The Mountain Bike Made from Hickory

Renovo’s hand-built wooden 29er frame is picking up rave reviews

Sporting Wood: The Renovo Badash 29er

Wood as a frame-building medium is not entirely new. The Cermenati family has been making Ghisallo wooden bicycle wheels in Italy for three generations, and wooden components have been showing up on one-off boutique bikes at events like the North American Handmade Bike Show going back to at least 2009.

Until somewhat recently, though, the thought of a complete wooden mountain bike frame was, well, unthinkable. Even Ken Wheeler, the owner and lead engineer of Renovo Bikes, which has been making production wooden bicycle frames in Portland, OR, for five years now, didn’t think the material could withstand the rigors of mountain biking.

But after examining test results of its road bike frames, Wheeler surmised that the impact strength of his hickory-based bicycle frames rivaled the strength of conventional metal frame tubes, and thus the “Badash 29er” was born.

This 5.5-pound frame is no show pony—it’s a production mountain bike frame made of CNC’d hickory held together with aeronautics-grade epoxy. New Zealand Mountain Biker magazine gave the Badash a glowing review. More recently Bike 198 has begun testing a frame stateside, and has already posted some real-world testing footage to prove it.

According to the company the frame is plenty strong to stand up to mountain biking. In testing the frame handled the simulated ton-and-a-half weight of a Volvo station wagon before yielding—as would anyaluminum, steel or titanium frame.

The Badash certainly isn’t for everyone, though. While some might be able to overcome their fear of reducing the frame to a pile of splinters, the $2,550 frame-only price tag will scare off plenty of prospective buyers.

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