exotic lightweight frames but lighter than many made from steel and aluminum. Connorâ€™s mountain model weighs in at around 24.5 pounds (with a suspension fork and 11-speed drive train). Most of his bikes weigh less than traditional bikes averaging between 24 and 29 pounds. The e-bike, of course, weighs more sporting itâ€™s electric motor and battery pack. Wood bikes are strong too. Connorâ€™s wood and Kevlar reinforced frames have been tested and shown to have greater rigidity than even some titanium bikes and his wood handlebars have even supported the weight of a car. Connorâ€™s bikes have demonstrated their strength and durability by competing in Coloradoâ€™s Leadville Trail 100 bike race, one of the signature off-road bike races in the world.
Connorâ€™s attention to detail and deep understanding of wood can be seen throughout all his bikes. This is most evident in the beautiful simplicity of the design and in the craftsmanship in the walnut laminates, finger joints, and bowed, Kevlar-reinforced stays that add to the frameâ€™s dampening ability and durability. Protected with a marine varnish, they endure the elements and stay beautiful for years to come.
About Connor Wood Bicycles
Connor Wood Bicycles was formed in 2013 by Chris Connor. Chris brings 20 years of experience working with wood construction for high-end classical acoustic guitars, furniture, and boats. Launched from his suburban Denver base, Connor brings a passion for good design to practical application, and has created â€œart that moves you.â€
Each Connor Wood Bicycle is sold as a complete rolling bike, and made to order in small, medium, and large frame sizes. Custom fitting is available in each build for the ultimate riding experience. Woody Cruisers start at $3,500, and can cost as much as $10,000 in top of the line mountain bike form.