It’s not exactly a bicycle you’d choose to start your fitness program, but the award-winning Bambike Revolution Cycle is sturdy, lightweight, flexible and eye-catching enough to encourage even the most exercise-averse person to take up biking.
Made primarily of locally sourced and treated bamboo with aluminum, high-grade plastic, leather and rubber components, the Bambike was one of several products which won the Katha Awards at the recently concluded Manila FAME.
It comes in several models and costs from P15,000 up. Certain models are even equipped with woven rattan and abaca seats. Like the bike’s bamboo frame, these indigenous materials are chemically treated to make them insect- and UV-resistant. The Bambike also has a waterproof topcoat.
Weighing an average of 2.2 kilograms, the Bambike’s frame is comparable with an all-aluminum bike. Since Filipinos love to do things in pairs, customers have the option to choose from models with woven or plain wooden benches to allow them to ride in tandem.
Certain parts of the bike, like handles, pedals and spokes, are made of aluminum alloy, while wheels are made of rubber. The frame is all bamboo.
Bryan Benitez McClelland, the Filipino-American founder of Tarlac-based Bamb Ecological Technology Inc., adopted and brought the technology of making bamboo bikes from Ghana. He cites several advantages of choosing a Bambike over a conventional bike.
Apart from being strong and flexible, he considers bamboo the “greenest building material on the planet.”
Malakas and Maganda
“The bamboo from which Malakas and Maganda emerged evolved for millions of years. It’s strong yet sways with the wind. These qualities are evident in our Bambikes,” he said.
Riding a Bambike offers a unique experience because the main material itself, which is bamboo, is “vibration-dampening.” Shock absorption is thus built into the Bambike’s entire frame.
“And our models with benches are also quite unique,” said McClelland. “They could allow you to make angkas, and that’s very Filipino.”
His company has also come up with Bambikes grouped under the Phat line. As their name implies, the bikes are a bit broader than regular Bambikes to enable them to run on sandy beaches.
To further assure the public of Bambike’s safety and roadworthiness, McClelland sought certification for his bikes from an independent company in Taiwan.
Not only did they pass international standards; each Bambike also comes with a three- to five-year warranty.
“If you treat your Bambike well, and with regular maintenance, it can last you a lifetime,” said McClelland. “Admittedly, our products are not cheap. They have no price limits since we can build complete bikes based on customers’ specs. Stock bikes could cost up to P65,000. We focus on quality products that are built to last.”
McClelland, who grew up in the United States, decided to move to the Philippines seven years ago. He was inspired to form a company that would manufacture his bikes after volunteering for Gawad Kalinga in Victoria, Tarlac.
He wanted to give housing beneficiaries of Gawad Kalinga steady jobs after moving into their new homes. Since they had been uprooted from their traditional sources of livelihood, McClelland decided to build his factory near a rural community in Victoria. He calls his employees “Bambuilders.”
“Bambike is also a product of necessity because we needed to create sustainable rural jobs for people who need them the most,” he said. “As their employers, we pay them fair wages and give them health insurance.”
And since each Bambike is lovingly made by hand, no two bikes are exactly alike. McClelland and his collaborators also take pride in the fact that they’re helping develop the country’s bamboo industry in Luzon.
On a national level, he’s working on changing an existing policy that excludes bamboo from being considered a timber species. Once it becomes an industrial product, the bamboo’s use will become more widespread.
Bambike’s main store is at Plaza San Luiz Complex, Real Street corner Gen. Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila. E-mail [email protected] or visit www.bambike.com.