Bamboo might be a lush, eco-friendly renewable resource, but it can also quickly become a nuisance in the garden, growing so fast that it invades neighboring properties. All the better for Justin Aguinaldo and Sean Murray of Brooklyn’s Bamboo Bike Studio, who are able to find plenty of it for free.
"There's a kind of urgency brought on by the protests of their neighbors," Murray told NPR.
Carefully selected for thickness and strength, the lengths of bamboo end up back in the shop where Aguinaldo, Murray and their partner Marty Odlin help cycling enthusiasts build DIY wooden bikes.
The Bamboo Bike Studio team treats the bamboo’s outer skin with torches and then bakes them in a homemade oven.
Once they’ve been connected into frames and secured with a sawdust and resin mixture, the joints are wrapped in a ribbon-like carbon fabric that soaks up epoxy.
What results may not be anything close to the sleek, shiny factory-made bicycles you see in stores — in fact, it looks more like bamboo sticks held together with electrical tape.
But it’s surprisingly durable and offers a smooth ride, and customers clearly don’t mind the rustic aesthetic. They’re pouring into the studio in droves for the hands-on experience of making their own bikes. The shop’s bike-making classes are booked until April.
"Everyone who leaves the studio says, 'Wow, my bike is my favorite object now.' " says Odlin, an engineer.
"They have such a connection to this thing that came together under their own hands. They may not come here to have that connection to their bicycle, but that's what they leave with."