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Friday Fun: Growing Bamboo Bicycles

This bike was "grown" through a process of grafting bamboo. Photo via James Dyson Award.

Alexander Vittouris from Monash University grew a bamboo bicycle by intervening with the plant’s growth process through a technique called “arborsculpture.” Using a hard skeletal mold, Vittouris forced the natural growth of the bamboo into the shape of a bicycle frame. The “Ajiro” bicycle is truly a “green” transport vehicle and won a James Dyson Award for its design.

According to Vittouris, the concept behind the bicycle is to “provide wholly sustainable personal mobility by reassessing production methods; considering the product lifecycle as a natural growth process.” Using this model, Vittouris introduces “grown mobility.”

Ajiro is more than a bicycle; it is a means to bridge the gap between the car and the bicycle. Vittouris explains:

“The velomobile concept provides a natural source of human power, bridging the gap between car and bicycle by providing on-board storage and canopy protection for the rider. Simplifying the package, the rear wheels act as the steering mechanism, with the front wheel providing power input. This removes complexity of many recumbent vehicles reliant on derailleur systems. For stability at the low speeds proposed for urban use, most of the rider weight is positioned over the rear wheels.”

This isn’t the first time bamboo has been used as a material in bicycle production. The difference in bamboo’s previous uses is the production method. Prior to arborsculpture, individual pieces of bamboo were heat-treated and bound together using fiber.

Bamboo’s durability and rapid growth makes it an ideal material to use in bicycle production. In fact, the possibilities of bamboo have led scientists and engineers at The Earth Institute of Columbia University to start the Bamboo Bike Project, an effort to examine the feasibility of implementing bamboo bicycles as a sustainable form of transportation in Africa. Learn more about the Bamboo Bike Project here.

Watch the video below to see the prototype of the bamboo bike in action.

Would you use a bamboo bicycle? Share your opinion with us in the comments section below.

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  • and it’s so beautiful !

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  • Skipperau

    This is truly a concept born of form and function. An object of art that has a noble function as well. You have my admiration and thanks.

    Seriously, Alex you have done an awesome job. Any chances of catching up next time I am in town?

  • AlexVittouris

    Indeed it would be geared with a multi-speed internal hub, similar to this:

  • As a long-time rider of a Rans V-Rex in the Berkeley Hills, I applaud your recumbent approach. It will have gears, yes?

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  • AlexVittouris

    Thanks for your post on my velomobile. Should probably clear ambiguity that the above images are render of the proposal. The concept only represents one ‘form’ approach to the shape modifications, there are little conceivable limitations to the shape that can be derived from the technique. Overall the velomobile proposal is part of a larger picture of transport usage and manufacturing techniques as well as serving as a discussion for planned obsolescence and how modern materials for production are synthesised – discussed in publications:

    The concept proposal would intend to use multi-speed direct drive hub for the front wheel.
    The ability for the bamboo to maintain deformed shapes has been trialed and proven to work, however, a farming approach to production does require significant planning and establishment. Upon reflection, this is not insurmountable, considering sustainable approaches for paper production/rotational crop farming techniques. The proposal is simply about reducing the amount of post harvest modification of the material, and getting the plant itself to ‘do’ some of the work through a reusable former .

    Alexander Vittouris

  • And a recumbent no less. This is the first bamboo recumbent I’ve seen.