“This bike generates amazing responses on the streets of Brooklyn and Manhattan,” said Zoon, who rode the Bough Bike to meet us in Queens yesterday. “Each day people stop me to take pictures. New Yorkers smile at me. Luxury stores on Madison Ave. invite me to park the bike inside.” As an added bonus, it was quite easy for us to recognize Zoon at the rendezvous spot. “I’m the guy riding the wooden bike,” he texted us beforehand with a smiley face emoticon.
The Bough Bike was designed in the Netherlands, where 25 percent of all trips are made by bike, according to Fietsersbond, the Dutch bicycle authority. Bough Bikes says that about 300 people in the Netherlands already ride one of their wooden bikes and now they’re ready to introduce them to the American public.
Jan Gunneweg, the designer behind the Bough Bike, was originally a furniture maker, and began the new venture when he realized what the warmth of wood could bring to daily biking. “I have a real passion for wood and want to bring people closer to nature,” said Gunneweg. “Riding this wooden bicycle will connect you directly with nature, even on urban streets.”
In addition to being hand-crafted and manufactured in small batches, Bough Bikes are made of oak wood sourced from sustainably-managed forests in France. As you can imagine, the bike is quite durable and is fitted with quality parts like sports stainless steel hardware components and extra durable Schwalbe tires. The bike is equipped with a 2-speed SRAM automatic shifter and a coaster break, and passed the TÜV Rheinland endurance test.
As you might imagine, the wooden bike is a bit heavier than a regular bike, but we were able to pick it up pretty easily (Bough Bikes also offers an open frame model, which is lighter). Our test ride was smooth sailing (despite some shakiness in the beginning since the seat had been set up for the much taller Zoon), and we especially enjoyed the ease of the coaster break as well as the feeling of holding onto wooden handlebars. We also thought that the built-in key-lock was a nice touch, but from the way people were eyeing the bike as we rode along, you probably need a more heavy-duty supplement in New York City.
So how can you get a Bough Bike of your own? The bikes will be available for sale starting on Oct 25th through reservations made on the Bough Bikes website. They certainly aren’t cheap (the introductory price is $1,999) but each bike in the initial offering will be a limited edition of just 100 signed by its designer Jan Gunneweg.