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Reimagining Bicycle Craftsmanship- LUXEMBOURG MUSEUM

by James Marr 27 Nov 2023 0 Comments

Reimagining Bicycle Craftsmanship - LUXEMBOURG MUSEUM

James Marr, Founder, Bamboo Bicycle Club

This a short article written for the Luxembourg Museum Paris for a upcoming exhibition which will feature our home build kit and we were invited to write a article for the exhibition manual 

In todays consumer driven mass produced society, little thought is given to the design, function and making process of the items we purchase. Most everyday products - including bicycles - are not built to suit individual needs but are a “one size fits all” option. As Founder of Bamboo Bicycle Club I have always challenged this, as I believe we should all be able to modify, create and improve everything we own, giving us agency over both a products function and aesthetic. As humans we have engaged in the act of making for thousands of years, and I strongly believe in the importance of physically touching, crafting and tweaking a design and its’materials, until you have a unique finished product. 

I founded Bamboo Bicycle Club in 2012 and over the last eleven years have built approximately 4,000 unique bike frames for people all over the world. These range from road bikes to mountain bikes, tandems, cargo bikes, wheelchairs and more, for people of all different heights and body shapes. We decided to use bamboo to construct bikes as it is an interesting engineering material that is under utilised. With over 1,500 species it can be grown almost anywhere in the world making it both accessible and sustainable for builders globally. It also has many qualities that make it ideal for bicycle construction; it has a natural aerodynamic tube shape and comes in various diameters, it has a high weight to strength ratio, and a unique vibration dampening characteristic. Bamboo also has a negative carbon footprint, as it absorbs 30% more CO2 than traditional timber, making it one of the key materials in climate change migration. Bamboo can however can be difficult to join due to its’ wall thickness and structure. As part of our build techniques we therefore incorporate lugs (socket like connections that join the main triangle tubes) to construct the frame, which are made from recycled aluminium. These can be seen in the home built kit on display in this exhibition. But for more complex builds we also use other materials in our process to make these connections such as flax composite and carbon fibre, which when combined with bamboo to form a unique bio composite bicycle frame. 

Education, sharing our knowledge and empowering people to have the confidence to build their own bikes has always been fundamental to our ethos. In addition to our London based bike building workshops and home build kit offerings, we also run a number of training hubs utilising locally grown bamboo in Kenya and Ethiopia as well as hubs in cities across Europe.

We are also committed to supporting the next generation of engineers, and work in partnership with universities and schools to support research projects and build prototypes which push boundaries and provide further knowledge. 


Do visit our website, build your own bike from the home kit in this exhibition, or get in touch if you have a crazy idea that you want to bring to life! 

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