Why bamboo? - Because it’s good for you!
There are many reasons why we choose to build with bamboo. From an environmental perspective:
- Bamboo is the fastest growing plant on Earth (Certain species have been known to grow over 4 feet in 24 hours)
- Bamboo can be continuously re-harvested. During regeneration, the roots stay intact so erosion is prevented. Continuous harvesting actually improves the overall health of the plant.
- Bamboo grows on every continent and can be harvested and used locally. With no need to ship materials, it’s a low impact building material.
- Bamboo produces up to 35% more oxygen than hardwood trees and absorbs four times as much carbon
- Owing to its high nitrogen consumption, growing Bamboo can detoxify wastewater and improve soil quality
From a bike-riding perspective:
- Ride quality: The plant’s natural fibers perform extremely well in vibration dampening, as well as in stiffness
- Strength: Bamboo’s tensile strength can exceed that of carbon fiber, aluminum and steel
- Strength: Bamboo’s compression strength can exceed that of concrete
- Uniqueness: If you’re looking for customization, look no further. No two bamboo stalks grow the same, which results in organically and aesthetically unique frames
- Make a statement: While riding a bike can make a statement in our car-crazed culture, a bamboo bike treads lightly while carrying a big stick!
What are the joints made of?
We use both natural fibers and carbon fibers. Our natural fibers are most commonly hemp fibers. Underneath our natural fibers, we use carbon fiber reinforcement. We embed the fibers in non-petroleum based resin and compress the joint for maximum strength. This is a common technique used carbon fiber construction.
Is a bamboo bike safe to ride?
As safe as any other bike. Natural elements like wood have been revered as some of the best materials to use for bike building. The fatigue life can exceed that of some metals like aluminum and steel. We like to refer to it as nature’s carbon fiber.
Is the bike weatherproof?
Yes, like outdoor decks and boats – our bikes can be finished with a weather sealer to protect against extensive moisture and UV damage.
How much does the bike weigh?
Though our building process puts less emphasis on weight-saving, and more on functionality, the frames generally weigh between 4-6 lbs.
Have you tested the bike frame’s strength?
We’ve been riding test frames for well over 2 years now, testing them in real-world urban conditions. They have good torsional rigidity, react well over pot holes, and have great seat-of-the-pants road feel. They’re just about as tough as any metal-frame, being crash resilient and offer unique vibration dampening qualities. In fact, one of our bamboo bikes is used by Ines Brunn, a world renowned fixed gear bicycle “gymnist”, who performs acrobatic stunts on it.
Individually, the thinner tubes can withstand over 200 lbs of pressure laterally without breaking, the larger ones at the very least 300 lbs. Compression-wise, bamboo has twice the compression strength of concrete. You could run a semi-truck over a slab of cross-cut bamboo and nothing would happen. In tension, the strength-to-weight ratio of bamboo is comparable to steel (mild steel) – but keep in mind each bamboo pole is naturally reinforced horizontal to the grain with supporting nodes that make it drastically stronger. It’s the combination of the shape and the ingrained properties of the bamboo that make it strong.
How does it compare to carbon fiber? Steel? Aluminum?
It depends on what you are comparing. Bamboo isn’t as stiff as carbon fiber, but for the average urban rider it’s plenty stiff and rides like any other bike. Weight-wise it’s lighter than steel and comparable to aluminum. But what makes bamboo special is that it offers an exceptionally smooth ride because of better shock absorption from road vibration – comparable to the performance of carbon fiber.
Comparing bamboo to metal would be like comparing a wooden baseball bat to metal one – the buzz from hitting the ball is dulled by the ingrained qualities of the bamboo fibers. Also bamboo is more crash tolerant than most people think. Compared to aluminum bamboo is able to absorb impact without cracking at a microscopic level because of its ability to flex – as it does in nature, swaying with the wind. Furthermore, in the event that the bamboo itself does crack, it does not fail in the way carbon fiber would. Cracked carbon fiber has a low flex tolerance and when failure happens, it is catastrophic (shards of fiber will go flying everywhere). This is due to the inner-nodes running through the bamboo tubes and also to the bast fibers running through the frame. In fact, we have made and tested pre-cracked bamboo bike frames, with 1/2 a tube. They could still support weight and did not fail catastrophically.
What is the warranty on the frame?
Every Stalk bicycle frame comes with a 3 years limited warranty on any defects in craftsmanship or material. This applies only to the original owner and does not cover failures or damages caused by abuse, misuse, accident or rust. The warranty does not apply to components attached to the bicycle.
What do I do if I want a Stalk Bicycle custom frame?
Easy. Contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss your frame. We will coordinate either via email, phone, or in person. We want to know about you, your preferences, your style, your likes and dislikes. What’s your vision – what are you looking for in your new ride? We will take your measurements, and work on a design that contours your unique body dimensions and riding style to your new bike.
Next we’ll create a design for you, and we’ll send you a copy to look at. We’ll discuss the blueprint, answer questions, and make the necessary adjustments. Once the design meets full approval, the bike will be placed on a fabrication schedule; a deposit will be made and we will hand select and set aside bamboo alongside materials for the build.
Bike Frame Sizing
Our bike frames can be custom-sized to your measurements. In March 2011, we’ll begin offering standard-sized bike frames, which will be easy to order if you already know your frame size. Details will be coming soon.