Back when we visited the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in 2015, Lance Rake showed us an e-bike he made from a blend of woven bamboo, carbon fiber and balsa wood. At this year's show, he was back with a bamboo bike that's designed to be easy for Indian entrepreneurs to build using simple tools.
Rake – a professor of Industrial Design at the University of Kansas – first got the idea when he was on a Fulbright educational exchange trip to India, where he was working with local bamboo craftspeople to help them create more lucrative products … products such as bicycles.
In order for the design to be viable, though, it had to be simple. Making it so involved doing away with the need for materials such as epoxy or polyester resin, which are typically used to join the bamboo tubes together on "First World" bamboo bikes.
Instead, the tubes on Rake's bike are linked using plastic joiners. These joiners feature wedge nuts that are inserted into the end of each piece of bamboo, then expanded to grip the bamboo from the inside. Additionally, hose-clamp-like wire assemblies are cinched around the outside of the end of each tube, applying external pressure. The result, apparently, is a really strong joint.
Ultimately, Rake hopes that the joiners and other plastic components could be cast by the builders themselves, using discarded plastic water bottles.
"A craftsperson could have bamboo that they already have, and a bunch of water bottles that are probably on the street, and make a bike frame from that," he said. "It's a matter of trying to be pretty resourceful, and it's trying to be … you know, still kind of cool."
Product page: Lance Rake
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