by Marissa Rosado
You’ve always known riding your bike is better for Mother Earth than driving your Hummer to and from the grocery store. Why not take things a step further? Recent developments in bike manufacturing are opening up more opportunities to protect the planet with the added bonus of giving you a better ride.
Notoriously strong, bamboo makes an impressive bike frame. It’s light, and it looks nice. Once treated, bamboo is stiff, but not brittle, which helps the rider transfer pedaling power with more efficiency. Many have reported that the bamboo bike’s ability to dampen impact and vibration is mind-blowing. Bamboo is also extremely durable, resisting damage from impressive stress and impact. With its smooth, easy ride, an added perk to a bamboo bike is comfort, which is not to be underestimated.
Making the bike
For some, obtaining bamboo is as easy as retreating to their own backyards. Others find it growing wild in forested areas. What’s more impressive is the technique put into practice by Alexander Vittouris. Vittouris grows his bike bamboo into a mold. Once the bamboo is ready for harvest, there is very little processing left to do. This is the ultimate in environmentally friendly production. In place of nonrenewable sources and the harsh pollutants produced by factories, bamboo bikes leave a significantly smaller carbon footprint.
Bamboo in Zambia is like hipsters in Brooklyn: they’re everywhere. Two Americans sought to make something of this abundant resource after a visit to the country in 2004, and Zambikes was born. Though they do not produce fixed gear bikes, Zambikes builds custom bamboo bikes which not only puts Zambia on the map but also gives a much needed boost to Zambia’s economy.
When the company was founded, Zambian unemployment was somewhere over 60%. Zambikes provides employment, training, and opportunity to the Zambian population, which is an even more delicious bonus on top of the bike’s eco-cred.
Though the company currently does not have any dealers that ship to the U.S., the prospect is exciting. Be sure to look out for bamboo bikes in the future, as they may just be starting to gain traction.
Marissa Rosado is a writer on behalf of FixieBikes.com. She is a graduate of Emerson College in Boston, MA.