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back to article Brit boffins' bendy bamboo bike breakthrough

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 …

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Additional benefit

... and nobody would ever nick one. Though you might have to be a bit careful leaving it near goats.

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Devil

Huh?

Sorry but while it is relatively unique now and easy to spot, at 1,000 pounds, it aint cheap.

Also wouldn't the goat's eat the leaves and not the raw wood?

I would be more afraid of the bums hanging around the 50 gallon drums than goats...

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Anonymous Coward

ecological benefits.

Buy a normal metal bike for a couple of hundred quid and buy 800 quid worth of trees somewhere?

As dumb as the Pious this one.

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Facepalm

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

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Anonymous Coward

>"I would expect that a bamboo bike would weigh considerably less than a steel one"

Why?

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.

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Not First

Here's an earlier one: http://www.urban75.net/forums/threads/my-new-bicycle-warning-big-pics.253113/

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Holmes

dot-dot-dash

that's 1894 on the telegraph

it wants its news story back

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Paris Hilton

nothing new here

Calfee Bikes in Santa Cruz, California has been selling bamboo bikes for several years, race bikes, mountain bikes, they've even taught villagers in Ghana how to make their own basic transportation bikes...

paris, cuz she thinks she's original

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Give credit where it's due

The second photo shows a Calfee bike.

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Pffft...

..screw the environmental crap...how *good* a bike is it?

And does bamboo has the same resistance to repeated-flex fatigue that carbon does?

This could be a good thing; if it can match the properties of carbon, but with none of the environmental drawbacks, I'm all for it.

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Anonymous Coward

They don't mention the weight

I can't see any mention of it being lightweight on their website or in this story which is a key issue for a hard tail XC bike. Its still cool to be doing something like this it but I hate when trade-offs are not explained.

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How long before the rot to the point were they need to be replaced?

I do like the idea though it's a bit expensive. Particularly if they are a lot easier to vandalise than metal framed bikes.

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Bamboo!!

It's a bike, made from bamboo, brilliant!

Maybe I should make my car out of bamboo, less co2 emissions, and it could withstand these Donegal roads(if you could call them that).

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Anonymous Coward

Cool - a bike for life!

Get a small frame when you are a kid and while you grow, water the bike! ;-)

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Joke

Gilligan was first

I'm sure the professor made him a bamboo bike.

He probably got the idea from the radio they had with the inexhaustible battery technology

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it was a car, not a bike

The professor did indeed build transportation from bamboo, but it was a car, not a bike.

link goes to a forum which contains a picture from the episode in which the car appeared.

http://www.therpf.com/f9/gilligans-island-bamboo-car-95310/

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Go

I believe that...

they cannibalized one of the bamboo bikes to make a generator at one point.

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WTF?

"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?

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Fibrous materials.

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...

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Great idea but they really need to get that price down.

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Coat

Yeah, but

Despite it being "stronger than steel", there's an awful lot of steel and ally bits on the bike.

Can I be the first to say I wooden want one?

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Wood, its been done

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.

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Devil

Of course...

... 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.

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FAIL

1700 quid for a bike? A bike that will rot when it rains? And people think us Apple users waste our money!

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Anonymous Coward

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).

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Sir

"and re-grows easily"

As anyone who has put it in their garden without a steel ring buried around it's roots will attest.

It goes _everywhere_ .

One tendril appeared on the other side of a 20 ft patio from where the main plant was.

Sounds nice in the wind though.

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JDX
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£1000

For a wooden bike? Less about sustainability and ecology, more about designer fashion?

Shame because you'd think these would be of use to people who actually LIVE in countries with lots of bamboo, often very poorly.

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WTF?

Alps?

Not a road bike? FTW?

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Meh

Not impressed.

Bamboo has been used for things like high-rise scaffolding in the Far East for years. Frankly, making a bike out of the stuff is pretty yawntastic in comparison, and then try to flog the idea for £1750-a-shot is downright exploitative.

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Actually...

Scaffolding is easy.

Making a light-but-strong, stable bike with good ride and handling properties, using complex joins that will provide consistent performance for years is not.

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Nothing new under the sun

Bamboo has been used as a frame material loads of times before. Great that it's been brought bang up to date though. Wonder whether they'll be coming out with a road version?

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Eco benefits

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.

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Really the first?

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.

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Anonymous Coward

Further back than that, but missing the point

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.

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Fragility of bamboo...?

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.

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Had a look on their FB page for pics

And I must say, its a very nice looking piece of kit. beautifully done.

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Windows

Errr.....

Someone's havin' a giraffe. (Or, pandaring to the tree-hugging environmentalists)

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Not UK's 'first'

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.

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Coat

So instead of dogs chasing it

Cyclists will have to dodge packs of marauding Pandas

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Fire and water

Surely rain is a very bad thing for this bike.

Also, how combustible is the frame i wonder?

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Alert

Nice, now for real Dr Frankenstienery....

Genetically modify it so the frame is grown ready jointed.

Im sure it would be much stronger and sleeker without the flax joints.

and if it could have tentacles as well... Muwhahaha!

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Grass bike for £1000?

I assume, as farmers get subsidies, this price will come down.

I've seen huge skyscrapers in China being built, swathed in bamboo scaffolding and working a treat. I assume a bamboo bike will be as strong.

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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:

http://www.bmeres.com/bambooframe.htm

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:

http://www.bmeres.com/bcframe.htm

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.

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"with the frame at £1,000 and the first mountain bike starting from £1,750."

What, what, what?

Seriously?

That's just taking the piss, big time.

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Facepalm

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**

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Weight?

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.

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I'll consider buying one when the knock off a "0" on the RRP.

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Anonymous Coward

I was having visions of it breaking as soon as you look at it, given what some grass tubing can be like.

Do not like.

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Anonymous Coward

There have been bamboo bikes around for years

They have been making them in Africa for a number of years now, better to get one from those folks than this new guy

Check zambike and bamboobike,

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Coat

I made something like this as a kid. Except I decided it needed a motor as well, so I made a wooden motorcycle.

Wooden wheels, wooden frame, wooden petrol tank, wooden engine.

Sadly tho, it wooden go.

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