NAHBS 2013: Mahogany, copper, film-dipped & more

Surprising finishes on handmade bikes in Denver

Ornate, inlay wood designs aren’t too uncommon on jewelry boxes. But on a bike?


From copper-plated and film-dipped fat bikes to a nearly all-wood Softride-style road bike, outlandish finishes are almost commonplace inside the North American Handmade Bicycle Show.

Very few bolts or screws are used to connect the wood. most of the junctions are made with epoxy and molds: very few bolts or screws are used to connect the wood. most of the junctions are made with epoxy and molds
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Most of Owen’s wood tubes are bonded together. The head tube is aluminum with a veneer wrap

Here we take a look at four bikes: the mahogany, ash and hickory road bike by Owen Cycles, the copper-plated fat bike of Vice Cycles, the metal flake paint of Samsara Cycles, and the film-dipped fat bike from Doz Bicycles. 

Inlay work on a mahogany chain stay: inlay work on a mahogany chain stay
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Slivers of stained wood are set into Owen’s chain stay


Ken Stolpmann is a wooden boat builder from New Zealand who has made his home in Michigan for the past six year. The bike he displayed at NAHBS is his second wood bicycle. The first one was geared, and Stolpmann said he had “flex issues with that one.”

This frame uses molds and epoxy to hold most of the key parts together. The vast mahogany down tube is formed from two halves molded together. The head tube usually an aluminum sleeve with a veneer wrap.  

The hickory top tube is bonded to the down tube, with bolts used only to attached the seatpost. The ash chain stay is bolted to the dropouts from the inside.

This owen bike features mahogany, hickory and ash wood:
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar


Eric Doswell showed his first fat bike at NAHBS.

Dubbed the “edoz”, the frame features a film-dipped graphic treatment.

Eric doswell used film-dipped graphics for his fat bike:
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar

“Film-dripped, or hydrographics, refers to spraying paint on a film on water,” Doswell said. “You spray an activator onto the film, which turns it into ink. Then you dip the frame into it.”

Here is a 25-second YouTube clip showing the film-dipping process with a guy painting his hand with carbon fiber film.

Hydrographics for the crown: hydrographics for the crown
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Film-dipped graphics on Eric Doswell’s fat bike

Copper-plated and metal flake paint

The Lincoln from Vice Cycles in Boise, Idaho, is a pretty penny that weighs more than a few rolls of one-cent coins. The frame and multiple components were copper-plated for the show.

‘The lincoln’ from vice cycles in boise, idaho : ‘the lincoln’ from vice cycles in boise, idaho
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Who’s counting grams? It’s a fat bike!

Samsara Cycles’ show bike also used some heavy metal for its finish, but in much more sparing quantities. The flake powder coat on its mountain bike adds more sparkle than weight.

A heavy metal flake powder coat on a samsara: a heavy metal flake powder coat on a samsara
Ben Delaney/BikeRadar
Not-so-heavy heavy metal flake powder coat on Samsara

Click through the photo gallery at above right for more images.