Monday, February 2, 2009


Bicycles are certainly green as a method of transportation, something we can all agree upon. Our Shop provides the Boston/Cambridge area with used and vintage bicycles, pretty green too you might say. Something that is even GREENER, perhaps as green as it gets, are bicycles built from a highly renewable resource BAMBOO!

Bamboo, it is better that steel for tensile strength and better than concrete for compression. Bamboo has a tensile strength superior to mild steel, plus a weight-to-strength ratio surpassing that of graphite. Bamboo is the strongest growing woody plant on earth with one of the widest ranging habitats of more than 1500 species thriving in diverse terrain from sea level to 12,000 feet on every continent but the poles. And what makes it so renewable is it also grows the fastest: clocked shooting skyward at 2 inches an hour. Some species can grow one and a half meters a day. Not bad for what was thought to be, when I was a kid, something that was used to build cheap outdoor furniture from.

In the recent past bamboo has shown up in hardwood flooring systems, great looking hardwood appeal from a renewable source. And over the last several years bamboo has showed up as a source to build bicycles from. Of course in Asia bamboo has been used for so much more for centuries. History tells us that apparently Bamboo Bicycles are nothing new, the first bamboo bicycles were shown at the London Stanley Show of 1894 and caused a sensation (See English patent No 8274 on April 26, 1894).

When bamboo is used for building bicycles and when builders like Craig Calfee are building with it, I find that exciting. Why, besides my interest in such a bicycle, I am truly worried that my children’s generation (Gen Y'ers) could very well be screwed, in an ecological, economic, and or you name it manner. Will bamboo bicycles save the world; well maybe not…but it is the collective of such ideas that just might. It is great when some people just stay out of "the box" and think, that is what will save the world.

I Googled Bamboo Bicycle Builder in Boston…and got nothing local. So if anyone knows about someone building with bamboo in these parts, please leave a comment. From what I read those who have ridden on bamboo give glowing reviews.

Not unlike the auto industry so much comes form those elite worlds of endurance or racing, we could be witness to new world “Woodies” (Woodie was a term used for wood body cars and truck back in the day). I sure do hope that a local bike builder in ther Boston/Cambridge area starts bamboo building in the near future. And it would be very cool is if someone started to “mass-produce” bicycles of bamboo. Not to mention it would be interesting to see how such a frame would stand up to our lovely New England winters.

Several articles are linked below, Google bamboo bicycles or YouTube Bamboo Bicycles
building bamboo bicycles, or bamboo for construction material, just to name a few and you can go on for hours.

What is old is new again! Yet again it is the ancient and old world that shows us we need to pay more attention to what we have here and now.

Plant more and ride more!

More Bamboo
Time Magazine-Green to the Extreme
Newsweek Magazine-Stronger Than Steel

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