Bamboo bikes are, as we recently pointed out, growing in popularity thanks to bamboo's status as the fastest growing (and hence most renewable) plant. The newest bamboo bike manufacturer to enter the spotlight is Calfee Design, a custom bike designer. But Calfee's nearly $5,000 bike isn't as eco-friendly as it appears upon first glance.
The bike, made from organic, biodegradable bamboo picked in the mountain's of Taiwan's Yushan National Park, goes through a number of steps before hitting the pavement. After the bamboo is picked, it is shipped to California, where its stems are smoked, treated with heat,and put together into a frame. The pieces of the bike are connected with hemp fiber lugs and coated with satin polyurethane sealant before being shipped to local dealers across the U.S. and the U.K. So while 60% of the finished product is made from sustainable materials, Calfee's bike also has a hefty carbon footprint that negates some of the environmental goodness of the bamboo growing process.
Bamboo can be grown in a variety of dry areas--even those that lack plentiful rainfall--so why aren't Calfee's bike materials grown, put together, and sold in the same place? The company is assisting entrepreneurs in developing countries with making bicycles out of locally sourced bamboo. Perhaps it should do the same in the U.S. and Britain.
[Via U.K. Daily Mail]