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Why Bamboo?

Old 06-08-21, 02:10 PM
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seibaatgung
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Why Bamboo?

Why do people use bamboo as a frame material? Other than as a novelty - I heard it's less springy than steel, and heavier than aluminum. And if you live in Sichuan, a panda could eat your bike.
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Old 06-08-21, 02:37 PM
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Why not? The frame you can build with one of the world's most available resourced, enough CF to wrap the joints and some epoxy may not be 2021 up to date, but done right, fully worthy of 2005 and in the 140 years of the modern bike, a very, very good ride. Plus, your neighbors and clubmates don't have one.

The owner of Portland's best (in many's opinion) bike shop, River City, owns a bamboo bike I have seen parked on the showroom floor many times. He commutes on it, has put on a bunch of miles and it clearly has served him well.
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Old 06-08-21, 02:51 PM
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Bike frame made of natural materials are nothing new https://www.silvacycles.co.uk/
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Old 06-08-21, 03:10 PM
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seibaatgung
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Why not? The frame you can build with one of the world's most available resourced, enough CF to wrap the joints and some epoxy may not be 2021 up to date, but done right, fully worthy of 2005 and in the 140 years of the modern bike, a very, very good ride. Plus, your neighbors and clubmates don't have one.

The owner of Portland's best (in many's opinion) bike shop, River City, owns a bamboo bike I have seen parked on the showroom floor many times. He commutes on it, has put on a bunch of miles and it clearly has served him well.
How's the ride? springier or less than steel?
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Old 06-08-21, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by seibaatgung View Post
Why do people use bamboo as a frame material? Other than as a novelty - I heard it's less springy than steel, and heavier than aluminum. And if you live in Sichuan, a panda could eat your bike.
It is a novelty. In some places there are a lot of poor people. Somebody starts up a company making bamboo bikes. People buy them because they are supporting a company which employs poor people. Others buy them as a souvenir of their travels. Normally it is both.

Nobody I have heard of, uses a bamboo bicycle for regular cycling.

In tension, compression, and bending, bamboo is stronger than steel pipe of equal weight. Bamboo is light, so it would be a larger diameter of a steel pipe of equal weight.

The weakness of bamboo is that it splits. It is also like softwood, in that it deteriorates over time. If exposed to the weather, bamboo would not last as long as steel, aluminum, or carbon fiber. It would be like making a bike out of pine. If you wanted to ride in salt water, bamboo would last longer than steel.

On a bicycle, the weakness is the joints. If you rode existing bamboo bike on rough tracks for some time, the joints would fail.

However, if someone was to put the same sort of technology into bamboo bikes, as they put into carbon fiber bikes, a strong bike could be made. Particularly if the bamboo was coated with carbon fiber to stop it splitting, and deteriorating when exposed to the weather. But there would be no advantage, when you can just have a carbon fiber bike.

Last edited by alo; 06-08-21 at 03:58 PM.
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Old 06-08-21, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
However, if someone was to put the same sort of technology into bamboo bikes, as they put into carbon fiber bikes, a strong bike could be made. Particularly if the bamboo was coated with carbon fiber to stop it splitting, and deteriorating when exposed to the weather. But there would be no advantage, when you can just have a carbon fiber bike.
As in grow a bamboo plant to take the form of a bike frame?
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Old 06-08-21, 05:36 PM
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It's so you can log more miles.

I still have my mostly-unworked Calfee frame kit. My wife bought it for me and I was supposed to work on it during our FMLA for the twins birth - but heck, twins, no time after all, and now they're four. It is supposed to be a 29er but there was an error on the plans - the BB drop was unchanged for the different wheel sizes. They have probably fixed it by now. I was planning to copy a Karate Monkey, but walked back from that when realizing it wasn't going to work with the plus tires because it can't have a BB yoke. If I take it up again I'll likely copy a Salsa Journeyman flatbar, which is pretty conventional. The cast wrap for the joints seems to have hardened up in its package, I would need to replace it.

Craig Calfee's idea was to send bike kits to Africa and they could use on-site materials or stuff that's easy to source. He started off with carbon fiber joints and switched to fiberglass-polyurethane cast wrap which medics can order and only needs water for activation and cleanup and not a problem to sand.


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Old 06-08-21, 06:25 PM
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Most people that use bamboo do it because the investment is much lower than a metal frame. Calfee got into it so that people that had bamboo and not much equipment could make bike frames.
People that haven't built a frame and want to build a frame are always looking for shortcuts, and bamboo is a pretty good shortcut. If you look through the archives of this forum you will find people that want to use all sorts of materials to build a frame. Like PVC, which is a horrible idea
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Old 06-08-21, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
Most people that use bamboo do it because the investment is much lower than a metal frame. Calfee got into it so that people that had bamboo and not much equipment could make bike frames.
People that haven't built a frame and want to build a frame are always looking for shortcuts, and bamboo is a pretty good shortcut. If you look through the archives of this forum you will find people that want to use all sorts of materials to build a frame. Like PVC, which is a horrible idea
But is the ride quality better in some ways than steel or aluminium? Also I can't find a bamboo bike in the US that isn't overpriced.
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Old 06-08-21, 07:58 PM
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Originally Posted by seibaatgung View Post
But is the ride quality better in some ways than steel or aluminium? Also I can't find a bamboo bike in the US that isn't overpriced.
Canaboo here once told us that he thins out the material from the inside.

The kit is cheap but it takes a man-week of labor, which is either free in your garage or two grand-ish if you pay someone
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Old 06-08-21, 08:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Canaboo here once told us that he thins out the material from the inside.

The kit is cheap but it takes a man-week of labor, which is either free in your garage or two grand-ish if you pay someone
What kit do you recommend? Also do you ride a lefty fork or are you left handed?
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Old 06-08-21, 11:29 PM
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Originally Posted by seibaatgung View Post
What kit do you recommend? Also do you ride a lefty fork or are you left handed?
Is there more than one kit? The Calfee kit was on Kickstarter when I bought it but I haven’t checked in lately what’s for sale.

Luke and Anakin both lost their right hands; Anakin rather more than that.
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Old 06-09-21, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Darth Lefty View Post
Luke and Anakin both lost their right hands; Anakin rather more than that.
Are you that german guy?
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Old 06-09-21, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by seibaatgung View Post
But is the ride quality better in some ways than steel or aluminium? Also I can't find a bamboo bike in the US that isn't overpriced.
People gotta eat. I don't know why you would think it rides better than steel or aluminum. Like I said, the reason people are interested in them is the low equipment costs required to build. That doesn't mean they are cheap to make as a business because labor costs are relatively high. Home builders have little equipment but lots of time. I have no idea why you would buy one unless you just like the idea.

However, the law of bicycle marketing says that if you think it will ride better than steel or aluminum, it will due to cognitive bias.
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Old 06-09-21, 11:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Bob the Mech View Post
Bike frame made of natural materials are nothing new https://www.silvacycles.co.uk/

That is amazing. Like a wooden longboard.
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Old 06-09-21, 11:56 PM
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Most people buy bamboo bikes out of sympathy, as the business is helping poor people. Most people don't really want to ride a bamboo bike for transport or exercise.

My philosophy is: Don't buy something you don't really want, out of sympathy.

If you pursue that concept. These people would be better off setting up a business making steel bikes, that people genuinely want to ride.
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Old 06-10-21, 05:18 AM
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I don't think there is an element of sympathy involved for most people. Possibly a desire to ride a bike made of sustainable materials, which I think is misguided. But it might be marginally better for the planet to buy a bamboo bike that you don't ride instead of buying a steel or aluminum bike that you don't ride.
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Old 06-10-21, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by alo View Post
Most people buy bamboo bikes out of sympathy, as the business is helping poor people. Most people don't really want to ride a bamboo bike for transport or exercise.

My philosophy is: Don't buy something you don't really want, out of sympathy.

If you pursue that concept. These people would be better off setting up a business making steel bikes, that people genuinely want to ride.
As we drift from making frames to social discussions- The bolded is making quite some leap of reasoning. Believe me when I say there are a lot of too rich people who buy all kinds of bikes, including bamboo ones. There are many jerks and self centered people who buy bikes, all kinds. And there are many people who like to pigeon hole others so they can feel good with their place in the world.

I've said for years that if it's purple poka dots that convince people to ride a bike I'll hand them the paint and brush. Bicycling is one of the activities that includes such a wide range of people. From the poor who can't afford other ways to get around to those who make more an hour then I get paid in a week. From those who only need to get to work and those who seek their sense of self through their riding.

In the "Grimy Handshake" Mike Feritino (wrong spelling) wrote of the winter in a bike shop and the type of customer who still has to get their bike serviced then. How these riders, who use their bikes for transportation, are often the more compelling and the more worthy customers and how the seasonal only riders (the vast majority of who we see in the spring/summer) were often more demanding and less appreciative. While he was still categorizing riders at least it was based on their character and not on their income. Andy
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Old 06-10-21, 10:20 AM
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I’ve yet to see a bamboo bike in real life. Sure would like to.
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Old 06-10-21, 11:10 AM
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I have seen a few but I live in Portland and it helps.
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Old 06-10-21, 02:33 PM
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There used to be one locked up in the general area of the engineering buildings at the university. Haven't seen one for a while. I don't think they are very compatible with bike racks. Overcrowded bike racks are hard enough on overweight steel bikes.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:13 AM
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Good quality bamboo properly treated will probably outlast the owner of the bike. I still ride the first one I made back in 2008 and it has been left in a garden shed year round through scorching summer heat and freezing winters with no signs of deterioration or cracking. The carbon joints have no separation via the thermal expansion issue Calfee mentions.

The benefits of the material are pretty well known and generally agreed on..
When you consider all the work that goes into making tubes from other material it's pretty neat that nature just does the same thing for us. That's hard to beat.
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Old 06-14-21, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Canaboo View Post
The benefits of the material are pretty well known and generally agreed on..
I think this thread demonstrates the opposite. Maybe you could elaborate for us.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I think this thread demonstrates the opposite. Maybe you could elaborate for us.
When bamboo started being used again Calfee and Boo both touted the benefits of the material. If you read their blurbs on it you'll get the essentials.
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Old 06-14-21, 10:42 AM
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Okay, I'm sticking with cheap construction + marketing puffery, at best.
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