- A group of friends from Colorado are trying to convince the world that a bicycle made from bamboo can perform as well or better than a traditional steel frame bike -- and can help save the planet too.
Unlike the vast majority of traditional bikes on the road that use steel or aluminum tubing in their frame construction, Panda Bikes use the natural strength of bamboo.
"Really what we are trying to do is make a bicycle that's rideable for the everyday rider and offers the benefits of traditional-use material -- the strength of steel, the weight of aluminum and the vibration dampening of carbon fibre," says Jacob Castillo, one of the three co-founders of the Fort Collins, Colo.-based company.
"So bamboo makes an ideal frame construction material, and the environmental sustainability benefits are really just the icing on the cake."
A fast-growing, cheap, renewable and readily available resource, bamboo is used as a mainstay in construction projects in Asia.
In fact, that's where one of the founders of Panda Bicyles, John McKinney, first got the idea to use bamboo to build bikes, says Castillo.
"John was working on some sustainable housing initiatives in Mexico and he saw how bamboo was used in the green building industry. He came back to the U.S. and said 'this would also be an ideal bicycle construction material.'"