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Bamboo Bike A Reality

michael posted about 11 years ago | from the recycle-your-beer-cans dept.

Science 467

markjugg writes "The American Bamboo Society has a page describing a working bamboo bike. This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable, expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist."

cancel ×


strength of bamboo (5, Interesting)

mandalayx (674042) | about 11 years ago | (#6540551)

Before you say that bamboo is weak and easily dismembered, here's a quote from the article:

But Flavio makes me see things differently: Bamboo is a resource of immense potential. And it is strong too. What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact.

The main point of the article, of course, is that bamboo is much more environmentally friendly than metals while being extraordinarily plentiful.

Re:strength of bamboo (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540558)


Next Week... (4, Funny)

Davak (526912) | about 11 years ago | (#6540615)

Next week we can all read about the follow up stories from the America Plastic Association, the American Balsa Wood Collective, and the Society for the Reuse of Aluminum Foil...


Re:Next Week... (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 11 years ago | (#6540729)

"Society for the Reuse of Aluminum Foil" also known as the AFPB Association of America - "Wear your tinfoil hat with pride!"

Re:strength of bamboo (5, Funny)

gwernol (167574) | about 11 years ago | (#6540644)

Before you say that bamboo is weak and easily dismembered, here's a quote from the article:

"But Flavio makes me see things differently: Bamboo is a resource of immense potential. And it is strong too. What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact."

While resistence to longitudinal stress is a good thing, many of the strains on the frame of a bike are not longitudinal - there is a lot of lateral flexing as you pedal. Bamboo is prone to splitting and fracturing when under lateral strain. I would really hate to have one of those collapse under me due to lateral stress fractures. All those sharp slivers of bamboo right under my crotch? No thanks...

Re:strength of bamboo (2, Insightful)

SuperBanana (662181) | about 11 years ago | (#6540653)

Before you say that bamboo is weak and easily dismembered [snip] What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact.

Yes, but steel/aluminum won't rot, won't get eaten by bugs, are stronger in NON-logitudinal directions(ie, twisting- think about when you pump the pedals holding the handlebars, yes, you're twisting pieces of the frame!)...and when they fail, they (usually) just bend. Bamboo cracks, and then it just disintegrates.

Re:strength of bamboo (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540801)

Yes, but steel/aluminum won't rot, won't get eaten by bugs

Hmmm yes, what we really need is an environmentally friendly biodegradable substance that won't rot or get eaten by bugs. Best of both worlds.

Re:strength of bamboo (2, Funny)

dAzED1 (33635) | about 11 years ago | (#6540679)

holy crap! well, I guess I'll have to make sure to tell all my biking buddies to make sure that all strain exerted on their bikes is "in the longitudinal direction," versus the normal strains that are put on bikes (twists, various directions, etc).

And next time I'm hit by an suv while riding a bike, I'll be sure glad the bike shattered into bits instead of staying in one relative piece!

Did the people who did this previous work in MS's "innovation" department???

Re:strength of bamboo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540692)

"previous" = "previously"

it's been done... (5, Funny)

hangingonwords (581642) | about 11 years ago | (#6540557)

i've seen this before on a show called gilligans island...

Re:it's been done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540578)

You better not try to steal my idea for a coconut radio! My patent is pending!

Re:it's been done... (2, Informative)

More Karma Than God (643953) | about 11 years ago | (#6540579)

No it hasn't, that was a bamboo car.

Re:it's been done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540591)

How do you think they powered everything on the island?

Re:it's been done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540674)

Shhh. It's entertainment. How do you think Lara Croft could tell that the helicopter was going to Hong Kong, like 30 seconds after she put the tracking device on it? Or how the german guy(the same german guy in Driven and SLC Punk) continues to scream while his head is being chomped by the shadow rock guys?

I'm glad I didn't pay to see that movie.

Re:it's been done... (5, Funny)

whiteranger99x (235024) | about 11 years ago | (#6540725)

i've seen this before on a show called gilligans island...

Go figure, the Professor could make Bamboo Bikes, Timeshares, Coconut powered-radios, a nuclear reactor and yet they couldn't simply patch a fucking hole in the goddamn boat, The!

Ummmm..... (4, Informative)

dr_dank (472072) | about 11 years ago | (#6540561)

Does any one see a set of brakes on this thing?

Yes, I know that some bikes have the brake mechanism in the hub of the rear wheel, but that doesn't appear in the photo either.

Re:Ummmm..... (3, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | about 11 years ago | (#6540590)

Since it's only got one gear, would it be possible to control speed with the chain?

Re:Ummmm..... (1)

salimfadhley (565599) | about 11 years ago | (#6540639)

Yes! It is a single speed - Gears, Breaks - these things are not required when the pedals are connected directly to the chain, and the chain is connected to the wheel. You want to slow down... pedal slower.

Re:Ummmm..... (1)

Manywele (679470) | about 11 years ago | (#6540699)

What? Single gear bikes are not necessarily direct drive like a unicycle. You can put a ratchet in there so you keep moving even without pedaling (think about going down a steep hill with a direct drive bike). Don't you guys remember that single gear bike you had as a kid that you stopped by pushing backwards on the pedals? I think it had some brake on the rear axle but I wasn't interested in bike mechanics when I was 7, it had nothing visible on the tire though.

Re:Ummmm..... (2, Insightful)

AmigaAvenger (210519) | about 11 years ago | (#6540712)

many die hard mountain bikers use single speeds, especially for training. These are DIRECTLY tied to the wheel, no coasting action what so ever. (although they DO have normal handbrakes brakes, running without is just plain stupid, you use those for quick emergency stops only)

Re:Ummmm..... (4, Insightful)

bj8rn (583532) | about 11 years ago | (#6540683)

Grandparent: I think it does have breaks inside the hub of the rear wheel, look more carefully - there is this metal clamp thingie just near the hub on the chain side of the bike.

Parent: yeah, right. Imagine this - you're going at full speed. Downhill. You'd better keep your feet as far away from the pedals as possible - if you don't want to break your legs.

Re:Ummmm..... (2, Interesting)

YeOldeGnurd (14524) | about 11 years ago | (#6540737)

Parent: yeah, right. Imagine this - you're going at full speed. Downhill. You'd better keep your feet as far away from the pedals as possible - if you don't want to break your legs.

This bike might have a internal coaster brake, like kids' bikes, or may very well be a fixed gear bike. These things do exist and are perfectly suitable to most urban environments (with the possible exeption of cities like San Francisco). Going downhill you DON'T take your feet off the pedals, you just control your descent by spinning at the right speed. It's actually a better system than relying on brake pads once you get competent using a fixie.

Re:Ummmm..... (1)

Darth_Burrito (227272) | about 11 years ago | (#6540744)

Parent: yeah, right. Imagine this - you're going at full speed. Downhill. You'd better keep your feet as far away from the pedals as possible

My first two bikes both had this style of single gear chain based breaking. It's actually fairly common, especially in little kiddie bmx bikes and the like.

Re:Ummmm..... (1)

Ewan (5533) | about 11 years ago | (#6540643)

That's exactly what I was thinking, so much for utility

Re:Ummmm..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540650)

It is possible that it is a fixed gear bike. A fixed gear bike operates sort of like a unicycle. You pedal forwards and the bike goes forward. Pedal backwards and the bike goes backward. So by slowing your pedaling the bike slows down. If this is in fact what the bike's drive train is, I can see why. The system is extremely simple and durable. May want to check out information on track bikes if you want more information.


Fixie! (4, Informative)

YeOldeGnurd (14524) | about 11 years ago | (#6540693)

It's called a "fixed gear bike". There's no freewheel in the rear hub, so you have to pedal all the time you are moving, and you stop by stopping pedalling.

This may seem like a pain, but fixies are actually extremely popular among a certain bike subculture, particularly urban bike messengers. The famous and wonderful Sheldon Brown [] has an extensive collection of articles [] on building and riding fixies.

Re:Fixie! (1)

TheViewFromTheGround (607422) | about 11 years ago | (#6540719)

I love fixies -- I'm in the process of building myself one. But, would a bamboo fixie cause more strain in the wrong directions? I rode a fixed gear once with a homemade rear hub built out of a standard hub with a free wheel and all and the rear gear was always breaking loose and eventually the hub broke down because backpedaling is a very straining activity.

Re:Fixie! (1)

paanta (640245) | about 11 years ago | (#6540774)

Lock rings and locktite will fix that.

SHUT THE HELL UP (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540766)


Question the first. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540562)

Look closely at the picture. Now, tell my where the breaks are?

Re:Question the first. (1)

gantrep (627089) | about 11 years ago | (#6540690)

Umm, maybe there aren'ts any "breaks" because it isn't "broken"?

Bear alert! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540565)

This would work fine, except that pandas eat bamboo. Better not get into a forest with that bike.

GNAA! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540566)

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Join GNAA (GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA) today, and enjoy all the benefits of being a full-time GNAA member.
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Talk to one of the ops or any of the other members in the channel to sign up today!

If you are having trouble locating #GNAA, the official GAY NIGGER ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA irc channel, you might be on a wrong irc network. The correct network is EFNet, and you can connect to or as one of the EFNet servers.
If you do not have an IRC client handy, you are free to use the GNAA Java IRC client by clicking here [] .

If you have mod points and would like to support GNAA, please moderate this post up.

This post brought to you by Penisbird [] , a proud member of the GNAA

| ______________________________________._a,____ |
| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ |
| __ad#7!!*P____a.d#0a____#!-_#0i___.#!__W#0#___ |
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The straight truth about the gnaa (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540761)

The GNAA is a small loose knit group of trolls whose sole purpose is to post retarded shit to various websites. Membership of the group is really irrelevant, but they do have guidelines, which are really just part of their elaborate "troll". Basically, you gotta be a nigger, gay, or both, blah blah. Post an fp for the group and your ub3r l33t, bs ,bs . ...

The cold hard facts about the GNAA
There's nothing gay or black about the GNAA. In fact, the GNAA doesnt have a single gay or black member at all, and most likely never will.

IRC Chat log
(Nws4Turds) pocide
(Nws4Turds) i m teh luv j00!
(koft) yo, st0p b3ing teh gay
(koft) gh3y is teh sux0r
(pocide) i luv u 2 Nws4Turds !, lets felch!
(Nws4Turds) y3s!
(Nws4Turds) pocide
(koft) ph3lch is teh sux0r
(Nws4Turds) i like teh ph3lch
(koft) thats nasty, yall are gay niggers if i ever saw gay niggers
(Nws4Turds) i'm a gay nigger
(koft) stop being t3h gh3y.
(Nws4Turds) actually, i'm a straight honkey

And at this point, Nws4Turds ebraces his heterosexuality, coming out of a "reverse closet" for a brief moment, exposing his inner self. He then feels the need to expound on this idea.
(Nws4Turds) i had sex this morning
(Nws4Turds) it felt good
(Nws4Turds) she came twice

After these statements i was threatened!
(pocide) k0ft: do not even attempt to fr0st
(pocide) not only will YFI but you'd be testin my gangsta and you don't wanna do that, oh no

Following our conversation, my ids picked up a portscan from, the address from a user in the channel known as "penisbird".
(pocide) I see your running IIS and exchange. your machine is going down the deep dark anus hole of goatse!
(koft) Damn, i didnt realize that apache and sendmail were part of IIS and exchange... You guys are leeter that i immagined...

Truth: GNAA is a group of wanna be script kiddies who troll on lame message boards like 'Slashdot'
Truth: The GNAA leader 'PenisBird' has a prefrence for porn depicting under age individuals
Truth: All GNAA members are white
Truth: None of the GNAA members are gay
Truth: All GNAA members live with their mothers

Don't take my word for it though, check out the lameness for yourself. efnet #GNAA

Seems like a hoax... (5, Funny)

fmita (517041) | about 11 years ago | (#6540569)

They're probably just trying to bamboozle us...

Re:Seems like a hoax... (1)

VistaBoy (570995) | about 11 years ago | (#6540605)

I think you've been spending too much time drinking the bamBooze.

Re:Seems like a hoax... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540682)

You're trying too hard... and failing at being funny I'm afraid.

Re:Seems like a hoax... (0)

955301 (209856) | about 11 years ago | (#6540715)

I agree. Anyone who turns up with an idea such as this must be pretty strange. I bet if you spoke with his ex-girlfriend, she'll tell you he's a stalker.

Three in one, cha-ching!

THE MOON - The REAL Truth (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540575)

The authorities expect you to simply take at their word the absurd and unfounded story that there is a large mass orbiting the earth. Obviously we are expected to be mere sheep, going along with whatever the Thought Police would tell us. However, when one looks at THE FACTS, in an atmosphere free from bias and academic repression, one sees a very different story.

False claims retracted!

Throughout history, hundreds of absurd fables have been circulated regarding the moon. Most of these have since been discarded. For example, people used to speak about there being "a man in the moon", or about moon being made out of cheese (as recently as last year, I saw an animated film that was still promoting this latter absurdity). We rarely hear such things spoken of anymore. These fables, once asserted as true by the proponents of the moon hoax, were quietly discarded once proven absurd by revisionists. What does this tell us about the equally absurd assertions that are still being made about the moon? How can we believe anything that the Astronomically Correct establishment tells us, when they have been so obviously shown themselves prone to such intellectual dishonesty in the past? The fact that the story has exhibited such enormous variability over the years should automatically be a cause for doubt.
No one speaks anymore of Richard A. Locke, a newspaper reporter who wrote a fantastic but wholly fabricated account of discoveries on the moon falsely attributed to the English astronomer Sir John Herschel. Locke reported that Herschel, using a telescope 24 feet in diameter (!), saw fabulous bat-like creatures, living in elaborate cities on the lunar surface. No less a newspaper than the New York Sun printed these reports on its front page as its most important news story! The whole moon hoax is based on such fanciful tales. That's why I doubt most of it.

Mathematical impossibilities
Another impossibility that has always been an embarrassment to the scientific establishment is the obvious fact that an object as heavy as the moon, caught in the earth's gravity, would inevitably come crashing down upon us at immense speeds. Responses to this argument from the Lunarists have always been weak, and always couched in that scientific newspeak designed to confuse the sincere questioner without actually saying anything.
The establishment most often cites the work of Isaac Newton in support of its story. Newton is well known for coming up with entirely theoretical notions such as the Law of Universal Gravitation, and his more famous Laws of Motion which serve to gloss over the more obvious inconsistencies in the moon story. What he is less known for is his "extra-curricular" pursuits, which he kept quite secret during his lifetime but which have since been uncovered. Newton was a dominating figure in the Royal Society, a fellowship riddled with members of the various secret societies whose goal to dominate the world has already been outlined. Newton himself possessed copies of Rosicrucian manifestos, and, as is evident in his notes, had studied them thoroughly. Many of his biographers suspect that he shared the religious beliefs of many of his colleagues. It does not take a genius to conclude that these beliefs may have influenced his scientific reasoning.

This is, of course, the reason why revisionists are excluded from academic institutions. The majority of scientists and professors of most universities are members of organizations such as these, as are most of the scientists who work for NASA. Those that are not realize that their livelihood depends on towing the establishment line, and therefore only a few have had the courage to speak out.

However, eminent scientists, working in defiance of the establishment, have proven conclusively, using the most scrupulous methods, that if an object such as the moon really existed, it could not remain fixed in the sky for very long. Proactive arguments in support of this finding return to a closer examination of the original mathematical formula generally referenced when rallying to solidify the moon's improbable existence:

F = GMm/r2
Where F = gravitational attraction
G = the gravitational constant
M = mass of one body
m = mass of the second body
r = distance between the two bodies
Established by Newton himself, this numerical gem is based completely on the assumption that the moon travels in concentric circles around our planet. F (the gravitational attraction holding the moon to its "true" path) requires that r (the distance between the two celestial bodies) remains constant. Should the distance, r, decrease at any given moment, the gravitational force will increase in strength. When this event occurs the moon will be pulled towards this planet. According to Newton's theory that a body set in motion remains in motion, such an incident would initiate a logical series of events with a singular chaotic result: propagated drawing of satellite to planet until the two massive bodies collide.

However, even the most fanatical Lunarists no longer cling to the absurd notion that objects in the solar system travel in concentric circles. These so-called "scientists" have changed their story so many times, who knows what to believe anymore? The currently fashionable dogma is that the route followed by celestial bodies is not circular but a concave oval with the origin point at the centre (in the case of the earth, the sun; in the case of the moon, the earth) followed by a spiraling series of pathways. Thus, the moon is not maintaining a constant distance from our planet. Our orbiting satellite is forever oscillating towards us, drawing near then distant, in a continuous cycle. Each successive approach brings this massive wonder closer to our midst.

In other words, the moon does indeed alter its distance from the earth. So why is it not widespread knowledge that the end - mathematically predicated BY NEWTON'S OWN FORMULA - has been anticipated and is drawing near? Due to some irrational explanation the moon has managed to defy those very laws of physics that were originally developed to justify its existence.

The authorities expect us to believe a story that is prima facie absurd, and has been proven absurd by simple mathematical calculations. Yet they do not give us a single piece of reliable forensic evidence, nor an argument put forward by any expert free from institutional pressure.

A cash reward of $100,000 has been offered to anyone who can send us, by e-mail, conclusive physical evidence of the existence of the moon. This reward remains unclaimed.

Can you prove that the moon exists? Write to us at:

At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540576)

A power source for the coconut shortwave.

Re:At last! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540723)

You would still need a dynamo.

Gilligan and the Professor Rejoice (1, Informative)

pgrote (68235) | about 11 years ago | (#6540580)

"Born in Pennsylvania, Gilligan worked at a gas station before joining the Navy where he saved the life of the captain, becoming his "little buddy." In gratitude, when the Skipper started his own charter business, he hired Gilligan to be his first mate despite his incompetence. Gilligan's childlike nature makes him the perfect errand boy often performing many of the menial tasks on the island such as riding the Professor's generator bike, acting as manservant to Mr. Howell or collecting coconuts for the girls. It should be noted, some claim Gilligan's first name is "Willy", though none has been able to prove it."

TV Land Rules []

Yeah, but... (1)

RiffRafff (234408) | about 11 years ago | (#6540585)

It's those little strips of bark that hold the bamboo together that are keeping the industry from taking off...

So how do I explain (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540596)

How likely are insurance companies going to reimburse me when my bike burns to the ground?

Or is taken down by termites?

Or causes splinters after a bad road crash?

Will they insist on brakes?

More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (4, Informative)

Crashmarik (635988) | about 11 years ago | (#6540597)

Is the poster serious ?

Aluminum makes up 8 percent of the crust of this damn planet. ustmaterials.html

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (5, Informative)

RiffRafff (234408) | about 11 years ago | (#6540636)

He's prolly referring to raw aluminum. Extracting it consumes way too much electricity. Of course, recycling aluminum takes very little.

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (4, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | about 11 years ago | (#6540658)

Yes, but it's never found in its pure form. It takes a lot of energy to get workable aluminum out of the ore. You've got to heat it to 2300K, which takes a lot of energy. One report said that production of 1 kg of aluminum dumps 44 kg of CO2 into the air.

In this case it's not so much the energy costs or the pollution as the fact that poor countries just don't have the energy to go around.

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540704)

One report said that production of 1 kg of aluminum dumps 44 kg of CO2 into the air.

That HAS to be a lie! If there was really that much, we'd all be crushed!

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about 11 years ago | (#6540790)

1% of the electricty used in the whole of the UK is used in a single plant that extracts aluminium from its ore.

It's a very energy-demanding process to produce Al.

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (1)

bic2k (140221) | about 11 years ago | (#6540662)

The point is the amount of resources it takes to process Aluminum. It has to be mined then processes in plants that use tons of water and chemicals to provide a pure form of aluminum. I'm sure there are many steps inbetween, but compare it to going to a bamboo outcrop and cutting some bamboo down... you get the idea.

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (1)

intermodal (534361) | about 11 years ago | (#6540702)

That's true, but when you look at the resources required to refine the stuff...(from this site [] ):

Although it is so widely used today, aluminium has only recently come into use. This is because aluminium is so strongly attracted to oxygen that it can only berefined using huge amounts of electrical energy and electricity did not become readily available until this century. Thus, it is sometimes known as the metal of the 20th century, just as iron was the metal of the 19th century.

Although electricity is relatively more plentiful and less expensive than it used to be,refining aluminium from its ore is still a costly process. This is why aluminium is often recycled. This way we do not have to "waste" energy refining more of the metal than we need to.

Re:More Sustainable than Aluminum ?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540709)

Let's see aluminum grow more aluminim.

Breaks... (-1)

mhayenga (684912) | about 11 years ago | (#6540601)

Breaks smeaks.... IN SOVIET RUSSIA...

ahh.. I don't have the heart for it : )

Aluminuminuminuminum (4, Insightful)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about 11 years ago | (#6540611)

expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist.

That's funny. Aluminum is indeed expensive to extract and process and that's why it's also the most recycled mineral(?) in existence.

Re:Aluminuminuminuminum (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540651)

Recycling aluminum is almost as resource intensive as making virgin aluminum. For cans, rolled steel is much more eco-friendly.

Aluminum was once so valuable that it was used to cap the Washington Monument.

Attacked By Endangered Species (5, Funny)

Eberlin (570874) | about 11 years ago | (#6540612)

This is all good until someone gets attacked by a Panda. Yet another version of "meals on wheels!"

Re:Attacked By Endangered Species (1)

dAzED1 (33635) | about 11 years ago | (#6540717)

I wish I had a couple dozen points to give you right now...

This bike promises to be much more successful... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540617)

...than the American Cheese Society's [] offering.

"Sustainable"? (5, Insightful)

justinburt (262452) | about 11 years ago | (#6540620)

Bicycling more "sustainable"? Haven't the environmentalists been trying to get us all to change to bicycles from cars supposedly because of the pollution that cars generate? And now not even bicycles are "sustainable" because they are "resource intensive"?

When does it end? Should I just stop using resources altogether (i.e. die?)

I won't post this anonymously precisely because I mean this quite seriously and not as a troll. Mod me down if you must.


Re:"Sustainable"? (2, Insightful)

babymac (312364) | about 11 years ago | (#6540785)

Should I just stop using resources altogether (i.e. die?)

Actually I've been convinced for years that this is exactly what radical environmentalists would like. They'd like to see 90% of the earth's population dead and the remaining 10% should behave and think exactly as they do. This means living a completely agrarian lifestyle and automatically believing that all advancing technology is bad and/or evil. How these ninnies ever expect to live beyond the death of our own sun is beyond me. But then again, they probably think that the death of all humanity is ultimately a good thing.

An explaination for non-bike-geeks (5, Informative)

salimfadhley (565599) | about 11 years ago | (#6540622)

I am a bike-geek as well as a Lunix-Geek:

The bike is a single-speed. That means it does not need gears, breaks or even a ratcheted freewheel (on the back wheel)... the pedals are connected directly to the rear wheel by the chain. If you want to slow down you use your legs.

Single-speeds are favourites of city-couriers, where there is a great advantage to have a light-simple bike. There is less to break (XTR gear systems are known to wear out after a few weeks of couriering).

As for Aluminum - dont get me started on that nasty harsh material. There has been a disturbing trend for wannabee bikers to adopt the freakiest lightest materials at the expense of all other properties.

For me, steel still has the edge over all these fancy materials. A steel frame will last for years of hard riding, and still feel as plush as the day it was first ridden.

Re:An explaination for non-bike-geeks (2, Informative)

jchristopher (198929) | about 11 years ago | (#6540677)

I think you mean it's a "fixed gear" not a singlespeed. There are certainly plenty of singlespeed bikes (bikes with one gear) that aren't fixed. In fact, the majority of them are not fixed gears (i.e., you can coast).

Re:An explaination for non-bike-geeks (4, Informative)

paanta (640245) | about 11 years ago | (#6540695)

I believe you're talking about "fixed gear" bikes rather than single-speed bikes. Single-speed means one speed, with or without a freewheel. Fixed gear is a fixed, non-freewheeled single-speed bike. As far as aluminum goes, its no harsher than any other frame material. The amount of flex offered by the frame, compared to the seat and tires is so small that, for a given frame geometry, I doubt many people could tell the difference between steel and aluminum. Steel's big advantage is that you can get it repaired in third world nations, and lugged steel frames look freekin' cool. Even the biggest retro-grouch of them all, Sheldon Brown, doesn't think steel offers significant comfort advantages: []

Re:An explaination for non-bike-geeks (1)

titzandkunt (623280) | about 11 years ago | (#6540720)

"As for Aluminum - dont get me started on that nasty harsh material. There has been a disturbing trend for wannabee bikers to adopt the freakiest lightest materials at the expense of all other properties."

Why don't you take this unfounded and unsupportable opinion across to, where the people who know about bike frame materials live? It would be quite amusing watching you get spanked off the newsgroup.


Re:An explaination for non-bike-geeks (1)

TheViewFromTheGround (607422) | about 11 years ago | (#6540758)

As a fellow bike-geek (who just rode from SF to Chicago on an aluminum frame), I completely agree.

The only reason I haven't gone to steel is money -- I bought my bike before I knew what I know now about materials.

I think this bamboo bike is really neat and really cool. Where I think it could take off is the cheap, replaceable commuter bike market.

But like aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber, bamboo seems like it would be a bitch to fix if splintered the material or cracked it somehow, not unlike the problems with cracking and breaking of the above mentioned metals.

Sustainable? (1, Troll)

thelizman (304517) | about 11 years ago | (#6540623)

There is no "sustaining" bicycling. You build a bike, and it's done. It's a durable good.

As for aluminum, it's manufacture costs is due to our limited foundary technology, not because of any peculiar property of aluminum. Also, aluminum is a relatively rare metal when compared to the iron it often stands in for.

Rather than deforesting vast tracts of already endangered bamboo forests (which is already leading to the demise of the Panda - not that the stupid beast deserves a future in the ecosystem), folks ought to consider carbon fiber for the bicycles.

Re:Sustainable? (1)

Cyno01 (573917) | about 11 years ago | (#6540656)

Rather than deforesting vast tracts of already endangered bamboo forests...
Deforestation in general is killing pandas, but bamboo is easily replanted, i remember reading somewhere that it can grow a foot in a 24 hour period. This seems to be a much more viable option than any metal, or even carbon fiber, which i'm sure is expensive(costwise and energywise) to manufacture.

Re:Sustainable? (2, Insightful)

thebigmacd (545973) | about 11 years ago | (#6540703)

The thing is, unlike trees bamboo reaches usable size in three years, and no need to replant after harvesting. Rather than deforest you can simply plant your own. And if they deforest correctly there is a new forest within three years. In the process of producing carbon fibre don't doubt there is a crazy amount of pollution and environmental destruction. Just think of the chemicals in the resin, and the use of sulphuric acid and petrochemicals in the fibre production process. All in all, the point is that I couldn't grow carbon fibre in my back yard no matter where I lived on this earth. Did it ever occur to you that in underprivilidged societies a bamboo bike may be a whole lot cheaper than carbon fibre?

Re:Sustainable? (1)

macmark (243711) | about 11 years ago | (#6540706)

I seriously doubt we have to worry about the production of bamboo bicycles endangering the bamboo forests. As a matter of fact, my mother in law in South Korea would probably like it if someone could regularly harvest the bamboo that keeps overgrowing her rice paddies and crop fields.

Re:Sustainable? (1)

FredThompson (183335) | about 11 years ago | (#6540710)

Huh? How is a steel tube "plush"?

Re:Sustainable? (1)

Crimson Midget (41436) | about 11 years ago | (#6540789)

not that the stupid beast deserves a future in the ecosystem

after watching a t.v. special about pandas and the difficulties they're having, I couldn't help but think of the screamapillar.

"Without constant reassurance, it will die. It's sexually attracted to fire."

Are you sure God doesn't want it dead?

Mountain biking (4, Interesting)

failedlogic (627314) | about 11 years ago | (#6540624)

I do a lot of mountain biking. I know there's some engineers who read /.

There are suspension forks which can be purchased for mountain bikes and some offer read suspension.

Assuming, the metal suspension fork is kept and a decent diameter bamboo tubing is used - would the bamboo have sufficient strength, durability and shock absorbing qualities to make a good mountain bike?

One way or another it would be interesting to try, that's for sure.

Re:Mountain biking (2, Funny)

salimfadhley (565599) | about 11 years ago | (#6540680)

I think you could make a decent mountain bike, however the problem will come at the joins. Accordign to that photo, the frame is made of lugs that have been glued to bamboo poles. Carbon fibre frames are made in a similar way. The challenge is to find an adhesive that is able to bond nicely to metal and bamboo. The other problem with bamboo is that you cannot guarantee it's regularity in the same way that you can with an artificial tube... I guess that is where craftsmen come in. Not all bamboo tubes are created equal. A lugged frame is normally made by braising metal lugs to metal poles with a bit of solder. Lugged frames are known for being tough but really heavy.

Re:Mountain biking (1)

AllUsernamesAreGone (688381) | about 11 years ago | (#6540716)

And how much would a bamboo mountain bike of similar strength and durability weigh compared to an aluminium one (ie: could it be a mountain bike or more of an "employ team of Sherpas to help carry the bike" bike?)

It must be fast....... (2, Funny)

omar.sahal (687649) | about 11 years ago | (#6540625)

so I can escape any rogue pandas.

How is it sustainable? (1)

dublisk (456374) | about 11 years ago | (#6540626)

This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable

I don't think this is more sustainable if we can only develop such a bike now, even though the Chinese have been using Bamboo for thousands of years.

hemp (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540630)

Why not just make the bikes out of hemp instead?

Re:hemp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540675)

godamn hippies piss me off, they talk about wanting to save the environment, but all they do is smoke pot and smell bad

Fiberglass (0)

zymano (581466) | about 11 years ago | (#6540634)

Hell, alot most experimental homebuilts are made from it. Cheap.

problem is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540642)

anyone with a saw can steal a chained bamboo bike.

Bamboo bike == incredibly old news (1)

titzandkunt (623280) | about 11 years ago | (#6540645)

It's been done before, many many years ago. see Bicycling Science []

Move along there, nothing to see.


Just great, another trust fund hippy toy. (1)

Kenja (541830) | about 11 years ago | (#6540654)

Expect to see this in the sharper bric-a-brac for around three grand.

Wow, I want one! (2, Insightful)

Feztaa (633745) | about 11 years ago | (#6540657)

I wonder if this would me more or less expensive than a traditional bicycle? I usually try not to pay more than $200 (CDN) for a bike, because they always get stolen (even if they're locked up... those bastards).

Since bamboo is so plentiful, I hope this would be uber-cheap. It would be great if I could ride around on a $15 bicycle... I wouldn't really care if it got stolen, but then again, nobody would really want to steal it if they knew how cheap it was... :)

Re:Wow, I want one! (2, Insightful)

hobbs (82453) | about 11 years ago | (#6540756)

Since you mention CDN, I assume you are in Canada, like myself. My question when I see this is will it stand up to the weather? He's using laminated bamboo. I have an old cromag/alu bike (over 10 years old now). Aside from the occasional greasing of the chain and other moving parts, the bike requires no thought to maintain, and it's had a lot of mud caked on it.

Will I have to care for a laminated bamboo bike by oiling it or reweatherproofing it in some way? Will I have to carefully clean and dry it after riding on rainy days?

Fire (1)

RaZ0r (145723) | about 11 years ago | (#6540660)

Finally! A bike that you can vandalize by setting it on fire! And you don't even need any fuel to start it! Burn baby, burn!

Bamboo is cool (5, Informative)

aaron.rowe (40518) | about 11 years ago | (#6540668)

I spent some time working in Nigeria and watched the local people erecting 4+ storey buildings using bamboo as scaffolding and for supporting newly laid concrete floors.

My Structural engineer friend told me that Bamboo is better than steel if used properly and since it just grows like grass it's basically free.

A bamboo bycicle would be neat but, as a natural product you aren't going to get uniform material to work with so every bike would probably be completeley different to an other. You wouldn't be able to mass produce these things.

Doing a little googling I found this report about using bamboo instead of steel in reinforced concrete. []

any way that's my bit out of the way.


Bamboo and Hemp (1)

HermanAB (661181) | about 11 years ago | (#6540681)

now that would a vvvveeeerrrryyyy pppoooopppuuulllaaarrr combination, if you build it from bamboo and tie it together with hemp...

It wil make you fat (1)

GnarlyNome (660878) | about 11 years ago | (#6540781)

Tried that Hemp bindings caught fire.. fumes made me eat
3 bags of Oreos
2 peanut butter and banana sandwitches
consume 2 gal of rippl double fudge ice cream

I Bet Steel is Still the Better Choice (4, Interesting)

Schlemphfer (556732) | about 11 years ago | (#6540685)

From the summary:

This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable, expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist.

It's a cool looking bike, but there's a few things worth mentioning. First of all, compared to driving cars, any form of bicycle is the most sustainable mechanized transport imaginable. I think if we have to worry about the fifteen pounds of metal used for each bicycle, then we might as well give up all hope that humans can survive on the planet. Because if things are that bad, the millions of people buying SUV's are going to put us over the edge in no time, no matter what material we fashion bicycles out of.

Secondly, the summary says that aluminum is "one of the most resource demanding materials that exist."

That statement strikes me as terribly disingenuous, if it's not also mentioned that recycled aluminum does away with about 95% of the energies [] needed to extract aluminum from ore. And besides, how many bicycles are actually made from aluminum or fancy alloys/composites? No bicycle I've ever ridden, I know that much. And certainly not the bikes that are going to be produced for developing countries.

The real question here is how much extra work goes into fabricating a bamboo bike, vs. mass producing a steel-framed bike that's totally useful to anyone who's not a racing enthusiast. Because I would bet that making bamboo bikes in quantity would take fivefold or even tenfold the labor of stamping out cheap steel-framed bikes. And if that's the case, bamboo bikes could never be within reach of the poor.

Given how eco-friendly a steel-framed bike is, it's probably counterproductive to devote attention to an alternative that would probably be fundamentally unsuited to mass production.

The only problem... (1)

BradNelson (549752) | about 11 years ago | (#6540697)

The only problem with who would want to ride something so darn ugly? I mean, this looks like the kind of bike vagrants would pass over. Maybe it's just me.

does bicycle production use THAT much? (1)

NotAnotherReboot (262125) | about 11 years ago | (#6540705)

'This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable, expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist.'

Do bikes really use so much aluminum that it has a noticable effect on the aluminum market? There are many, many things that use aluminum, and I have never heard of the industry having troubles being "sustainable."

sustainable biking? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 11 years ago | (#6540739)

you're kidding, right? .. alkjsdfl;kajsfd;lja

fucking slashdot

All about context (1)

bpm140 (92250) | about 11 years ago | (#6540740)

"Building these bicycles is art. It is not something you just do. Every bamboo must be selected and fitted into the frame according to size and quality. The secret lies in treating and handling the material the right way. Learning that takes times and the maintenance takes time as well."

Yes, refining aluminum belches lots of nasty stuff into the sky. But at least you get lots of bikes quickly thanks to interchangable parts. How many resources (food, water, electricity, etc) are required to sustain the people building one bamboo bicyle a day?

I'd rather have a million people riding aluminum bikes and zero SUVs than 10,000 people riding bamboo bikes and 990,000 SUVs.

environment? quantity? economy? (2, Insightful)

evilWurst (96042) | about 11 years ago | (#6540752)

I question whether this is an environmental good thing. Using bamboo in stuff means *importing* bamboo - because if you try growing it anywhere other than where it's supposed to be, you can destroy your own local ecology. So it has to be imported, and you're economically tied to the few countries that can grow it in quantity and to the right quality. Steel and aluminum, on the other hand, are easy to get locally, and can be shaped in ways bamboo cannot. Plastics and carbon fiber can also be made locally, and carbon nanostuff will eventually also be available locally. And all of these other materials can be recycled, whereas bamboo can only be burned or mulched.

You also can't mass produce bamboo products - as it says towards the bottom of the article, the guy that makes these needs to hand-select everything for quality. Remember, you can cut the length of these, but not the diameter - you're stuck with whatever diameter it grew to - so precision is extremely difficult.

Um. (0, Redundant)

AntiOrganic (650691) | about 11 years ago | (#6540773)

I don't see any brakes on that thing.

Re:Um. (0, Redundant)

AntiOrganic (650691) | about 11 years ago | (#6540782)

God damn it, someone beat me to that comment, with the same fucking subject line too. ::smashes face::

Hmmm (1)

panxerox (575545) | about 11 years ago | (#6540791)

Damn, a pile of punji sticks on wheels.... a crash would be horrific.

Bamboo bikes have existed for over 100 years (5, Informative)

kfg (145172) | about 11 years ago | (#6540802)

Particularly in the orient, but in other places as well when times were either hard or when metals were subject to civilian restriction, such as during WWII. Wooden bikes have also been used at times.

They don't work very well. Bamboo is strong, but it's also very flexible. This is also the reason that molded plastic bikes ( as opposed to fiber reineforced plastic bikes) have never worked. If a plastic is ridid enough to make a good bike frame it's also to brittle.

Aluminum is energy intensive to originally produce, but the cheapest and easiest metal to recycle. It also doesn't rust away to unusable oxide, making aluminum the most green of the metals in the long run.

In any case you'll still find most bikes made of steel, because iron is common, easy to smelt, easy to turn into high quality steel, easy to recycle, cheap, and, while not necessarily the highest performing material for a bike frame in any particular measurment, it is, nonetheless, in the top 90 percentile in every attribute needed to make a good bike frame.

What's more, you need very little steel to make a bike whose usable lifespan may be measured in decades. I have two ridable children's trikes over 100 years old.

There's simply nothing about bamboo bikes that make them more sustainable than a steel bike, and they're nowhere near as good.


Crash hard enough (1)

poity (465672) | about 11 years ago | (#6540806)

and you too can have spears of splintered bamboo go through your torso.


long term (1)

spamchang (302052) | about 11 years ago | (#6540807)

Eventually, it'll become easier to produce bamboo bikes, and this technology could be implemented in Asia, for instance, where there is a huge need for easier transportation. Not saying bamboo bikes are more durable than any other material under any stress, but no one's going to bike up an unpaved mountainside in a bamboo bike. Maybe 10-30 city blocks, which it ought to be suited just fine for. Heck, I'd get one to use around campus. Might get the attention of the crazy eco-freak girls around here =P. And I doubt anyone would want to steal a bamboo bike anyway.
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