Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science Technology

Bamboo Bike A Reality 467

Posted by michael
from the recycle-your-beer-cans dept.
markjugg writes "The American Bamboo Society has a page describing a working bamboo bike. This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable, expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Bamboo Bike A Reality

Comments Filter:
  • strength of bamboo (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mandalayx (674042) * on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:33PM (#6540551) Journal
    Before you say that bamboo is weak and easily dismembered, here's a quote from the article:

    But Flavio makes me see things differently: Bamboo is a resource of immense potential. And it is strong too. What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact.

    The main point of the article, of course, is that bamboo is much more environmentally friendly than metals while being extraordinarily plentiful.
    • by Davak (526912) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:42PM (#6540615) Homepage

      Next week we can all read about the follow up stories from the America Plastic Association, the American Balsa Wood Collective, and the Society for the Reuse of Aluminum Foil...

      Davak
    • by gwernol (167574) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:46PM (#6540644)
      Before you say that bamboo is weak and easily dismembered, here's a quote from the article:

      "But Flavio makes me see things differently: Bamboo is a resource of immense potential. And it is strong too. What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact."


      While resistence to longitudinal stress is a good thing, many of the strains on the frame of a bike are not longitudinal - there is a lot of lateral flexing as you pedal. Bamboo is prone to splitting and fracturing when under lateral strain. I would really hate to have one of those collapse under me due to lateral stress fractures. All those sharp slivers of bamboo right under my crotch? No thanks...
      • by Jahf (21968) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:15PM (#6540815) Journal
        There is very little chance of that based on the way they are using the sticks. No drilling or cutting means the pole remains very stable. Sure, if you use it for extreme biking you're going to have problems, but otherwise it should remain quite solid.

        Add to that the possibility of very simple reinforcement by wrapping it at key points with a strong thread and/or laminating it with reinforcements and I doubt it would break under normal usage.

        Even if it did, you would see signs of wear before it happened. What causes catastrophic failure of bamboo is usually force being applied on bamboo that has been cut into the grain and/or had holes cut into it.

        Of course, that doesn't stop it from being fugly ... I would definitely be getting out some paint!
        • Add to that the possibility of very simple reinforcement by wrapping it at key points with a strong thread and/or laminating it with reinforcements...

          Once again, duct tape saves my ass (and other stuff).

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2003 @09:18PM (#6542394)
          ...Well, from the picture, they are not using bamboo-to-bamboo interfaces at the high-stress areas (head tube-top/down tubes or bottom bracket shell), but are using metal lugs, much like many of the newer carbon-fiber racing bikes are again, so one does not have to make difficult carbon fiber-based lugs (like Trek's carbon bikes have). The results are not quite as pretty as a Trek, but if it's lighter and works, this usually trumps everything for most bike riders...

          So the metal lugs take care of the complicated stresses at these points and only transmit compression/tension stresses to the bamboo tubes, and minimize torsion stresses along a given tube (probably by using "oversize" bamboo tubes also).

          Another advantage to this is, if you crack a top tube in a crash, I would think it is relatively cheap to get a new tube put back in, instead of having to throw away the entire bike (i.e., Trek 5000-series) frame.

          I know I would probably NOT trust a bamboo handlebar (besides, how would they ever grow a bamboo drop handlebar?), but other than that...

          Yes, I realize that this article is about bikes for third-world countries, but if some sort of mandate from UCI came about to use more sustainable materials (if they can do it with bike frame shapes, they could do it with construction techniques and materials as well...) in exchange from deviation from standard "double-diamond" designs, then this affects a rabid, money-spending group of bike consumers...

          While I appreciate some of the tech in the bikes that pro bike racers use, I know that for 99% of bike racers, it does not make the difference between winning or losing a bike race, finishing that century, or grabbing a latte across town.
          It is a bit like buying a ferarri to buy groceries and run errands.

          Those who have the $$$ (or think or want to project that they do) will always spend it. The rest of us who don't have to look for value.

          It would be cool to buy a Colnago C-40 "ferarri" bike. But it's definitely not worth $7,000. Besides, the people who win bike races simply have better motors than those who don't. Their equipment doesn't matter much, if at all, compared to their peers. If everyone only had Schwinn Varsity's, the people who win bike races now would still be winning the races...
      • by Ed Avis (5917) <ed@membled.com> on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:28PM (#6540864) Homepage
        Bamboo canes are hollow, right? So just use aluminium rods with bamboo cladding round the outside. You get a strong and stable bike, and still get all the eco-friendly posing opportunities. It's not as if anyone will try to cut the bamboo open to see if you're cheating.
      • by MrLint (519792)
        Well I think the solution is clear. Laminate the bamboo with carbon fiber:)
      • Slivers & Rattan (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Embedded Geek (532893) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @04:25PM (#6541171) Homepage
        Bamboo is prone to splitting and fracturing when under lateral strain. I would really hate to have one of those collapse under me due to lateral stress fractures. All those sharp slivers of bamboo right under my crotch?

        One of the primary reasons (even beyond weight and durability) why the SCA [sca.org] uses rattan instead of bamboo for weapon shafts in its mock "heavy" combat is that it does not splinter but instead kind of "pulps" when it breaks. The concern on the battle field is that splinters could easily be driven through helm eyeslots. There's enough risk in taking a blow or falling in armor during normal fighting that extreme hazzards like that are hardly welcome.

        After all, we can't have anyone getting hurt during a war, can we?

      • by yintercept (517362) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @04:37PM (#6541216) Homepage Journal
        Bamboo is also flamable...which leaves out common activities like jumping through flaming hoops, or over a burning tar pit. Being made of wood, I really wouldn't want to ride a bamboo bike while juggling chainsaws. There are lots of arguments against bamboo bikes.

        Personally, I would love to see more natural fibers in bikes. Rather than making the whole bike from bamboo, making just a few pieces helps reduce the consumption from the titanium mines.
        Sig: Flamable materials are dangerous, which is why I always make sure the products I buy are clearly marked as "inflamable."
    • Before you say that bamboo is weak and easily dismembered [snip] What makes it possible to build bicycles from it is that it is stronger than steel when strained in the longitudinal direction, 17% to be exact.

      Yes, but steel/aluminum won't rot, won't get eaten by bugs, are stronger in NON-logitudinal directions(ie, twisting- think about when you pump the pedals holding the handlebars, yes, you're twisting pieces of the frame!)...and when they fail, they (usually) just bend. Bamboo cracks, and then it ju

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:12PM (#6540801)
        Yes, but steel/aluminum won't rot, won't get eaten by bugs

        Hmmm yes, what we really need is an environmentally friendly biodegradable substance that won't rot or get eaten by bugs. Best of both worlds.
        • That's it! The cheese whiz bicycle! Won't rot, won't get eaten, and plentiful too!
        • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@yah o o .ca> on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:35PM (#6540903)
          Sure it is funny, but the bamboo society is missing a fundenmental point...

          I disagree with this non-environmental friendly stuff regarding Aluminum and Steel. These two metals are some of most recycled materials that there are. What do you think happens to old ships, cars, buildings? They are not buried, but smelted again.

          In fact this is the beauty of these metals. They can be essentially recycled 100% unlike plastics and papers that always need additives. The reason we do not know about this is because steel and aluminum have been recycled for decades...
          • by klevin (11545)
            Sure, but what's required in order to refine raw aluminum (or what ever you call the ore)? Lots and lots of electricity. How's that electricity produced? Power plants that: burn coal/natural gas (leading to air pollution), use nuclear fision (all sorts of nasty biproducts that we still haven't figured out what to do with, other than bury them), or hydroelectric dams (don't even get me started here).

            Recycling aluminum & steel reduces the problem, but even that requires large amounts of energy (see above
        • Hmmm yes, what we really need is an environmentally friendly biodegradable substance that won't rot or get eaten by bugs. Best of both worlds.

          or pandas....
      • by gessel (310103) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @08:29PM (#6542216) Homepage
        I think the bamboo bike is really cool from a cost perspective, but it's not really any more renewable than an aluminum one, nor having a net advantageous resource budget despite the obvious, intuitive expectation that it would.

        The matter system on this planet is closed loop.

        While this is not entirely true, some 40,000 tons of space borne dust land on our planet and we may someday mine extra-planetary bodies, for arguments sake all the aluminum we're going to use is here now. If we continue to use it all the bauxite will be gone some day, and from then on, all aluminum will be recycled.

        However, long before that day all aluminum will be recycled because it costs 20X as much to make aluminum from Bauxite as it does to remelt it from scrap. The aluminum industry uses all the scrap aluminum it can get because the final product is just as valuable as aluminum from ore, but the profit is very different.

        So aluminium the matter is a renewable resource, just like the carbon in bamboo, except to reuse aluminum it need merely be remelted via heat (typically electrical power, though a solar furnace could be used), and the carbon in bamboo must be oxidized and reduced (typically by rotting or burning and then photosynthesis).

        Most domestic aluminum production happens in the pacific northwest where the power is provided by dams, a renewable resource, but certainly much of it is provided by oxidizing hydrocarbons to produce CO2 and H2O, both end state products that require substantial energy to reduce to reduce back to something chemically useful. This return cycle of oxidized hydrocarbon energy production is managed by the biomass of the world, and is driven by solar power via photosynthesis at 0.2% net efficiency, just as bamboo production is.

        The energy system on this planet is constant rate

        All energy on this planet comes from the sun. The sun has provided a net energy surplus for a few million years, most of it stored in reduced hydrocarbons (about half in oil and half in methane hydrates, and a comparatively inconsequential amount in leftover fissile heavy atoms). The world's total carbon reserves (1.6E13 bbls oil equivalent) contain enough energy to provide current consumption (globally 1.2E14 Kwh/year) rates for 221 years. If the rest of the world catches up with US consumption rates all the reduced carbon in the world will only last 38 years.

        So, sooner or later (within 200 years, longer if there's a big global war or other population reducing event, much shorter if growth continues) all our energy will come from solar power directly as we will have consumed the planets "life savings" of net reduced carbon.

        Photosynthesis is 0.2% efficient. Photovoltaics are currently about 10% efficient (20X more) in commercial applications (7.5% efficient over the life of the device) and efficiencies of over 30% are achievable.

        To meet next year's global energy demands (1.2E14 Kwh, not including firewood) would take only 6.5E7 M2 of commercially available solar panels for $1.3E10 at current retail. The world will spend $4.4E11 on oil alone next year. If we spent 5% extra on oil (global tax) we could fully fund global solar power within a year. Interestingly, to meet the US's entire current energy demands with solar electric, we would need to cover about half of our roads, at no net change in albumen.

        Within 200 years, and probably within 50, all the energy used in the production of aluminum will be direct solar.

        Bamboo vs. Aluminum just isn't that obvious

        Bamboo is a very impressive material, basically a single orientation composite, which can be easily reinforced against torsion and it's comparatively low modulus can be compensated for with larger diameter tubes in a bicycle, but it is not obvious that it's a more efficient use of land to grow bamboo than to use solar power to recycle aluminum into new bicycles.

        But we have a long way to go on energy use and recycling, and so bamboo is an o
    • holy crap! well, I guess I'll have to make sure to tell all my biking buddies to make sure that all strain exerted on their bikes is "in the longitudinal direction," versus the normal strains that are put on bikes (twists, various directions, etc).

      And next time I'm hit by an suv while riding a bike, I'll be sure glad the bike shattered into bits instead of staying in one relative piece!

      Did the people who did this previous work in MS's "innovation" department???
    • bamboo is much more environmentally friendly than metals while being extraordinarily plentiful

      This sounds great to me, but man I hope that bamboo doesn't work its way into my garden. Has anybody here ever tried to weed bamboo out of a garden?

      My mom planted bamboo once, and then, a few years later in the course of reorganizing her garden, asked me to dig it out. Ugh! That stuff is worse than an Outlook virus! It sends out needle sharpd shooters in all directions. If you see a single stalk poking ou

    • by Maimun (631984) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:41PM (#6540943)
      I wonder what a material scientist would reply to that (I am not one). Steel is not one thing, you know. Neither are bamboo or aluminium alloys, of course.
      • What kind of steel? If the author means ordinary steel in his comparison, for sure high-quality steel would be stronger than bamboo. Mountain bikes, AFAIK, use fairly high quality alloys, be that steel or aluminium.
      • Under what longtitudal force---sorry, I don't know the terms in English---pushing the ends towards each other, or pulling the ends apart? (AFAIK, in the first case the shape of the cross-section is crucial.)
      • Typically, a material under increasing force goes through ellastic transformation (sorry, missing the term again) when the original shape recovers once the force is removed; then plastic transofrmation that leaves permanent damages; then is breaks. So, what is the 17% advantage of bamboo, is it that the rod stays in the ellastic zone under 17% bigger force? Or is it that the force that breaks it is 17% bigger?
      • A bamboo rod has---again, missing the word---"segments" about 30cm long that have "joint" between them. I would think that the joints are the weak point. A steel rod of the type that is found in bikes is has uniform structure, without such joints. Methinks this is an advantage for the metal one.
      • Further, the metal rod can be given appropriate shaping. On my bike for instance, the two rods that go between the stem of the seat post and the rear wheel are bent slightly to the inside at the place where the rear brakes are attached. In this way, they (the rods) bend less (to the outside) when the rear brakes are used. This stiffness means more efficient stopping. If the two rods were made of bamboo, they would be straight and thus more prone to bending to the outside once the brakes are pressed.
      • A bamboo rod has---again, missing the word---"segments" about 30cm long that have "joint" between them. I would think that the joints are the weak point.

        clearly you've never touched a piece of bamboo in your life. Those "joints" are stronger than the rest. Incredibly strong. It's vitually impossible to break bamboo there... it breaks in the "segment" first.

  • by hangingonwords (581642) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:34PM (#6540557) Homepage
    i've seen this before on a show called gilligans island...
    • No it hasn't, that was a bamboo car.
    • by whiteranger99x (235024) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:57PM (#6540725) Journal
      i've seen this before on a show called gilligans island...

      Go figure, the Professor could make Bamboo Bikes, Timeshares, Coconut powered-radios, a nuclear reactor and yet they couldn't simply patch a fucking hole in the goddamn boat, The Minnow...wtf?!

      • Yeah its an old joke, but if memory serves he did fix it but Gilligan managed to sink it or lose it at sea. If they really wanted to get off the island they should have just shot Gilligan with a bamboo gun.

        "Whatcha building there Professor?"

        "Err, something that'll get us off the island and you're going to be the first to leave."

        "Gee, that sounds great Professor! When am I leaving?"

        "Now."

        *bang*
  • Ummmm..... (Score:5, Informative)

    by dr_dank (472072) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:34PM (#6540561) Homepage Journal
    Does any one see a set of brakes on this thing?

    Yes, I know that some bikes have the brake mechanism in the hub of the rear wheel, but that doesn't appear in the photo either.
    • Re:Ummmm..... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Elwood P Dowd (16933) <judgmentalist@gmail.com> on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:39PM (#6540590) Journal
      Since it's only got one gear, would it be possible to control speed with the chain?
      • Re:Ummmm..... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by bj8rn (583532) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:50PM (#6540683)
        Grandparent: I think it does have breaks inside the hub of the rear wheel, look more carefully - there is this metal clamp thingie just near the hub on the chain side of the bike.

        Parent: yeah, right. Imagine this - you're going at full speed. Downhill. You'd better keep your feet as far away from the pedals as possible - if you don't want to break your legs.

        • Re:Ummmm..... (Score:3, Interesting)

          by YeOldeGnurd (14524)

          Parent: yeah, right. Imagine this - you're going at full speed. Downhill. You'd better keep your feet as far away from the pedals as possible - if you don't want to break your legs.

          This bike might have a internal coaster brake, like kids' bikes, or may very well be a fixed gear bike. These things do exist and are perfectly suitable to most urban environments (with the possible exeption of cities like San Francisco). Going downhill you DON'T take your feet off the pedals, you just control your descent by s

        • Parent: yeah, right. Imagine this - you're going at full speed. Downhill. You'd better keep your feet as far away from the pedals as possible

          My first two bikes both had this style of single gear chain based breaking. It's actually fairly common, especially in little kiddie bmx bikes and the like.
    • That's exactly what I was thinking, so much for utility
    • Fixie! (Score:5, Informative)

      by YeOldeGnurd (14524) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:52PM (#6540693) Homepage Journal
      It's called a "fixed gear bike". There's no freewheel in the rear hub, so you have to pedal all the time you are moving, and you stop by stopping pedalling.

      This may seem like a pain, but fixies are actually extremely popular among a certain bike subculture, particularly urban bike messengers. The famous and wonderful Sheldon Brown [sheldonbrown.com] has an extensive collection of articles [sheldonbrown.com] on building and riding fixies.

      • I love fixies -- I'm in the process of building myself one. But, would a bamboo fixie cause more strain in the wrong directions? I rode a fixed gear once with a homemade rear hub built out of a standard hub with a free wheel and all and the rear gear was always breaking loose and eventually the hub broke down because backpedaling is a very straining activity.
  • Bear alert! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:35PM (#6540565)
    This would work fine, except that pandas eat bamboo. Better not get into a forest with that bike.
  • by fmita (517041) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:35PM (#6540569) Homepage Journal
    They're probably just trying to bamboozle us...
  • "Born in Pennsylvania, Gilligan worked at a gas station before joining the Navy where he saved the life of the captain, becoming his "little buddy." In gratitude, when the Skipper started his own charter business, he hired Gilligan to be his first mate despite his incompetence. Gilligan's childlike nature makes him the perfect errand boy often performing many of the menial tasks on the island such as riding the Professor's generator bike, acting as manservant to Mr. Howell or collecting coconuts for the gir
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:40PM (#6540597)
    Is the poster serious ?


    Aluminum makes up 8 percent of the crust of this damn planet. http://www.csulb.edu/~rodrigue/geog140/lectures/cr ustmaterials.html

    • by RiffRafff (234408) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:44PM (#6540636) Homepage
      He's prolly referring to raw aluminum. Extracting it consumes way too much electricity. Of course, recycling aluminum takes very little.
      • by VPN3000 (561717) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @07:19PM (#6541934)
        I don't think it's that big of a deal when it comes to bikes. The only bikes made from aluminum are the mid to high end bikes in the $500-$1500 range. The amount of aluminum used in these bikes is less than 6 pounds, typically. Most of the bike's weight is due to the gearing system, tires, strut system, crank and chain. These guys seem to be focusing on the low-end, buy your bike at Kmart crowd.

        If you look closely at the design of an aluminum bike, you can tell not many resources are used as they use the least for weight purposes. I know the frame on my Cannondale is a couple of millimeters thick. The rigidness comes from thin walls on a fat tube.

        Aluminum bikes aren't going to be around for much longer anyway, the price range for a good aluminum bike gets you right up there with titanium and magnesium alloy frames, which are superior in my opinion. Most of the trim parts consist of carbon fiber (wheels and forks on the better bikes use this).

        I am not sure what the point in this article is. There are far greater wastes of resources in new car design as well as the actual bottling process of cans. If the media, or anyone else cared enough to be earth friendly, we'd do it in ways that were actually beneficial. Not by purchasing organic bikes.

        A note on steel bikes. They aren't taking into consideration the actual alloys used when doing the comparison. No bikes are made with 100% steel. They use various alloies in the process.

        I'm picky on this subject after commuting soley by bike for a few years. I would not trust my riding on busy city streets to an organic material, I'd much prefer the comfort of knowing the materials are consistent due to the manufacture process involved with metals. I highly doubt the bamboo is nearly as consistent if measured across the bike's whole frame.

      • Much better to work on making bamboo beer cans than bicycles, consdidering the amount of Al consumed by the average Joe in every sixpack. Or go back to refillable glass bottles.

        On a tangent, in Thailand you can buy snacks of steamed rice with various goodies, cooked inside a section of bamboo. Buy them outside Hualampung Station before going on long train trips.

    • by jfengel (409917) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:47PM (#6540658) Homepage Journal
      Yes, but it's never found in its pure form. It takes a lot of energy to get workable aluminum out of the ore. You've got to heat it to 2300K, which takes a lot of energy. One report said that production of 1 kg of aluminum dumps 44 kg of CO2 into the air.

      In this case it's not so much the energy costs or the pollution as the fact that poor countries just don't have the energy to go around.
      • 1% of the electricty used in the whole of the UK is used in a single plant that extracts aluminium from its ore.

        It's a very energy-demanding process to produce Al.
      • Yes, but it's never found in its pure form. It takes a lot of energy to get workable aluminum out of the ore. You've got to heat it to 2300K, which takes a lot of energy. One report said that production of 1 kg of aluminum dumps 44 kg of CO2 into the air.

        It's not the electricity or energy so much- aluminum is extracted via electrolysis- but the enormous amount of electricity for this is often taken from hydroelectric plants which doesn't generate much CO2 (except during construction of the dam).

        However,

    • That's true, but when you look at the resources required to refine the stuff...(from this site [curriculumvisions.com]):

      Although it is so widely used today, aluminium has only recently come into use. This is because aluminium is so strongly attracted to oxygen that it can only berefined using huge amounts of electrical energy and electricity did not become readily available until this century. Thus, it is sometimes known as the metal of the 20th century, just as iron was the metal of the 19th century.

      Although electricity is rel

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:42PM (#6540611)
    expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist.

    That's funny. Aluminum is indeed expensive to extract and process and that's why it's also the most recycled mineral(?) in existence.
  • by Eberlin (570874) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:42PM (#6540612) Homepage
    This is all good until someone gets attacked by a Panda. Yet another version of "meals on wheels!"
  • "Sustainable"? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by justinburt (262452) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:43PM (#6540620)

    Bicycling more "sustainable"? Haven't the environmentalists been trying to get us all to change to bicycles from cars supposedly because of the pollution that cars generate? And now not even bicycles are "sustainable" because they are "resource intensive"?

    When does it end? Should I just stop using resources altogether (i.e. die?)

    I won't post this anonymously precisely because I mean this quite seriously and not as a troll. Mod me down if you must.

    Justin
    • Re:"Sustainable"? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by babymac (312364)
      Should I just stop using resources altogether (i.e. die?)

      Actually I've been convinced for years that this is exactly what radical environmentalists would like. They'd like to see 90% of the earth's population dead and the remaining 10% should behave and think exactly as they do. This means living a completely agrarian lifestyle and automatically believing that all advancing technology is bad and/or evil. How these ninnies ever expect to live beyond the death of our own sun is beyond me. But then again

      • This is the reason why everything needs to be thought of in moderation. For a country such as China that has such a large percentage of the population using bikes then switching to bamboo makes economic and environmental sense, however in a country such as the USA where the majority of people are driving motor vehicles it's a moot point. Here in the States it would be more effective to have people switch from their SUV's to a bike, even aluminum ones. Down the road then bamboo may become more available,
      • Here ya go [vhemt.org]
      • Re:"Sustainable"? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gobbo (567674) <wrewrite@@@gmail...com> on Saturday July 26, 2003 @09:16PM (#6542381) Journal
        Yes, "radical" -- in the same way that Charles Manson was a radical aesthete. But you're in reality referring to a very few fringe freaks, who get great media coverage because the news is a circus.

        they probably think that the death of all humanity is ultimately a good thing...the word you're searching for is 'misanthropic' and yes some of the kookoo activists are deeply misanthropic, eg. Paul Watson [seashepherd.org]. Misanthropes are as bad as Social Darwinists.

        No being can stop using resources. It's simply a question of ecology. How much do you give back to the life-sustaining biosphere, it's vigor and diversity? Only robo-heads assume that technology must by definition consume increasingly vast amounts of resources. It's our sloppiness, technological youth, and immature economics (eg. GDP benefits from ecological disaster) that keeps us overusing and laying waste. (Sidestepping population debates here.)

        Most environmentalists are all about appropriate technology, and want nothing more than society to act upon some of the basic principles of progress, such as "waste is a costly inefficiency" and "knowledge must complexify". That way we'll begin to understand chaotic systems like ecologies and develop cheaper, higher tech stuff that pollutes WAY less or not at all.

        I think a bamboo bike in mass production would have to be pretty high-tech to succeed. And, like many environmentalists, I look forward to cleverly designed industry, cities, and social conditions--appropriate (sustainable) technology. It's conservative, applies the precautionary principle, but it's not technophobic, its really an argument about what technology and how to deploy it.

    • Re:"Sustainable"? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cosyne (324176)
      How is "more sustainable" hard to comprehend? What makes you think that just because bicycling is better than driving automatically makes it perfect?

      What you seem to miss is that environmentalists' goals aren't just some arbitrary crap that someone made up to punish you. The idea is to do the least damage to the environment. If you can do less damage by biking, great. If you can do even less than that by using fewer resources in the process, wonderful. Even if "the environmentalists" you refer to are
  • by salimfadhley (565599) <ipNO@SPAMstodge.org> on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:43PM (#6540622) Homepage Journal
    I am a bike-geek as well as a Lunix-Geek:

    The bike is a single-speed. That means it does not need gears, breaks or even a ratcheted freewheel (on the back wheel)... the pedals are connected directly to the rear wheel by the chain. If you want to slow down you use your legs.

    Single-speeds are favourites of city-couriers, where there is a great advantage to have a light-simple bike. There is less to break (XTR gear systems are known to wear out after a few weeks of couriering).

    As for Aluminum - dont get me started on that nasty harsh material. There has been a disturbing trend for wannabee bikers to adopt the freakiest lightest materials at the expense of all other properties.

    For me, steel still has the edge over all these fancy materials. A steel frame will last for years of hard riding, and still feel as plush as the day it was first ridden.
    • I think you mean it's a "fixed gear" not a singlespeed. There are certainly plenty of singlespeed bikes (bikes with one gear) that aren't fixed. In fact, the majority of them are not fixed gears (i.e., you can coast).
    • by paanta (640245) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:52PM (#6540695) Homepage
      I believe you're talking about "fixed gear" bikes rather than single-speed bikes. Single-speed means one speed, with or without a freewheel. Fixed gear is a fixed, non-freewheeled single-speed bike. As far as aluminum goes, its no harsher than any other frame material. The amount of flex offered by the frame, compared to the seat and tires is so small that, for a given frame geometry, I doubt many people could tell the difference between steel and aluminum. Steel's big advantage is that you can get it repaired in third world nations, and lugged steel frames look freekin' cool. Even the biggest retro-grouch of them all, Sheldon Brown, doesn't think steel offers significant comfort advantages: http://www.sheldonbrown.com/frame-materials.html [sheldonbrown.com]
    • As a fellow bike-geek (who just rode from SF to Chicago on an aluminum frame), I completely agree.

      The only reason I haven't gone to steel is money -- I bought my bike before I knew what I know now about materials.

      I think this bamboo bike is really neat and really cool. Where I think it could take off is the cheap, replaceable commuter bike market.

      But like aluminum, titanium, and carbon fiber, bamboo seems like it would be a bitch to fix if splintered the material or cracked it somehow, not unlike the

    • As for Aluminum - dont get me started on that nasty harsh material.

      I will try as you really don't do jack to support your claims. I've worked with aluminum for half a decade and prefer it more than steel and stainless steel.

      There has been a disturbing trend for wannabee bikers to adopt the freakiest lightest materials at the expense of all other properties.

      What other properties? Exactly how is aluminum a "freak" material?

      A steel frame will last for years of hard riding, and still feel as plush as
  • by thelizman (304517)
    There is no "sustaining" bicycling. You build a bike, and it's done. It's a durable good.

    As for aluminum, it's manufacture costs is due to our limited foundary technology, not because of any peculiar property of aluminum. Also, aluminum is a relatively rare metal when compared to the iron it often stands in for.

    Rather than deforesting vast tracts of already endangered bamboo forests (which is already leading to the demise of the Panda - not that the stupid beast deserves a future in the ecosystem), folks
    • Re:Sustainable? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thebigmacd (545973)
      The thing is, unlike trees bamboo reaches usable size in three years, and no need to replant after harvesting. Rather than deforest you can simply plant your own. And if they deforest correctly there is a new forest within three years. In the process of producing carbon fibre don't doubt there is a crazy amount of pollution and environmental destruction. Just think of the chemicals in the resin, and the use of sulphuric acid and petrochemicals in the fibre production process. All in all, the point is that
    • Huh? How is a steel tube "plush"?
  • Mountain biking (Score:5, Interesting)

    by failedlogic (627314) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:43PM (#6540624)
    I do a lot of mountain biking. I know there's some engineers who read /.

    There are suspension forks which can be purchased for mountain bikes and some offer read suspension.

    Assuming, the metal suspension fork is kept and a decent diameter bamboo tubing is used - would the bamboo have sufficient strength, durability and shock absorbing qualities to make a good mountain bike?

    One way or another it would be interesting to try, that's for sure.
    • I think you could make a decent mountain bike, however the problem will come at the joins. Accordign to that photo, the frame is made of lugs that have been glued to bamboo poles. Carbon fibre frames are made in a similar way. The challenge is to find an adhesive that is able to bond nicely to metal and bamboo. The other problem with bamboo is that you cannot guarantee it's regularity in the same way that you can with an artificial tube... I guess that is where craftsmen come in. Not all bamboo tubes are c
    • Re:Mountain biking (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Elwood P Dowd (16933)
      I'm not an engineer, but the kind of force applied when you push down on one pedal and pull on the corresponding handlebar seems like you'd be attempting to twist and bend the bamboo poles. The bamboo is only stronger than steel when you're pushing on each end.

      You'd eventually wear out your bike like that. Much faster than any commonly used bike material, I'm sure.

      I'd be concerned about the glue being too brittle to deal with serious vibrations, too, but they might be able to come up with the right kind,
  • so I can escape any rogue pandas.
  • Expect to see this in the sharper bric-a-brac for around three grand.
  • Wow, I want one! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Feztaa (633745) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:47PM (#6540657) Homepage
    I wonder if this would me more or less expensive than a traditional bicycle? I usually try not to pay more than $200 (CDN) for a bike, because they always get stolen (even if they're locked up... those bastards).

    Since bamboo is so plentiful, I hope this would be uber-cheap. It would be great if I could ride around on a $15 bicycle... I wouldn't really care if it got stolen, but then again, nobody would really want to steal it if they knew how cheap it was... :)
    • by hobbs (82453)
      Since you mention CDN, I assume you are in Canada, like myself. My question when I see this is will it stand up to the weather? He's using laminated bamboo. I have an old cromag/alu bike (over 10 years old now). Aside from the occasional greasing of the chain and other moving parts, the bike requires no thought to maintain, and it's had a lot of mud caked on it.

      Will I have to care for a laminated bamboo bike by oiling it or reweatherproofing it in some way? Will I have to carefully clean and dry it af
  • Bamboo is cool (Score:5, Informative)

    by aaron.rowe (40518) * on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:48PM (#6540668) Homepage Journal
    I spent some time working in Nigeria and watched the local people erecting 4+ storey buildings using bamboo as scaffolding and for supporting newly laid concrete floors.

    My Structural engineer friend told me that Bamboo is better than steel if used properly and since it just grows like grass it's basically free.

    A bamboo bycicle would be neat but, as a natural product you aren't going to get uniform material to work with so every bike would probably be completeley different to an other. You wouldn't be able to mass produce these things.

    Doing a little googling I found this report about using bamboo instead of steel in reinforced concrete. [romanconcrete.com]

    any way that's my bit out of the way.

    A

  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @02:51PM (#6540685) Homepage
    From the summary:

    This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable, expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist.

    It's a cool looking bike, but there's a few things worth mentioning. First of all, compared to driving cars, any form of bicycle is the most sustainable mechanized transport imaginable. I think if we have to worry about the fifteen pounds of metal used for each bicycle, then we might as well give up all hope that humans can survive on the planet. Because if things are that bad, the millions of people buying SUV's are going to put us over the edge in no time, no matter what material we fashion bicycles out of.

    Secondly, the summary says that aluminum is "one of the most resource demanding materials that exist."

    That statement strikes me as terribly disingenuous, if it's not also mentioned that recycled aluminum does away with about 95% of the energies [boc.com] needed to extract aluminum from ore. And besides, how many bicycles are actually made from aluminum or fancy alloys/composites? No bicycle I've ever ridden, I know that much. And certainly not the bikes that are going to be produced for developing countries.

    The real question here is how much extra work goes into fabricating a bamboo bike, vs. mass producing a steel-framed bike that's totally useful to anyone who's not a racing enthusiast. Because I would bet that making bamboo bikes in quantity would take fivefold or even tenfold the labor of stamping out cheap steel-framed bikes. And if that's the case, bamboo bikes could never be within reach of the poor.

    Given how eco-friendly a steel-framed bike is, it's probably counterproductive to devote attention to an alternative that would probably be fundamentally unsuited to mass production.

  • 'This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable, expecially in contrast to aluminum, one of the most resource demanding materials that exist.'

    Do bikes really use so much aluminum that it has a noticable effect on the aluminum market? There are many, many things that use aluminum, and I have never heard of the industry having troubles being "sustainable."
    • [having spent the last 28 years of my life hanging around my family's bike stores, this article has me all rawled up]

      Simple Answer: No. Hell no. In fact, most consumer bikes are made of steel alloy. Aluminum bikes are generally more expensive, starting at around $500-600 last time I checked. People who want a "practical, eco-friendly" bike would not spend that much in the first place. Most people who want a lightweight bike could really care less about what the 5 pounds of aluminum in their bike frame
  • I question whether this is an environmental good thing. Using bamboo in stuff means *importing* bamboo - because if you try growing it anywhere other than where it's supposed to be, you can destroy your own local ecology. So it has to be imported, and you're economically tied to the few countries that can grow it in quantity and to the right quality. Steel and aluminum, on the other hand, are easy to get locally, and can be shaped in ways bamboo cannot. Plastics and carbon fiber can also be made locally, an
  • by kfg (145172) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:13PM (#6540802)
    Particularly in the orient, but in other places as well when times were either hard or when metals were subject to civilian restriction, such as during WWII. Wooden bikes have also been used at times.

    They don't work very well. Bamboo is strong, but it's also very flexible. This is also the reason that molded plastic bikes ( as opposed to fiber reineforced plastic bikes) have never worked. If a plastic is ridid enough to make a good bike frame it's also to brittle.

    Aluminum is energy intensive to originally produce, but the cheapest and easiest metal to recycle. It also doesn't rust away to unusable oxide, making aluminum the most green of the metals in the long run.

    In any case you'll still find most bikes made of steel, because iron is common, easy to smelt, easy to turn into high quality steel, easy to recycle, cheap, and, while not necessarily the highest performing material for a bike frame in any particular measurment, it is, nonetheless, in the top 90 percentile in every attribute needed to make a good bike frame.

    What's more, you need very little steel to make a bike whose usable lifespan may be measured in decades. I have two ridable children's trikes over 100 years old.

    There's simply nothing about bamboo bikes that make them more sustainable than a steel bike, and they're nowhere near as good.

    KFG
  • by 123123123 (692731) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:24PM (#6540848)
    It turns heads in Christiania [christiania.org] because it is the only bike that doubles as a hash pipe [smokedot.org].
  • While it's nice and kinda classy, we all know this sort of production is only OK because it's not being mass produced. If this ever became popular, I wonder how long it would be before you heard the tree nazies coming out of the woodwork complaining about bamboo depletion and such. After all, how many bicycicals does a place like China have? After all, bamboo produces more oxygen than it's pulp counterparts, making it far more valuble, etc etc etc...

    Beware Mr. Deslandes... The Tree Nazies cometh.
  • by mcd7756 (628070) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:37PM (#6540917) Homepage
    sugar cane!!

    Sweet!

  • by heli0 (659560) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @03:41PM (#6540945)
    They had a bamboo bicycle that powered the washing machine.

    Did anyone see the episode where the professor made a bamboo car? Why he didn't just make a bamboo boat is beyond me.

  • by Mr_Icon (124425) * on Saturday July 26, 2003 @05:03PM (#6541313) Homepage

    Kids, to those of you who just don't have enough reasons to be picked on and beaten up in middle school, we give you... THIS BAMBOO BICYCLE!

    Complete with a detachable frame for easier caning.

  • by switcha (551514) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @05:31PM (#6541469)
    This is a strong step towards making bicycling more sustainable,

    Fine, get excited about the technology involved here, but spare me the statements like that. Everytime I ride to work, I keep a car or about 1/30th of a bus off the road. (I realize I'm not actually 'keeping the bus off the road', but work with me here.) I don't even need to go on about what a retarded statement that is, to call bicycles anything but a vehicle of sustainability.

    What's next? Smack-talking a water powered car because it's a drought season?

  • Hmm (Score:4, Funny)

    by Julian Morrison (5575) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @05:45PM (#6541521)
    Wonderful. Right up until you pull a wheelie, and the frame shatters and spits you from anus to esophagus. Yegads, but that's a big splinter you've got there, son!
  • by binarybum (468664) on Saturday July 26, 2003 @08:03PM (#6542129) Homepage

    I'm going to keep it in my garage with my Segway(tm) and my electric car.

    I'll order one as soon as I finish this bag O-lean chips!
  • Done before (Score:4, Informative)

    by kitzilla (266382) <paperfrogNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Saturday July 26, 2003 @11:38PM (#6542810) Homepage Journal
    I have seen bamboo and other wooden bikes done before.

    As some folks have pointed out, the problem with wooden bikes is that they flex. Badly.

    That means your chainline won't stay straight. It will rub, and the gears will try to shift by themselves. Note that the bamboo bike in the picture doesn't have derailleurs. There's a reason.

    To reduce flex, you have to increase the diameter of the bamboo tubing. At some point, it becomes impractical-- rather like riding a tree trunk down the street.

    The designer of this bamboo ride seems to have tried to compensate for the flexy tubing by adding a brace across the main diamond of the frame. It really won't help much if the rider is strong or heavy. The bottom bracket is gonna feel like it's made of rubber.

    There's also the matter of frame alignment. I don't care what you coat bamboo with--it's going to change shape with temperature and humidity. Even casual riders on low-end bambo bikes will be frustrated by a ride that doesn't track in a straight line.

    My dad used to race track bikes with wooden rims. They were notoriously dangerous. Riding a bicycle is risky enough without having to worry about being impaled by its wreckage.

    If you're really concerned about the resources consumed by aluminim or titanium framesets, there's always steel. Modern steel bike tubing approaches the low weight of aluminum and provides more forgiving ride characteristics. There are also cabon fiber and composite alternatives.

    The bamboo bike is a head-turner. But bamboo sucks as a bicycle frame material.

While money can't buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.

Working...