Bamboo Bike
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By jank - Last updated: Thursday, July 31, 2003 - Save & Share - 2 Comments

Thanks to JohnO for this link.

bamboo bicycle

It would be cool. Call it the original carbon fiber. But it’s old news. Bamboo bikes were around as long as bikes have been around. No lie. But yeah, bamboo rocks. My favorite fly rod is an old bamboo model from the ’60s.

This is worth checking out if you’re into this – Lennard Zinn is a pretty big name as far as bicycling writers go, and Calfee carbon frames go for a couple grand. There were a couple of other interesting links when I googled ‘bamboo bike’. Most referenced sub-8 kilogram bikes, which is great as far as road bikes. And I have yet to find paint that appeals nearly as much to me as wood grain or bamboo, so the idea of having a bike with bamboo fibers showing through the clear coat is a big plus.

As far as the eco concerns, I won’t lose sleep even if I buy nothing but aluminum bikes for the rest of my life. Even if we moved the entire country onto aluminum bikes, I’m betting that we’d be able to pull more than enough out of scrap yards to build frames. I’m betting that aluminum cans beat aluminum bikes by at least two, probably three or four orders of magnitude. And epoxy isn’t exactly benign to manufacture, either.

I’m going to go all philosophical for a second, if you’ll bear with –

Sustainability is one of the things that really turns me on. I dig efficient cars, turning off lights that I don’t use, competitive organic agriculture, all that crap. The idea of growing perfect tubes for extremely light and efficient bikes then binding them together with hemp and resin – sign me the heck up. I can’t think of many religions that this isn’t kosher with, with most calling for us to be good stewards of the Earth, to care for and use every living thing.

Where I part ways with Greens (for lack of a better specific word) is that I do not think that sustainability is an excuse to roll back progress. I’ve got no desire to live in a high rise, to go vegan and not spend lots of money and resources raising delicious beef/chicken/ducks/salmon/ham/bacon/pork chops (Dad, ham, bacon, and pork chops all come from the same animal! – Oh, sure, some magical animal…), etc. I also think that the “coming Hydrogen Economy” is a pipe dream unless we either seriously reconsider nuclear fission, or a great breakthrough is made in fusion in the near future (But that’s a topic for another rant).

LCD displays are another area where sustainability provides a superior product. They use less energy to use and produce, uses less toxic chemicals (assuming lead shielded CRT’s), but provides an image that is easier on the eye and more portable. DVD’s vs VCR tapes.

I’m all about organic produce and free range meat because what makes it to the stores near me is just as visually appealing and delicious as the chemically assisted stuff. Better, if you as me as far as the dead flesh on styrofoam is concerned. (One of my gripes is that organic/free range food has more packaging in most cases). Paying a small premium (~10-20%) is reasonable, too, though it’s getting easier to find organics at the same price point as regular food. Economies of scale hold for sustainable agriculture. What next – supply side works? (Sorry, that was a cheap shot. But funny)

To sum up before I continue to wander – I love the idea of a bamboo bike, but only if I don’t have to give up any performance to get it. This is what it’s going to take to sell sustainability to the rest of us unwashed. Sustainability is even easier to take if, like organic food, it comes with an actual improvement in quality without a corresponding increase in price. I do not for one instant buy the argument that we’ve all got to sacrifice to save the planet.

Sorry for running on about this. From previous discussions, I know that this is one area where we are more or less in agreement, and both pretty passionate. If you don’t mind, I’ll blog this tomorrow.

BTW- I’ll see if I can dig it up, but I caught a pretty cool plywood framed mountain bike in a store down in SoHo this winter. Didn’t get to ride it, and no one in the store had any idea it was anything other than a prop, but it looked extremely cool.

NB – Johno seemed to recall that LCD’s were harder on some eyes than CRT’s. Haven’t been able to track that down.

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2 Responses to “Bamboo Bike”

Comment from etrigan
Time August 1, 2003 at 7:22 am

Here ya’ go. Of course, it’s a Slashdot article. The author may have just been an idiot, though. I didn’t vet the idea before regurgitating it, so I eshew responsibility for it’s viability.

Comment from jank
Time August 1, 2003 at 9:05 am

Seems to me that the guy’s smoking crack. He’s worried that at a smaller dot pitch on the monitor, text will be physically smaller. Obviously hasn’t played with his desktop settings in a while…

BTW – after two weeks bouncing between YellowDog, OSX and WindowsXP, I still don’t have a clear preference. EXCEPT I do wish that the Mail program that Apple packages w/ OSX would allow me to send HTML e-mail. I can read, but can’t write. I also still can’t get YellowDog to work with Airport (WiFi).

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