Premiere at TOUR Transalp: Alp crossing with wooden bikes

11.04.2019 - 15:02

They are rather comfortable than classical racing machines. Still: These two guys from South Africa will cross the Alps with handmade wooden bicycles.

Kyall Goodman and Ivan Groenhof will take up the TOUR Transalp challenge on very special bikes, crafted by David Stubbs in the village of Scarborough on Cape Peninsula. The bikes are made from European White Ash, “a strong and beautiful wood ideally suited to the task”, as Kyall and Ivan knows.

David Stubbs, a legendary surfboard and guitar maker, has been perfecting the art of making wooden bikes since 2014 and by now he is able to offer his unique bikes to discerning customers.

Although these bikes are not thoroughbred racing machines – with a total weight of 9 kg and a frame of 1,8 kg they are heavier than their carbon cousins – they show several advantages. “For us it is all about comfort”, says Kyall. “We’re going to be spending long hours in our classic Brookes saddles and we want to be as comfortable as possible.”

Better grip on the road

The two cyclists are still testing various options, but probably they will ride the TOUR Transalp with gravel bikes with a 1x11 drive. “We have chosen this type of gear ratio due to a large amount of climbing that the Transalp demands”, says Kyall. “Ivan and myself would like to climb well, relax on the downhills and keep up on the flats, plus have a bike that’s simple and easy to maintain with less components might need attention.”

Unlike materials such as carbon fibre, wood does not fatigue with age, it only looks better and maintains its strength, Kyall explains.  Plus: Wood is more compliant for a smooth and compliant ride and takes the edge off riding on uneven, bumpy surfaces. To strengthen high stress areas of the frame, Stubbs uses carbon fibre.

The wooden bikes have wider, tubeless tyres (28mm). Kyall: “We can ride them at a lower pressure and this will give us better grip on the road and a more comfortable ride.  Plus, going tubeless means less hassles with punctures.”

Dreaming of high mountains

The South Africans will be going with hydraulic disc brakes as they have found them to be great performers in all types of weather “and they will hopefully give us the confidence to ride those steep descents.”

And the prize of the wooden bikes?  Kyall: For a custom frame you’re looking at around 2000 Euro, complete bikes with high end components start at around 5000 Euro.

For the duo the TOUR Transalp will be the first attempt at a multi-stage event. Primarily they are recreational cyclists who simply love to cycle. Although “we both certainly do have more than a hint of competitiveness in our bones”, Kyall admits. “I have always been a keen cyclist and have dreamt of riding high mountains. Ivan, my good friend and colleague, less of a cyclist but a great outdoor enthusiast, has taken up the Transalp as a personal challenge.“

Most mornings and in all weathers you can find them out on the road, riding in the spectacular Cape Peninsula. “We are putting in the hours so that we can ride the tour hard, yet still enjoy the spectacular scenery and most importantly, are able to start each new day in good shape.”

Picture: Kyall Goodman (left) and Ivan Groenhof will take up the TOUR Transalp challenge on wooden bikes.

bird 2020