How to make your own bamboo bike
Bamboo is known for its durability and high strength-to-weight ratio in construction, housing and furniture. A Berlin-based company is now using the natural material to help people build their own bikes.
Ozon Cyclery designers Daniel Vogel-Essex (left) and Stefan Brüning (right) with their bamboo bicycles. They run workshops in Berlin for anyone interested in making bikes from bamboo.
Bamboo softens the blow
Bamboo is known for its durability and high strength-to-weight ratio. The various inner and outer layers of its fibers make bamboo strong, yet flexible. They also help dampen any vibrations from bumps on the road.
First things first
Unlike steel and other metals, cutting bamboo tubes to the correct length is easy. All you will need is a saw, sandpaper, epoxy resin and natural fiber cloth - click along to see how they are used.
Joining the bamboo
Joining the tubes together is perhaps the biggest challenge for anyone building a bamboo bike frame - and manufacturers differ in their approach. Some wrap tubes together with strips of hemp soaked in epoxy resin, while others use steel joints.
Wrap it up
To make the joints strong, the bamboo is wrapped with natural fiber. Stefan Brüning (right) and his business partner (not photographed) looked to other industries, like aeronautics, to develop a way of joining bamboo together using flax fiber composite materials that would work for bikes.
"Bamboo is realer!"
"There's a saying that 'steel is real,'" says Vogel-Essex (left). "Everybody says steel is the material that gives the best ride quality. But I want to make a bumper sticker that says 'bamboo is realer!'"
Something for the weekend
Ozon Cyclery runs its workshops on weekends in Berlin. But it's not just in Germany - there's a growing demand for bamboo bicycles all around the world, with small enterprises building frames in the US, Ghana, Zambia and Singapore.