Bamboo Bikes in the NYT

An article on bamboo bikes appeared yesterday in the Fashion & Style section of the New York Times. From the article:

BAMBOO is one of the world’s fastest-growing plants, adding as much as three feet in a single day. That growth rate, along with the giant grass’s sturdy hollow stalks (with a strength-to-weight ratio similar to that of steel) may explain why bamboo is being heralded by bikers, environmentalists and social entrepreneurs as a material with no carbon footprint and the potential to provide cheap wheels in poor countries. Serious spandex-clad cyclists like bamboo bicycles, as do tattooed bike messengers and thrifty Ghanaian shopkeepers.

Read the article

7 Responses to “Bamboo Bikes in the NYT”

  • kanishka new england says:

    once dahon adds one of these to their huge lineup, i’ll consider it

  • Eric Shalit says:

    These are being touted for their minimal carbon footprint. When compared to any auto, every steel, carbon, or titanium bicycle has a minimal carbon footprint. So much ‘Green Marketing’ is more marketing than green.

  • Vaughn says:

    It would be cool to see a bamboo folding bike. That said, if bamboo is so abundant, why is it so expensive (Mr. Frey). I’d have to go to Ghana instead of Red Hook, Brooklyn to get a well priced one? Or is it a Brooklyn hipster thing?

  • kaniska new england says:

    oh yeah, i forget to mention bamboo treatment. i’m not sure how chemically intense it is for bicycle frame material, but for making bamboo clothing fiber, the process most manufacturers use today is very chemically intense and has adverse effects on workers involved. that’s the major catch for bamboo relative to wool or organic cotton

    “Most bamboo fabric that is the current eco-fashion rage is chemically manufactured by “cooking” the bamboo leaves and woody shoots in strong chemical solvents such as sodium hydroxide (NaOH – also known as caustic soda or lye) and carbon disulfide in a process also known as hydrolysis alkalization combined with multi-phase bleaching. Both sodium hydroxide and carbon disulfide have been linked to serious health problems. Breathing low levels of carbon disulfide can cause tiredness, headache and nerve damage. Carbon disulfide has been shown to cause neural disorders in workers at rayon manufacturers. Low levels of exposure to sodium hydroxide can cause irritation of the skin and eyes. Sodium hydroxide is a strong alkaline base also known as caustic soda or lye. In its dry crystalline form, caustic soda is one of the major ingredients of Drano. This is basically the same process used to make rayon from wood or cotton waste byproducts. Because of the potential health risks and damage to the environment surrounding the manufacturing facilities, textile manufacturing processes for bamboo or other regenerated fibers using hydrolysis alkalization with multi-phase bleaching are not considered sustainable or environmentally supportable.”

  • Eric Shalit says:

    I’m glad I’m not the only one raining on the zero eco-footrpint parade. I actually believe (know) that bamboo is useful for just about everything. I grow about 13 kinds right here in my Seattle backyard.

    Bamboo bike frames are nothing new. If anything comes of this, it’s likely Third-World people will be the innovators.

    Here in the US, the $ is in teaching workshops. And they’re booked up. Below is from the bamboobikestudio site:

    Build your own bike in two days at our workshop in Brooklyn or San Francisco.

    We supply all tools and materials, and as much – or as little – help as you need.

    We don’t assume any prior experience, but a strong work ethic and an appetite for the unfamiliar is essential.

    Build a Frame ($632), and add your own components at home or your local shop. With the Full Bike option ($948) we help you select and install all the components you need to ride away on a bike you made yourself.

  • Miker says:

    You should all check out there is a ton of info about building a bamboo bike.

  • Eric Shalit says:

    I love bamboo. I love bikes. Apparently someone built their own bamboo bike and rode it in the Dead Baby Downhill here in Seattle a few weeks ago. Due to their poor DIY mechanical and/or engineering skills the bike exploded while in use. Someone told me the rider lay convulsing in the street.

    I grow 12 different kinds of bamboo right here in my yard. One thing that’s not made clear in any of the articles is the vast differences between different kinds of bamboo. Only Moso is used for scaffolding construction and I’d assume it’s the one most suitable for bicycle construction. It is a very thick-walled bamboo, sometimes referred to as solid bamboo. Most other kinds are thin walled. That doesn’t mean they’re not strong, but can easily split on the cut ends. If you’re not an experienced bamboo craftsman, I’d hesitate to put your ass on a DIY bamboo bike in motion.

    Moso is the bamboo featured in HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS.

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