Wood Bike Status Update


As a semi-professional bike blogger ostensibly engaged in long-term product testing, it is my responsibility to apprise you of how things are going with the Renovo Aerowood:

They are going quite well.  In fact, since replacing the tires with 25s, they are going extremely well indeed.  This tiny bit of extra volume is exactly what the bike needed, and my only quibble now is that the clearance is rather tight:

Once in awhile I can even hear the unmistakable sound of herringbone on wood when I’m pushing it on a climb.  (Well I mean I guess it could be my knees, but I’m reasonably certain it’s the tire rubbing.)  However, since I took delivery of this bike Renovo have updated the Aerowood with clearance for 28s, so if you’re considering purchasing a Tan Tenovo for yourself you can rest assured you won’t set it on fire due to tire rub:

So should you buy a Tan Tenovo for yourself?  Well that’s between you and your financial advisor.  (And if you don’t have a financial advisor you probably have no business considering an expensive wooden bicycle.)  All I know is that my opinion of the bike has evolved thusly:

  • Before getting the bike: Intrigued by the novelty factor and an excuse to make gratuitous wood puns
  • Shortly after receiving the bike: Impressed by the exquisite craftsmanship but also kind of embarrassed by it at the same time
  • Shortly after riding the bike for the first time: Wow, it feels great, but what’s that creaking?  I bet it’s broken
  • Once I’d solved the creaking by tightening the bottom bracket: I really like riding this bike
  • Today: All bikes should be made of wood, metal and crabon is for vulgarians

By the way, I really did think the bike was broken due to some very small cracks I found early that turned out to be merely cosmetic.  Had I been a paying customer Renovo would have replaced the bike immediately, but I am not a paying customer so I have no problem riding an aesthetically imperfect specimen.  (In fact even though I’m not a paying customer Renovo were ready to swap the bike, but I declined since it seemed like a waste of everybody’s time.)  As for the creaking, as mentioned above it turned out to be a bottom bracket in need of tightening.

Something else to consider when contemplating ownership of a wooden bicycle is the attention you’ll get.  The most common question people have is, “Is that wood?,” and if they’re cyclists they then follow up with “What kind of wood is it?,” to which I reply “I don’t know” since I really don’t know without checking the website.  [*Checks website* it’s wenge and maple.]  Then I realize they must think I’m a giant asshole for riding an expensive wooden bike and not knowing what it’s made from; I mean, imagine someone on a titanium bike who couldn’t tell you what kind of metal it is.  (Though to be honest they probably think the guy on the wooden bike is an asshole even before they start talking to him.)  So I make sure to add that it’s not actually my bike and that I’m testing it, but then I get depressed because it occurs to me they clearly don’t read my blog or have any idea who I am.

I’ve got a lot of hangups.

Ultimately though my only quibble about the bike is still the fact that it only has one water bottle mount, which I’ve mentioned about a thousand times before.  However, the Drysdale has zero water bottle mounts so I guess that makes the Renovo 100% better:

Too bad you can’t drink a decal.

If I were Renovo, which of course I’m not, I’d offer a “race” version of the Aerowood appointed thusly:

  • Two water bottle mounts
  • A slightly shorter headtube
  • Disc brakes

Not that I think road bikes need disc brakes by any means, but it seems to me that if you’re going to make a high-end Di2-only wooden Fred toboggan you might as well go for the whole schmear, especially since whoever’s piloting such a toboggan is invariably going to want crabon wheels.  (The braking has quieted somewhat, but there is still occasional shrieking under the right circumstances.  Then again, that probably happens with road discs too.)

In all, I’ve become quite attached to the bike, and I’d go so far as to say that in terms of both feel and finish it’s the nicest one I’ve ever ridden.  (Yes, “nice” is a vague adjective, but that’s intentional.)  And it does look good in the early morning sun.

Can’t say the same for me.