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The Editors Mailbox

Bamboo bikes? You bet.

comments (3) December 30th, 2009 in blogs

MKenney Matthew Kenney, special projects editor
thumbs up 4 users recommend

 - CLICK TO ENLARGE Photo: Bamboo Bike Studio

Although I spend most of my free time in the shop, I do try to stay fit as well. Over the past few years, that has meant riding a road bike as much as I can. Being the tool geek and tinkerer that I am, it also means that I've spent a lot of time looking at the websites of custom bike makers and learning what I can about how to make a bike.

At any rate, it was through all that browsing that I first came across Calfee Design, known primariy as a maker of custom carbon fiber bike frames. However, they also make a very cool frame from bamboo. That's right, bamboo. As you might know, bamboo is a great natural resource, as it grows quickly and is plentiful. It's also strong and absorbs the road vibration well. That makes it a great material for bike tubes. And that's pretty cool. All the bikes I've ever seen or ridden have been made from materials (steel, aluminum, and carbon fiber) that require quite a bit of manipulation and technical skill to turn them into a bike frame. With bamboo all you need to do is have the shoot and heat treat it a bit so that it doesn't split. The individual tubes are held together with epoxy and some kind of fabric or fiber (Calfee uses a hemp fiber).

Recently, I came across a NPR piece about the Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn, NY. You can go there over the weekend and leave with a brand new bamboo bike. Very cool. In fact, I think I just might have to give it a try.

posted in: blogs, news, bamboo

Comments (3)

JeffFuchs JeffFuchs writes:

There is a company in Portland, Oregon tha makes hardwood bikes - I haven't ridden one, but they sure look cool.

Bend, Oregon
Posted: 5:20 pm on January 2nd

Northcote Northcote writes: Hey, these are cool! I practice medicine (and woodworking!) in Washington State, USA, but teach in SE Asia, where Bamboo is everywhere. Bikes are common too. My students and friends there make almost EVERYTHING from bamboo, but I've never seen a bike. I like the efforts to use these ideas to help people too, and would love to get something like that going in Burma. I wonder if there are sources for the technical aspects of building them? I'd like to learn more.
Posted: 12:56 am on January 2nd

1oldsarge 1oldsarge writes: LOL! You must not be very old. Bamboo bikes have been around since the days of the dear, departed Whole Earth Catalog. I certainly hope they become more common, though. Bamboo is wonderful stuff and the more of it I see in use, the better.
Posted: 6:54 pm on December 30th

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