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.
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.