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.
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).
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."
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.
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.
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.