He had all the bookshelves he could use and tables to spare. Tom Wing wanted a new project.
“My father was a cabinetmaker, and I’ve been a woodworker most of my adult life,” the 1973 graduate said. “My wife and I recently downsized, and we have more furniture than we know what to do with.”
While Wing didn’t need more furniture, he did need a creative outlet. A little time on YouTube prompted the Connecticut resident to shift gears — literally and figuratively — and put his woodworking skills to the test by building a wooden bicycle. His online research led to more than an intriguing project — it led to an unexpected Flyer connection.
“I stumbled upon a series of videos that Jay (Kinsinger) had done about building wooden bikes, and I ended up emailing him,” Wing said. “I’ve been a cyclist almost as long as I’ve been a woodworker, so this combined my two interests.”
“We clicked,” Kinsinger said. “We had some fun exchanges before we even spoke a single word to each other.”
They soon discovered they had more in common than woodworking and cycling.
“I’ve had a few people stop me and ask what the bike is made of, and they’re amazed when I tell them.”
“I saw that he lived in Ohio and asked where he went to school,” Wing said.
Kinsinger, he discovered, was also a University of Dayton graduate, having earned degrees in mechanical engineering technology and manufacturing engineering technology in 1992. He is an associate professor of mechanical and biomedical engineering at Cedarville University.
“It was sheer coincidence — I had no inkling he went to UD,” Wing said. “It was absolute serendipity.”
With almost two decades separating their time on campus, their paths had never crossed.
“It was funny, he asked me what I majored in, and I said English, and his response was, ‘Oh,’” Wing said, smiling. “When you think about English majors, you might not associate them with manual skills, but there is a connection because of the critical-thinking and problem-solving skills I learned.”
They soon found they had something else in common as they shared a favorite “job” — being a grandfather. Wing has two grandchildren, and Kinsinger has four.
“A convergence — that’s what happened,” Kinsinger said. “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him.”
Kinsinger was instrumental in helping Wing complete the handcrafted black-walnut bike that is quite a conversation starter in Torrington, Connecticut.
“I’ve had a few people stop me and ask what the bike is made of, and they’re amazed when I tell them,” he said.
Wing, however, is quick to highlight the difference between his project and Kinsinger’s.
“Jay’s bikes are works of art; they are absolutely beautiful,” he said. “My bike pales in comparison.”
With distinctive wood grain, graceful lines and polished design, Kinsinger’s bikes have gained international acclaim. Sojourn Cyclery was featured in Strive for Perfection: Celebrating 110 years of the Spirit of Ecstasy, a 2020 publication of the International Club for Rolls-Royce & Bentley Enthusiasts. The headline, in fact, read “Rideable Art.”
Rideable is accurate, as both Kinsinger and Wing can attest to the fun and functionality of their two-wheeled works of art.
“The wood absorbs the road vibration, so it makes for an amazing ride.”
“The wood absorbs the road vibration, so it makes for an amazing ride,” Kinsinger said. “They’re beautiful, but they’re also really tough.”
“It’s definitely a smooth ride,” Wing added.
The woodworking cyclists are collaborating right now, as Kinsinger is building a bicycle frame for Wing. While the two have yet to meet in person, they are both hopeful that a visit and, of course, bike ride are in the not-so-distant future.
“I’m hoping to have the frame done in early June and have him come out with the parts, and then we’ll take the 20-mile bike ride from Cedarville to UD,” Kinsinger said. “That would be fun.” It’s a trip many decades in the making for Wing.
“It would be my first visit to campus since I graduated,” he said. “It would be really special.”
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