Some cyclists prefer mountain bikes wherever they go, others would bring their road bikes even if they risk punctures on rough and dusty roads, and there are fans of touring bikes or cyclo cross models that can take them comfortably in almost all kinds of roads. But we always overlook a new kind of bicycle that is emerging in recent years, specially in Asia: the bamboo bike.
Can a bicycle be made of bamboo? This challenges everything we thought we knew about bikes, no metal needed, not even carbon, just bamboo frames, the same bamboo that grows around in countries like Vietnam. As they say in bamboobikevietnam.com, one of the most important bamboo bike suppliers in Vietnam, “Bamboo, during war time, was used to make weaponry to fight the enemy, but more importantly, as kids we play with bamboo; as a family we live in bamboo houses, take shade under the leaves; and eat young bamboo shoots. Even while sleeping, the bed is made from bamboo, and is the crib for little children”. Yes bamboo has always been a part of Vietnamese people’s lives until it started changing in modern times with new industrial materials. It is however regaining power recently with furnitures and now with these bikes.
People who have tried them highlight their flexibility and their shock absorption. Mekong creations, which offers a wide variety of bamboo models, from children bikes to fixies, also praises their resistance. This could be the most dubious issue, since we might think that bamboo can never match metal in terms of strength or sturdiness. It could be true, but it seems that these bikes are made to be strong and survive in all sort of conditions. Claude Perzo, who used to be a semiprofessional racer in Europe, is one of the testers and his thoughts are quite revealing: He traveled in Cambodia for 160 km on a road with really rough parts with a bike loaded with 17 kilos and not only did he survive, but he seems amazed by the experience. “I am really impressed by the reactions of the bamboo frame. I did not avoid any bad part of the road to make a drastic test, nothing broke”, he says. Another user, Romain Gaudin, feels he goes faster with less effort. “There is less fatigue. I use it to go to the gym and I see a clear difference with ordinary bikes. I believe comfort is a strong argument in favor of this bike”, he explains.
On top of that, they are more sustainable, since the main material just grows around us and can be reabsorbed by nature when the bike needs to be replaced. All this said, we will have a more accurate opinion when we can try one of them. We are looking forward to try one of them, maybe during one of the upcoming Sunday Bike Rides if someone brings one. All users who have tried them are welcome to leave their opinion here.