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Sanomagic Wooden Bicycles

Ninth-generation Japanese shipwright handcrafts lightweight mahogany bicycles

by Graham Hiemstra in Design on 08 June 2011

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A ninth-generation shipwright, Sueshiro Sano has been making exquisite wooden products since he was in elementary school. But in 2008, drawing inspiration and technique from a lifetime of shipbuilding, the woodworker produced his first bike constructed entirely of mahogany, including frame, fork, seat, seat post, handlebars/stem combination and even rims.

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Using mahogany lends flex and responsiveness in a way no metal frame can, which in turn gives riders an elevated sense of control and increases pacing possibilities. A number of Sano's prototypes have been raced professionally, excelling in both ideal and inclement weather. In the three years since starting the project, Sano has handcrafted 11 of these fully wooden bicycles, making improvements that shave the average weight of his full builds down from 11 kilograms to around eight.

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Through this evolution, the original mahogany seat was eventually upgraded to include a slimmer profile and mahogany mounting rails. By replacing the original metal rails and joints with stronger and lighter mahogany, Sano reduced the total weight of the saddle and mounting rails from 230 grams to 160 grams.

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This year Sano began experimenting with more influential design improvements, most notably the implementation of a fully-integrated seat post. The development combines the seat post and seat tube into one continuous piece running from the bottom bracket to the seat, eliminating seat height adjustability—but offering an unmatched 100% tailored fit. The advancement also makes the bike lightweight, aerodynamic and responsive. Superbly conceived and executed craftsmanship like this extends to handlebar size and seat proportions as well, further proof of Sano's superlative ability and skill.

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Sano also makes unbelievably gorgeous boats and furniture, putting attention to detail and passion equally into each project. To keep tabs on the constant evolution of Sano's organic creations and his twelfth bicycle (now in the works) check out Sanomagic. If you dig what Sano is doing check out Renovo's take on the wooden bicycle.

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