Bicycling Gadgets & Gear

Review – Bamboo bicycle

A fellow biker friend had mentioned that a relative was into making bicycles made of bamboo and wanted feedback on the same preferably from cyclists. So we made contact and having given a short introduction over the phone, he offered the MTB for review. Picked up the MTB and few days later the kids balance bike. This was on 15 April 2017, much before the road trip to Sikkim. Frankly, the kids balance bike got my attention far more than the MTB, although I cannot try it for obvious reasons.

This would likely be India’s first hand made Bamboo mat balance bike for kids of age 18 months – 5 years. Now, a balance bike is a two-wheeled pedal-less bicycle that helps kids to hone the balancing skills thereby enabling themselves in transition to a regular kids bicycle without the assistance of training wheels. It would mean that the balance bikes are replacements for tricycles and training Wheels. This Spotter KIDS balance bicycle is made from eco-friendly bamboo mat composite.

The provided bamboo framed MTB rides, weighs and functions just like a regular MTB. This MTB came with a 7 speed gear that helps in city riding. As far as the cost of the bike. As its made of bamboo, we tend to assume that it should cost less, but it isn’t the case. It cost just as much as a regular MTB. All the mechanical components are of good quality that one would find on alloy frame MTB with the exception of the frame which in this case is hand made from bamboo.

As far as the balance bike is concerned, nor can I test it and neither do I have kids to offer them to try it out. So, gave the balance bike to my apartment building housekeeper’s 3 kids to give it a try. They were all excited and were totally thrilled with it. Most definitely a must for kids to learn to get onto and ride a bike. What’s unique about this balance bike custom frame build is that if the mid section is flipped over and assembled back, it works for kids from age 1 -3. Flip the frame over again, assemble it back and it will suit kids from age 3-5. Awesome right!

Why even bother about a bamboo bicycle?
Made in India and not by any wholesale vendor but from people who enjoy cycling and wants to promote it whole heartily. The process of making bamboo bicycles makes use of natural resource that are aplenty without any ill-effects to the ecology or environment. This helps the local people in the region where bamboo is grown, to earn a humble living for themselves.

About Bamboo and why

  1. A very fast growing, renewable and easy-to-grow resource. It is an extremely versatile material with countless uses. It produces 35% more oxygen that an equivalent stand of trees. It sequesters carbon dioxide and is carbon neutral.
  2. It has greater tensile strength than steel, and it withstands compression better than concrete. The secret of such strength lies in the hollow and tubular structure of Bamboo.
  3. It’s the fastest growing plant in the world and regrows quickly after being cut down, making it the No. 1 renewable resource. Bamboo can be re-harvested every three years without any harmful effects on the environment. It is grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. It requires no irrigation.

Bamboo bicycle and how

Bamboo has ideal properties, highly suited to bicycle construction. As a material, it has excellent vibration dampening effects and the all the bumps in the roads seem to be effortlessly absorbed. Amongst others, academic research has been conducted at the Universities of Princeton, Zurich and Oxford Brookes, all accrediting bamboo as a fantastic material for bicycle building.

Some frequently asked questions

  • How much does a Bamboo Bicycle weigh?
    Due to the nature of the custom bicycle that is built, weight can vary. However they are generally lighter than a steel and aluminium frame and slightly heavier than a carbon and titanium. However the comfort of the ride does exceed all other materials. Bamboo bicycle frames can weighs approximately 1.7kgs and upwards.
  • Are Bamboo Bicycles strong enough?
    Absolutely! Over the hundreds of bamboo bikes built, they have traveled thousands of miles and endured some punishment. People have traveled across the world in some of the most extreme environments, as well as people competing on the European amateur scene, heading down mountains and performing BMX stunts have used bamboo frames.
  • How long will a bamboo bike frame last?
    Hard to answer that one. However, if the bike is taken good care of, then the materials used should suffer no ill effects for up to 10-15 years. There is a bamboo bike in the National Bicycle Museum in UK from 1889! If you treat it like a pair of old jeans, the lifespan may be considerably shorter.
  • Will the bamboo degrade over time?
    The bamboo bicycle makers have not experienced bamboo degrading. The stocked bamboo species that are naturally resistant to degradation. If cared for and stored correctly, the frame will last for many years of smooth riding.
  • Can I store my bamboo bicycle outside chained to fence?
    Not recommended for security reasons. Besides, give your hand built pride and joy the love it deserves and set aside a dry spot indoors for your beautiful bamboo bike!

Verdict on the bamboo bike

The balance bike I fully support and its fun too, for both kids and their parents. The bamboo framed MTB is a good option to consider for those looking at an MTB. Personally, I would not as I already have the Btwin Rockrider 5.3 (from Decathlon) that has been serving me very well for 5+ years.

Although, what I would rather look forward to will be a basic version of the bamboo bike. No gears, shocks, shifters. Slick tyres and a slightly leaner frame size to keep the weight as low as possible making for a comfortable city bike. Also, the cost of the bike would reduce dramatically and within reach for many wanting to consider it.

For more information

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Bamboo bicycles by others here in India : Bamboochi Cycles, Godrej Bambusa

One comment

  • November 16, 2017 - 1:56 am | Permalink

    Good concept of Bamboo Bikes……

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