It's all about the bike. In the summer of 2011 Matt Raphael + Heath Korvola met in Portland, OR while building a bike. Part of a small team assembled for a single summer through the University of Oregon's Product Design program, the two like minds worked together on the Mini Velo project. The result, as you can see, is one unique cycle specimen - a true team collaboration. It went on to win the student competition at the Oregon Manifest and an IDEA Student Gold Medal. It has been featured in numerous media outlets including The Wall Street Journal, Cool Hunting, Treehugger, Core 77 + many more.
“The U of O came in with a naïve, fresh, creative approach. They weren’t locked in to a traditional version of a bike. There were more beautiful bikes out there, but theirs was fresh – the future.” Tinker Hatfield, legendary Nike design guru.
The bike-design passion took hold, and soon, visions of wooden bikes became prototypes; some working, some flexible, and some downright dangerous. But each was a stepping stone to the next innovation. We worked with Bamboo plywood, trying to create a relatively easy-to-reproduce frame out of sheet goods.
Cutting two, matching halves, and clam-shelling them together to form the hollow, monocoque frame, we had created a simple process which eliminated the intricate joinery typical with a wooden bike.
Through trial and error, we tested geometries, materials, glues and fabrication methods. Often we were our own crash-test dummies. But give up, we did not. And when we realized that we were no longer able to rely on the glue-ups and short grain direction of the bamboo plywood, that led us to the latest version, the Woodsman - a bentwood bike. We wrapped up the prototype in September and exhibited it at the Oregon Handmade Bike Show, to great reviews and a second place in the People's Choice. We will continue to refine it and hope to have it available to the public soon.