Most of us would vividly remember the moment when we got our first bicycle and how the simple vehicle was the best possible companion as we went about exploring our surroundings during our growing years.
While things have changed over the years, and bicycles are rarely seen on roads and streets, there continues to remain a rare breed of cycling enthusiasts in cities and towns across India. They either find the time to cycle regularly or have made the permanent switch to cycling for their daily commute.
However, we are willing to bet that you have never come across a wooden bicycle!
No, we are not joking.
Coimbatore-based PK Murugesan is a cycling enthusiast, and when his regular bicycle was severely damaged in transit, he went ahead and designed one out of wood!
While wooden cycles are already a thing in western countries, the trend is yet to catch up in India, where cycles continue to have metal bodies that are often flimsy and susceptible to external damage. Also, the ones that are sourced from abroad are typically expensive.
An interior designer by profession, Murugesan had initially tried looking up a frame for his damaged cycle but couldn’t find one. Following research, he took to modifying his cycle using engineered wood or plywood frame.
Except for parts like the tyres, wheel rims, handlebar, seat, gear assembly, front fork and crank assembly, the entire cycle now has wooden fitments, giving it a sturdy body that can withstand external impact.
The Better India is partnering with Anvaya Foundation to donate bicycles to underprivileged children. To support the cause, you can either reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or call Sampath at 9663033699.
“I started it as an experiment. Also, as I had interest in environmental issues, I thought making a wooden bicycle would attract people’s attention (to bicycles), as they are one of the most important ways to tackle vehicular emissions, which account for a significant portion of global emissions,” Murugesan told The Times of India.
As expected, when Murugesan gave his bicycle a ride, many people stopped him on the way to inquire about this unique bicycle, and some even wanted one for themselves!
Word of mouth and excellent social media traction led him to consider making a venture out of this novel concept.
Murugesan took about 15 days to draft the design and construct the first wooden bicycle, which used tyres of city terrain bikes fit for paved surfaces, and spent ₹25,000 in the process. But he is working upon improving his design, which would bring down the cost to roughly about ₹18,000.
“In the future, I plan to use multi-terrain bike tyres which would be suitable for long rides too. I am also planning to incorporate a seven-gear assembly, an adjustable seat and a quick release front wheel,” he added.
Plans of registering his design and starting a firm for wooden bicycles are also in the pipeline.
Currently, the entire contraption weighs more than 30kg. Murugesan is trying to incorporate a hollow frame in place of the solid one he is using presently that will reduce the weight by almost half.
Although he has received many inquiries and requests for his wooden bicycles, Murugesan will begin with making a batch of 10 bicycles first that will also have the names of the buyers engraved on the frame!
The cost of a wooden bicycle in India cost starts from ₹1.5 lakh, and through them, he aims to augment the wooden cycle revolution in India, and that too, in an economical manner.
You can reach out to Murugesan at 9865005521.
(Edited by Gayatri Mishra)