Discover the world by bike? Is nothing new. But with a wooden bike it is. The 62-year-old Greek Paul Efmorfidis has already reached Norcap from Athens with his sustainable Coco-Mat bike, as well as India. Next year we are going to Katmandu to climb Mount Everest and to the Amazon River. We explored Slovenia together with Paul Efmorfidis and his sustainable wooden folding bikes.
How many kilometers have you ridden on your wooden bike?
About 50,000 kilometers.
How did you get the idea to build a wooden bicycle?
I cycled from Amsterdam to Athens with my oldest son. Over the Alps, the gears are broken. I said to my son: “Let’s build the best bikes in the world! And let’s do it in Europe, even in Greece. With materials that are available in our country: Wood!”
Did your son take this idea seriously right away?
Well, I suggest ten different ideas a day. One of them I realize. This time it was the wooden bicycles. We have managed to build one of the best and most robust models. You can throw them from a height of two meters and nothing will happen to them. And we have created jobs in Greece. There is a lot of Greek passion in every single product.
“I suggest ten different ideas a day”.
Who developed the model?
I had bought a wooden bike from Holland and I wanted to work with its designer. However, his partner, who had invested money in his product, did not want to let him go. Therefore, we called for competition at the AKTO University of Design in Athens. I asked the students to come up with their ideas on the wooden bicycle that did not resemble the Dutch one. I did not want to copy the model of the Dutch carpenter, who is now a friend of mine! This is how the Coco-Mat construct was born.
How long did it take from the idea to the development of the product?
The students put seven different designs on paper. I then packed 23 people on the train and we went to Xanthi to our nature residence near the Coco-Mat mattress factory and worked through three days and nights. After that, the bike was completely finished.
“Our bikes are resistant”
How robust are they in weather? Here in Germany it is snowing and raining …
Our bikes in Germany are outside most of the time, even in the depths of winter. They are resistant up to 45 degrees plus and up to -44 degrees Celsius in winter. I have tried it myself. They are treated with beeswax. We have copied it from nature. We had a flood and it had taken hives with it. After about three months they were found again. When opened, the honey was completely intact. The salt water of the sea could not harm him!
“See, hear, feel …”
What does bicycle mean to you?
Freedom! Riding a bike engages all the senses: seeing, hearing, feeling. And you are physically active. You also get to meet incredibly great people! It is my life!
More about the bikes click here.