Some time ago, I was lucky enough to get a ride on a bamboo bike. For me, this was the absolute zenith of greenness. Yes, it does have to be shipped in, but what complete bike bought in the United Kingdom doesn’t have something on it that’s been brought in from faraway places?
Before we even look at how bamboo performs as a frame material, let’s just see what it does as it grows, even before it gets cut. First of all, what frame material actually absorbs green house gases as it grows, some five times more gas than an equivalent number of trees – bamboo! What frame material grows on its own and needs no replanting – bamboo! What frame material gets longer by up to a metre a day without any attention – yes, that’d be right – bamboo!
Not only uber green and sustainable, but it has a stronger tensile strength than steel, and it’s better than carbon fibre with regard to impacts. Add to this, sufficient flex to absorb road vibrations and you have a wonderful material for bike frames.
How does it ride? The bike I rode had race geometry and was Shimano Ultegra equipped, so potentially very speedy even with me aboard. As expected, I found the bike very responsive. Despite my best efforts to try and find some movement in the bottom bracket it never seemed to flex.
Whatever the circumstances; either sprinting or climbing, the frame stayed rigid beneath me. It also felt very comfortable too, a trait that doesn’t always go with such a responsive bike. I was enjoying it so much that I cycled a lot further than I planned, and I took on some hills that the bike went up a lot better than I did!