martes, 29 de octubre de 2013

Bamboo Bikemaking in Bogotá

Jairo Suarez Gallardo of Gallardo bikes, with one of his bamboo creations. 
About two years ago Jairo Suarez Gallardo, a bicycle enthusiast who had studied industrial design, decided to build himself a bicycle out of bamboo. His success produced one bicycle, then many more, as well as a company: Gallardo Bikes.

Over the past two years, Suarez and his wife Angela Riveros have assembled some 20 bamboo bikes, including mountain and urban bikes, as well as others designed for bike polo. 

"They're as rigid as aluminum frames, as flexible as carbon frames and as tough as steel frames," says Suarez. 
Angela with a bamboo bike. 

Or, perhaps a bit heavier than aluminum. A bamboo mountain bike frame weighs 1.9 to 2.3 kilograms, while a fixie frame weighs about 2.3 kilos, Suarez said. The difference is due mostly to the steel and aluminum parts attached.

Suarez taught himself the bike-making skills, via the internet and trial and error. The bamboo, a vareity called bamboo verde, comes from the region around Risaralda, and the pieces are bound together using fibers of fique, a desert plant resembling aloe vera.

The bikes don't come cheap. A frame alone costs about 890,000 pesos. Components boost price to 1.5 million pesos or more.  

Medellin pioneered bamboo bikemaking in Colombia, with two companies now making them there. About six months ago, a second bamboo bike maker appeared in Bogotá. 

"Competition is healthy," Suarez said.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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