Portland co. to make wooden bikes for Audi

Renovo bike

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by Joe Smith and Frank Mungeam, KGW.com

kgw.com

Posted on April 5, 2011 at 7:50 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 16 at 5:12 PM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Rose City is known as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the nation. So it's no surprise that when high-end car maker Audi decided to get into the bicycle business, they turned to a bicycle-builder in Portland.

Behind the walls of his small bike shop, Ken Wheeler has been crafting handmade bikes from wood for the past four years. 

Photos: Renovo wooden bicycle

Wheeler is founder and chief designer of Renovo Hardwood bicycles. Renovo is Latin for "renew" and Wheeler sees making bicycles from hardwoods as a renewable source: "Quality, uniqueness and performance...and some say art," says Wheeler. "Wood is the stiffest of materials pound for pound, it's a fourth the weight of aluminum."

The innovative design, including hollow wood frames, is what caught the attention of Audi's engineers.

"They want perfection," says Wheeler.

The Audi frame will have its own unique design. Renovo has added staff to meet the expected demand. Every bike is hand-made, and the Audi special edition Renovo carries a price tag of $7000.

"Expensive stuff is expensive," says Wheeler.

Audi Wilsonville will show off a version of the Audi Renovo wooden bike Thursday April 7 from 5-9 p.m. at Urban Studio in the Pearl District as part of Portland's monthly First Thursday celebration.

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