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The Astan Bike Is a Stunning Plant-Based Bicycle, Proud to Be Different

No one ever made any impact by being the same as everyone else. In a context in which more people are looking towards greener, more sustainable alternatives for the daily commute, perhaps it’s time someone dared to stand out as regards bicycle manufacturing, too.
The Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very green 17 photos
The Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very greenThe Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very green
The 2020 international health crisis (which may or may not be over, depending on who you ask) brought countless changes and few of them of the positive kind. A boom in popularity of two-wheelers, whether of the conventional pedal-powered sort or of the motor-assisted kind, was among the positive changes.

As more people started biking, it became clear that even this green means of transport wasn’t that green, if you considered the manufacturing process and the impact mining for aluminum had on the environment. Throw a motor and a battery into the equation, and the carbon footprint for one bicycle is even bigger – not as big as that of a car, but still.

A pair of designers from Brazil have been thinking about this since before the 2020 (terrible) milestone. Guilherme Pella and Nicolas Rutzen did not reinvent the wheel bicycle, but they did put a very elegant and more sustainable spin to it, by creating the entire frame out of natural fibers, glued together with resin. Their creation is called the Astan Bike, and if anything, it’s proof that not everything sustainable has to be ugly or painfully expensive.

The Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very green
Pella and Rutzen first came up with the idea for the bike in 2014, but it would take them another few years to get it off the ground. Production was always low-volume and seems to have ceased altogether as of the moment of press, so here’s to hoping the day comes when we’ll speak of the Astan in the Present Tense again.

All eco-credentials aside, this bicycle is a stunner. Astan Bike is not the first (or the only) wooden bicycle on the market, but it’s perhaps among the most eye-catching, what with its lattice frame that brings to mind comparisons to a butterfly, a tree’s roots, or a pair of human lungs. The frame is made of natural fibers, glued together with a plant-based resin. It does have aluminum and steel elements in essential places, but the goal was from the start to include as few of them as possible.

Because of the choice of material and the way cuts are made along the grain of the wood, the frame is resistant and flexible, thus offering enhanced comfort on the road. Like other bicycle makers that work with this rather-unusual source material, Pella and Rutzen say that wood is actually more advantageous than aluminum, both in terms of strength and ability to absorb vibrations.

The Astan Bike has a finish of several “layers of automotive varnish,” which “seal the wood elements completely” and offer protection against the elements. The frame weighs 4.5 kg (10 pounds), with the bike averaging 12 kg (26.5 pounds), depending on accessories. The comparison with a butterfly holds in this regard, as well.

The Astan Bike has a lattice frame made of wood, which makes it lightweight, durable, comfortable and very green
For a while, the Astan was available worldwide through TheArsenale, in two variations: with pedal brake, which retailed for $597, and as a 7-speed with disc brake model, selling for $697. Both models came in two color options (light and dark), and the possibility to add a custom touch by having the name engraved on the frame. Standard features included Pirelli 32mm tires and Shimano gears or Velosteel pedal brake.

In 2018, the first Astan Bike to leave Brazil was a custom unit for famed British architect Sir Norman Foster, who was delighted with it. Photos available online show that, soon enough, there was a considerably-sized international community of Astan Bike owners, but all signs point to the fact that production ceased sometime in the following year.

We’ve reached out to Astan and will update this story when, and if, we hear back on the possible future of this beautiful, conventional two-wheeler. If there is none to speak of, we still have a very beautiful, different, and green bicycle to look at.

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

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