Thursday, July 28, 2011

Rethinking Smugness: Steel is the New Bamboo

There's an old saying about bicycle components. This saying goes something like, "Light, strong, delicious: choose two." Well, this no longer holds true--at least if you're a panda--thanks to the rise of the bamboo bicycle frame:

(Freds who ride bamboo bikes are called "Gilligans," while their retrogrouch counterparts are called "Robinson Crusoes.")

In recent years, cyclists everywhere have been lashing stalks of bamboo together like desperate castaways fashioning rafts, and a reader informs me that Brooklyn's Bamboo Bike Studio is now expanding:

Not only that, you can now go the the Bamboo Bike Studio and make yourself a bike out of (play this sound as you read the next word) steel:

The Brooklyn-based Bamboo Bike Studio (BBS), where DIYers make their own bike frame out of bamboo in a two-day workshop, is opening satellite studios and branching out into the assembly of steel frame bikes.

Wait, what? I thought bamboo bicycles were the ultimate in sustainability, and that the world was going to be saved by a new generation of bike-cultural basket weavers who grow their own transportation in community gardens. Well, apparently not, since it turns out the bamboo bike is about as politically correct as a disposable diaper:

The decision to branch out into steel frame bikes, oddly enough, was made in response to the assertion that the bamboo bikes were not totally green because they can’t be recycled. The epoxy used on the carbon fiber joints on BBS’s bamboo bikes isn’t recyclable. “We thought that was a valid criticism,” says Odlin. But the studio is testing bikes made with a bio-degradable epoxy and Odlin hopes that eventually bamboo bikes will be totally recyclable.

In other words, as far as sustainability goes, the only difference between a bamboo bike and a Cannondale Synapse is that the tolerances on the bamboo bike are looser than a congressman's ethics. Well, that, and the fact that bamboo bikes look better than Cannondales when they're bedazzled with elbow macaroni.

I'm also guessing that nobody's yet ready to discuss the cognitive dissonance involved in experimenting with bio-degradable epoxy in order to build a bicycle which will ultimately be assembled with the same metal components used on pretty much every other bike anyway. Then again, maybe I'm wrong and they're also experimenting with ball bearings made from seeds and tires woven from grass.

By the way, none of this is to disparage the act of making your own bamboo bike, which I'm sure is an enjoyable and edifying experience--I just happen to enjoy the irony. And certainly a homemade bamboo bike is more interesting than an imported crabon one. Sure, if you encounter a peckish panda your bamboo bicycle is liable to be eaten, but a reader informs me that if you run into a bear on your crabon bike it's not going to survive either:



The Sternbergs and other passers-by stopped to help Woodard and collect pieces of his broken bicycle, which were strewn everywhere. The carbon frame was snapped clean in two places.

Of course, as any steel apologist will tell you before you tell him to shut up (it's best to derail steel bike aficionados immediately before they manage to gain momentum), had the bicycle been of the ferrous variety then it could have been repaired. Sure, those repairs will cost you the price of three new frames, but then you wouldn't be able to brag on Internet forums about how your bike survived a bear attack.

Furthermore, as Larry Olmsted would surely tell you, had the bicycle been a titanium Seven it would have fit so well that you'd have been able to avoid the bear altogether thanks to the bike's telepathic handling. In fact, the 100+ question Seven Cycles questionnaire actually includes an entire section on wildlife evasion. And, should the unthinkable happen and you actually hit the bear, you can use your frame's superior strength-to-weight ratio and oversized seat tube to prevent the beast's jaws from clamping down on you.

Fortunately, in this case, the Sternberg family was there to assist the victim, but what if they hadn't? What if Woodward had been forced to spend the night in the wilderness? Well, if you're ever trapped with an unrideable bicycle, the first thing you should do is try to find some bamboo and build a replacement. However, if this is impossible, you should immediately build a cannon from your spokes and hunt for food:



This is yet another reason for retrogrouches to feel smug about their handbuilt wheelsets. Go ahead and try that with your Ksyriums. Sure, you could probably build a depth bomb with one of those exploding R-Sys wheels, but afterwards it would be totally unrideable. On the other hand, all it takes is two spokes to build a bicycle spoke cannon, after which you've still got 34 left assuming you're "palping" the Jobst Brandt-approved full complement of 36.


Here's the video to which they're referring:



Oh, give the guy a break. It's certainly a goofy commercial, but least he's not being shuttled around the city in a giant SUV. Plus, I bet he wasn't wearing a helment when he got punched in the head 10 times in Egypt either, and I don't recall people giving him a hard time for that:

Of course, while Anderson Cooper may be gray of hair, he's not yet technically one of the "peloton of Peter Pans," as described in this article which was forwarded to me by a reader:

When I saw the headline I just assumed it was about a bunch of people who ride in green tights, but apparently it refers to people over 50. I think we all know that cyclists age well, but the article did contain some interesting statistics:

Sixty-five percent of the members of the Santa Rosa Cycling Club are over 50, half the entrants in the club’s Wine Country Century were over 50, and 61 percent of the entrants in the recent Harvest Century Bike Tour in Healdsburg are over 50.

Really, only half? I'm actually surprised something called the "Wine Country Century" skews so young.

117 comments:

T-H-A said...

1ST AGAIN

Steel Rules!

Amy said...

Chicked, again? TSK.

Kenny Banya said...

"I bet he wasn't wearing a helment when he got punched in the head 10 times in Egypt either, and I don't recall people giving him a hard time for that..."

Gold Snobby, GOLD!

Amy said...

So who saw Amy podium on Jeopardy! last night?

Chazu said...

Finger... meh.

Anonymous said...

?

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

top 10, no comment

Eric said...

I take offense to the notion that my steel 1973 Schwinn Varsity would need repairs after hitting a bear.

Anonymous said...

Lucky the Sternberg's had a suitable scale with them so they could weigh the bear!

Kenny said...

Spoke cannons rule. Like cats!

vanya said...

I am not sure what to say

grog said...

bamboozled

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

The leading edge of my bike is a 53 tooth chainring. Beware errant bears and jaywalkers!

Peter Panda said...

Bamboo is delicious

Anonymous said...

Ha,looks like the supposed Eco warriors have been bamboozled!

le Correcteur said...

meh . . . top twenty unread.

Wizard of Lox & Bagels said...

Who would be considered the "Grant Peterson of Bamboo?"

Bill Smith said...

I do not want the glue that holds my bike together to bio-degrade.

Marcel Da Chump said...

Finally! I could put my Basket Weaving Degree to good use.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bill. It would make the used bike business more harzardous than it already is.

cycle

Chazu said...

Tried to fingerbang but my place at the finish line led to digital extension disfunction.

I need a steak.

Charles said...

Can anyone near Fresno County comment on the cant of the road the gentleman was riding on?

A 61 year old ticking along at 25 mph; color me impressed!

Turd Ferguson said...

The Professor is the Grant Petersen of bamboo, of course.

I wonder if it would have been the masturbating bear(copyright NBC), if it got that near a McLabia Venge.

mikeweb said...

I like the spoke cannon idea. Now he needs to develop a bottom bracket pot of boiling oil and front derailleur crossbow.

Have fun storming the castle!

Anonymous said...

A beast of blog from first mountain attack @ 10 km!!

"Then again, maybe I'm wrong and they're also experimenting with ball bearings made from seeds and tires woven from grass."

Thank you sir.

wishiwasmerckx said...

I guess that I am more hip than I thought. My crabon fibre Eddy Merckx frameset is bedazzled with elbow macaroni so that I can carbo-load with pasta on longer rides. I switched out the ceramic bearings in my headset not for seeds, but for peppercorns because they are rounder. Now, when I want to season my macaroni, I just hold it under the headset on the fly for an impromptu peppermill.

On my fixie, I have been experimenting with tires made of a different kind of grass - Wednesday weed. Now, when I bust one of my epic skids, I just inhale the smoke. Who knew?

Anonymous said...

I would 'maybe' have a threesome with Anderson Cooper and Ev Bogue.

Anonymous said...

I worked for a while as a sales rep for a well known bike company. We had a warehouse full of returned/damaged frames. Every couple of days this guy would roll up in his truck and buy all the aluminum frames from the warehouse manager.

I know there's a market for steel scrap.

Carbon fiber is just going to off gas flouro-carbons and poison the water table.

wishiwasmerckx said...

If my biodegradable epoxy biodegrades while I am going 46 MPH, I will be saying something other that "Woo hoo!"

recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

I know the man will probably make a law forcing me to run one of those goofy ring guards on the front of my bike. I won't do it. I'm an outlaw... An outlaw recumbist.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Wine Country Century? Don't make me bust out my wife-tasting antecdote again.

mikeweb said...

@rct,

You should take a tip from the animal kingdom and lace your chain lube with arsenic or even snake venom. Then that 53t chainring will truly be outlaw and lethal.

Fred said...

That biodegradable frame glue will give those bikes all the panache of an 80's Vitus.
And by "panache" I mean "Jens Voigt style face-plantability".

Chris said...

But what about plywood bicycles?

www.blids.nl/gallery/PlywoodRecumbentBuildingworkshop2003

Anonymous said...

So I'm 39 and a wine country lover. And I ride my bike everywhere. I guess that makes me old before my time?

mikeweb said...

@Fred,

I bet the spoke cannon guy could use a Vitus frame to build one of these.

Marcel Da Chump said...

I had just taken a crap in the bathroom of Time & Life Building's conference center, when who should walk in? A.C himself. I may have ruined his day.

Anonymous said...

Just when you thought that there wasn't enough KickStarter documentary projects about bikes out there:
http://voordekunst.nl/vdk/project/view/84-genre-de-vie

crosspalms said...

My steel frame is biograding nicely, judging from the orange speckles. It'd be in better shape if the damn pandas would quite biting it. Maybe I shouldn't have picked that shade of green.

MyComputersMadeOfBamboo said...

Panties!

Anonymous said...

SEED BRNG
GRAS TIRE

Anonymous said...

I forged my bike from steel gathered from a roadside dump I single handedly cleaned up on Earth Day. My forge was solar powered, even though it meant I had to be ready to work when clouds cleared from the sky. My tires are woven from recycled bandages I liberate from hospital biohazard dumpsters. My seat is fashioned from Ecuadorian palm fronds woven by fair-trade labor & imported on foot. NOW ARE YOU PEOPLE HAPPY ? WILL I EVER MAKE YOU PEOPLE HAPPY ?

crosspalms said...

Those pandas are no dopes. Here's the real reason they want those Calfee bikes.

Benny Kanya said...

Panda Pumping.

Gold.

Balls.

ant1 said...

ant1st!

ant1 said...

they do have BS in their name.

Marcel Da Chump said...

Two summers from now, I'll be 50 yrs old.
I can then organize THE PROTO-HIPSTER CYCLING CLUB.

Members must ride Raleigh or Rudge with Sturmey Archer 3 speeds and Suntour Superbe Pro track cranks.

Members must have been in a mosh pit.

Stage diving at a Replacements show insures honorary membership.

PeterPanties said...

Wear a helmet!

Anonymous said...

why can't any of the over 50 cycling crowd just be normal cyclists, and why are they all Freds instead?

Marcel Da Chump said...

THE PROTO-HIPSTER CYCLING CLUB will only convene on Wednesdays for THE WEDNESDAY WEED RIDE*.







*EVERYBODY MUST GET STONED.

ken e. said...

STGE DIVE
GILL IGAN

crosspalms said...

anon 3:08
I'm over 50 and I'm not a Fred. Not since I donated those jerseys...

LK said...

50+! No whine before its time!

Anonymous said...

So you know when it's hot out.. NEW Temp Gauge Headset Top Cap http://cgi.ebay.com/NEW-Temp-Gauge-Headset-Top-Cap-/150637844759?pt=Cycling_Parts_Accessories&hash=item2312b71917

bikesgonewild said...

...one simple blog & wildcat rock machine made those who ride bamboo bicycles the "lashing stalks" of the bike industry...

...& while it's very "nice" (read: self righteous) to build your own bamboo bike in a "studio" in brooklyn & then complain that the epoxy isn't sustainable, someone like craig calfee has been teaching people in africa for many years to build bamboo bikes as a means of transportation to help sustain life by allowing folks to provide for their families...

...lemme know how that biodegradable epoxy thingy works out...

...american industry, as clean as they're finally being forced to be, stills dumps more shit into our environment on a daily basis than all the epoxy from all the bamboo bikes ever made or will be made, by an exponential proportion...

...just sayin'...

crosspalms said...

@Marcel
I've never been in a mosh pit, but I did get whacked on the head at a Toots & the Maytals concert once. Turns out someone was just putting out a fire in my hair -- apparently some flaming weed fell from the balcony.

bikesgonewild said...

...& btw...@anon 3:08pm ???...go fuck yourself...

Another Canuck said...

I'm still miffed about the last great helment flame-war, so I'm suggesting everyone read this and comment: http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/story/2011/07/28/health-bicycle-head-injury-helmet-children.html

yogisurf said...

I’m intrigued by the spokes cannon/weapon but too lazy to watch the video. I did have bamboo shoots on my salad, but none on my Crabon Madone.

Panda Punchline said...

See, it says right here: "Eats shoots and leaves".

Jasper said...

+1 yogisurf - I'm not going to spend 4'17" of my life doing that when I could waste it typing this out instead.

safety equipment said...

i would definitely wear a helmet when firing a spoke cannon.

Cadel Evans said...

Remember me?

bikesgonewild said...

...i'm wondering if wildcat rock machine & the author of the piece about the 'spoke cannon' are about to be investigated by the department of homeland security for fostering 'terrorist activities'...

..."well, your honor, it started with a simple posting on-line & spread like wildfire...before we knew it, fixed gear hipsters were armed & dangerous from coast to coast...we haven't figured out their agenda but we know they're up to something...just look at their numbers"...

Esteemed Commenter DaddoOne said...

i did not ever think i would hear the phrase "...so the tip of your ramrod is nice and blunt"

Charlie Didrickson said...

Pull the seat out and pull a bong hit...Big Bamboo.

Yer on my left

hungry panda said...

"I'm an outlaw... An outlaw recumbist."

yeah, those words work together.

Bobby said...

Bikesgonewild-

"
...american industry, as clean as they're finally being forced to be, stills dumps more shit into our environment on a daily basis than all the epoxy from all the bamboo bikes ever made or will be made, by an exponential proportion..."

--Really? Let's do a comparison of industrial byproducts with China. Nuff said, eh? Seriously,is there any remaining industry here to complain about?

I'd rather deal with US or EU monitored industry any day, all pollution is distributed to the same planet.

Don't want to ruffle your feathers, just sayin'

WIldcat Rock Machine is going to try and make a cannon from those R-Sys spokes.

bikesgonewild said...

...@bobby...while you are quite correct, sir, it is a poor justification to say "we're better 'cuz they're worse", so if the euros & the americas, north n' south, had any pants yabbies they'd find a way to make china clean up it's act, sooner rather than later...

Marcel Da Chump said...

Addendum*to THE PROTO-HIPSTER CYCLING membership criteria:

REGGAE CONCERTS = MOSH PIT





*the Crosspalms addendum

crosspalms said...

@Marcel

Woo-hoo-hoo-hoo!

ken e. said...

GOOD PITS
FUNK SMEL
SKIP PER!

Nebraska bike commuter (non-DWI edition) said...

One time, I almost hit a young whitetail buck. I had plenty of time to see him, this being Nebraska and all.

I was cruising at 35 mph on a smooth level road with a 15-20 mph tailwind, (the only conditions suitable for me to be "cruising" at that speed) and I could see him running across a field of sprouted corn from about 1/4 mile back from our eventual meeting point. I figured he'd cross about 20 to 30 yards ahead of me, but at the road's edge he stopped and seemed to time his crossing to take me out. I had to brake hard for him to cross less than 10 feet in front of me.

This happened back when the only full crabon frame I knew of was the Kestrel, and I was could definitely only afford a steel bike. (for that matter, I can still only afford a steel or aluminum bike)

Anonymous said...

I don't qualify for the club.

Got a Rudge, but it has a 4-speed....and a 4-valve engine....

Never seen the Replacements, but have been in plenty moshpits; lots of SLF and the like.

Built my own track frame too, although the chainset is Miche.

hey nonny mouse........is getting old and thinking about buying a cheap caravan to make going car racing more comfortable!

Anonymous said...

Oh, and a parting shot; (bobby & bikesgonewild for starters); have you ever read Silent Spring? It's by Rachel Carson and was mostly to do with pesticides, as I remember. It does tend to make you look out other things, though; factories with pipes going to strange places so that they can ditch stuff outwith the exhaust pipes that are declared.

hey nonny mouse

Anonymous said...

Oh, and a parting shot; (bobby & bikesgonewild for starters); have you ever read Silent Spring? It's by Rachel Carson and was mostly to do with pesticides, as I remember. It does tend to make you look out other things, though; factories with pipes going to strange places so that they can ditch stuff outwith the exhaust pipes that are declared.

hey nonny mouse

leroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leroy said...

I don't mean to brag, but my dog has been representing me and says he convinced the DS for Team Bike and Roll to offer me a contract for their development team next season.

He assures me Bike and Roll is pronounced Lay-Oh-Pard, but says I'll have to use the name Peter Pannier.

Not sure I should pay his fee in advance.

mander said...

True confession: I'm not even gay but I think I would pretty much give Anderson Cooper a bj.

Jasper said...

Hey nonny mouse - SLF? OMG. I went to a gig of theirs in 1980 inadvertantly wearing a Pink Floyd T-shirt under my sweater, and thought I would get eviscerated if I took the sweater off...now that was moshing

JDH said...

Maybe we should wear helments in the shower, when climbing ladders, walking on uneven pavement, and climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Do the research. It's scary!

leroy said...

True confession: I raced in the Giro under the name Pietro Panini.

Okay, it's not true, but it is a confession.

leroy said...

I was going to use Pierre Pane-e-Cioccolata, but that name had been taken.

leroy said...

And Pieter Pancetta just didn't seem kosher.

leroy said...

"The Peking Panda" was out of the question.

Too reminiscent of "The Man Missle" (not to be confused with "The Spanx Sprocket").

leroy said...

Peter Pantani? No one would have believed me.

leroy said...

Pedro Pinata was a promising sobriquet. But only for the Vuelta.

leroy said...

And I was saving Peter Pandemonium for my second career fronting a Ramones tribute band.

leroy said...

Of course, for widespread exposure, you can't beat Peter Pandemic.

leroy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leroy said...

Piers Pensacola sounded like a name the writers of Talledag Nights rejected for the Shasha Cohen character.

leroy said...

Pietro Piroggi was a thought.

Not a good thought.

Just a thought.

leroy said...

Moishe Apfelbaum.

I was shooting for an anglicised version of Pietrovich Pan.

I missed.

leroy said...

Side note to Cadel Evans -- I see what you mean. No one will work with me either. Go figure.

leroy said...

Peter Powerpoint had been claimed by Cipollini so he could sneak into the Tour of California.

leroy said...

Peter Parker?

Too tangled a web to weave without enough practice to deceive.

leroy said...

Peter Pan-Iowa.

Not plausible.

No one in their right mind would ride across Iowa.

leroy said...

Peter Potomus.

Not much of a climber. But man could that Hippo sprint.

Van Velo Vet said...

Hear! Hear! Bikes Gone Wild @4:03

We have 50+ and 60+ riders that can kick major butt in the peloton.

leroy said...

In retrospect, I may have started the lead out a little early.

99 ...

Peter Pained (no relation to Dick Hertz).

leroy said...

Century Podium???!!

Thanks Van Velo Vet!

Anonymous said...

I know its late and I don't want to be a Fred, but may I suggest using "festooned" instead of "bedazzled" here:

"Well, that, and the fact that bamboo bikes look better than Cannondales when they're bedazzled with elbow macaroni."

Because it sounds like the Cannondales are bedazzled BY the macaroni, not decorated by it. Just sayin.

OK, I'm a Fred.

ce said...

Leroy, I'll tell you a little secret... "ce" actually stands for Cadel Evans. Yes it is true, I am the Cuddly One. I appreciate your empathy and would like to use some contacts of mine to get you a place in the Tour Down Under. You'll have to go under the down under alias "Poiter Pearn".

Benny Kanya said...

Leroy. I like you better when your dog does the talking.

crosspalms said...

leroy,
Peter Panegyric wanted to say a few words in praise of you (and of course your dog), but I told him he should just treat you to dessert instead, so Peter Pannacotta is on his way over.

Anonymous said...

leroy,

Benny Kanya may like your dog more than you, but I think both of you are pretty darn funny.

Silver, leroy, Silver! At least.

Of course, no one comes close to our host, who's the funniest comic writer since S. J. Pearlman, imho. (Well, there's always Dave Barry and Calvin Trillin, I suppose).

Mike said...

I can't imagine anything greener than a hand made steel bike well maintained that I still own and ride after nearly 20 years.

I wonder how many carbon fiber frames I would have gone through in the same time.

Bobby said...

Bikesgonewild-

I can't help but agree with you! Weak yabbies are the key, man! We should speak softly and beat 'em with a big crabon stick.

Anonymous said...

Bike Snob
I have been reading your blog for several years but have little contact with the cycling community in general. Every now and then I see a picture on your blog of a goofy looking bike with a normal wire spoked wheel on the back and a crazy 3 spoke plastic thing on the front. What is up with that? Where does it come from? When will it go away?
Cheers

Anonymous said...

Here what i found -> vision correction

Anonymous said...

wank o tron 3000! priceless......

Anonymous said...

36SP OKES

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Thanks

WOW Gold said...

I am extra hip than I thought. My crabon fibre Eddy Merckx frameset is bedazzled with elbow macaroni to make certain which i can carbo-load with pasta on extended rides.
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Fixie Bikes said...

I think I saw that bamboo bike on reddit once, they probably stole it from here.

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