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Wood Bicycle Frame

This was a small design experiment to explore the feasibility of using plywood as a bike frame. Wooden bike frames are not new, and there are several manufacturers and hobbyists already producing very cool frames. This exercise is a little different though.

This experiment was to explore a wood frame made of flat plywood pieces, which makes it very easy to cut out on a router, or by hand. The theory going into this is that a flat plane can pass through any three points. So for a bike, that would be the rear axle, the pedal axle, and the front handlebar tube.

The challenge here is positioning the width of those three points in space. For instance, the rear point at the rear tire axle needs to be fairly wide to accommodate the gears, brake, and tire. But the front point, at the steering column, can be pretty narrow, as it simply attaches to the tube. Adjusting any of these 3 points can drastically change the geometry of the flat frame, which can cause problems with intersection other parts of the bike, or intersecting other frame parts (we don't want negative geometry!).

Now there are some caveats with using a flat frame like this. While it simplifies the overall wooden frame component, it adds complex geometry to the supporting metal features (The bike frame is only partially wood, as you still need metal brackets and supports for axles and such). This means funky bracket angles at all three of our interface points. This isn't that big of an issue (mechanically), but by taking work out of the frame we add it to the rest of it which may outweigh the value added of a simple wooden frame.

That wasn't much of a concern with this experiment, as it is all conducted digitally in the 3d model. If I get around to trying to make this frame in real life, I'll let you know if it was worth it.


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