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.
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.
"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.
The fixed-wheel bike has a solid beech seat, carbon-fibre wheels and no brakes, and is available to order for £43,000.
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.
We previously featured a colourful update of Thonet's classic chair by Robert Stadler.
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.