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Movie fame for Potter Heigham’s Mr SplinterBike

PUBLISHED: 06:30 23 January 2012

Michael Thompson: plotting new record

Michael Thompson: plotting new record

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

It is surely the strangest cycling record in the book - set on a bicycle made entirely of wood.

But successfully building the world’s fastest wooden bicycle last year was not enough for Norfolk joiner Michael Thompson who has now set himself the challenge of designing a new version, SplinterBikeThree, to attempt a one hour distance record.

And as he goes back to the drawing board at his home in Bridge Road, Potter Heigham, the trials and tribulations of building SplinterBikeOne and SplinterBikeTwo are about to be shown in a new film.

SplinterBike - The Movie, produced by Tim Mills, of TopBox Media in Norwich, will be screened at Cinema City in the city at 10.30am on February 4.

Mr Mills follows the story through the design and building stage to trials on Latham’s car park and the wooden bike speed record of 11.25mph set at a velodrome in Scunthorpe last August.

Mr Thompson, 41, revealed that - in the great tradition of British eccentrics - it had all begun with a £1 wager.

He said: “When I was watching the Tour of Britain pass through Potter Heigham in 2010 I bet my friend James Tully it would be possible to make a 100pc wooden bike - and he said if I built it he would ride it.”

It took 1,000 hours to design and build the prototype out of a variety of wood, including birch and ekki, a hard wood salvaged from redundant quay heading on the river.

He said: “A lot of part-wooden bikes have been made, but not the wheels, seat, axles and everything - you could take mine through the metal detector at Norwich airport.”

The task was complicated by the fact the bike had to be sufficiently robust to cope with the 15st physique of triathlete James, a Royal Mail manager who lives in Long John Hill, Norwich.

Trials of the prototype showed up some defects and and Mr Thompson had to spend a further 350 hours building SplinterBikeTwo, only finishing it the night before for the record attempt,

He hopes to build the new bike in time for a record attempt in the summer.

“James is going to have to ride the bike continuously for 60 minutes without putting his feet down and then we’ll measure the distance he managed to travel within the hour,” he said.

There is currently no such record for wooden bikes, former Olympic champion Chris Boardman holding the one hour distance record for a normal bike of 35 miles.

Mr Thompson said: “I’ll be looking to make this bike lighter althought James is not worried about weight - he is more concerned about it staying in one piece for 60 minutes.”

He said they could now be facing competition as four other designers, inspired by his story, were now building wooden bikes as far afield as Canada and Holland,

The original SplinterBike has returned to Mr Thompson after being displayed at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

He is keen for sponsors to put their names on the bike; contact him via the website www.SplinterBike.co.uk

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