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A Group of Crafty Italians Finally Designed and Built a Gravel Bike From Wood

Folks, we may have reached the peak of cycling technology with this one. I'm talking about Ornus and their freshly unveiled gravel bike, a piece of CNC-milled wood suitable for the sort of riding we never dreamed of on a wooden machine.
Ornus 15 photos
Photo: MLK Innovazione Srl
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That's right, people; Ornus, an Italian cycle manufacturer with absolutely no presence in the cycling market except with the stunning machine we'll discover today, has recently unveiled a gravel bike unlike any other around: it's made of friggin wood!

While that may be nothing new, what is new is how this puppy is brought to life and what you can do with it. So, hang on tight for the next few minutes, and get ready to grab your checkbooks for what could be your neighborhood's, city's, and even state's only Ornus bike.

So, what the hell are we looking at here, and how did this machine come to be? Well, as I mentioned, a whole lot of info about Ornus doesn't yet exist. But, what we're told is that this project has been in the works for years, and only now does this crew feel they can offer you a bicycle that is, indeed, worth every penny of its €6,800 ($7,400) starting price. Depending on the drivetrain setup you choose, you can end up paying up to €8,300 ($9,000 at current exchange rates).

I know, I know; it's quite a whole lot to be paying for a gravel bike, but then again, is it? After all, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and if you ask me, this is one juicy and stand-apart two-wheeler and one that's sure to be getting a whole lot of attention every single time you ride it.

Ornus
Photo: MLK Innovazione Srl
Now, regarding the construction process of this bike, the manufacturer's website makes little mention of how that's done, and frankly, it makes sense: trade secrets and all. But what we do know can be paired up with my own knowledge of bicycle building and design, and once we're done, we should have a rather decent idea of what's going on here. The rest can be handled by you and a phone call overseas to Ornus.

You've heard CNC milling mentioned over and over again since we started exploring the Ornus, and with this manufacturing technique, individual shells of wood are created. Once those are brought to life, Ornus mentions that each of these 'shells' is "joined and reinforced by patented membrane grafts," whatever the heck that means.

In order to understand a bit more about what's going on, I looked into the whole wood membrane grafting idea, and it's actually quite neat. In short, we're fusing separate woods at a molecular level with an array of composite materials mixed in with some UV irradiation thrown into the process, assuming that Ornus uses this same method and that I understood what this Italian crew is doing here.

Ornus
Photo: MLK Innovazione Srl
Now, to break down that frame into separate sections, I was able to make out that the top tube, down tube, seat tube, seat stay, and chain stay are all separate tubes, as is true for your average classic bicycle. But what's rather neat is how these sections overlap and even enter one another. My only question is whether or not the head tube is completed just from the top and down tubes being sealed together or if they're hollow and an extra component has been added for strength; wood will wear down from constant friction. Maybe it's all down to one solid headset.

Once that beautifully crafted base is in place, it's time to complete the rest of this bugger, and frankly, some composite materials clearly made their way onto this gravel wonder. If that fork isn't carbon fiber, I quit my job.

As for the price range I mentioned earlier, it's because of the secondary components used to make this bike move. I'm talking about the drivetrain and wheels. For example, the G1 includes a Shimano GRX820 groupset and Fulcrum Speed wheels.

Climbing up the price ladder, the G2 version is equipped with a Campagnolo Ekar 13V drivetrain and Levante wheels, while the big boss is rocking a Shimano GRX810 and Fulcrum RapidRed 5 wheels. The latter is the one cruising in at $9,000, without any shipping to wherever you may be in the world.

Ornus
Photo: MLK Innovazione Srl
This brings me to the one and only catch I see with the Ornus Gs, aside from their price, the fact that if you fall in love with one, just as I have, you'll have to find a way to get one shipped over to wherever you are, assuming you're not in Italy; overseas shipping rates are sky high right now. Still, if you've got at least $7,400 to drop on a bicycle, I'm sure you can cover the shipping costs.

As for what you can do with this beast once you finally receive it - it takes up to 45 days to build each one, and they're made to order - Ornus mentions that each G can even be used for bike-packing, not only hitting roads and singletracks like there's no tomorrow. However, it looks like we'll be using nothing but frame bags, as I don't see any cargo mounts anywhere on this sleek and flawless backbone.

Personally, I've always been a sucker for wooden bicycles, and to finally see one built for the industry's fastest-growing sector, gravel riding has got me drooling all over my keyboard. I'm so curious as to how this thing feels and how much it weighs that I just may head down to Ornus next time I'm visiting Italy.
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About the author: Cristian Curmei
Cristian Curmei profile photo

A bit of a nomad at heart (being born in Europe and raised in several places in the USA), Cristian is enamored with travel trailers, campers and bikes. He also tests and writes about urban means of transportation like scooters, mopeds and e-bikes (when he's not busy hosting our video stories and guides).
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