Bamboo: A Versatile Wonder Material
To celebrate #WorldBambooDay we take a closer look at the natural wonder material behind our beautiful handcrafted bikes.
It was our search for an eco-friendly alternative to the resource-intensive processes involved in contemporary bike manufacturing that led us to bamboo. This woody plant is a surprisingly good material for building bikes – it is strong, durable, compliant and lightweight. We also realised that if the bamboo we used is farmed responsibly, we could produce a modern bike that has a much more positive impact on the planet. For the environmentally conscious cyclist, bamboo is the natural choice!
Of course, the bamboo bike is not a new concept. In fact, the London based Bamboo Cycle Company first introduced their bikes to the British public way back in 1894. It was an expensive product then, mostly sold to wealthy customers, and although the benefits of bamboo were clear (strong, lightweight and free from corrosion), steel frames eventually proved more popular. Although the company had gone out of business by 1899, many of their bikes have survived thanks to the fact that, unlike other wooden bikes, bamboo is not subject to woodworm attacks.
Today, bamboo bikes are making a comeback as a new generation of eco-friendly cyclists are realising that this all-natural material has a vital role to play in moving bicycle production away from its reliance on heavy industrial processes that cause pollution and consume valuable resources. Although metal frames have ruled the roost for more than a century, the benefits of bamboo are being rediscovered. Let’s take a closer look at why bamboo is our material of choice.
At Netham Bamboo, we believe in responsible environmental stewardship. That’s why we’re excited by the potential of bamboo and the positive impact that renewable resources can have on our world. Bamboo’s environmental credentials are clear; with no need for resource-hungry processes, it dramatically reduces the carbon footprint of bike production when compared with the manufacture of metal and carbon frames. It is also incredibly easy to grow, requiring no fertiliser or pesticides and replenishing itself quickly. Indeed, as the fastest fast-growing woody plant on the planet (growing up to three feet in a single day!), bamboo is seriously sustainable. Unlike trees, which take years to grow before their wood can be used, bamboo is ready to harvest every year, since the plant continues to grow new shoots. This also prevents soil erosion and can reverse soil depletion, a benefit to the entire local ecosystem. What’s more, this amazing plant absorbs up to five times more CO2 than an equivalent mass of trees, so its great for the atmosphere too.
Netham Bamboo bikes are only constructed from sustainably-sourced bamboo and our production methods ensure minimal impact on the environment. Ecoride, our partners in Ghana, are committed to sustainable land management across their 200 hectare plantation, while our Indonesian suppliers, East Bali Bamboo Bikes, ensure their locally grown stocks are replenished using environmentally sound methods. When you buy a Netham Bamboo bike, you’re not just buying a bike, you’re investing in the planet. But that doesn’t mean that living sustainably has to hit the wallet. We work hard to ensure our costs are kept as low as possible without compromising on quality or ethics. By passing our savings on to you, we ensure that our exciting range of bamboo bikes remains competitively priced.
Obviously bike frames need to be strong, but how strong is bamboo? It is easy to underestimate this amazing plant, which boasts some surprising qualities. Formed from interwoven fibres, it is a natural composite material with a high strength-to-weight ratio. Despite being very light, bamboo poles are actually three times stronger than timber, even boasting a tensile strength to rival steel. This means it can withstand large amounts of stress, which is perfect for bikes. These impressive qualities allow bamboo to be used as an alternative to popular materials such as concrete, steel and even carbon fibre. No wonder this tough and durable plant is used around the world for scaffolding, buildings, reinforced concrete, flooring, furniture, sports equipment and, of course, bikes.
Netham Bamboo: The Natural Choice
Another fantastic quality of bamboo is its ability to flex without cracking. In bikes, this means that it dampens road vibration, giving you a much smoother ride. Just as carbon fibre and steel frames feel different to one another, bamboo’s unique properties give it a feel all of its own. You’ll get used to it in no time but if you are still unsure, why not try before you buy? You can visit Netham Bamboo’s friendly workshop in Bristol and take a ride on one of our sample bikes for free. Just get in touch to arrange a test ride.
To get the most from your bamboo bike you’ll need to give it the love and respect it deserves. We’ll provide you with simple aftercare instructions and a year of free help and advice should you need it. Concerned about how your bamboo bike will hold up against the great British weather? Bamboo is naturally water resistant and our heat treating process ensures it stays that way. What’s more, all our frames are finished with a UV & water protective lacquer so they can be ridden in all seasons. We even offer a re-lacquering service every two years, and the first one is on us! Like any high quality product, treat your bike with care and it’ll give you years of riding pleasure.