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This TWMPA 'zero carbon' gravel bike is made out of engineered ash wood

Bike industry veteran Rory Hitchens has aimed to make his bike free of carbon and showcase wood as a bike frame material that can genuinely compete with carbon, alloy and steel

It's not totally unusual to see bikes made out of wood – and we've had a look at this TWMPA bike before – but they are rarely built in the UK and from British wood. As Black Friday and Cyber Monda sales are rampant, it's perhaps a good time to sit back with a mug of cocoa and delve into this wood-constructed bike that can remind us of the softer, more sustainable side of the industry. 

The TWMPA GR 1.1 here belongs to Rory Hitchens, a brand consultant at Greenleaves Cycling. It features a frame made of engineered wood, specifically ash, and has quite a unique look because of that. Chatting to Hitchens about his bike, he highlights how one of the primary reasons to opt for wood as a frame material is the cellular structure of wood, which means it offers natural damping properties.

2023 TWMPA GR 1.1 Rory26.JPG

Unlike frame materials like carbon fibre, wood's cellular makeup allows it to absorb shocks and vibrations, making it especially good on gravel. And of course, the use of wood also adds an environmentally-friendly dimension, given its renewable and sustainable nature.

Although Hitchens' aim was to make this bike as carbon-free as possible, the frame itself does incorporate a little bit of carbon into it at the chainstays, where some extra stiffness was needed. That is where the carbon stops though, because the rest of the finishing kit is all alloy and steel (unless you count the luxurious carbon rear rack, courtesy of cycling luggage specialists Tailfin). 

2023 TWMPA GR 1.1 Rory21.JPG

> 10 stunning wooden bikes

The frame itself is hollow and weighs around 1.7kg to 2.0kg, depending on size, and full builds tip the scales at around 9.5kg. The structural safety of a wood-engineered bike frame is perhaps one of the most common concerns, but TWMPA has tested the frames to the BS EN ISO 4210-2:2015 standard. If this means nothing to you, it essentially measures the structure for impact and fatigue, simulating 10 years of use.

"Initially you see the frame, you think that's beautiful!", says Hitchens. 

"But inside is where the proper stuff is going on. You can see some of that engineering expertise through some of the laminates and also at the joints which are very clever. They are essentially a jigsaw piece joint."

2023 TWMPA GR 1.1 Rory18.JPG

Those jigsaw joints don't only puzzle you visually, but they add a lot of structural strength to the build. This is because the bonding wood glue can be applied to a larger area, and the way the two pieces slot together already forms a bond in itself. 

Hitchens got his hands on this bike after the maker of it, Andy Dix, convinced him of its capabilities, and built an XL frame that would suit its rider.

The frame can accommodate up to 50mm tyres, and can be custom-built to the rider's measurements or made in standard sizes that Dix has listed on the TWMPA website

2023 TWMPA GR 1.1 Rory22.JPG

> Best gravel bikes

Going for the custom-build option, Hitchens has equipped the bike with a RockShox Rudy suspension fork with 30mm of travel, and there is also a dropper seatpost for achieving better weight distribution on steep and rowdy descents. 

2023 TWMPA GR 1.1 Rory15.JPG

The bling hubs, stem and cranks from Hope add a little bit of colour to contrast the ash frame, and the SRAM Force AXS XPLR groupset takes care of the shifting duties wirelessly. The wheels are from British components experts Hope, and clad in Schwalbe G-One Ultrabite gravel tyres

To confirm if the hype is justified, we're about to take this bike on a test spin ourselves in both gravel and road configurations. Keep your eyes open for those pieces dropping here in the future! 

Also, don't forget to check out our other Bike at Bedtime features… 

Suvi joined F-At in 2022, first writing for off-road.cc. She's since joined the tech hub, and contributes to all of the sites covering tech news, features, reviews and women's cycling content. Lover of long-distance cycling, Suvi is easily convinced to join any rides and events that cover over 100km, and ideally, plenty of cake and coffee stops. 

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8 comments

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cyclisto | 2 months ago
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The frame weight in combination with the 10 year impact resistant certification, seems very impressive to me. I would really like to know how many manhours were spent making it in comparison with a metal welded and a carbon frame.

No matter how impressive it is, I think that trying to save a couple of kilos of waste for a frame that is meant to last decades, is kind of wrong focus. I assume it would cost like 1000s of £ while if these money was spent on basic solar panels or planting trees, the carbon footprint reduction would have been much greater.

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chrisonabike | 2 months ago
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Lifcycle analysis or it didn't happen.

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mattw | 2 months ago
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Did no one tell the chap that wood itself is around 50% carbon?

enlightened

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Sriracha | 2 months ago
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It seems "carbon" as a shorthand for carbon dioxide is being confused with the element itself.

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Gm_Crop replied to Sriracha | 2 months ago
1 like
Sriracha wrote:

It seems "carbon" as a shorthand for carbon dioxide is being confused with the element itself.

Now we just need to wait for a carbon free organism to evolve so it can be ridden.

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jpj84 replied to Gm_Crop | 2 months ago
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I'm not sure carbon fibre is great from am environmental point of view tbf - I think the phrase is 'forever chemicals'.

It's a bit of a shame this carbon free bike contains some carbon however...

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Paul J replied to jpj84 | 2 months ago
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The carbon fibre itself isn't really an issue. It's... one of the most essential elements for all life on this planet. Grind it up into a fine dust and bury it.

The problem is the resin.

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Paul J replied to Paul J | 2 months ago
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And note, wooden bikes will also be epoxied together. Laminates will have a lot of epoxy.

Replacing the carbon fibre with wood doesn't solve the epoxy problem.

Metal frames are much more environmentally friendly, from the POV of ecological breakdown. Steel frames will relatively quickly be reintegrated into the earth by chemical and biological means if buried in dampish conditions. Aluminium will break down too eventually (more slowly, and Al is not that essential an element for life - unlike iron, which I guess is related to slow breakdown).

The energy for manufacture, well, we need green energy one way or another.

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