High-end mountain bikes are typically built of space-age composite and lightweight alloy materials. But Mike Mahoney, founder of Grand Junction, Colorado’s Savvy Cycles, has never been one to accept what’s typical. His company produces a line of modern-as-today mountain bikes with one important difference: Like the earliest bikes, his are made of wood. But unlike fragile early bikes, Savvy Cycle’s products easily stand up to the most challenging mountain trails. It took Mike almost two years to design, test and perfect the manufacture of a wooden bicycle frame, a process that his Laguna Tools’ Swift 4X4 CNC Router has taken from prototype to production status.
Mike bought his Swift 4X4 about four years ago and immediately applied his extensive experience as a furniture and cabinet maker, longboard skateboard manufacturer, woodworking teacher, and avid cyclist to his bike project. “Wood has excellent natural strength-to-weight ratio and vibration-dampening qualities,” says Mike. “But it’s the Swift that makes our bike possible. It’s one thing to design a wooden mountain bike. It’s quite another to build one. The frames of Savvy Cycle’s bikes are hollow and laminated from hickory or ash. We use the Swift to machine them, inside and out. Then we join them together to form a monocoque (one-piece) frame. It’s a complex mechanical process. But the Swift takes it in stride.”
“The Swift does things you just can’t do by hand,” continues Mike. “Even better, it does them much faster and more accurately. Changes are easy, too. We can reprogram it in a fraction of the time that it would take with a template router. We don’t just use it on wood, either. We regularly cut aluminum with it.”
The woodworking teacher in Mike comes through when he comments, “One thing that’s often overlooked about a CNC machine is it’s much safer to operate. Unlike a template router, an overhead router takes the operator away from the cutting heads and moves the material through the cutter or shaper
What’s ahead for Mike and Savvy Cycles? He recently introduced his newest bike, a wood “fat” (tire) model. He’s also giving serious thought to adding a Laguna Tools bandsaw to his shop. “We learned a lot along the way to building our bikes,” he concludes. “Don’t limit your imagination and have the right tools to make your ideas come to fruition.” At Laguna Tools, we’re pleased that Mike has chosen us as a riding partner.
- Swift 4×4 CNC Router
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