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Me & one of my friends were looking to build a 4 wheel pedal bike. I wasn't sure what type of wood I should use for the job. I wanted a light but strong wood.

I was looking to have 2x4s in the form of an "X". And have the chain running above and below where the two pieces of wood meet, and the seat being above the chain. I have 10'' wheels for this build, but I can get other ones if needed. I have a sketched drawing of what I had in mind, but it is more chicken scratch than a blueprint.

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    Did you have any plans in mind that would could pair wood up with? Also is this for a child or adult? – Matt Sep 28 '15 at 14:29
  • I am a 15 year old, so... sort of between an Adult and a Child, I have a pretty good grasp of what I need to do for this project Blueprint wise and I have all the equipment needed (Saws, Drills, etc.) – Eisler 485 Sep 30 '15 at 2:51
  • Not sure I completely understand your question - are you looking to make the bike out of wood, or are you just looking to use wood to make a full size test of your design, that will later be made of metal/carbon? – FreeMan Oct 6 '15 at 0:07
  • @FreeMan I am looking for both sort of... If my design works well enough with the Wood I will just stick with the wood, but if it the wood is too heavy or it isn't sturdy enough I will change to a different material. – Eisler 485 Oct 7 '15 at 15:34
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Bamboo

My first thought would be to use bamboo which is a hardwood but mostly hollow so it would also be light as well. Plenty of plans out there that involve hybrid bike frames with bamboo. Like this one from instructables.com from BambooBiker

Bamboo Bike

You don't have to pigeon-hole yourself with hybrids like what is pictured above. You could easily make the entire frame from bamboo.

I have not built one myself but did look into it a couple of years ago. The great thing about the bamboo is you don't need to do a lot of shaping with the wood since it is already cylindrical in shape and lends well to modern bike designs. Note that there are many varieties of bamboo and they are all not as strong as the next. I have some bamboo that grows in Canada but it is not near the strength of the typical bamboo you would imagine.

Plywood

I would consider laminated plywood as well for its dimensional stability but the might jack up the weight a bit depending. So many wonderful pictures of these on the internet. You can see some with, what I will presume is, steam bent wood so the frame is one visual piece. There are some open frame plywood bikes as well (hollow inside as supposed to being a solid frame) so that would be a consideration as well. Between this and bamboo you would have an easier time acquiring plywood.

Oh be careful for cheap plywood. Some like baltic birch comes highly recommended.

Other woods

As for other woods I don't have any specific advice and more of a warning. Having a lighter weight wood could have a trade off of stability. Lightweight and durable don't always go together. Shock resistance would be a key feature as well. Some of the woods that do fit those criteria might be too expensive for use for a bike. This off course comes back to availability again.

  • I know the picture is not that of a 4 wheel bike but it should make my point. – Matt Sep 28 '15 at 14:46
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    @Eisler485 The thing about 2x4's, especially in big box stores, is that you would not be getting the best cuts of wood (very true with 2x4's which tend to have lots of pith and are commonly subject to warping). Sure you can pick the best ones in the store but you still need to be careful as you don't want to make it to have is warp on you slowly over time. – Matt Sep 30 '15 at 4:32
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    Yeah that last sentence was not write. I was trying to say that the wood you buy might look good now but once it normalizes it could still warp. Presision would be important for the frame – Matt Sep 30 '15 at 17:02
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    @Eisler485 Unless you are in a vacuum you will still have to worry about moisture and humidity which is more the problem. – Matt Oct 1 '15 at 15:30
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    Time can warp 2x4s because of the lack of quality. They have moisture in them from sitting outside, etc. They don't necessarily need to be exposed to the element to warp. – guitarthrower Oct 1 '15 at 15:46

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