Carbon is now the mainstay go-to bike frame, with some preferring titanium or an old school aluminium. There are occasional sightings of bamboo or wooden bikes. For the wooden bikes, most are built in the same way that a piece of furniture might be, in that they are formed from a block and shaped to perform the desired function. Our feature bike is a little different, the Lyrebird uses hardwood (and a few other materials) wrapped around mandrels to make tubes, which are then joined to form the bike. We have a Lyrebird riding around in the MWCC Bunch, so we thought we would swing a branch over with Rich Gearing.
This bike build came about as its owner has been in the bike game for a while and he also happens to have a taste for some of the more unique and exotic items that adorn our bikes. While many want the latest and greatest offering, some riders have an admiration for the art as well as the function. It is on this basis how ‘Woody’ came onto the Northern Beaches.
Before we get to the owner, we first have to go back and understand the creator of this offering. This ‘Wood Composite’ build approach came about because Mark Kelly, the man behind Lyrebird Cycles, set out to make the best bike he could using acoustic design principles. As odd as it may seem, wood – more specifically, seven different variants of hardwood – happened to be the answer.
The woods are used in combination with other materials chosen for mechanical and acoustic properties. Boron fibre, carbon fibre and basalt fibre feature in the tube construction; and more recently Mark has added flax fibres to this list. He alters the number of layers, layup, angles and composition of these layers, including which woods to use where, which composites to use where and whether to use unidirectional or bidirectional fabric for total control over the tube properties – something which will always evolve and be adapted in Mark’s frames as he moves towards producing for the buying public depending on the riding purpose, bike design and rider type.
The construction of a ‘typical’ Lyrebird tube can be seen here: [https://c4.
Mark has done a lot of research into his acoustic theory and material use. Reading through it, this statement stands out: “Putting all of this together, it appears that the incorporation of tonewoods in a manner which allows them to dominate the acoustic response of the frame achieves a unique balance of properties: the perceived responsiveness and connectedness of the bike on the road is improved by minimising the loss of energy in the range of frequencies which correspond to these desireable properties whilst the perceived harshness and chatter of the bike is diminished by maximising the loss of energy at these undesireable frequencies.” In short, and like it or lump it, his theory isn’t as ‘airy-fairy’ as it might seem – something to which I can attest wholeheartedly
The bike pictured here, still only the fifth frame built by Mark, has been built with a bang up-to-date oversize head tube and tapered fork, compact geometry and internally routed Di2. Then there’s the interesting finishing details like the lovely silver head badge and the gold branding on the down tube, and the speedboat-inspired finishing around the bottom bracket.
Looking at the finish and the componentry of the build, it shows that a lot of time and attention went into every bolt and part that was going to go onto this build. As highlighted earlier, think of it as art as much as function.
Lyrebird production methods and theory aside, this build is dripping in a host of delicious components – notably a whole host of kit from the German brand, Tune, ranging from the freshly released Krummes Stück layback seatpost to the ‘4.0’ version of the Tune mainstay Geiles Teil stem; and with a KommVor+ saddle, SmartFoot chainset, Schraubwürger seat clamp and carbon headset top cap to boot. These all arrived to complete the build via the incredibly helpful Krischan at EightyOneSpices [http://www.eightyonespices.
A set of the renowned light weight brakes from EE Cycleworks, Shimano’s Dura-Ace 9070 Di2 mechs & levers (since changed to SRAM etap since this photoshoot) and a carbon fork from Curve Cycling [https://www.curvecycling.com.
The owner has ridden and owned a lot of bikes in his time, including other custom bikes such as Baum. It is no word of a lie and should not be taken lightly when he states that this is right up there in his top three; and stands on the top step amongst that top three for almost every facet of the riding that he does.
If you want the full back story on how and why these Lyrebird bikes came to be, you can find that here [https://www.velocipedesalon.
This bike is in the semi-permanent possession of club member Rich Gearing (being a test bike, Rich has it on a ‘peppercorn rental’ basis). Rich is an experienced mechanic, having wrenched in bike shops in Sydney and wrenched in and managed high end bike shops in London. He is beginning to take on work out of his fully equipped garage workshop and, by appointment, will build your bike with you present so that you learn one-on-one. He can help you spec a build and source parts to pull your new build together, whether it be the specialised and unique parts you desire or your standard shimano or sram builds.
Rich is also beginning to take on bike painting work and is offering 5 spray jobs to club members as long as material costs are covered. So this could be your chance to turn your current steed into something more unique. If you want to discuss these opportunities with Rich you can contact him on firstname.lastname@example.org.