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Bored teen makes wooden bike

12:24 PM, Nov 15, 2012   |    comments
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Collin is the first to admit the bike works, but it's a rough ride

AVONDALE ESTATES, Ga. -- There is no way to mount it and look cool. There is no way to ride it and look cool. But if cool mattered to 15-year-old Collin Graver, he likely never would have built a 65-pound wooden bike.

"I got bored with my physics homework." Graver said, soft spoken and modest. He is a quietly brilliant tenth grader who is home schooled by his mother Angela at their Avondale Estates home.

And he has a love affair with wood. "I kinda have a love for wood I would say. It's interesting material."

In his father's basement woodshop, Collin has made countless creations -- from a pressurized air engine, to a compound angle cedar picture frame, to a chess set, to floats for Fourth of July parades, to the clubhouse in his backyard tree.

But the bike? The bike was different for Collin. His father Paul said, "I was locked out of the basement for a week. He said 'I have a project. It's a surprise. Don't come down here.'"

Collin says the bike was made from a single sheet of plywood and cost $20.

And what made it unlike any other project was the reaction to it. When Collin lugs it outside for a ride on the street, people stop and stare. They tell him it's one of a kind. They recommend he use a rubber tire to make it ride smoother. They ask him why he built it. And in his low key way, Collin accepts the suggestions and tells people he built it because he was bored, because it would never occur to him to tell anyone it's because he has an amazing brain that understands how hundreds of pieces, carefully cut, can work together.

Collin is the first to admit the bike works, but it's a rough ride. "It vibrates so much. And none of the vibration is absorbed. Your entire body vibrates, your head just going back and forth so fast. Your vision kind of blurs a little bit." Collin said his father and a few others have ridden the bike, but no one has asked to ride it a second time.

A second generation wooden bike is underway in the basement. "I'm building it out of much higher quality wood and I'm using a different gearing system as well as computer controlled tools. This one has gearing for 18. Who knows if I'll feel safe riding it that fast?"

Collin does not pretend he's at the helm of a movement, that wooden bikes will spread to the masses. But his perserverance and willingness to endure setbacks shows that at a young age -- he has already learned how to problem solve and keep going. And the unexpected bonus, as he awkwardly straddles the 65-pound bohemoth, is that he's doing all of those things with grace, and a sense of humor.

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