Thonet’s $70,000 Bike

08Oct12

Iconic furniture maker Thonet recently commissioned a bike to be made focusing on their legendary wood bending process. The company is best known for the No. 14 chair as it the best selling chair since it’s introduction in 1859, 8 years after the wood bending process was introduced at the 1851 World’s Fair. However, the beautiful designed bike lacks one huge component, there are no brakes.   pb

From Fast Company..

Andy Martin is a London architect who was tapped to reimagine Thonet’s steam-bent heritage in a new light. His studio designed the Thonet Bike, an absurdly beautiful beechwood bicycle produced in much the same way as Thonet’s chairs were over a century ago. “Initially we designed something along the lines of a Dutch traditional bike, as we thought this to be more on-brand, but soon saw the parody in the proposal,” Martin tells Co.Design. “We started to develop concepts moving away from the tradition and focusing on the material and the bending process.”

What Martin eventually created is the bike you see here–not a kitschy nod to the good old days, but a complete reimagining of Thonet’s hand-bent wood construction. It’s basically a Thonet chair with off-the-shelf carbon-fiber wheels, and somehow, it’s entirely lustable. “The raw formed Beechwood is very tactile and has a slightly ‘nude’ feel to it,” Martin explains. “We wanted the bike to have a progressive aesthetic and still feel handcrafted.” Indeed, if the bike were made of metal, it’d be right at home in a sci-fi film. Instead, it just looks like a fresh and fast piece of art.

Of course, Martin did turn to a few modern technologies to craft the bike. While the wood frame is enitrely steam-bent, CNC machines finished contours while carving the critical reinforcement joints. But beyond these loose notes on the construction process, we’re told, “the rest is a secret.” If you’d like a Thonet Bike of your own, they’re available in a bespoke limited edition for $70,000 apiece.”

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