First, let’s get it out of the way: Yes, it’s real. And yes, it rides!
…and yes, that background really is where we live.
I think bamboo is cool. There, I said it. Here’s why:
Embodied energy– Bamboo has a relatively low embodied energy value compared to other building materials. Aluminum, by comparison, has a relatively high embodied energy measure, though this in itself should not imply a normative statement of sustainability. The fact that this measure does not take the product’s life cycle into account is often overlooked. Even with eco-unfriendly adhesives at the joints, I’m willing to accept bamboo as being “greener” than aluminum, quite a bit greener for that matter.
Working with the material– tube miters, surface treatment lashing, etc- these things in themselves are as much a creative endeavor as the bicycle design itself. As tig welding has been around (only) some 60 years or so- and aluminum alloys’ corresponding metallurgy has evolved- it’s now at a point where we can order up a set of off-the-shelf tubes, a handful of weld wire, and a tig torch & make a bike. Not so with bamboo bicycles- from my perspective there’s still a lot to learn about this material & it’s use in dynamic structures. Admittedly, the potential for development holds a lot of appeal for me.