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If IKEA made a bike, it might look like the Sawyer


April 3, 2013

The Sawyer is a lowrider cruiser bicycle, with a frame built from beech plywood

The Sawyer is a lowrider cruiser bicycle, with a frame built from beech plywood

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There was a time when wooden-framed bicycles were quite the oddity. While you still don’t see them much in stores, it’s now not that unusual to come across models such as the Lagomorph or Renovo’s duo bikes on the internet. The Sawyer, however, is a little different – it’s a lowrider cruiser bike, that’s quite obviously built from flat sheets of beech plywood.

The prototype bike was created by Dutch artist Jurgen Kuipers, and it won him an award at this year’s International Bicycle Design Competition. In its present form, it tips the scales at 25 kilograms (55 lbs). Although he created it as a one-off, there are now plans for commercial production.

“I received a lot of questions from people that are interested in buying, producing or distributing the Sawyer,” he told us. “At this moment, we are doing an inventory to select the right professional partners for that. The expectations are that we will succeed in that and be able to start production of the Sawyer on a short term ... The concept of the Sawyer as it is, makes it a very exclusive piece of functional art and I would like to give customers the opportunity to have a fully customized hand build version of the Sawyer.”

That said, he added that he’s also looking into selling a modular assemble-it-yourself version. In fact, there was initially some confusion in that regard.

Along with the full, functional version of the Sawyer, Kuipers also created a 1:1 scale non-functional model kit of the bike as a piece of art. The non-wooden parts of that kit were made from injection-molded plastic, and were all attached to a central plastic frame – just like the parts of a model airplane. Unfortunately, some media outlets thought that buyers would be expected to build the functional bike from the model kit, leading readers to rightfully wonder how things like injection-molded plastic shocks and chains could possibly work.

Jurgen Kuipers with his 1:1 model kit of the Sawyer

So, how much would you have to pay for a Sawyer of your own?

“Since we are still in the process of inventory, we haven’t decided yet or made the final pricing,” said Kuipers. “Therefore, we would very much appreciate any feedback from people who are interested in purchasing a Sawyer ... We are also considering an auction-type of selling, given the amount of time, the extreme high quality and the attention for detail we are going to put into producing the custom-made Sawyers.”

Interested parties can contact Jurgen via the first link at the end of this article. They might also want to check out the plywood-framed Bonobo, built by Polish artist Stanislaw Ploski – it will reportedly soon be available for purchase.

Source: Jurgen Kuipers via designboom

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

As a bicycle, it is absolutely useless. the ergonomics, the human interface. The fact that the drive side of the chain is deflected by x degrees. As an Ikea product it might score 6 on a 10 scale, as a functional bicycle maybe 1 or 2 - get a clue.


Now if he could find the right type of plastic, with a few genuine metal parts (sprockets, chain, cranks, wheels) you could knock one up over a weekend! Clever idea, but even in plywood, not very practical for genuine riders.

The Skud

why not wood laminate over aluminum? have your cake and....

hummer boy

The premise is semi-sound. Here's the problem. Even if taken care of. Wood is a degradable product. Bicycles get in weather. They will get wet. Even if they don't, plywood de-laminates. Pieces will need to be replaced periodically and will have a much higher tendency to crack and split.

A better solution to this would be steel reinforced composite decking. Problem is, it's heavy. But it would last. Weather and degradation becoming an almost non-issue.

Second problem in the ergonomics. That's a flat land bike. Great if you like where there are no hills.

In the article, the author hit it on the head. "Kuipers created the bike as a piece of art." It could be ridden, just not very well in all situations.


Fifty-five pounds? Nah.

Clay Jones

55 lbs a hog

probably too flexy to really ride, as well wle



You and woodyp are missing the point. This is a lowrider. Just like lowrider cars, those things are basically all show and no go. They're for low speed cruising on city streets and impressing people with looks. Lowriders aren't mountain bikes and performance and even comfort are very low on the list of priorities. The whitewall tires and black & white sprung leather saddle are there just for bling value. Likewise the disc brakes, not because they expect to need that kind of braking power. The swoopy wooden side panels just add to the looks, and that's all they care about.

As for the wood weathering because of exposure to water, boats and even entire ships have been made from wood for untold centuries. Water-resistant finishes like varnishes exist. Or just periodically rub the wood with refined linseed oil. And for the last few decades, marine-grade plywood has been available.

I do think that this might be a good way to test the geometry of a custom road bike before committing to cutting and mitering steel tubing and welding it.


I would live to get my hands on the build it yourself functional bicycle kit. I live where it is flat, I love low rider/cruiser bikes, both my kids bikes are burch wood, and I'm a bicycle mechanic. Plus I love what's new and hot, and havering everyone turn their heads. Overall this appears to be a great product with a unique marketing concept, and it is a piece of art.

Shannon Culberson
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