Projects: Hoopy: the wooden bike you can build yourself
Boatbuilder Benjy thought it was a real shame that people weren’t woodworking in their spare time anymore. So in 2006 he decided to do something about that – and Woodenwidget was born. The company now designs and sells detailed plans for all sorts of beautiful, practical wooden items – including the stunning Hoopy wooden bicycle.
A well-known wooden bicycle builder once told Benjy that it wasn’t easy to design and make a wooden bicycle. “I love it when people say I can’t do something,” he smiles. “So not only did I make a wooden bicycle – I designed it to be easy enough for anyone to make one!”
Reviving woodworking as a hobby is the driving force behind the Woodenwidget business. Their ethos is for everyone to have a go at making something because it just feels good. The idea is that you just need a jigsaw, a drill and a plane and you can cut out all the pieces yourself in a few hours. “It’s hard to describe the feeling you get from making something yourself,” Benjy says. “Plus, with a design so distinctive as Hoopy, people will inevitably stop you and ask you who made it. You can look them in the eye and say ‘I did!’”
A finished Hoopy certainly is a thing of beauty. Featuring an epoxied wooden frame cut into a series of flowing circles, the quirky design is no doubt intended to turn heads wherever the rider goes.
However, no two Hoopy bicycles will ever look exactly the same – and that makes the design extra special. “The handlebars and wheels can all be salvaged. If you don’t like the ‘hoop’ design, you can also cut your own shapes in the frame – instructions are supplied. Plus you can varnish it, paint it or even wrap it in vinyl. The possibilities are endless!”
Not a fastener in sight
One of the most interesting features of Hoopy is that not a single fastener is used and the whole of the wooden structure is designed to be held together with epoxy . “Specifically WEST SYSTEM® epoxy,” says Benjy. “As a boat builder, I have been using WEST SYSTEM products for nearly thirty years.”
It’s the strength and consistency of WEST SYSTEM epoxy that Benjy relies on the most. “I have plenty of faith in it for a wooden bike. The frame has been tested with three adults on it (a total of about 200kg). I’m sure the wheels will collapse long before the frame fails, it’s that strong,” he smiles.
In fact, Woodenwidget uses and recommends WEST SYSTEM epoxy on all their plans. This includes their innovative folding boat designs such as Fliptail, Stasha, Origami and Foldak.
While the idea for Hoopy is something that Benjy’s been thinking about for some thirty years, he only made the design this year. However, he’s already looking ahead to other projects. “I have still to get over the Hoopy, but I suspect that next I’ll design another bicycle; maybe a DIY cargo bike. Whatever it is, it will be as unique as the other Woodenwidget designs and easy to build, that’s for sure.”
For more detailed information about Hoopy and the full range of Woodenwidget designs and to buy, visit www.woodenwidget.com.
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