Wooden Motor Bike build: my COVID project

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For some people COVID lockdowns have led to periods of intense creativity. For Maker of the Year awards entrant Steve Roper, making one part of a wooden motor bike just kept leading to making another. Steve explains.

Words and photos: Steve Roper, NSW

In April 2020 the school which I work at went into lockdown due to COVID. I work as a storeman-cum-workshop tech for the industrial arts department.

In the photo of the bike you can see that I have used many species of wood. These were left over from HSC student projects plus remnants from general woodworking, pallets – whatever goes in the bin which is made of timber I would try and reuse it. Every now and then I would take home with me some of the scrap wood which would have ended up in landfill some where.


When I visited the UK I remember going to a motor bike museums and seeing a bike made of wood. I said to myself: I could make one out of wood based on a 1958 BSA Bantam D5.

I first thought I would try my hand at making a small part of the bike, so I took off the brake handle on the BSA and copied it in some blue gum. I did the same to the clutch handle, and from here on kept making the small parts until I had no choice but to learn as I went on how to make the bigger parts, wheels and engine.


I then got to a point where I wanted to do something different, I wanted to be able to take the bike apart later on for show and tell with out having to try and put it on the back of my ute on my own, so I made all the nuts and bolts out of wood so then I could unscrew most parts, handle bars, seat, engine, wheels, exhaust, etc. Now I can pull the bike apart and place the parts in boxes.

I spent a lot of time figuring out how to make threaded timber rods. As you do, I went on Google and put together all that I could to mimic cutting the rods. I managed to make my dowel rods out of merbau at diameter sizes 6mm, 8mm, 10mm and 12mm and nuts to suit.


It wasn’t long before we were all back at school, however I continued making parts in my workshop after school at home. I would prepare my evening meal and then go back into my workshop for three to four hours. That would happen every night and on weekends – I would be in the workshop all of Saturday and Sunday. This went on for nine months, and thousands of hours later it was ready. The bike is 100% made of wood, scale 1:1 full size. Not one steel pin, the wheels turn, the chain drives and the tool box has modified hinges.

Steve Roper's "Covide Project" wooden bike is entered in Maker of the Year awards, Arts & Objects category here.


Enter Maker of the Year awards presented by Carbatec at www.woodreview.com.au/moty2021









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