Ever wanted a bike frame that’s completely sustainable and totally unique? Vancouver’s Grass Frame Works has just the thing: a bicycle made from bamboo.
Al Roback spent time researching the varieties and uses of bamboo and had the inspiration to start building bamboo bicycles when he was studying in Asia.
When he’s not on the production line, he spends his time finding materials and parts for Grass Frames’ bikes, sourcing them as locally and sustainably as possible. In fact, sustainability is one of Grass Frames’ top priorities. Their frames are manufactured from bamboo poles, hemp fibre, aluminium fittings and plant-oil derived epoxy. They constantly source out the most ethically grown bamboo and most eco-friendly products on the market, while also cutting down on waste in the production process.
Driven by a need for local, innovative, and sustainable manufacturing, they also offer a course teaching others to build their own frame. Here’s what Al had to say about his influences, the bike-making process, and what he plans to bring to this year’s Maker Faire.
How did you come up with the idea for making bamboo bicycles?
I was studying in Asia and noticed the way they used bamboo in construction of buildings and furniture. Being a cyclist and a woodworker, it got my mind going. What started a a side project ended up being a really great bike.
How important is sustainability to you, and how does this influence your product development?
Sustainability is one of Grass Frames top priorities. We constantly source out the most ethically grown bamboo and most Eco friendly products on the market while cutting down on waste in the production process. It really results in better quality bikes in the end.
Are you the first company ever to manufacture bamboo bikes?
I wish I could claim that! Bamboo bicycles have been around for a long time. They were making them in England at the turn of the century and now in Australia, Asia and the USA there are companies that have been making them for a few years. But we’re proud to be the first company in Canada to making bamboo bicycles.
I gotta ask, how durable is a bamboo bike frame, and how much does one cost?
The bikes are incredibly durable. Because they are bound at each end, the bamboo will keep its structural integrity even if it were to crack in a situation like being hit by a vehicle. We do offer a 10-year warranty with each of our bikes. We’re extremely confident on their durability. The frame alone is $2000 and a full bicycle starts at $3000.
What do you plan on bringing / demonstrating at Vancouver Mini Maker Faire this year?
We will have the bikes out with us, be doing some fun demonstrations on the durability of bamboo, and showing people how we build our frames. We might even build a frame at the Faire to show our process.