Argentine bamboo bikes

krusty_ar sez, "This guy on my town (Rosario, Argentina) is selling hand made bamboo bicycles. He claims the process uses 10% the energy used to make a regular bike."


      1. It depends, we at Ozon Bikes Berlin have made a 1.75 Kilo frame, but the fork would me more difficult to make at a comparable weight to steel. 

        Checkout our work at if you like.  Quick disclosure, I’m the practicant.     

      2. The average frame weight that I’m producing is 4.5 lbs, my personal bike complete weighs 20 lbs. It’s not as light as a full carbon road bike, but its a lot lighter than a steel MTB and on par with a mid to high end steel road bike.

    1. He also sells just the fixie frame, for ~$400 USD.  Still high, but you would be the only kid on the block riding a bike like that.  Well, $400 plus shipping and duties.  Good luck with that.

      1. Thing is, in Argentina and most of her border countries, that’s not thaaaaat expensive.  Not having a sweetheart deal with the cheap-labor nations in Asia and having steep import tariffs mean that everything except your work hours are hella-expensive.  Just checked Argentina’s version of Ebay and the kind of crappy, heavy, women’s beach crusers that you can get at Kmart are about $200 u.s. dollars.   Kmart has the same type models for $79.99.  This isn’t unusual.  

        1. That’s just Argentina, actually, which has one of the most dysfunctional/protectionist trade policies in the world. Where I live in Chile, I just bought a gorgeous American-made fixie for  ~$500.

          Although, NB: The protectionist trade policy means Argentina still has a domestic textile and shoe industry, which is wicked cool and makes shopping for clothes in Buenos Aires super fun and always surprising.

    2. First, most fixies are one-speed by definition, second, $850 is high but not absurd if you’re using good components. I know it seems odd, but I decided to save a little money by building my road bike myself after getting a practically-free $80 frame, and I’m almost at $600 in parts alone, ignoring the time it’s taking me.

      The aerospoke carbon fiber wheels alone on that thing cost $400 each off the shelf. The carbon fiber fork, good cranks etc run up several hundred more dollars easy. I expect the maker is practically losing money after hand-building this frame and putting it all together. I’m guessing this is a labor of love.

      1. All good points, and yeah, the components look pretty sharp. I guess I didn’t know people spent that much on fixies in the US/Europe. It’s a different point, but I would hesitate to ride a bike made of components worth about twice what the locals make in a month.

        1. Whoa there.  Just for anyone reading who cares – larger cities in Argentina like Rosario have plenty of class and income disparity.  ‘What the locals make in a month’ can range from very very little to plenty.  Guess people in Chile can’t tell ’em apart, but ‘the locals’ don’t all make the same amount – there are all ranges of the lower, middle, and upper classes represented.  

      2.  Exactly right, it’s not all that expensive for a decent bike. Similar to you, I got a free old Schwinn frame and converted it to a fixie, and spent $400 on parts doing it myself, so no labor. People think $850 for a bike is a lot because they see them in WalMart for cheap, but a decent bike is $1000+ now anyway, and even a decent single speed is going to be at least $500.

      3. I believe the correct term is “hemorrhaging” money, at least by any standards that would apply here in Toronto. The listed price of the complete fixie would barely cover all of those parts.

  1. Actually, that’s not too bad for something that’s low volume.  Looks like some pretty nice wheels on that bike too.  Even the cheaper fixies I’ve seen at the bike stores are around $500.  Not too difficult to spend $1000 on a fixie. What I really wonder about though is how well they wear. Can you ride them 10,000 KM, leave them out in the rain, and never have to worry about the frame? Does the frame warp with constant humidity changes. How well does it hold up to sub-zero temperature? What about dirt, road salt, and other things? Because Aluminium frames have no problems with any of the above conditions

    1. I can see that.  I bought a decent one about a year ago in the lower end of your range.  But I flipped the hub – I’m not really into the whole fixie thing, I like the look and simplicity of one gear.  Virtually zero maintenance and my legs run on variable speeds.  But coasting really helps cut fatigue for me.

    2.  Good questions.  I wonder if they float and if you can paddle them across rivers.  Also if you can grow your own spare parts. 

    3. If the bamboo being used is one of the stronger species, ie Tonkin or Iron, the frame can last longer than you if it’s maintained. In hand with that goes tube treatment. If the frame is clear coated there’s not a thing to worry about, if it’s made without a clear coat a periodic Tung oil treatment will go a long way to help longevity. As well, knocking out the node cores may be critical to avoid tubes splitting at the leaf scar if the frame is in cold dry conditions.

  2. This technique is interesting, I want to have a closer look. 

    I think I will also note the lack of a commuter or step through. All the available models shown are performance based frame geometry, although somewhat more for show than performance. 

    Such a minimalist design vis a vis the fork extending to act as stem is attractive and seems strong at first glance. 

    A true city model with upright commuter geometry and fenders would likely sell well and be ideal for the daily grind of a commuter, which is usually a slower ride with a better centre of gravity. Used in this fashion a bamboo frame could have a very long life indeed barring accident.

    I see they have a fixie, that scene has blown up in Argentina in recent years and even more so in Brazil. Good of them to put brakes on both wheels. 

    But here in North America things are trending toward nifty commuter bikes and even some cargo bikes (I mean outside bike nerd circles) in the big cities as more people see biking as viable transportation supplement. 

    Race/Performance based frame geometry being 99% of what was available to North Americans through the 70’s forward is a big reason cycling has taken so long to be seen as transportation on this continent. It’s changing now thankfully.

  3. There’s a guy in Washington DC who does that, too, had a kickstarter a while back, and also has an “etsy” store. 

     Search for “Philip Ankney” if you’re interested.

    Disclaimer: I’m not affiliated with the guy, but I did contribute to his kickstarter.

  4. Here in Norfolk, Virginia, Wes Cheney has a biz called VeloBamboo, making bikes from bamboo that’s locally grown & harvested (it grows like crazy here if you plant it). I don’t know him personally, but I’ve seen some of his rigs at local events. Very cool looking.

      1. California doesn’t have weather. Get one of those California bikes up in Portland, it might rot or rust. Oregon bikes are gonna be built to handle less than perfect weather.

        1.  I actually live in Portland, work at a company that manufactures bicycles/parts and know people that have used them in Portland.  They seem to do fine here.

        2.  yes totally you gotta get an Oregon made bike.  they’re made out of 50% recycled bamboo bongs and Mudhoney CDs from the 90s.  though really pretty much everything in Oregon is made out of used bongs and 90s CD’s. 

  5. I believe Calfee was the first to make bamboo bikes commercially. They're quite a thing of beauty. 
    I question the veracity of the statement concerning 10% of the energy used for a regular bike. Might be right if you only count the frameset, but all the gears, wheels, &c. are good old-fashioned metal like on most “regular” bikes.

  6. Here in Toronto we’ve got the Bamboo Bike Studio Toronto (BBST):

    Lovely bikes, smooooth ride – you build them yourself under the tutelage of Zef Kraiker who runs the Toronto Studio – nice guy & very skilled. And the carbon-fiber-wrapped lugs can be left black or painted with artistic designs.

    It’s a part of the Society of Useful Arts

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