By Monte Wehrkamp
Know what I’d like?
Know what Chris, this site’s fearless leader, would like even more?
A renewable, recycleable bike. One that’s handmade, custom fit, and one of a kind. And here it is…
(courtesy Velo News)
It’s a Calfee mountain bike made with bamboo tubing covered in epoxy-soaked bark cloth. Crazy cool.
Here’s a close-up…
If that’s not the coolest thing ever, I don’t know what is.
For more bikes au naturale, head on over to Calfee’s website and take a gander at their bamboo frame and bike collection.
You’ll learn you can order your bamboo bike in either stock or custom geometries, and each frame takes over 40 hours to hand build.
While bamboo is really cool, the lugs are even better, as they’re made from hemp. Yep, good old Mary Jane – how dope is that? Even the resin that creates the hemp layups (think carbon) is made from plants.
Calfee offers frames for tandems, road bikes, mountain bikes, crossers, tourers, tri/TT bikes and even offer a belt-driven, internally geared city bike. Pure awesome.
Okay, but what about cost? Sounds expensive, doesn’t it.
Well, not so bad, actually. A complete road bike with standard Ultegra will set you back $6058. Add about $2400 if you need the top-shelf Campy Super Record gruppo. SRAM Apex buildout comes in under five large. A fully-built Calfee mountain rig comes in under six large when fitted with Shimano MTB XT 10s. Frames alone start around $3,000 if you prefer to build up your bike yourself, or have your LBS do it for you.
Sure, $6000 will buy you a seriously good carbon bike — just under top pro spec. Most of us don’t really need a Pinarello, Cervelo, or Calnago pro bike anyway. And with a Calfee, I guarantee you’ll be one of the only riders in your club or riding group that has one — maybe the only bamboo bike owner in your entire community. And even if there is another Calfee rider near you, since each bike is made from natural materials, no two are exactly alike. Each is unique, just like its rider/owner.
So how does it ride? Calfee claims bamboo delivers a natural vibration damping quality — and is far more crash damage resistant than their carbon bikes.
The British website Road.cc put a Calfee bamboo road bike through its paces and says the workmanship is “gorgeous” and that at 20 lbs, it’s a little heavier than what most carbon bike riders have grown accustomed to. However, the extra weight is a small price to pay because the road feel “smoothes over rough road surfaces beautifully and stops unavoidable potholes from jangling your teeth loose.”
What Chris and I would really like is to see one of these bamboo bikes up close and personal — maybe even ride it in circles in the parking lot a minute or two. So if you live in the Chicago area and have one’a these beauties, please drop us a note.
And if you’re not, and you own a bamboo or wood bike, or have ridden one, please tell us all about it. We’ll try not to be too jealous.
(Full Disclosure: I have not been contacted by, had conversations with, or am being compensated in any way by Calfee for this article. If they’d like to send us a bike to test — 58 cm road version, please — that’d be fantastic. Though I’m not gonna hold my breath. I just think Calfee’s bamboo bikes are unique, interesting and thought WRAR readers might find them fascinating, too.)