4 reasons why we think cycling on a ‘bamboo bike’ is cool

Barry Viloria on May 24, 2016 03:54 AM
4 reasons why we think cycling on a ‘bamboo bike’ is cool
Can Bambikes match the strength and sturdiness of steel bikes?

While many have recently gone biking for the many health benefits it gives, there are some who have been joining the bandwagon more for relaxation and recreation. They can go very specific and really, say, nerdy, like biking within the storied walls of Intramuros, Manila. Ever spotted a group doing so? It’s just some guys on a “tour,” aboard a bamboo bike or Bambike, the local brand that sponsors it.

Bambikes is a five-year old brand, although the first prototype already came about in 2007. The man behind the brand is Filipino-American, Bryan McClelland, who took a major in Environmental Studies with Concentration in Anthropology with a minor in Organizational and Environmental Management at the University of Pennsylvania. He then took his Masters in Sustainable Community Development from Wharton, and Bambikes is his vision of sustainable living materialized. It’s something that has caught the attention of even the outgoing US president Barack Obama. Why else do we think this innovation rocks our socks?

It’s organic.

Bambikes are crafted from “the greatest building material in the land,” says McClelland. “Bamboo has grown to be strong and pliable which in terms of uses of bike material it is very high performing, and as strong as steel, it is lightweight and beautiful naturally.” Unlike steel bikes that are mined, transported, and forged, thus containing a large carbon footprint, Bambikes are made of material that stabilizes soil and retain ground flooding. For its many environmental-friendly advantages, Bambikes are as (reasonably) pricey as bikes go: from P35,000 to P120,000. Each is made to order, with a production timeline lasting up to seven months.

It provides livelihood.

The workers behind Bambikes are a Gawad Kalinga community in Victoria, Tarlac, all trained and skilled to produce quality. “We’re trying to improve all the designs. We are capable of producing 30 frames a month. We’re not always running a full production, autotyping, and experimenting,” McClelland says. The good thing about not falling for the mass production model? “We’re working towards building more scale of a bike models that eventually bring the price down.”

It’s fun.

With our tours, we also teach you about history,” says McClelland. Bambike EcoTours holds two tours everyday from Tuesday to Sunday. The tour lasts from an hour to two hours and 30 minutes, and costs at least P600 per person. The tour is not just available at the pre-war-built district. McClelland reveals, “We’re also making it more fun in BGC, wherein we’re working with BGC proper, Shangri-La Hotel, and Ascot Hotel and other partners to develop Bambike BGC art tours.” He likes seeing guests “becoming big kids again” once they’re on a Bambike.

It keeps you fit.

Don’t let the bamboo material fool you. Every Bambike is sturdy, and can actually match the capacity of your steel bike. And so you can use it in the dirtiest and most difficult trails. McClelland stresses, “Biking beats traffic in Manila, keeps you fit. Long distance biking builds endurance. Sprints, mountain biking, and trail riding definitely help with basic circulation, cardio, and strength.”

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