Bamboo Bicycles are Sprouting
In recent years, the idea of using bamboo – a sustainable resource – to build bicycle frames seems to have caught on worldwide.
The Bamboo Bike Project, for example, is attempting to stimulate a cottage industry in Africa, creating bamboo bikes as a sustainable form of transportation
There are numerous resources and instructions online for building your own bamboo bikes. There are even workshops in several cities where participants can build their bike frames.
And recently, an Oakland company, Stalk Bicycles, has started producing made-to-order bamboo bike frames.
Bamboo is a good choice of material for a bike frame. It is strong, resilient, lightweight, and attractive.
With a bit of care, bamboo bikes are weather-resistant and will last for many years. The fatigue life exceeds that of many aluminum or steel alloys.
Of course, much of the bike is still made from conventional materials. Wheels, sprockets, chains, brakes, are typically “off the shelf” bike parts. The major bamboo component is the bike frame. Bamboo can also be used for handlebars and cargo racks. Stalk Bicycles is even researching bamboo composites!
One of the best things about bamboo bikes is that they have less environmental impact than traditional bikes.
Bamboo is a sustainable resource that grows in almost every part of the world. Because bamboo can be grown locally, it reduces the need to transport materials used in manufacturing.
Bamboo grows quickly (some varieties can grow several feet in a single day). It sequesters, or absorbs, more carbon than a hardwood forest; 40%-50% of the biomass of a stand of bamboo is carbon. When bamboo is converted to durable products and used as a replacement for wood, the carbon remains sequestered.
And bamboo releases about 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees!
It is also a great nitrogen fixer, enriching the soil in which it grows, and helping to detoxify groundwater.
As a commercial crop, bamboo can be selectively harvested (or thinned) each year, allowing the stand to continue to grow.
Get Your Bamboo Bicycle
Bamboo bikes are cool! They look great, and they are great for the environment.
Until recently, the only way for most people to get a bamboo bicycle was to build it themselves. But now, companies like Stalk Bicycles are building and selling ready-made bamboo frames and bicycles, so it’s easy to own a beautiful one-of-a-kind bamboo bike.
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