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Inspired by the idea that wood could make for a better and more unique ride by “reducing shock and vibration for the rider,” Chris Kudla created Normal Bicycles in the basement of a 140-year-old house in Buffalo, New York. The company was named after the street it was created on. Kudla and Jessica Vreeswijk Kudla work together to engineer and build bikes through a process that “promotes local sourcing, values history and fosters sustainability.” The company is now based in Vashon, Washington, where Chris continues to produce high-performance hardwood frames and accessories, as well as DIY wood bike frame building kits. In 2018, Normal Bicycles won the People’s Choice Award at the Philly Bike Expo.
This curly maple wood bike has a 50cm frame with inlaid black walnut pinstriping throughout and custom laser etching on the chainstays. It’s a gravel bike built for the rural backroads of the Pacific Northwest, and is equally at home on the road or cutting through the trails. It’s a unique SRAM AXS mullet setup, pairing the AXS mechanical-brake road levers with Paul Component Engineering flat mount Klamper disc brakes. Green and purple accents used throughout the bike complement the rainbow chain and cassette, and most of the stock fasteners on the components have been swapped out for rainbow titanium hardware.
The mahogany wood bike has a 59cm frame built from the owner’s reclaimed 100-year-old mahogany dining room table. Featuring 650b wheels and tires, cork ergo grips, and a SRAM 1x drivetrain, it’s built for versatility, performance, and comfort. The owner will use this bike for everything from leisurely rides to commuting, and plans to eventually hand it down to his son.
Both frames are hollow and built with Normal’s patent-pending thin-walled composite hardwood tubing, making them strong and lightweight. Having a composite hardwood frame is important to both owners of these bikes because it provides a unique ride quality that’s stiff, smooth, and connected. The damping from the wood also noticeably reduces harshness and fatigue, meaning longer and more enjoyable time in the saddle.