Interested in getting a bamboo bike, and live in Sydney? Okay, that’s niche, but I did some research into this as a Sydney resident, coincidentally interested in getting a bamboo bike, so figured I’d jot it all down in case it’s useful for others.
Firstly, the reason for looking into this is that bamboo proliferates in many countries and is an incredibly renewable and resilient plant to use. You’ll see in many countries bamboo is used instead of steel for scaffolding. It’s incredibly strong, but extremely light, and eco-friendly to boot as you don’t have to mine it, making it the perfect material for a green cycle.
It is early days in the bamboo biking world however, so it takes a bit of research to figure out what’s available. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and please leave comments if you know of other options.
From my initial searching for options, it seemed like these custom made bikes by Mik Efford might be the only option for Australian made bamboo bikes.
But it also became clear that they’d hit some problems with product liability insurance, being able to sell a bike made of bamboo in Australia was clearly harder than I’d realised. I’m not sure how much Mik’s bikes were selling for.
Mekong Plus / Mekong Creations
I feel I should declare my bias of having lived in Cambodia, and therefore having a soft spot for organisations there. Mekong Plus / Creations are based in Vietnam (but have a shop in Cambo) and are building a wide variety of bike styles, from children’s pedal-less bikes, through to folding bikes, hybrids, city bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes (curved bar pictured). They’re among the most competitively priced for complete build bikes as well, their road bike (fixie or geared) is USD$824 including shipping to Australia. They have a city bike for USD$631 and their hybrids and mountain bikes are about USD$1k including shipping.
Nearby in Singapore, Sunny Chuah is selling two styles of bamboo bikes under the cute title of Bamboo Bee. One bike is a ladies city bike, the other a gents city bike that looks like a hipster’s dream, but is unfortunately USD$1449. They also sell a lot of accessories.
HERObike is making complete bikes starting at USD$850 for a single speed, up to around USD$2k for a 20 speed commuter / road bike. They’re based in Alabama and have been going since 1994. They’re a registered 501(c)3 (non-profit) org in the US and focus on providing job training, affordable housing and economic development with their profits.
Bamboo Bikes Barcelona
Bamboo Bikes Barcelona are making frames for around €850 – €900 (AUD$1350 – $1430). These frames are being made in Spain, as the name suggests, so you’d have to factor in shipping to the cost as well.
Jungle Supply Co
Jungle Supply Bamboo are making frames starting at USD$500 that look the business. They’re website isn’t as slick as some of the others, but the bikes look really good. They make all kinds of bamboo products, so bikes are just one of the things they produce. They’re based out of Newcastle, California.
Since 2008, Zambikes has been building bamboo bikes in Lusaka, Zambia. The BBC even wrote a complimentary article about their project. They’ve sent over 300 frames to over 20 countries, but I can’t see any prices on their site, but their UK supplier BosBikes sells their frames for £888 (AUD$1.8k).
Craig Calfee bikes
At the high end of the market, there are professional racing bikes and frames being made by Craig Calfee (maker of the tandem, pictured at the top of this blog). While the cost of these bikes is prohibitive, from USD$5k – USD$10k for a complete bike, the approach is great and they state all profits are donated to projects in Africa. The associate projects include Bamboosero, Booganda and Yonso Project. Most of the frames for sale are for around the USD$1k mark.
Phil Webb’s Northern Thailand based Webb Works is also making professional standard frames, mostly around the USD$1500 price range for the frame alone. They use twice-treated bamboo, held together using hand-wrapped carbon fiber.
Zuribikes are making complete build bikes starting at €2k for a single speed (approx AUD$3.2k) through to €3k (AUD$4.7k) for their road bike and mountain bike builds.
Of course if you wanted to test ride your bike before buying, well, then, I think you’re out of luck in Sydney as of early 2016.
…and there’s always kits
The above options are all pre-made bikes, or at least frames. If you fancy building your own frame, there are also plenty of option out there.
Here are some of the current options in no particular order:
- BambooBikeSupplies.com offer a few build your own (BYO) package deals. This is their Cyclocross model, which includes a framebuilding jig, hemp fibres for joins, and the necessary tools for USD$189 (approx AUD$265)
- BambooBee’s BYO kit is USD$199 (approx AUD$280). They also have a gallery of finished bikes.
- The Bamboo Bicycle Club seems to offer one of the best kits, customised for your height. You can also buy component packs if you don’t want to have to buy the groupset, brakes, etc, separately. Cost is about GBP£260 (AUD$510).
- HEROBike offer a selection of kits as well, with the key tools and apparatus required for a home build. Cost for international (eg. non-US) looks to be about USD$575 (AUD$810).
- NotOnTheHighStreet.com offer a kit from the Bamboo Bicycle Club for approx AUD$600 including postage. You can choose between a hybrid, road or track frame.
Based out of Melbourne, Ecoshift seem to have 3 designs of bike, that all look pretty good. They favour 3 gear Sturmey Archer hub sets on the models they have on their site (with one setup as a single speed), but suggest customisation is possible.
You can choose small, medium or large sizes, and they take about 2 months to manufacture your bike for you. The prices seem to vary between about AUD$1,400 to AUD$2,500.
This one kindly suggested by Matt in the comments 🙂