Meet Rihards Gaitnieks – 19 year old (in 2017) cyclist from Latvia with a plan. Having done a Germany-Paris bike ride on his old Peugeot bike in 2016, he wanted to up the ante in 2017. That’s when he got in touch with our boss Martins to tell him about his idea to do a six-week, 2000km European trip on a wooden bike (with fixed gear). After the initial meeting positive vibes were in the air and the plan was set in motion.
The wooden bike
Rihards choice was that he will go on the trip with a fixed gear bike – for those who are not yet familiar with this concept, it means that the bike has no brakes, just one speed and the gear is fixed – with no freewheel mechanism.
Rihards own first impressions about the bike were focused on the silence and lack of any vibrations, smoothness and lightness, plus suspension that is delivered by the wooden frame with no force lost.
Taking a fixie on such a trip is an awesome challenge if you want to prove something, but otherwise we would suggest choosing another (more reuglar) bike from our options – preferrably with brakes and freewheel. While having a fixed gear in relatively flat city might seem a viable option, such long trips usualy include crossing mountains/hills which are not your best friends when on a fixed gear bike.
Benefit – reactions
To use Rihards own words – “It is funny how people react when they see my bicycle, it is like parking a Ferrari in a middle of a tourist crowded area. Somebody’s trying to secretly touch it or take a quick picture of it and i am just sitting and observing it like nothing is happening.”
We would add that also in our experience – wooden bike is a great conversation starter and ice-breaker.
“Technically everything went smoother that i hoped for. Even these two inner tubes that i took with me in case of a flat tire are still with me. I was perfectly equipped.”
Rihards aftertoughts regarding the wooden bike
“These bikes are seriously amazing. Unique design and perfect performance that creates an excellent combination so you can enjoy your ride entirely and my whole travel just proves it once again. We went through all possible weather conditions together – from wet and dirty days, riding on sandy, rocky and bumpy surfaces in forests to a desert heat temperature when being on a field where all you can see is a never-ending asphalted roadway. All that stuff was just our ordinary routine all along the voyage and we did great.”
You can read and see more of Rihards trip on his blog dedicated to this ride with the fixed gear wooden bike from Materia bikes.