Mention bamboo and most of us probably think of panda bears slowly munching their way through shoot after shoot. Yet different species of bamboo are put to some surprising uses. Bamboo has a higher strength-to-weight ratio for withstanding compression than wood, brick, or concrete and is used to build scaffolding as well as complete buildings. Similarly, it has a tensile strength to rival steel. It is also very light, a quality that will grab the attention of cyclists and bike builders the world over.
One such bike builder is my Boo, who hand craft unique bamboo frames in Ghana that are then assembled into bikes and e-bikes at a production facility in Kohl, Germany. The process begins with selecting the right type of bamboo. The ideal type of bamboo has a fairly thick wall to make it durable without adding unnecessary weight. Following several months of drying the correct size tubes are chosen and assembled in a jig just like a traditional steel or aluminium bike frame. Each frame uses five aluminium components. This in part because pieces such as the drop outs where the wheels are attached are easier to machine out of metal and in part to add internal strength to the frame's joints.
The joints are wrapped in sisal, a type of agave used to make rope, that is soaked in resin. Once set, the joints are incredibly strong and are hand finished to give the frame its smooth contours. Each frame takes around 80-90 hours of hand assembly to complete and, while the frames are produced in standard sizes, each frame has a unique appearance. After a thorough quality check the frames are lacquered for protection and then shipped off to Germany for assembly into complete bikes and e-bikes.
So how does a my Boo bike ride? Bamboo offers a unique mix of the qualities of the most popular frame materials. It soaks up vibration like a carbon fibre frame and is as light as an aluminium frame. It is also stiff in the right way, with all of your effort being translated into forward motion yet not so stiff as to have you spitting out your fillings at the end of a ride. my Boo say the typical life of a bamboo frame is about 20 years, putting it up there with premium steel and titanium framesets. What those other frame materials don't offer though is the truly unique look of a my Boo bike. The organic bulges and wood like appearance of bamboo frames are up there with Marmite for dividing opinion. It's certainly a conversation starter and it's a conversation that can't be had without mentioning the impact my Boo bamboo bikes are having on the people who make them.
Every my Boo bike sold helps to fund the building of schools in Ghana, helping its young people develop the skills to create their independence. my Boo also provides fair-pay employment for around 60 people as well as funding over 300 scholarships and a bike to school scheme.
To test ride a my Boo bike for yourself give us a call on 01772 659 292.