Allow us to introduce the Urban One from Guapa Cycles, a UK-made, wood-framed urban bike. You wooden believe how excited everyone at BikeRadar got at the arrival of this unusual bike – and not just the bike nerds!
Guapa Cycles put down its roots nine months ago when brothers Tom and Harry Williams joined forces. Their goal was clear – to create the world’s most highly engineered wooden bicycles. Tom has previously worked in the surf and snowboard industry, while his academic background is in engineering. His brother’s experience in the world of finance made him the ideal person to branch out into the world of bikes with.
Like many great British success stories, this one started in a shed and, after plenty of experimentation in their grandmother’s outbuilding in Devizes, the brothers created the Urban One.
In today’s world of high-modulus carbon and triple-butted tubing the Urban One is certainly going against the grain. It’s produced from a combination of bamboo and flax; the former gives the frame its structure and aesthetic, while the latter adds strength and impact absorption.
Each frame is then protected with a special UV and water-stable coating that prevents water ingress and maintains the natural aesthetic of the material. The claimed weight figure for a frame is 3.3kg (7.28lb) – not a low figure, but Guapa says these early bikes are over-built and is sure that there’s scope to save weight in the future.
Plastic bumpers under the lacquer of the frame act as protection for when the bike is leant on something
Unlike other wooden bikes and specialist frames, the Urban One was always intended to be mass produced. The self-aligning assembly is said to be very scalable and the brothers have already produced four prototype frames in just two weeks. The environment is considered throughout – all bamboo is sustainably sourced from a Dutch company with a UK agent in Swindon. Similarly, the flax used is grown in France, woven in Italy, then pre-impregnated with Guapa’s own resin in the UK.
The prototype we’ve got our hands on is loosely based on a spec that Guapa intends to sell for around £2,500. It comes with a Gates belt drive paired to a continuously variable NuVinci hub.
The firm is currently preparing to take pre-orders for an initial production run of the Urban One, and also intends to offer a singlespeed/fixed option for £2,100 and has set its sights on further growth, with a Dutch-style bike and a folding design in the pipeline.
What do you think of the wooden Urban One? Is Guapa barking up the wrong tree, or will this UK acorn grow into a mighty oak? Will it be poplar straight off, or does it need sprucing up a bit first? Stick around and we’ll bring you a full review soon.