June 20 2013 Latest news:
by Stephen Pullinger broads correspondent
Friday, June 22, 2012
Designer Michael Thompson’s first bike made entirely out of wood set a world speed record, went on display at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum - and even inspired a movie.
Now, a new improved version of SplinterBike has emerged from his Broadland workshop, ready to go on display in a touring exhibition organised alongside the London Olympics.
The bike - SplinterBike Quantum - was unveiled at Quantum, a shopfitting firm in Diamond Road, Norwich, which answered his call for the use of computerised cutting equipment.
Mr Thompson, 42, of Bridge Road, Potter Heigham, will next week take it to Swansea where it will feature in a cycle-themed event outside the National Waterfront Museum.
It will then take its place in an exhibition - Adain Avion - touring Wales in the converted fuselage of a DC-9 aircraft as part of the London 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
Mr Thompson revealed that - in the great tradition of British eccentrics - the first SplinterBike had been built as a result of a £1 wager.
“When I was watching the Tour of Britain pass through Potter Heigham in 2010 I bet my friend James Tully it would be possible to make a 100pc wooden bike - and he said if I built it he would ride it,” he said.
He discovered it was not a world first - “a retired Polish plumber beat me to it with his Harley Davidson style designs” - but, with his friend riding, it set an inaugural world speed record for a wooden bike of 11.25mph.
The latest incarnation of SplinterBike was the result of 120 hours on the drawing board.
The 88 individual components then took 40 hours to cut on Quantum’s advanced machines.
“The people at Quantum were great to let me use their equipment and they even supplied materials,” he said.
“It took me a further 400 hours to carefully sand and prepare the components for assembly.”
Refinements not present in his prototype, which featured in SplinterBike - The Movie screened at Cinema City in Norwich earlier this year, include an adjustable seat and handlebars.
“Most of the bike is made out of birch plywood but I have also used ekki, a hard wood salvaged locally from disused quay heading on the River Thurne,” he said.
Broom handles have been the main source for the handlebars while Acle bowls club has provided old bowls used for the bushings.
Mr Thompson has already turned his attention to making SplinterBike Three on which his triathlete friend, a Royal Mail manager who lives in Long John Hill, Norwich, will attempt a one hour distance record for a wooden bike.
He said: “Quantum have supplied us with lots of spare parts so we are more like a F1 team now.”
An appeal has been launched for sponsors so they can hire an indoor velodrome for the latest record attempt. To offer sponsorship visit www.splinterbike.co.uk