Pals team up for eco-bike world record attempt


A group of friends are hoping to break a land-speed world record by riding this incredible bicycle – made entirely from wood.

Pals team up for eco-bike world record attempt

Michael Thompson, 41, took up the challenge to create a fully wooden bicycle after a friend bet him £1 that it was impossible.

The joiner and eco-designer has now won the money after spending six months creating a vehicle dubbed the Splinter Bike.

Every single part of the bicycle is wooden including the seat, frame, pedals and wheels, which propel the bike through a giant wooden cog.

Father-of-one Michael, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, is now hoping to break the land-speed world record for a vehicle built entirely from natural materials.

He said: ”This is when drunken bets go bad. It all came about when the Tour of Britain came to Norfolk last November and my friend came to my house to watch the cyclists whizz past.

”I have a bit of a reputation for making complicated things out of wood and I looked at the bikes and declared – ‘can’t be that hard’.

”Well my friend called my bluff – bet he never thought it would get to this. There were quite a few complications to overcome if I wasn’t to use metal components.

”People have tried to make wooden chains before but I realised that if I wanted to put any power into it, that wasn’t going to work.

”I overcame this by using wooden cogs for the pedal sprockets and rear wheel sprockets.

”Then, instead of connecting them with a chain, I have used a 128-tooth cog which turns the wheel four times for one turn of the pedal.

”It is 700mm in diameter and basically works like clockwork. I haven’t found anybody who has done this drive mechanism before.”

Michael undertook the £1 challenge in September 2010 and set about sawing, gluing and sanding in his garden shed.

He salvaged Ekki wood from the Norfolk broads for the axles and an old broom handle from his shed for the pedals and handlebars.

The frame, wheels and cogs are birch ply and he used oily ironwood in place of metal bearings where moving parts meet.

Now that he has completed the bike, Michael has challenged his friend to set the land speed record for a human-powered vehicle made from natural materials.

Father-of-two, James Tully, 37, hopes to hit 31mph on the 31kg bike, which has one fixed gear and no brakes.

James, a manager at the Royal Mail and triathlete, from Norwich, Norfolk, said: ”Nervous is an easy word to use. I train for triathlons and the thing you can usually rely on is the bike.

”My main concern is crashing at over 30mph on what is effectively a large wardrobe with no brakes.

”The friction I’m going to generate is also worrying. It’s fragile but heavy and will be hard to get moving – but it’s beautiful, a really amazing creation.

”It’s attracting a lot of attention and a documentary is being filmed so I’m going to have to up my game and lose some weight to be sure to put on a good show.”

For more information on the Splinter Bike visit


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