The forerunner of the bicycle – the laufmaschine or running machine – bears only a passing resemblance to the pedal-bikes we know today. Invented in 1817, it had no chain and was powered by the rider pushing his feet along the ground in a walking or running motion. Even more unusually, its frame was made from wood. Jump forward to 2017, and a crop of bike makers is turning back the clock – at least in terms of using wood as a core material. These firms make their bicycles in part, and occasionally wholly, from woods such as ash, oak and walnut. They are driven by a love of craft and design, the desire to use natural materials, and a passion for cycling itself. And they have attracted a small but growing base of enthusiastic customers, willing to pay high prices for their lovingly crafted creations.