Connor Cycles Woody Scorcher 29
The Woody Scorcher may be the most beautiful piece of functional art on wheels. And as art, it turns any ride to the café or bar into an event. Just watch that no one steals it when you’re inside.
The design and details of the Woody Scorcher impart the builder’s fundamental understanding of how wood has withstood the test of time as one of the most versatile and durable materials man has ever used. Chris Connor, the builder, uses ash wood, the same stuff used in axe handles and baseball bats for its ability to absorb impact and stay strong. The walnut inlays add a craftsman’s level of detail that could only come from someone well versed in design.
Quality The Woody Scorcher’s frame features unique Kevlar reinforced seat- and chain-stays and head tube to add strength. The wooden handlebars are a revelation with the wood doubling as a shock absorber. When you step back and think about it, Connor is using wood sort of like carbon-fiber, layering the wood cross-grain to greatly enhance its strength.
The swooping frame lines aren’t for show either, they’re designed for maximum strength and shock absorption. The Brooks saddle and leather handlebar tape add a premium touch.
This being wood—and a 29er at that, with a 2-speed internal rear hub/coaster brake—the rig is heavy at ~30 pounds. That compares favorably with cruiser bikes in the Woody Scorcher’s competitive set, but for something that looks so simple and, um, fast, it takes some getting used to. You’re not going to be sprinting up hills or beating stoplights on this thing.
The black Cane Creek headset, Salsa stem, Truvative bottom bracket/cranks, Weinmann wheels with a Sturmey-Archer 2-speed coaster hub, and Salsa rigid fork set off the rich sandy brown tones of the wood. Same goes for the Brooks leather saddle and handlebar grips. Fat cruiser whitewall tires roll like balloons over pavement and gravel trails. As each bike is a custom build, the buyer can spec nearly any component set they want—and for a true weight weenie, you could probably shave 3-5 pounds off the bike with a different set of wheels, a single-speed freehub and a front disc brake.
Connor Cycles also claims that it can forge a rear dropout to handle a belt drive set up; an interesting alternative that would remove any concerns about chain grease marring the frame (or biting chunks out of the frame somehow).
For review purposes, Connor’s test bike was spec’d out to keep the bike as aesthetically clean as possible: no cables, gears, hand brakes, etc. And everything in black. Your bike can vary.
On a flat gravel trail, the plush ride of the frame, coupled with 29-inch wheels’ natural ability to roll over bumps that make smaller wheels shake and bulbous cruiser tires, made for a limo-smooth ride.
By design, the Scorcher has a bent over riding position that allows the rider to deliver more power to the pedals and better handling than one usually experiences on a cruiser bike. Better to think of it as if you’re riding a single-speed mountain bike—one that you’d never, ever charge down your favorite singletrack on—or fire road for that matter.
The Woody’s best suited to graded bike trails/paths and for rolling around town at a leisurely pace. The one downside: It can handle riding in the rain, but it’s not ideal (think of what happens to a shovel handle left outside for an extended period of time). Another bummer: Unless you’ve got the bike in eyesight at all times, you’re going to be having an anxiety attack over someone stealing it, knocking it down, or bumping into it. Of course, if you ride a full carbon road bike, you’re used to this state of being when it comes to your bike, anyway.
At $2,500 ($3,000 spec’d as reviewed), it’s pricey for a cruiser or even a high end single-speed mountain bike. But in terms of art—and functional art at that—it’s about right. But since I’m reviewing this as a bike, not art, I’m comparing it to other bikes that do the same thing. Truth be told, if this was the ‘Gear Institute of Design,’ I would’ve added 10 points to my overall score based on beauty alone.
How We Tested It
The bike was ridden on flat suburban streets in Denver, Colo., and along the gravel Highline Trail in Cherry Hills, Colo. for approximately 5 miles in total. Climate was dry, wind was minimal. Full disclosure: Chris Connor is a neighbor of the tester.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.