Why use bamboo for a bicycle?
Building bamboo bicycles can be a complex task. This complexity in the cycling world has been introduced by the creation of varied standards across the industry. The only standard that seems to outlast all others is the humble bottle cage!
Steel, aluminium and carbon have dominated as frame materials and can be produced at a very low cost. This allows bikes to flood the market with little consideration of design life, environmental production cost, or consideration for the end user's experience.
Bamboo as a material has been listed by many organisations as a key component in the fight against climate change. It is a really well suited material for bicycles but it's difficult to work with due to the variation attributed to nature of growth and its form as an organic material. Making an organic material conform to specifics of bearing tolerances, wheel and crank clearances to name a few, is almost impossible.
The principal issue with bamboo bicycle building which has made it inaccessible is that it’s very high in labour. This is why bamboo bikes are often out of reach for many people. A bicycle that requires a 70 - 80 hour build will always remain a niche.
From an engineering perspective, it has great strength, excellent vibration dampening and the ability to move and reform in a unique way. This gives a unique performance and provides enhanced comfort and ride characteristics.
At Bamboo Bicycle Club it has been our mission to improve the accessibility of bicycles to create a worldwide movement that focuses on sustainable materials made and grown locally with transferable learning being a key factor. In simple terms 'true sustainability.'
BELOW: Early 3D printed lugs made in 2016
Over the years we have created lots of engineering solutions to make bamboo a better material for bicycles. We combined it with other materials to create a composite, a (composite is a combination of different materials bonded together.) By combining bamboo with other materials to form a composite frame, we can bring the natural world to conform to what is needed for an engineered product and match all the standards required.
As a planet we are in desperate need of local production, low carbon materials and repairable products. Bamboo has the potential to fulfil this need
A bamboo bike for everyone that can be built anywhere in the world?
We've been working on this for some time and we believe we have created something that does just that. It's a pre-formed lug. It's something we've been working on for many years and even demoed it live using a 3D printer at the Design museum London. We've also undertaken research projects with UCL and Oxford Brooks university to explore the design and technical challenges.
Our lugs provide all the tolerance and performance required for a bicycle and yet still use bamboo as the principle material for joining. This utilitises the best properties of bamboo in providing high tensile strength and vibration dampening.
By using carbon around the lugs, it provides great stiffness for power transfer, includes all the tolerances for components, internal cabling fitting and all the trimming you would see on many high end carbon frames.
As a company we have always believed in people creating their own frames and the unique learning and riding experience it provides. We appreciate that many people don't have time, space or equipment. So as a company we need to use technology to solve these issues.
So we've cut the build time from 80 hours to just under 10 hours. We've simplified the method so some basic tools are needed and the frame can be built on any kitchen table!
We believe that this is the most accessible bamboo bike in the world, most affordable and best engineered.
Join the bicycle revolution and build a better bike.