Years back I asked my Father for a bike and, in a homily that introduced the idea of the Saturday job, he told me that they didn’t grow on trees. They do now. On the outskirts of Lusaka in Zambia next years crop of bicycles is being watered by Benjamin Banda: “we planted this bamboo last year and the stems are taller than me. When it is ready, we will cut it and cure it and then, turn it into frames.”

Introducing the Bamboo Zambike

Introducing the Bamboo Zambike

Santa Cruz based Craig Calfee, of Calfee bikes, highlights the load carrying capabilities of this type of eco logical bike in a video filmed in Ghana. See:

The first bamboo based bike was exhibited at the London Stanley show in 1894. So, there is nothing new in the idea. However, as Transformational Logistics explores a range of ideas for Simply Modal – the process of materials handling from end-to-end in as simple and as sustainable a method as possible – this concept has huge potential.

Bamboo is one of the fastest growing plants on earth. The more than 500 species take one year to grow to their full size and a further 5 to 7 years to strengthen. Conventional steel, aluminium and titanium frames all require high levels of energy from extraction to extrusion. And bamboo bikes can adapt to the harshest environment at affordable prices.

Let’s consider the full impacts of the Bamboo bike. Beyond the ability to perform as well as conventional bikes, the Bamboo version could be the catalyst for a supply chain revolution of real significance. It could generate a new industry in poor countries; open up training and career opportunities for local people and develop a whole eco system of manufacturers, suppliers and distributors of the bikes themsleves. And then, there is the potential to use them in other simply modal supply chains. Add this into the MDC (manual distribution centre) mix raised in a previous post by Tielman and link it to shelf ready packaging for farmers and you get the picture. Simply modal works. Adaptable, affordable and, builds greater connectivity all along the supply chain.

Any other thoughts?

Thanks to Craig Calfee and the BBC report for the idea.