Custom bikes come in all manner of shapes, sizes, and colours. When I first came across Andy Rowan and his Myrrh Cycles on Instagram, it reminded me of what I love about them: they’re an expression, and Andy’s are completely removed from all market forces.
Andy lives about ten kilometres up the road from me in the Sutherland Shire so I immediately grabbed the first opportunity I could to meet up with him and learn more about these wild wooden bikes he’s been working on.
Essentially, Andy is repurposing old steel mountain bike frames found at opportunity shops with wooden tubes that he turns himself, using reclaimed hardwoods and skills learned from his trade as a shipwright.
The idea of timber-steel bikes had been floating around Andy’s head for a while, and Myrrh Cycles was founded about halfway through 2016 once he had crystallized a plan to combine both his passions for cycling and woodworking.
During the day, Andy works as a shipwright at one of the marinas at Sydney’s Taren Point and it was here, after working solely for a few years on timber boats, that he found himself surrounded by the materials required to realize his idea.
The donor bike was a beaten-up rigid Europa MTB Andy found in the skip out the back of the marina, and there was an old coffee table in the same bin, made from a rainforest species of hardwood called Blackbean.
Andy sliced open the frame and replaced the tubes with the wood, after gluing two halves together so that the cable could be routed internally. They were then turned and glued back into the ‘lugs’ with an epoxy used at the marina for similar purposes.
The original saddle was reupholstered by Andy with an Italian deer leather jacket from a charity shop, which found its home on a custom brazed seat tube topper fabricated by Newtown’s Sean Killen.
The front rack was scored on eBay and modified by the boys at work, and Andy used more upcycled timber for the slats and then installed a camera bag from Vinnies. The tires also came from the opp shop, so the total cost for the bike was around $200.
Just goes to show how far a little love can go. You can see more of Andy’s work on his Instagram feed and at the Illawarra Festival of Wood on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October 2017 at the Bulli Raceway.
Myrrh Cycles Instagram