Bamboo is one of nature’s wonders. An incredibly-strong, fast-growing, carbon-absorbing type of grass, bamboo is an excellent material for bicycle frames. It is a natural composite consisting of strong cellulose fibers and softer lignin. Some species (there are over 1400) are stronger in compression than concrete and stronger in tension than steel! The tubular cross section along with the nodes create a very strong and stiff structure that resists bending and twisting, but is also lightweight. In short, we couldn’t have asked for a better natural, lightweight, sustainable structural material.
It’s not just about strength or aesthetics, the vibration-damping characteristics of bamboo provide a smooth ride that is unmatched by any other common frame material, such as aluminum, steel, or even carbon fiber. This isn’t a subtle difference that only an expert cyclist can feel, it’s obvious to the point that many people yell “Wow!” after riding just a few meters on a bamboo bike. You really have to experience it for yourself.
It isn’t that easy to design a safe, dependable bamboo frame that can last a lifetime. The appropriate species must be chosen, the culms (stalks) must be harvested at the right age, then they must be dried, and finally treated so that insects do not eat the lignin. The lugs (frame joints) must be carefully designed to provide the strength and stiffness necessary. While many builders choose carbon fiber, our frames use hemp as the lug material. This follows the natural theme of the frame and we think just looks much nicer, if they are finely shaped as in our frames.
We can learn a lot from bamboo. Well-known for thousands of years in Chinese, Japanese, and other cultures, bamboo teaches us to be flexible. Bruce Lee knew of this, saying: “Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”
Bamboo is also said to have powerful energy fields – just what a cyclist needs.