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The Sustainable Bike: Bamboo as the New Metal

The Sustainable Bike: Bamboo as the New Metal

December 30, 2007 —

With recreational and commute biking sprinting faster into public popularity, the option of a bamboo bike is future-retro appealing and very eco-friendly. They are available from a number of vendors at conventional prices. The first bamboo bikes were built back in the 1890’s. Over the past decade bamboo bike design and building technology have improved dramatically—bamboo bikes have won awards for Best Road Bike, Best Off-Road Bike and was the winning bike in a Triathlon event.

Bamboo bikes are not built entirely from bamboo. Typically, the frame and handles are bamboo, and in some cases the spokes on wheel rims are bamboo. Bamboo is stronger than steel (17% along length axis), very light and is more comfortable to ride than carbon fiber frames. The vibration dampening factors of bamboo are remarkable.

On the ecological side, bamboo is a sustainable, natural product. It contributes oxygen to the planet atmosphere while growing—generating more than an equal size stand of trees. Bamboo matures in 6-8 years and can be harvested selectively for uses. The use of bamboo in bikes uses far less energy than the manufacturing of titanium, steel or aluminum typically used in bike construction. Carbon fiber is especially energy-intense (requiring super-hot furnaces) and bamboo far outclasses it in low-energy use.

Some U.S. bamboo bike manufacturers are exploring making bamboo bikes for African nations to aid in commercial and social opportunities. Bamboo bike trailers are also available.

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