My grandfather had a great passion for woodwork and the time I spent in his workshop, my nostrils full of the scent of wood shavings and sawdust, instilled within me a deep appreciation for the craft. The frames by Portland’s Renovo Bicycles are, compared to Pa’s turning, a whole ‘nother level.
You don’t need a fondness for fine woodwork to admire the skill required to build one of these frames, but you do need an open mind. I remained dubious until I picked up their Badash 29er from City Bike Depot today for a photoshoot, but a close inspection revealed a reassuring solidity.
Renovo did a fine job of convincing me of the advantages of using wood for an MTB frame on their website. This ain’t no wall hanging, it’s destined for a damn good thrashing. Its new owner is David West, a materials scientist and an accomplished ‘mountain bike orienteer-er‘.
David collaborated with his friend Marcel van Schie, contributor to Velo Aficionado, on the component selection. Marcel is a strong advocate of 29ers and was able to advise David on a list of parts that would hold the Renovo in good stead on the trails.
The Badash 29er, despite its name, is constructed from hickory and has been tested successfully for impact and strength against tubes of aluminium, steel and titanium. Wood provides a naturally smooth ride, yet is, impressively, extremely stiff. “Tough as old hickory”, indeed.