If you design from nature it will always bring you something that people feel comfortable with. Jan Gunneweg, Bough Bikes designer
As there are more bicycles than residents in The Netherlands, it should come as no surprise that a Dutch design company has just launched the world’s first electric wooden bike.
Bough Bikes have been creating wooden framed bicycles from sustainably-sourced oak since 2011, and last month they unveiled their electric version at the Dutch sustainable design event GOED in Brooklyn, New York.
The motor kicks into action with a single rotation of the pedal, and the bike then maintains the selected cruising speed with minimal effort. A 225-watt front wheel motor enables the bike to hit a top speed of 24 kph (15 mph) on level ground, and it has a range of almost 50 kilometres (30 miles). With its battery-powered boost, the bike’s wooden frame becomes virtually weightless. The power-assist has three levels that can be adjusted according to riding conditions or how much effort the rider wants to put in. It can also give a welcome boost when cycling uphill.
The Bough Bike can be fully recharged in 3-6 hours. The battery pack fits unobtrusively under the frame, and it can be easily removed. The next generation version, which is already under development, will have energy-harvesting wheel hubs which recharge the battery when the bike is being cycled.
The design of the Bough Bike itself has been developed over a number of years by Dutch designer Jan Gunneweg. His passion for wood led him to explore the material as an innovative and appealing alternative to steel and aluminium in bicycle design. In doing so, he discovered that wood could also rival these materials in terms of sustainability and performance.
Gunneweg initially created a number of hand-crafted wooden bicycle designs, including the organic Human Bike which required over 200 man-hours to carve from solid walnut.
Unsurprisingly, such labour-intensive designs are expensive to produce, and therefore unaffordable for the average cycling enthusiast.
Before, you had to completely hand make a wooden bike. That made it much more expensive than a steel bike. But now we can produce the bikes with a computer-controlled milling machine. Piet Brandjes, Bough Bikes co-founder
Although Bough Bikes are now more accessible, the focus remains on quality over quantity, and all bikes are still made-to-order in the Netherlands.
The bike’s precisely engineered and carefully balanced frame is made from oak sustainably managed and harvested in the French Jura according to the Natura 2000 philosophy. Due to its growing conditions, this oak has a very straight grain which makes it ideal for high-quality bicycle making. Strong and flexible, it is less prone to deterioration than steel, and it absorbs vibration to give a much smoother and quieter riding experience.
Sustainable wood is an inherently eco-friendly material. It evolves from three basic components that are available in endless supply: sunlight, CO² and water. One m³ of wood takes 0.9 ton of CO² from the air. Processing wood also takes considerably less energy than processing steel.
Bough Bikes can be completely disassembled into their component parts of wood, stainless steel, aluminium and plastic. All these elements can then be recycled into new products. Even the surplus wood is used to warm the Bough Bikes office, which is totally energy-neutral thanks to the solar panels installed on the roof.
What I really want to achieve with my designs is something beautiful, and that is happiness! Jan Gunneweg, Bough Bikes designer
Hundreds of hand-crafted pedal-powered Bough Bikes are currently in use around the Netherlands, and their popularity is growing in Europe and the US.
Just one month after its launch in New York, the new E-Bough electric version is turning heads and getting a great deal of attention in the press. So the future for Bough Bikes looks bright.
With their blend of innovation, sustainability and beautiful design, Bough Bikes may well entice many more people away from other less eco-friendly modes of transport. Hopefully they will also inspire other designers to develop equally desirable products from sustainably-sourced materials.
About Bough Bikes
Established as a sustainable design company based in Hoofddorp, The Netherlands, the first Bough Bikes were made as a limited edition of ten. Their aim was simply to create a unique and beautiful wooden bike, and development of the company has grown in line with the positive response to their unique product.
The Bough Bike comes in 3 basic styles which can be customised, for example by adding colour to the tyres or seat, or attaching racks on the back or front. Artwork or logos can also be applied to the frame.
Bough Bikes sell mainly to businesses in the Netherlands, but their bicycles are now gaining popularity with both business and retail customers across the globe. Bicycles can be bought and customised through their website and their growing network of agents in Europe and the US.
The company actively promotes access to Bough Bikes as a sustainable means of transport through bike leasing and bike sharing schemes.
- You can find further information and configure custom bike orders online at the Bough Bikes website >
- Get the latest news from Bough Books on Twitter >
- See Bough Bike photos on Pinterest >
Bough Bikes feature in the June 2014 edition of Rhine Capital Partners monthly investment updates
- On 20th June 2014