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The Mission Impossible of Building A Wooden Bike

By Martin Mrazek

The story of Dřevák Bikes sounds little bit like a cycling version of Mission Impossible. Creating a wooden frame, which wouldn’t break at the first sight of a pothole, seemed impossible even to skilled and experienced craftsmen, but that only made Ondřej Čarňanský want it to happen even more.

It took him a whole year of after-hours work. But with the advice and comments from other bike mechanics, bike builders, professional cyclists, a national team trainer and a university professor with a passion for wood and mechanical engineering, he succeeded. The prototype was born and it surpassed all of Ondřej’s expectations. He proudly calls it “the Rolls-Royce of bicycles.”

He proudly calls it “the Rolls-Royce of bicycles.”

Soon after the prototype was built, people started to make such inquiries as whether they could buy one of these bikes themselves. Ondřej Čarňanský would love to sell them, but first he’s got to raise money for the ISO quality certification. You can support his effort on his crowdfunding page.

This project is so unique we couldn’t really ignore it. That’s why we sat down with the creator to have a little chat about his company and plans for the future.

Dřevák Bikes is, in view of the fact that Czech market is rather small, a globally oriented brand. Why did you keep the Czech word “Dřevák”?

Everything, including the content of our website created in 4 languages, was made as a tryout project. I wanted to know, if there would be a real demand for this product. It is true that Czech market is quite small, so we thought about a fun name that would be easily pronounceable for foreigners. For example Woodoo came to our minds, but then I realized that man should be a little more proud of his mother tongue. Plus there are brands, which succeeded with Czech names – for example Škoda Auto or Baťa. This way, every foreigner asks about the meaning of the word Dřevák immediately.

(Dřevák means two things in Czech – a clog and someone with “wooden” hands – a clumsy human individual)

Dřevák means two things in Czech – a clog and someone with “wooden” hands - a clumsy human individual.

In what way is your product different from other wooden bicycles?

It’s a completely different frame. New technologies enable you to create something completely different from the bikes made 100 years ago. They are practically the same as the current carbon production bikes. It’s not my original idea though, I admit that. You can find other companies making wooden frames these days, but mine is different. I try to find my own, possibly even better, technological solutions. My tubes might seem a bit asymmetrical even, but it pays off in better handling and overall on-road performance.

How do you test your bikes?

I’m my own crash-test dummy. The prototype has done a couple of thousand kilometres riding in both mild and extreme conditions. I’ve done MTB marathons, triathlons, all sorts of things with no trouble, but the ISO quality certification is also planned.

New technologies enable you to create something completely different from the bikes made 100 years ago.

How long does it take you to build one bike?

They’re all handmade, which is a limiting factor. So the realistic prediction is one to two months per piece.

What’s the plan for the upcoming months?

I’d like to have the ISO quality certification done and start building Dřevák Bikes full time. I’m also working on a bike for children. It should be extremely light – around 6 kilograms per whole bike, which is a big difference from the normal weight of 10 kilograms for a child weighing around 25 to 30 kilograms. Just imagine an adult weighing 75 kilograms riding a 30-kilogram bike. Crazy, right?

It is. Thank you for your answers, Ondřej.

No problem!