May 4, 2017

If there is one thing to be said about bamboo, it’s that much of its characteristics are considered polar opposites. It’s strong yet flexible; it can grow as tall as 40 ft., yet it is relatively light and easy to maintain. And while it may look intimidating because of its height, it is revered as a symbol of humility, nobility, and friendship in many Southeast Asian countries. But more than its conspicuous qualities, bamboo is an incredibly sustainable and eco-friendly material. Bryan McClelland, founder of Bambike, brought the idea of using bamboo to make bikes here in the Philippines. The concept was inspired by a similar project in Africa, which McClelland learned about. With his goal of building a sustainable form of transportation and livelihood, he collaborated with skilled craftsmen called “bambuilders” from the Gawad Kalinga community. The whole enterprise helps provide jobs, scholarships and funds for a bamboo nursery program.

The Bambike is the same as any other bicycle—except that it’s greener and sans the complicated steel components. Most of the frame is made out of bamboo and the joints are made of abaca fiber and resin. The bambuilders carefully hand-make the frames and take their time in shaping the abaca joints, polishing the frame and painting it with a waterproof, UV-resistant coat for a smooth finish. The result is a bambike that is durable and sturdy, built to overcome the toughest terrains. With biking as an eco-friendly way to get around, a Bambike is an even better vehicle that lets you save on gas and become healthier while you enjoy a smooth, steady ride.

Photo from Bambike Facebook.

This story was originally published in Northern Living, May 2014.

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