As far as my limited knowledge of bamboo bikes goes Calfee was the first to make bamboo bikes.
Story has it that Calfee made one to take to a handmade bike fair, people liked it and started ordering them. Turned out they actually rode quite nicely so more orders come in on the back of the good feedback from the first lot. Etcetera.
Frame and Bike Pricing. There are many good reasons to choose Calfee Bamboo for your next bicycle frame. Calfee Bamboo bicycle frames are very stiff, transferring power efficiently; are durable, resisting damage from stress and impacts; are comfortable, surpassing aluminum, steel, titanium and most carbon frames in smoothness. Consider this October, 2011 review of our Bamboo Adventure in Mountain Flyer Magazine. Our bamboo tubes mitered together and bound by epoxy soaked hemp fiber create a frame whose most notable characteristic, beyond beauty, is this incredible vibration dampening
Let’s compare that to the boys and girls over at ecobamboobikes:
The world is rapidly changing. The environmental crisis is among us and is in desparate need for a change. This has set up a challenge for us to redefine our role in this world. Rather than an obligation, it is an opportunity to improve our lifestyles . We need to go back to our roots, taking with us the positive things we learned. It is this way that we will create a new sustainable future that will be in harmony between man, society and nature.
|ecobamboobikes handmade Crisis slayer|
|For more information like this try the Masuelli website|
|That doesn’t look like carbon. Maybe the use hemp, like Calfee.|
Despite my piss-taking I would of course love a bamboo bike. What could be better than riding down the shops on a fixie made of grass? In a country where riding a bike looks like a dangerous act of subversion, riding a bamboo bike would be like poking a wild animal with a stick. The hatred from my fellow road users, those cars and those truck things we call SUVs that seem to fear and resent me enough already, would be palpable.
What I think we can draw from the pages of ecobamboobikes.com is that they’re earnest and well-meaning bike people, not copywriters, and I guess that doesn’t devalue their product. On the other hand, it certainly doesn’t add value because for nerds like me there are too many unanswered questions in that website.
Down in Melbourne is Cognitive Cycles, mentioned above, who are turning out their own bamboo bikes from a small workshop in Sydney Road. Their website has a charming candor and gives the distinct impression that they have only so far build three bamboo bikes. The fourth frame developed cracking and had to be pulled down. This gives the impression that building bamboo frames is as much a hobby as a business. Their first creation was Maisie:
It’s difficult to understand, on a rational level, why you wouldn’t extend those carbon lugs and just make a full carbon bike. On a more abstract level it though it’s easy to see the attraction of such beautiful and unusual bikes. If it wasn’t for all the obvious problems (how could I afford one, who would follow me round to keep it safe while parked at Coles) I’d probably get two.
Bamboo bikes can be unique and beautiful bikes. I suspect though that if you want to be the first on your block with a bamboo bike you better get moving. They’re popping up everywhere. Treadlie magazine finds it hard to go a whole issue without a smattering of bamboo bikes on its pages. You can even buy one on ebay for $350:
Their approach is simple and reasonably pretty, though the bamboo does come across being a bit of a token inclusion and the look of the thing suggests it was made in a factory somewhere in China. Still, it’s a cheap way to be the first on your block to own a bike made of panda grass. I know I’d stop in my tracks if I saw one. Could this be the cheap way of getting the attention heretofore only reserved for Lamborghinis?
This bike is called The One because you need Jedi like skills to make it stop due to the combination of front-only braking and rear freehub. Most people would either ride freehub and rear brake or fixed hub with no brake but the Panda guys were on more than just Panda grass that day and decided for the unique front-only braking system. Maybe they could more accurately write on their website, “Panda Bicycles have the only fixie in the world with absolutely no rear braking.”