Designer and Fulbright scholar Lance Rake has teamed up with local bamboo builders at Abari in Kathmandu to design an electric cargo bike made out of sustainable materials. The resulting design is the Habre Eco Bike, a three-wheeled bicycle made out of locally sourced bamboo that was strategically crafted to provide locals and tourists with an alternative vehicle that would not only let them move around town easily but would also help reduce the city’s notorious pollution.
Kathmandu is considered one of the most polluted cities in Asia. On most days, its hectic streets are filled bumper-to-bumper with gas-guzzling vehicles that add to the air contamination levels, which have begun to affect the city’s famed historic sites.
In 2019, Rake was granted a global Fulbright to develop a solution to the burgeoning pollution issue. Working with local designers from Abari, who are specialists in bamboo architecture, Rake came up with an electric bicycle with a purpose that would be two-fold: help the locals make eco-friendly deliveries around the city and act as a sort of tuk-tuk-like taxi to transport tourists looking to explore various Kathmandu landmarks.
Working with local artisans and materials, Rake and Abari founder Nripal Adhikari went through several stages while designing the Habre Eco Bike. Kathmandu’s streets are not always paved smoothly, and there are several steep areas. Therefore, the bike had to be sturdy and rugged enough to withstand the intense urban traffic as well as rough, rural landscapes.
Often working with scarce tools and relying on the skills of local builders, the final prototype was developed out of a steel platform that was turned into the frame for the three-wheeled cargo bike. Regional bamboo was then tested in various conditions to find the best configuration that would provide optimal handling and comfort. Once the main frame had been designed, the team went on to build the large front basket, which can be used for passenger seating or cargo space.
Images via Lance Rake