Thonet Concept Bike
by Andy Martin Studio


Product news: London designer Andy Martin has designed a wooden road bicycle for Thonet using the steam-bending processes the German furniture company first employed in 1859 for its classic cafe chair.

Thonet Concept Bike by Andy Martin Studio

Though much of the beech frame of the Thonet Concept Bike is bent by hand, the final jointing and contours would be CNC-cut. A series of connectors and sprung rods have been designed to reinforce joints and stress areas in the frame.

Thonet Concept Bike by Andy Martin Studio

"The challenge was to take on the fairly low-tech process of steam bending and then apply it to a 21st century bicycle with highly complex engineering," says Martin.

Thonet Concept Bike by Andy Martin Studio

The fixed-wheel bike has a solid beech seat, carbon-fibre wheels and no brakes, and is available to order for £43,000.

Thonet Concept Bike by Andy Martin Studio

The classic Thonet chair (pictured below) was first produced in the 19th century by German furniture maker Michael Thonet and can still be seen in cafes more than 150 years later.

Thonet Concept Bike by Andy Martin Studio

We previously featured a colourful update of Thonet's classic chair by Robert Stadler.

Recently on Dezeen we've featured a folding bicycle with full-size wheels and a bicycle that grows with your child.

See all our stories about bicycles »

Here's some more information from the designer:

At the end of 2010, London-based designer Andy Martin was asked by Thonet to design and develop a concept road bicycle using their steam bending process developed in the 1930s. Andy Martin Studio developed three designs, the last of which was selected because of its beauty and modest connection with the heritage of the company.

"The challenge was to take on fairly low-tech process of steam bending and then apply it to a 21st century bicycle with highly complex engineering," says Martin. With the many restrictions of hand bending the beech frame, the final jointing and contours would be cut and adjusted on a CNC machine.

Andy Martin has also developed a series of connectors and sprung rods to reinforce joints and the major stress areas in the frame.

The bike itself is a fixed wheel, which is the tradition of cycling one has a greater connection to the bike and the surface one rides on. The bike comes with no brakes and has several interchangeable gear ratios. The seat is solid beech wood supported on a sprung rod supports. The wheels, not designed by Martin, are carbon fibre HED H3s.

The bike will be available in limited edition and cost £43,000.

  • Charlie

    Is this virtual reality?

  • Max

    This design does not embody the stability a professional bike is supposed to.

  • Markdev

    As a cyclist I would say it looks as comfortable and responsive as the original cafe chair! There is a reason professional road bikes are made from carbon fibre and not wood.

  • Paul Lemarquis

    This is the one of the most beautiful bikes ever. What a masterpiece, at least visually though for its price I guess the performance must also be pretty amazing. The front view is the only thing that unsettles me. The shape of the handle bar from the form is too large.

  • andy

    Can’t we see some photographs of the original bike? I don’t think the rendered one would last long. The prototype must be quite different I believe. Anyway, I like the idea.

  • vic_mon

    As an innovation design engineer I recognise the bike’s beauty. However, this frame would never work in just steamed wood. There’s not a single triangle, it would wobble all over the place. Also the fact that you’re showing a rendering, without thought out connections and calling it built bothers me.

  • omnicrom

    More to the point, there's a reason why bikes in general use the triangle as a basic geometry for their frame! This goes against structural logic and what makes bikes beautiful objects in the first place. There is no engineering though gone into this, no consideration for efficiency, standardised parts nor even how this would work. This is just utter design wankery, pure aestheticism and pointless in the extreme.

    In short, everything that is wrong with design and society at large today.

    • Charlie

      Well done Omnicrom. Somebody had to say it.

      I don't think this is an isolated piece of fiction.

  • Fresh but this 3D model needs a bit more detail indeed.

  • LanceArmstrong

    Is this project really for Thonet or a student project with Thonet as a fictive client? For the reputation of Thonet’s sake I certainly hope its the latter.

    Otherwise I dont understand why such a reputable company promote a project that yet needs to be proven. The story about the collaboration is very thin and doesn’t include Thonet’s view on the project. And why the questionable images? Even the picture of the Thonet chair itself seems a low-res screenshot. Not to mention the pricetag. If it really is this “limited edition” Thonet bicycle, it might be better to publish the number of the edition than the price.

    • Andy Martin

      Surely you’re the only fake here!

  • urbancountryside

    This is awful, just awful.

    And if I EVER see Alejandro Valverde (poor Alejandro) riding one of these abominations, I will pay the £43,000 (forty-three THOUSAND pounds!) and eat the goddam thing!

    • Paul Lemarquis

      The price is also pretty ridiculous.

  • si


  • Chris

    O come on! That’s a rendering, no bike. It’s completely obvious that it doesn’t work. Why do you post this stating “has built”? It’s just not true.

  • damian

    Is Andy Martin working at Dezeen?

  • Oli

    Renderings make everything possible!!!

    As a rendered image the bike looks really cool. But come on this is nothing but a nice rendering. The frame would never stand the power of a pedalling biker, the jump over a road hole or a strongly brake after a downhill trip! Than I miss all the other necessary features for an effective riding such as a height adjustable seat post, a changeable stem and bar…

    I’m really disappointed that those show-off pieces always grab so much attention in the blogs!

  • Hi,

    Thanks for your comments – we've amended the post to clarify that this is a design for a concept bike. We've also asked the designer to send us more information and images as they become available.


  • anders ekström

    I dont like this. It’s a bad idea and it will not work.

  • Hi,

    Andy Martin Studio has been in touch to explain that these are 3D development images of the prototype. They also added that the bike is in physical production now and is a functioning bike.


  • As sculpture; beautiful. As a bike; contrived.

    One crash away from the worst splinter man has ever experienced!

  • lincoln brown

    For those who believe a bicycle must have two triangles to perform, take a look at Chris Boardman’s Lotus or Graeme Obree’s homemade ride for two of the fastest bikes ever ridden. The UCI went so far as to *require* the double triangle frame for competition in order to level the playing field!

    I think it is a beautiful object, and perhaps it may work. I highly doubt it will ever be ridden/raced by a pro or amateur racer unless as part of some crazy dare. And there aren’t many cyclists who could afford it anyway! I think the Photoshop’d Valverde was a designer’s joke. It got a smile from me!

    Also, Renovo makes gorgeous wood bikes that are race-worthy and within most normal budgets.

  • fartman

    This frame is not stiff to torsion. Imagine a powerful standing start. Total bulls**t.

  • ladieda

    This is more something for a CG forum. 'Look how cool a bike I 3D modelled!'

  • Lee

    Try climbing L'Alpe D'Huez on that!

  • hull

    I don’t think this would “work” but, as a concept, it’s interesting. What maybe rubbed people the wrong way is the photoshopped pro cyclist as if this was all about performance. Being Thonet, they could have gone for a less sporty and more leisurely style, that’s my only point.

  • Markaj

    Did magic mushrooms have anything to do with the design process here?

  • chris tenn

    I like the bike design! It’s a vastly improved version from the Fred-Flintstone era! :-)

  • dunkie dribble

    Virtual. Looks quite ugly. Not practical. Try harder.