Lea Stewart

Beautiful Bamboosero Bikes are Sustainably Crafted in Ghana

by , 07/28/10

bamboo, bike, cycle, ghana, eco, green, sustainable, micro-manufacturing, economy

Fans of cycling were aglow this month after watching the Tour de France peloton glide through the alps. We’re also excited about bicycles here at Inhabitat, because we just heard about these beautiful Bamboosero bamboo bikes from Ghana. Started in 2008 by California-based Craig Calfee, Bamboosero trains groups of people around the world to build bamboo bike frames. Establishing micro-manufacturing in developing nations using locally-grown materials is certainly an applaudable venture, but Bamboosero’s product is also worth attention because their finely-tuned cycles are rideable works of art.

bamboo, bike, cycle, ghana, eco, green, sustainable, micro-manufacturing, economy

Craig Calfee, owner of Calfee Design, has been tinkering with bamboo bike frame designs since the mid-nineties. He is best know for crafting custom, ultra-light carbon fiber frames, but he realized that bamboo is a sturdy material that allows for a super-smooth ride due to its natural vibration-damping qualities. The natural taper of bamboo also allows for a more customized frame fit: heavier rider, wider part of the bamboo; lighter rider, narrower part.

In the interest of promoting economic development and empowering the people living in the areas where bamboo flourishes, he trained groups in the cities of Accra and Abompe, Ghana to make the bamboo frames. Over the course of four months, the bamboo is smoked and treated with heat to prevent splitting, then it is joined with a natural fiber (usually hemp). This process does not require the use of power tools or electricity, but does use a lot of elbow grease!

Bamboosero currently offers a variety of frames for road bikes, mountain bikes, and cargo bikes that sell for about $700. A large portion of the cost is reinvested into setting up other manufacturing locations. Beyond Ghana, Calfee has already set up shops and trained workers in Zambia, Philippines, Uganda and New Zealand.

+ Bamboosero

Via Springwise

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6 Comments

  1. Lloyd Floyd March 31, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    all for real.. at long last and more to proceed.. nature in doing more good.. oseeeieee Ghana yenko nkoaaaaa

  2. Inhabitat Reader Builds... September 22, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    [...] studio or as he calls it, his “bush studio” which is located in the eastern region of Ghana on a plot of land that he acquired to practice his skills on. The building is made out of stone and [...]

  3. PUMA Debuts Mopion Comm... September 1, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    [...] the rider up for easy navigation and exceptional balancing. Built to withstand the daily grind, the bike also comes with a super-sized innovative front carrier for heavy-duty transport of groceries and [...]

  4. bamboosero July 29, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Disclosure – from Bamboosero employee – Yes, these are good points raised. They result from the thorough processing of our business design and we appreciate that. Our original intentions were to drop down the skills and minimal parts needed to make Bamboosero frames which can haul <200kg potentially easing the arduous nature of many of the locals' daily labors. This is still the plan however, as someone who is clearly privy to some of the realities on the ground there, it became clear to us that we needed to ensure capital generation which would enable the development work in this project to continue to flourish. Capital generation happens in western markets. This development work with builders and marketers is the enabling component, this is the component that propels 3rd world peoples out of the 'poverty trap'. If you aren't familiar with the poverty trap, wiki it.
    If you're familiar with bicycle options in developing economies, it's not pretty. Once the builders are sufficiently self-sustaining with their technical and business skills and Bamboosero collectively generates capital, next step is to source parts to these developing economies. This is the point where transportation issues begin to be resolved, with confident entrepreneurs supplying quality product which addresses current issues. At that point, energy-intensive issues have been sliced because they are no longer depedent on poor-quality, mediocre life-span bikes being supplied from China. Mind you, I've not heard of any imports from China that could begin to haul <200kg….
    As with most resolutions to poverty striken areas, it's a multi-step process.
    Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. south July 29, 2010 at 9:52 am

    We\’re not talking about some big-brand apparel sweatshop in a \’special economic zone\’ here, this looks to me like a trade project paying skilled local craftspeople a fair price for a unique product made with local materials. Development of a quality local industry with ongoing benefit is at least one problem it\’s solving. And since few (if any) bicycles are actually manufactured in the developed world, they all get transported at some stage anyway.

    Small fair trade projects like this don\’t make a huge impact on developing economies, but they work as concepts to show how well things could be done with some creative thinking.

  6. leero July 28, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    So these are feel-good bikes for the developed world (for those of us that will pay a lot of money to buy things to make us feel like we’re not destroying the world), made with developing world labor (by people who couldn’t possibly ever buy the product they’re making), then shipped via some energy-intensive transport technology…
    …not totally clear what problem is being solved here.

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