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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bamboo bikes for the masses - Velonews story


How can carbon fiber technology trickle down to African villagers?
By Matt Pacocha
Posted Feb. 26, 2008

Craig Calfee hopes to prove that one person with one idea can make a difference in some of the poorest corners of the planet. The maker of some of the most exclusive and sought after carbon-fiber bikes on the market, Calfee plans to use his knowledge to teach Africans how to build themselves bamboo cargo bikes.

Why bamboo?
Calfee made his first bamboo frame about ten years ago and his product line has included a bamboo model — a high-end design sold in boutique shops — for the past three years. Besides its classy aesthetics, Bamboo’s vibration damping and stiffness make it perfect for frame construction, says Calfee.

But one reason he likes the material so much is its low carbon footprint. A carbon fiber or metal frame might be lighter on the road, but, from a green perspective, nothing treads more lightly on the planet than a bamboo bicycle, he says.

His bamboo frames are built using a method similar to his carbon fiber bikes. The smoked bamboo tubes are selected based on a rider’s size and desired feel, then mitered and the junctures are wrapped with an epoxy-soaked carbon. Some customers choose a hemp wrap for an even more natural look.

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