After stumbling onto wooden rims and wooden handlebars he finally found his true internet Cycling love match – a wooden Renovo bike.
Introducing Marcel van Schie, here's his first Velo Aficionado blog where he shares his passion for building and riding bikes, especially 29ers.
My first clear recollection of meeting David was at a Mountain Bike Orienteering event out in the high altitudes and pine plantations of Black Springs, south of Oberon, in the central tablelands ofNSW. It had snowed at the event centre the night before the race and David, the organizer of the weekend, had camped out in the freezing cold and was showing some signs of the discomfort he had endured.
Carrying a heavy beard, flano shirt and big smile, I never imagined David to be a well respected materials scientist whose expertise was stone in buildings, in particular their facades, who soon became the manager of Australia’s largest private fine arts conservation business, International Conservation Services. The fact that he rode an aging rigid single speed with fluorescent paint accents added to my misconceptions. Furthermore, the next time I was to see David in Black Springs was at one of Wild Horizon’s now defunct but very popular ‘Polaris Challenge’ events, a 2 day bike navigation/touring odyssey, where David, as a ‘Dark Side’ volunteer, was dressed in full black and white drag to match the Rocky Horror theme for the weekend.
As with many interesting things in life, the details come slowly, and David and I have since enjoyed quite a few years of friendly rivalry racing silly single speeds at Orienteering events where it made absolutely no sense to do so.
When I found Jesus later in life, Jesus being the ‘Lord of Bikes’or 29ers, my endless crusade to convert those to the life changing ways of The Big Wheel ultimately succeeded with David, helped along no doubt by the final failure of his ancient 26” machine. So he ended up, surely enough, on another single speed, completely rigid still, but now fitted with big and fast wagon wheels. For a technical guy, David likes to keep his cycling simple. No gears, no moving suspension, no carbon, nothing special at all. This pains me enormously as I believe in magic sports drink potions, lightweight carbon components, high volume tyres with sealant and all the go fast things any marketer can put in front of me. Given this, I still considered his cycling life needed intervention, so on occasion I would email David modern and retro links to stir or harass him. It is obvious that from these he did surf and seek. After stumbling onto wooden rims and wooden handlebars he finally found his true internet Cycling love match – a wooden Renovo bike.
But why so much about David and I? What about the bike?
Well, this is not entirely about the bike. The thing is with this Renovo is that it’s made of wood. Well yeah ‘That’s obvious’. And? Well you must admit that wood is not the most conventional material from which to make a bike, especially an expensive performance based and completely custom made bike. This is where the eclectic nature and manufacture of the bike reflects that of its owner. The steed and the rider are, to those who would be reading this, related in a special way. When you have a bike which is so intricate, so beautiful, yet as a single speed wooden 29er so very obtuse and somewhat unconventional, you would imagine its owner would be someone with a special appreciation (or special needs!) of what something like this could bring to his riding life. So it is with this seemingly oddball structure/machine.
David committed to the frame manufacture and visited Renovo in Portland, Oregon to see their workshop firsthand, and make all those final little design decisions that make the big difference. Single speed it had to be, but with a concession to gears in the future, as he anticipated that this frame would live long for a hopefully even longer cycling career. The complexities of timber to metal bonding enforced an eccentric bottom bracket for the SS chain tensioning duties rather than sliders, which means either a bit of luck or half link chain will be used.
With my addiction to bikes now extending to the need to build at least one bike a year, David’s Badash project would serve as an excellent outletto prevent me fromcausing serious marital conflict through inappropriate and unnecessary bike procurement. Thank you, David!
The wait time was really quite long – about 8 months - as Renovo had problems with their CNC machine, but as you can see from the remarkable detail of machining in the pre bonding photo, without a working CNC machine there can be no frames. The frame now complete, in full Piano gloss finish, just needs shipping to Oz. As you can see it is almost more a piece of fine sculpture than a practical structure.
Components: The red and black component colour theme was determined, after David’s usual well considered thoughts, as imperative. The current photos show the first of the red anodising – in this case to the dropouts - which should match other red anodising details in the component mix and contrast nicely against the black which will be found everywhere else. This colour theme also forced the fork selection. I have become very fond of the current generation of Rock Shox Reba 29er forks – light, precise steering, very tuneable and with an air spring that isn’t so progressive that you are able to use all the travel easily. But try and get the thing in black. Impossible! Manitou to the rescue. More detail on the fork and the other chosen components and their performance in the next installment after David drops the goodies at my Man Land for their assembly.