Odlin, Murray and Aguinaldo are the wunderkinds behind the Bamboo Bike Studio, a twenty-first century greenhouse of innovation nurturing the seeds of a new field of thought concerning industry and the planet. According to its website, in 2008 the Bamboo Bike Studio LLC was formed “to harness the possibility and promise of self-propulsion.” In other words, to build a better mousetrap, or in this case, a better bicycle. What’s wrong with the bicycle? Nothing! The bicycle is perfect! Well, almost perfect. In an age of dwindling resources there is a growing acceptance on all sides that if we don’t begin developing sustainable solutions to our economic and ecological ills we might soon be asking ourselves, “Why is it so hot in here, and what are we doing in this basket?” While two-wheeled self-propulsion has long been considered our number one mode of sustainable transportation, and one of our biggest assets in capping the flow of ecological and cultural damage we’ve spilled, even the low-maintenance, energy-efficient, lean green bicycle can be greener.
How? As the name of the Brooklyn-based studio implies, by building the frame out of bamboo, nature’s own renewable composite (more on that later), but also, according to this trio of bike-obsessed scientists as well as many others in this pasture of new thought, by shifting access to the crafting and manufacturing process back to the consumer.
On a local level, this means you and me. Regular everyday Joes who need to consume goods and services to survive. It’s how we consume these goods that the Bamboo Bike Studio hopes to influence. Operating under the belief that “the best bike we’ll ever ride is the one we build ourselves,” two weekends a month, for a little over nine hundred dollars, the cost of a new off-rack commuter or cruiser, the studio offers two-day workshops in which we will build our own customized high-performance lightweight bamboo bicycle. “Walk in Saturday, ride out Sunday,” the website promises, adding that a frame only build costs a little over six hundred dollars.
“What good is owning a bike if you don’t know how to maintain and repair it?” asks Aguinaldo, a Hunter College Graduate who once considered building bikes out of bones because bones are stronger than steel. And therein lies the rub. The corporatized structure of the twentieth century made us ignorant consumers, users of technologies developed and sold through a secret proprietary process. Remember when everybody used to be a tinkerer? When everyone’s garage and father had a workshop in