Two years ago, maker Ritsert Mans embarked on a nature-inspired motorbike building adventure that would result in a wood-framed beach racer fueled by microalgae oil supplied by Peter Mooij. Still a work in progress, much of the bike is fashioned from wood – including the frame, handlebars and swingarms.
"The challenge for me was with every part of the bike to look to what nature could provide me," Mans told New Atlas. "Like cork for the damper and hemp spring for some reinforcement. With all my designs it should spark my imagination."
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The bike's frame and seat are made from steam-bent birch with hemp fiber reinforced mountings for the two point headset, glued together using plain old wood glue. There's a single-sided swingarm to the front made from birch and oak, with an oiled cork/oak damper an a cork insert to provide a compression zone in the spring. Attached to this is a spoked (non-wood) 23-inch wheel with drum brake.
The rear single-sided swingarm is made from solid oak, with some cork between the arm and the frame to allow for some travel. This holds a 21-inch wheel with "mechanical drum brake." Hemp fiber and birch were shaped and shaved to form the handlebars.
The powerhouse comes in the shape of a 500cc single cylinder fuel engine, which gets its "microalgae oil" from a 0.4 liter (0.1 US gal) tank and drives a belt to the rear wheel.
"Just like olives, microalgae produce oil," Mooij told us. "And just like olives, we can extract this oil from the algae. This oil can be used in a simple diesel engine without any pretreatment.
"Algae oil has some great advantages. Algae do photosynthesis and by this process algae convert CO2 from the atmosphere into oil. If this oil is burnt in Rits' motorcycle CO2 is emitted, but the amount of CO2 emitted exactly equals the amount of CO2 the algae took up from the atmosphere."
Mans told us that the motorbike seen in these images is not the final version, but a rough working version that "does the trick." Development continues.
You can see the motorbike zipping along a beach in the video below.