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Právo: Architect makes wooden mountain bikes

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Prague, June 8 (CTK) – Czech architect Martin Kaftan makes unique wooden mountain bikes in his garage, daily Pravo writes yesterday.
He has already sold them to 20 customers, mainly from the Czech Republic, but he would like to promote his bicycles, made of acacia wood, in the neighbouring Austria, Germany and Slovakia as well, LN says.
Kaftan lectures at the Technical University in Graz, Austria, where he is experimenting with digital and robotic production of wooden items.
“Since I ride a bicycle a lot, I decided to make a wooden frame,” Kaftan told Pravo.
He also deals with interior design and he has been inspired by models of foreign wooden bike producers. There are up to eight of them in the world, mainly in America, but only one or two can be compared to him in terms of the low weight and firmness of his products, he said.
“We are the only ones to have an EU official certificate for mountain bike wooden frames,” Kaftan pointed out.
He made his first wooden bicycle four years ago, but the path to the current advanced model was long. The frames were tested in the engineering institute first and the whole process lasted several months, Kaftan said.
With time, he managed to remove all shortcomings.
“The first frame weighed 3.5 kilos, the current one weighs 2.5 – carbon frames are only one kilo lighter,” Kaftan said.
The higher weight is compensated by a better riding comfort since a wooden frame can absorb vibrations more than the carbon one.
The frames are hollow, glued together from two halves.
Kaftan uses primarily acacia wood since it has the best proportion between firmness, hardness and persistence, he says. Since acacia trees are not growing straight in the Czech Republic, he imports the material from Austria, Hungary and Slovenia, Pravo writes.
Kaftan makes all the bicycles alone, while his wife and a friend help him with marketing. He says it is a combination of manual (70 percent) and machine work (30 percent).
“Every piece is original, tailor-made for the customer,” he told Pravo.
His wooden bike costs about 40,000 crowns, which is not so much for 100-hour work, he said.
He makes not only mountain bikes, but also wooden city bikes and he is considering building even road bicycles that should be lighter, Pravo writes.
($1=24.426 crowns)

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