Ghana Bamboo Bicycle

hana-bamboo-bike-2-story-topDurable, shock resistant and, most of all, growing in a ready-to-use tubular form, it’s a wonder bamboo hasn’t always been used to make bicycle frames. While the prototype for a bamboo-framed bicycle was first developed as early as 1894 — causing a minor sensation when it was unveiled at a London technology show at the time — the idea never took off.

Now 120 years later and a small but determined outfit in Ghana is working hard to change all that.

“We can’t keep (up) demand with the orders for our customized bicycles,” explains Bernice Dapaah, the executive director of Ghana Bamboo Bikes Initiative. “We are hoping to go into mass production by June this year.”

While mass production for a company that currently employs about 30 people means turning out just 60 to 100 of the beautiful handmade bicycles a month, Dapaah is confident of scaling up the operation.

“We still do it by hand, but now we’ve got a construction jig and this makes manufacture that much faster,” she told CNN from the small factory outside the capital Accra.

Using a method developed by American engineer Craig Calfee — a renowned bicycle designer who first experimented with bamboo bicycles in 1995 — the frames are lashed together with fiber and then coated with epoxy.

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By Peterr Shadbolt
Published: 2/28/2014


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