... and nobody would ever nick one. Though you might have to be a bit careful leaving it near goats.
The first UK-built bamboo bike has been shown off at the Cycle Show in Birmingham. bamboo_bike2 One of the bamboo bikes from the range. Image courtesy RAW Bamboo Bikes The large grass velocipede is the brainchild of designers from Oxford Brookes University, who say that the bamboo has the strength of steel but the …
a 'normal' steel bike that weighs a ton is a couple of hundred quid. A pro or semi-pro bike with carbon-fibre chassis that you can literally lift with 2 fingers starts at a couple of thousand quid and go all the way up to the price of a small car.
I would expect that a bamboo bike would weigh considerably less than a steel one, so if it's stiffness really compares well with Carbon fibre then £800 is snip. Just keep it away from Pandas
>"I would expect that a bamboo bike would weigh considerably less than a steel one"
I would expect similar or more, whilst bamboo is stronger than steel in some ways, in others it isn't. Consider, joints, variations in structure (grown rather than made) bending stresses rather than simply tensile stress, more limited choice of form, cross section, internal structure and so on.
It's a bloody hard material to use and that will mean using more of it.
"is extremely absorbent of vibrations and bumps in the road and trail"
Does not the above say to any rider that while you pedal the energy is going into the frame not into forward motion? You know like suspension does when it absorbs the bumps but can wobble a lot (if not configured right) when just pedaling?
On the website they do say that their technique makes it one of the stiffest frames out there. But this is contradictory to the absorbing the bumps, which is it, stiff or absorbent?
You're missing the whole point of using a fibrous medium. The fibres will move to some degree within the medium, but the structure as a whole will appear rigid on the macro scale. Vibration is medium frequency and low power, which will be absorbed in the fibres rather than the structure, preventing in reaching the rider. Bumps are low frequency and high power, and have the potential to damage the structure, but the bamboo is rigid enough relative to these to protect itself (the rider gets a jolt, but it's less than he'd get if the bike split beneath him and he hit the road).
Or to put it another way: bamboo is harder to bend/break than metal pipes, but hit them both with a drumstick and it's the metal pipe that will ring...
A bunch of northern Italians at the end of the second world war who were ski makers saw a market when steel was in shoprt supply after the war. They made a bike from wood using ski laminate forms that by all accounts worked very well and I understand there are still a few of them in working condition.
As for the eco-friendliness of bamboo, no one mentions it is considered a weed by a great many gardeners because it absolutely strips the nutrients out of the soil. Quick way to make a desert from otherwise fertile soil. Leave it to the pandas to mow down!
I am being ecofriendly by riding a bike that is about 25+ years old and cost about 40 quid at an auction. Goes like the clappers and gets me to where I want to go.
... no expensive toy these days is presented to the public without mentioning how "green" it is. Never mind these toys are then bought by the stinking rich who then proceed to pack it in their landrover and head off to, say, the Pyrenees for a bit of "eXtreme biking".
If they'd really want to make a difference, they'd design a "green" utility bike that can be bought for not more than a hundred and fifty quid, such that also those of more modest means can make their contribution towards saving the planet.
Chances are it would last longer than a steel bike - that rusts!
Putting a lacquer on bamboo has been done in the far east for centuries to make items that last a very long time. When done properly they are water proof and very tough, yet are still remarkably light. It does however take quite a lot of time to put a good lacquer down, whcih is probably why these bikes are rather expensive (effetively hand crafted).
Bamboo surely does have eco benefits but I seriously wonder how great those benefits are when you're shipping bamboo thousands of miles to just to flog a bike costing £1000 to some hipsters. If I bought a bike for £1000 you can sure as hell bet I would want it to last me at least 5 years of moderate use to justify the price. Would a bamboo bike fair so well?
It seems to me that such a project would be better served selling cheap bikes to people in the east where the raw material is in plentiful supply and where bicycle riding is more common anyway.
At least it's not as bad as those laptops a few years back which were clad in bamboo for supposed "eco" reasons but really just to slap a £100 markup onto the price of the device.
Warning - this is based on old memories and hearsay, so may not be 100% accurate.
My father, a keen cyclist when he was young, told me about indoor racing bikes made of bamboo in the 1930s. He said that even the wheel rims were made of bamboo strips. Of course there were no carbon fibre or resin-glass composites in those days, and even aluminium was scarce, so it made sense to use a strong lightweight natural material to produce something lighter than an all steel bike.
I believe the fragility of the bamboo, and the lethal splinters when it broke on impact (not unusual in indoor racing) put paid to it as a realistic material, certainly for outdoor use. After the war there were new materials, so it faded into the mists of time, waiting for someone to reinvent it.
Bamboo bikes were made in the 1800s and have had periodic resurgences ever since, not least because wars have made metal expensive or scarce.
However the manufacturers haven't claimed to be first from what I've seen. They even say they started using bamboo after having ridden another bamboo bike! They claim some novelty in having identified selection and conditioning methods to get the best material properties, and in the lugs. It's an incremental improvement on what's been done before, as engineering often is.
Before passing judgement on bamboo, I think we'd need more information on the points of failure of these bikes. The thing that jumps out at me is this:
" He said that even the wheel rims were made of bamboo strips. "
A lot of the strength of bamboo comes from its cylindrical structure, which is lost when you cut it. You also lose the benefit of the dense impermeable outer layer if you expose the insides. The wheels certainly sound like the weak link here -- I would expect the rims to be in splinters before you'd even see a split in the tubes.
First ‘widely-commercially available UK-made’ bamboo bikes, possibly.
There've been at least three or four other groups of people making and selling UK-made bamboo bikes over the past few years, including a friend of mine who made and sold a handful around North London last year, and would be still if he didn't have other responsibilities (much to my chagrin - I was supposed to be swapping a website for my own bamboo bike, grrr!)
Also, does your second image there not show an American-made bamboo bike, made by Calfee?
Anyway, that aside - if you ever get a chance to try one, do. They're an interesting, surprisingly comfortable ride.
I remember seeing a website a few years back of someone who had made a mountain bike frame using bamboo as the main struts, the site is still going and he's still making new frames, the first he made some 7+ years ago:
He's even gone as far as making a full frame using just bamboo fibers in much the same way carbon fibers are woven to create shapes:
We still have a long way to go to beat nature at it's own game, and as they say; if you can't beat em, join em.
There's a lot of people in this thread that clearly haven't been in a proper bike shop. If the frame really does compare favourably with a full-carbon then £1000 is pretty reasonable.
You can get something much cheaper from Bike Hut, punched out of steel and screwed together by chimps, but if you want a good bike, you pays your money.
**Rides off on Epic Evo**
It would be more impressive if they actually quoted a typical weight for such a frame. I rather doubt it will out-perform a carbon frame which has similar shock damping characteristics (anyway, it must be better than large diameter aluminium which has horrid shock absorption). I also suspect that they have to build in a much larger safety factor than with less variable materials which are less affected by environmental degradation.
Given that bamboo will bio-degrade, I hope they treat this with lots of (nasty) preservatives, our you might find this nice expensive frame will have lost a good bit of its strength after being stored in a damp shed for a few years.
Nb. for comfort, I don't think anything beats a titanium frame.
...why? I could not help think "Cool, a bamboo bike! Oh, I'll never be able to afford that"
I always feel so frustrated that so many of these 'green', 'environment friendly', 'revolutionary', etc solutions very rarely seem to be accessible to people regardless of financial position. They quite often seem to be packaged and aimed at the 'exclusive', 'desirable' end of the market.
How about some genuine mass market, green products that are truly affordable? *insert suggestions of products that I may have missed here. Thanks!*
Whilst it is a nice publicity shot thie bike is lacking one manajor advantage of carbon fibre.
When you build any structure from CF you can specify the direction of each of the many layers of the fibre to specifically tune the strength and stiffness in response to the expected loads generated during cycling. Additionaly outer protective layers can be used laid against the direction of the main load bearing fibres to work as an effective barrier to crack propagation.
Even with metal frames you can using tube butting, shaping and gussetting.
With bamboo you are completely limited to taking the material as-is. So I would assume (as is the case with many wood structures) that the structure has to be massively overengineered in many areas to cope with the peak loads in just a few places. I really doubt it would be a pleasure to ride!
Just because you can doesn't mean you should or that it is progress.
Actually some mfg have replaced CF by bamboo in FRP. Not using solid bamboo, processed strips.
Yes it does work as well as CF. AFAIK it's not quite as fire resistant as CF but in an atmosphere with say 20%+ O2 present (what you're breathing right now) CF will "rapidly oxidize" as quickly as bamboo anyway.
Replacing something can be done for a number of reasons - frequently build to cost!.
Anyway my point was with CF or any polymer/fibre composite the designer has a lot of control ofer the material. With bamboo you are immediately limited by the nature plant itself. I'd rather recycle one of the umpteen steel frames I see at the local tip than ride a bamboo frame thanks.
The second photo of the allegedly all British Bike is in fact not indigenous at all, rather it is a product of http://www.calfeedesign.com/products/bamboo/ .
Surely it was not too hard for your ex-News of the World reporter to use a real photo of the actual all-British device, well perhaps it was.....
BTW, to anyone moderately experienced with bicycles the photos are of two different bikes. Quite apart from the different colour Bamboo, the different wheels, gearing, forks and braking system is kind of a giveaway.
The different Decals on the downtube are also a hint.
My neighbour as I was growing up in the 1970's had been a keen cycle racer in the 1940's, his racing bike had bamboo wheel rims, so I think this one has missed a trick there. The ice axe I still use for general mountaineering use still has its laminated bamboo shaft from the late 1970's.
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