Why not opt for a wooden bike?
Last week, in the city of Antwerp (Belgium) opened the first and – for the time being – only Coco-Mat bike shop selling wooden bikes outside its homeland Greece. People wanting an environmentally friendly means of transport can simply choose for ‘an iron horse’… made from wood. The wooden bikes are considerably expensive, though.
Why wood for God’s sake? “Because it is a sustainable material”, Coco-Mat’s shop owner, Stefanos Alexopoulos’ answer. “We can make 50 bicycles out of one tree. We also plant a new tree in Greece for every bike we sell. The tree is called after the new bike owner.”
The idea for the wooden bike, however, originated with Alexopoulos’s godfather, Paul Efmorfidis. He once set off for a bicycle trip from The Netherlands to Greece, together with his son Willem. They suffered from several breakdowns of the bikes, so they decided to reinvent the bike themselves.
The wooden bikes have automatic gears, extra wide tyres and a torpedo brake system. They have a minimum of loose cables or components so they seldom show defects.
Price tag of the bike is impressive, though. A common model costs 1.800 euro, the e-version 3.500 euro. One explanation for these prices is that the bikes are completely handmade. The male model with high frame is called ‘Odysseus’, the female one with low frame is baptized ‘Penelope’. The child version is named after the son of the legendary couple: ‘Telemachus’.
Coco-Mat not only wants to do something for the climate but also for Greece. Buyers of a wooden are kindly invited to spend a few nights in the Greek hotels of the Coco-Mat hotel chain.
Question is whether consumers are willing to pay for such exclusive bikes? “I have the impression that people are actually spending a lot of money on a bike”, says Renaat van Hoof of the Antwerp bicycle association.
The bike itself draws people’s attention, that much is clear. It’s also comfortable, even on a cobbled road and it doesn’t feel… woodenly.