If you have been thinking about owning one of the new bamboo bikes on the market, there has never been a better time. While they are expensive, there are many advantages of owning one and minimizing your impact on our planet by using it instead of driving. Bamboo bikes have been around for decades and are becoming more popular and accessible as more people are looking for environmentally-sound products and eco-friendly means of transportation.
We love products made with earth-friendly bamboo, especially bamboo straws.
In the past, many people opted to ride their bike to be more eco-conscious. Now, some are taking additional steps to be even more environmentally-aware. When they want to upgrade their bike or perhaps buy a bike for the first time, they are looking at how the bikes are manufactured and are choosing bamboo bicycles instead of mass-produced, commercial brands.
Benefits of bamboo bikes
There are so many advantages to owning a bamboo bike. Bamboo bikes are hand-crafted locally and often customized for the individual rider. Another advantage is that bamboo is a renewable source. Grown instead of mined, it is eco-friendly unlike conventional bike frame materials which are made from aluminum, steel, titanium and carbon frames. Depending on the bamboo bike company you purchase from, many of the lugs are made with hemp fiber, which are natural fibers.
Advantages of bamboo
From a bike rider’s perspective, there are many positives as well. Bamboo bikes are durable; resistant to stress and impacts; and they transfer power efficiently. They are resilient, comfortable and offer a smooth ride. Bamboo bicycles are available in different types, depending on the rider: racing bicycles, road bicycles, and mountain bikes.
While the frame is made of bamboo, the bamboo needs to be treated to seal it and prevent splitting. They are generally finished with satin polyurethane which functions as a vapor seal. This will enable the bamboo bicycle to be easily maintained, like a metal or carbon frame. It is non-toxic and safe. Overall, the production and materials used in building the bamboo bicycles have a minimal carbon footprint.
Downsides of bamboo bikes
There are a few disadvantages of bamboo bikes, including the cost. Even the most basic model will cost well over the cost of an everyday, get-around-town bike. This is due to the 35-45 hours it takes to build a bamboo bicycle.
And even though bamboo is a renewable source, many areas are becoming over-harvested, farmed and processed for bamboo’s versatile qualities. Bamboo makes beautiful, long-lasting furniture and floors. Bamboo has porous fibers, making it a silky, breathable and now-popular cloth that companies are manufacturing into socks, clothes, blankets and more. Many fear this over-harvesting is threatening panda bears and further disrupting the eco-sphere.
Price of bamboo bikes
A quality manufacturer is key. Prices will vary from a basic model all the way to a custom one. As maker Calfee Design’s website touts, “If there were an award for ‘Bicycle with lowest carbon footprint’ (least amount of carbon dioxide emissions in the production of the frame), this frame would win, hands down.”
Finding the perfect bamboo bicycle
My research brought me to Brano Meres Engineering and Design, which was founded by mechanical engineer and industrial designer Brano Meres. He built his first bamboo bicycle (pictured below) in 2005 and even rode it in a bike marathon last summer.
Why go bamboo? Meres says it’s light and bamboo frames dampen vibrations better than carbon frames. And good news for anyone who’s thinking about buying a bamboo bike, Meres and other companies are increasing their production of bamboo bikes.
photo courtesy of Brano Meres Engineer and Design
Helping others make big changes – Bamboo Bike Project
Calfee Design founder Craig Calfee teamed up with the Columbia University Earth Institute to launch the Bamboo Bike Project. The project, which “aims to examine the feasibility of implementing cargo bikes made of bamboo as a sustainable form of transportation in Africa,” is well-thought out and sustainable. Craig and his team show African villagers how to make bikes using local materials (like bamboo) and how to repair them so they’ll have reliable and sustainable transportation for years to come. You can read about their trip to Africa last summer on the project’s blog.
Interested in the idea of bamboo bicycles and want to be a part of it without owning one? The Bamboo Bike Project is perfect way to get involved. Learn more about donating to their cause on their website.
Build your own bamboo bike
There are weekend workshops where you can build your own bamboo bike. Many bike shops have a cycling community with special interest classes and community rides for those who own bamboo bikes.
Check out our articles: Learn About Selecting the Right Hybrid Bike for You and How to find a bike route wherever you are: Bikely makes it easy
Whether for exercise, for fun or to do errands, bicycle riding is an easy way to reduce your impact on the environment. Bamboo bikes are becoming the new trend as we all work to find better ways to consciously help our planet. Now I really want to ride a bamboo bicycle. Has anyone tried one out?