the following is from Cambridge university and really shows why wood is such an amazing material for bike construction:

what we want is something light ie to the left hand side of the following graph, but stiff ie to the top of it. metals are too dense, composites almost cut it but have other fau;lts but wood and wood products have the best strength to density ratio.

If you combine them with fibreglass of CF you get even more stiffness for the density making this the dream material for bike construction


heres a chart showing the properties of various alloys and metals:


so my theory is that by combining the lightest woods with aluminium or carbon fibre you can produce a hybrid material that is easy to work, beautiful to look at, stronger and lighter pond for pound than steel or pure aluminium and just more pleasing to build and ride !

heres the full article and what I have clumsily been trying to say:



Time Out Event London June 30th 2016

Get Crafty with Rob Penn

Accepts Time Out Card

  • Highlights:


    • Markets are brilliant places to find out more about the unique, artisan pieces you’re buying; but this one-off Time Out Live Event is even better!
    • Spend an evening in the beautiful surroundings of Cecil Sharp House, nestled on the edge of Regent’s Park, and hear from five disgustingly talented individuals about their wood crafts on Thursday June 30.
    • Featuring Rob Penn (the journalist, TV presenter, cyclist and author of ‘The Man Who Made Things Out Of Trees’), coppiced wood craftsman Geoffrey Fisher, bike craftsman Peter Charnaud and thanks to Crafty Fox Market kitchenware craftsman Mike Groves, sculptor Zack McLaughlin and jeweller Lucie Ellen, it promises to be an inspiring evening.
    • Get your exclusive tickets here for just £10, before they’re all whittled away…


    More details:


    You’ve got to love a Sunday morning chat at your favourite local market stall, but what with lots of other people wanting to buy things, it can be hard to sustain a proper conversation. With this in mind, we’re bringing six local craftspeople together on June 30 for an evening of inspiration and beauty. Head over to the beautiful garden at Cecil Sharp House at 7pm, grab a drink from the bar and meet five super-talented makers as they talk about and demonstrate their craft.


    At 8pm, it’s over to Rob Penn who’ll be discussing his experiences and his work with his fellow craftsmen, Geoffrey Fisher, Mike Groves, Zack McLaughlin, Lucie Ellen and Peter Charnaud, and how to make this kind of sustainable, creative life work in London via markets such as Crafty Fox. It’s going to be an enlightening evening that anyone who appreciates handcrafted beauty will love. Get your hands on one of a limited number of £10 tickets now, and we’ll see you there.


    The makers:


    Rob Penn
    From Hay-on-Wye to London, we bring you Rob Penn. This inspirational author, journalist, TV presenter and cyclist (who has, rather incredibly, cycled in over 50 countries on five continents) will be Rob Penn will be discussing his experiences and his work, chronicling how the urge to understand and appreciate trees still runs through us all like grain through wood.

    Geoffrey Fisher
    A master craftsman who produces a range of hand made products from sustainably sourced materials, including locally coppiced wood. There’s a good chance he’ll harvest a few bits of wood from the Royal Parks en route to this event and make something with it before your very eyes.

    Mike Groves
    Mike’s all about the maxim: love what you eat, love what you eat from. His beautiful wooden kitchenware is made from wood sourced predominantly in SW2 and SW9 and sold at markets like the Crafty Fox market in Peckham.

    Zack McLaughlin
    The founder of Paper & Wood, Zack Mclaughlin creates dramatically beautiful sculptures of birds from little more than paper and wood. Completely self-taught he loves to try to emulate the beauty he sees in the natural world around him. His pieces are made mainly for private buyers but also for shops and window displays all over the world.

    Lucie Ellen
    Lucie works out of her garden studio in East London making a diverse and ever changing range of jewellery using a fret saw. Her favourite materials are wood and paper, which she finds to be a constant source of inspiration. Her work is stocked in shops and galleries all over the world, for good reason – it’s beautiful.

    Peter Charnaud
    Peter builds the most beautiful bikes out of English woods and when he’s not creating them, he’s riding them. Peter has built road bikes, mountain bikes, electric bikes even an electric tandem bike, but his bikes are all about combining art with function and bringing out the beauty of the wood.

  • Need to know  
    • This voucher is valid for one ticket to Time Out’s ‘Get Crafty with Rob Penn’ event at Cecil Sharp House on Thursday June 30 2016.
    • The event runs from 7pm-9.30pm.
    • Please print your voucher and present it on arrival.
    • Please note that photography and filming may occur on the evening and which may feature visitors. By purchasing a ticket and attending the event, you are agreeing to the use of these images in any future promotional, advertising or publicity material.
    • This voucher cannot be cancelled, refunded, exchanged or used in conjunction with any other offer.

Tandem bikes

A tandem is a great way to travel: you can chat whilst you ride and whats more you only have one set of wheel resistance, one set of wind resistance and 2 sets of pedal power so you can really nip along.

But riding a tandem requires a bit of practise as for the person behind it seems a bit odd that there is no control. However once that has been mastered it is just plain sailing. Also its quite a long distance between the wheels so it has a longer turning circle: not quite so maneuverable although you wouldnt notice that on a road journey.

All in all though everyone should try it .

with that in mind I have built a wooden (what else) tandem

tandem electric bike

however this bike has a few other useful features: it is electric powered and you can dismantle it for storage or transport

Dillenger hub motor (500W)


the worlds largest wooden structure – the Metropol parasol in seville

This is quite amazing and pushes the limits of birch : supposedly it was impossible but here it is :

: heres the entry from wikipedia:Espacio_Parasol_Sevilla

The structure consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms (“Las setas” in Spanish), whose design is inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the ficus trees in the nearby Plaza de Cristo de Burgos. Metropol Parasol is organized in four levels. The underground level (Level 0) houses the Antiquarium, where Roman and Moorish remains discovered on site are displayed in a museum.[3] Level 1 (street level) is the Central Market. The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza, shaded by the wooden parasols above and designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 are the two stages of the panoramic terraces (including a restaurant), offering one of the best views of the city centre.[4]


Since the 19th century, a market was located in the plaza, housed in a market building. The building was partially torn down in 1948 according to plans for urban renewal. The market itself remained however, until 1973, when the rest of the dilapidated building was finally torn down. The land remained dormant until 1990, when the city decided to construct underground parking with space for a market on top. However, in the midst of construction, ruins dating to Roman and Andalusian eras were discovered, and construction was frozen after an expenditure of 14 million euros. In 2004 the city decided to attempt to develop the area again, and opened an international competition to solicit bids.


Antiquarium, under Metropol Parasol.

The Parasol under construction, May 7, 2007.

Construction began on June 26, 2005, with an estimated cost of 50 million euros and a projected completion date in June 2007. However, unknown to the public, the project soon faced difficulties. By May 2007 engineering firm Arup informed the municipal authorities that the structure was technically infeasible as designed, given that a number of structural assumptions had not been tested and appeared to violate the limitations of known materials. The wood they used was birch tree they imported from Finland because of its straight qualities.[5] Much time was spent developing a feasible alternative plans to buttress the structure, which themselves proved impractical because of the added weight.[5] A feasible design using glue as reinforcement was finally settled on only at the beginning of 2009.[5] By some estimates, due to delays, the total cost of the structure approached 100 million euros.[6]

the wooden wonder

why build a bike from wood ? is it any good as an engineering material ?: err perhaps yes have a look at this wooden structure with 2 x 1700 HP Merlin engines which could take the later ones up to 40,000 feet. thats 10,000 feet higher than most jets fly today.  : Another first for British Engineering – and in wood …
Mosquito aircraft flying

De Havilland Mosquito

De Havilland Mosquito

‘The Wooden Wonder’, as the Mosquito is affectionately known, almost never came to be. Air Ministry opposition to de Havilland’s original proposal for an unarmed, all-wooden bomber almost forced de Havilland to abandon the design, but thanks to some behind-the-scenes lobbying, the Air Ministry reluctantly agreed to progress with the design.

The Mosquito was almost too radical a concept for the Air Ministry. Bomber designs were, by design, slow, cumbersome beasts, heavily-armed and metal in construction. Despite a specification being issued by the ministry for a bomber with some wooden construction in the airframe (B17/38), the idea of leaving the aircraft with no means of self-defence was too much of a risk to take. But some gentle persuasion of the ministry by Air Marshal Sir Wilfred Freeman, who sat on the Air Council as Member for Research and Development, resulted in a new Specification, B1/40, detailing a light bomber capable of carrying a 1,000lb load over a distance of 1,500 miles which could, presumably if it failed in this respect, be quickly modified as a fighter or photo-reconnaissance aircraft. An initial order for 50 aircraft was placed in March 1940.

In November 1940, Geoffrey de Havilland took the prototype Mosquito into the air for the first time. The performance of the aircraft was something of a revelation, the two Merlin engines giving fighter-like handling and a top speed which would allow the aircraft to outpace enemy fighters. The first bomber version, the B.IV first flew in the following September and the first deliveries to No 105 Squadron at Swanton Morley followed in November 1941.

Following its operational debut in a raid by four aircraft on Cologne on 31 May 1942, the Mosquito joined the Main Force but became famous for a number of set-piece attacks, and the first of these was a low-level attack on the Gestapo Headquarters in Oslo on 25 September 1942.

By this time, No 109 Squadron, based at Marham, had formed on Mosquitos, but was unusual in that the squadron was tasked with the development of various bombing aids then in the pipeline. The first of these aids was a blind-bombing device known as ‘Oboe’ and this was tried for the first time during an attack on a power station in Holland during the night of 20th/21st December 1942. Trials with ‘Oboe’ continued and gradually introduced across the remainder of Bomber Command during 1943.

No 105 Squadron was not idle, and along with the third Mosquito bomber squadron, No 139 at Marham, set about carrying out a series of highly-publicised precision attacks on enemy targets during the early months of 1943. Indeed, over 100 such attacks took place in the first half of 1943, notably raids on Copenhagen (27 January), Berlin (30 January) and Jena (27 May). The Jena raid, on the Zeiss optical factory and Schott glassworks was the final such attack to be carried out in daylight.

Shortly after the raid at Jena, Nos 105 and 139 Squadrons were transferred from No 2 Group, which had left Bomber Command for the newly-formed Second tactical Air Force, to the Pathfinder Force (No 8 Group) and began to re-equip with an improved bomber Mosquito, the B.IX. With these aircraft, the Mosquito squadrons flew ahead of the Main Force, marking out waypoints for the bombers to guide them onto their intended target and used ‘Oboe’ increasingly to mark as accurately as possible.

The next bomber variant was the B.XVI, and this became the standard version of the aircraft in Bomber Command, eventually equipping 16 squadrons. This version could fly at altitudes up to 40,000ft thanks to a pressurised cockpit, and could also carry a 4,000lb bomb in an enlarged bomb-bay. With additional wing fuel tanks, the Mosquito could take one of these mighty bombs to Berlin and still evade much of the defending night fighter force.

In 1944, with the tide turned against the Germans, the Mosquitos were transferred to the new Light Night Striking Force (LNSF), part of No 100 (Bomber Support) Group. Here, the Mosquitos were tasked with carrying out diversionary raids to attract the defending fighters away from the main bomber stream. These ‘spoof’ attacks, many of which were against Berlin, were aided by electronic aids to deceive the German radar network into believing that the much smaller Mosquito force was the main attack.

Some Mosquitos which served with the LNSF and Pathfinders were Canadian-built Mark 25s. After the War, a number of B35s were produced and entered service from late 1947 onwards, many with squadrons on the Continent. The final home-based bomber Mosquitos, some 1,690 of which had been built (from a total of 7,781 of all versions), serving with No 139 Squadron, were eventually replaced by Canberras in November 1953.

An example of the tremendous accuracy achieved by Mosquitos can be shown by comparing figures for the attacks on the V-weapons sites. The average tonnage of bombs required to destroy one of these sites by B-17 Flying Fortresses was 165; for B26 Marauders it was 182 tons and for B25 Mitchells 219 tons. The average for the Mosquito was just under 40 tons!

Mosquito aircraft