AERO Bike, a prototype birch bicycle frame, not only provides strength and flexibility in a lightweight material, but is also being used to test wooden design techniques for architecture. Conceived by student designers Martino Hutz, Atanas Zhelev and Mariya Korolova while working on structural designs for a wooden house, the initial birch bicycle prototype was shown as part of a presentation by Ezgaat Architects at Milan Design Week 2015. "To further develop our ideas and the technology for large-scale buildings," said project manager Zhelev, "we chose to start at a smaller scale by creating a bicycle."
The frame is built from thin layers of birch wood which are joined at the front fork and splay apart beneath the seat-post and behind the pedal crank. According to the design team, the layering technique is an improvement on the traditional milling of wooden blocks as a way to create wooden shapes.
“We are trying to find the best structural solution for this particular suspension system so that it doesn’t flex too much,” Zhelev told Dezeen. “It needs to provide a comfortable ride whilst being capable of absorbing big shocks.”
The frame structure was created by glueing together 0.9 mm birch sheets and aligning the natural fibers of each sheet to enhance strength and rigidity. Since building the all-birch prototype, the team has also explored combining the wood with layers of carbon fibre or aluminum to increase strength while using less material.
The final prototype is scheduled to be completed this year and will then be put through a series of tests to discover if the design holds up to long-term stress.