Unemployed and bored whilst spending time in London during a gap year, local chef Daniel Hoffman borrowed a friends BMX bike to get around rather than spending money on bus and tube fares. Motivated by the experience he purchased his own BMX, soon upgraded to a mountain bike. On his travels around London he became aware of the ‘bike messenger’ geeks with punk hairdo’s and torn jeans riding their bicycles delivering their message packages. To Daniel is seemed the perfect job and so he approached a messenger company, secured a job and set off on his mountain bike delivering messages. He soon realised that a mountain bike was not the right tool for the job for all the messenger geeks rode fixed when bikes. So he traded his mountain bike for a fixed wheel version and thus a passion was born.
Owning and riding a fixed wheel bike is an experience one needs to appreciate for it is very different from riding one of the multi-geared engineering marvels that most ride these days. The Experience? Well fixed wheel bikes have no breaks, have no gears and if you want to rest your legs you have to lift them high off the pedals lest a pedal catches an ankle with disastrous results. But they do have their advantages and they are the bikes mostly used in track events so are more popular than one would imagine. Fixed wheel bikes are instantly responsive and extremely well suited to city cycling.
But back to our Chef Dan who regularly cooks up a storm at his day, and night job, creating exciting and exotic cuisine at St Francis Brewing Company. He is often spotted around St Francis Bay on his bike riding to and from work and about but he occasionally now uses his latest passion and creation, a wooden framed bike he has developed and manufactured from scratch.
A first reaction is how heavy it must be but nothing could be further from the reality. The initial prototype that Dan showed SFT weighs in at just a little over 3 kilograms placing it not far off carbon fibre competitors and it is still just a prototype. Explaining the technology in building the frame it truly is high tech with the actual wood components making up the frame honed down to a thickness of just 3mm. As Dan so succinctly explains, wood is made up of carbon thus wood fibres are a natural form of closely knit fibres not dissimilar to carbon fibres and so no reason why, using technology they are not as strong and as durable as carbon fibre.
Daniel, his wife Jasmin-Lee and his brother Pierce (an absent partner as he skippers boats on faraway oceans) have teamed up to form a business to build these wooden framed bikes. Daniel has showcased is prototype at cycle events in Cape Town and there is growing interest from the cycling community. Whilst the prototype is a fixed wheel version Daniel explains the frame is adaptable to any to road or mountain bike requirement and to individual rider preferences, within reason.As petrol prices rocket there is no doubt the cycling industry will grow. Sure some will buy the R1000 ‘gedonk’ from a chain store but as many will buy quality. With the wood construction set to cost around half that of a carbon frame equivalent, there certainly is a market for Dan’s bike out there.
Short term goals are to develop a manufacturing process locally whilst establishing a market for the technology. Obviously funding such a process is costly and Daniel is in the process of securing crowd funding so if there are investors in the area looking to get in on the ground floor of what could be a winning formula, maybe give Dan a call. Who knows such wooden construction may even have a place in the boat building industry.
More information is available from the VOLK BIKES Website https://www.volkbikes.com/
NOTE: The wood used in the construction of the bikes is all sourced from sustainable wood forest suppliers so Dan’s enviro friendly bikes are not destroying our forests.