TOYONAKA, Osaka Prefecture--In a nearly yearlong project, friends and family built a tandem bicycle with lacquered bamboo and beech wood to help a visually impaired man fulfill his dream of racing together with his wife.

The bicycle, essentially a work of art, was presented to Hidekazu Fukuba, a 54-year-old self-employed worker who has amblyopia, a seeing disorder that makes him unable to recognize faces.

Fukuba started entering tandem cycling races after he turned 50.

Standard tandem bicycles are heavy. They are not designed for the usually lighter female riders to sit in the front saddle to steer.

However, Fukuba’s sight problems could make tandem rides dangerous if he was the one steering the bicycle.

In spring last year, Fukuba told Ryuji Deguchi, 65, who runs a bicycle shop and serves as a practice partner, that he wanted a tandem bicycle that he and his wife could use in races.

Deguchi sought advice from his friend, Gerson Aisawa Hara, 41.

The Brazilian bicycle builder has been teaching himself how to produce bamboo bicycles since 2007, after he became fascinated by the beauty of Japanese bamboo crafts.

Hara used light and tough bamboo for the upper section of the frame and sturdy beech for the lower section on which strong force is applied during pedaling.

The artisan completed the main body of the bicycle through trial and error in summer last year.

Fukuba’s second daughter, Yumiko, a research student at the Kagawa prefectural Urushi Lacquer Ware Institute, applied the lacquer on the tandem bicycle.

Yumiko, 25, said she gave a translucent look to the bamboo section but used a black finish on the beech wood parts to reflect the surroundings, like a mirror, “so that it can be united with nature.”

The beech wood section is also decorated with enamel patterns featuring a chain of colorful ellipses formed into circles. They represent the “circle of friendship” created through her father and the bicycle, Yumiko said.

The entire process was filmed and edited into a video by Azumi Muraoka, 22, Yumiko’s friend who is a senior student studying film and media at Kansai University.

The wooden bicycle, which took almost a year to complete, weighs 15 kilograms, about 5 kg lighter than standard metal tandem bicycles.

In September, Fukuba and his wife, Miwa, 50, entered a bicycle event that circled around Awajishima island in Hyogo Prefecture.

Riding the custom-made tandem bicycle, the couple finished the 150-km course barely within the time limit of 10 hours.

“With my husband’s eyes getting weak, we couldn’t enjoy what we had been doing together,” Miwa said. “But we could enjoy it again thanks to everyone’s determination to take on the challenge.”

Fukuba plans to enter various cycling events with the wooden bicycle.

“I feel really grateful,” he said. “I want to respond to everyone’s feelings and expectations.”

The tandem bicycle is on display at the Bicycle Museum Cycle Center in Sakai, also in Osaka Prefecture, until Dec. 18, along with the behind-the-scenes video of the production.

“I was astonished to see a tandem bicycle made of bamboo and wood that can withstand high-speed runs,” said Masayuki Hasebe, 68, the museum’s secretary-general. “The lacquer is exquisite.”