Wednesday, January 23, 2008

WHAT A MONTH

Hey boys and girls, sorry for keeping all three of you in suspense for a month but I have had to finish projects and finals (yeah, Princeton's schedule is pretty crazy).  However, check out some pictures of our prototype: Model Zero, by Bamboo Bikes, Inc.




We are starting a company building these and plan to make a range of models, from cruising and touring bikes to stiff race frames with fully custom geometry, carbon-wrapping layups, and headtube/BB shell materials.

The most common question is, "Why bamboo?"  The answer is pretty simple: 1) it is unique, 2) it is very stiff because it is a natural composite, and 3) its stiffness belies its amazing ride quality due to the fact that bamboo dampens 4 times more vibrations than even carbon fiber.  A racer usually must choose light, stiff, or comfortable--with this bike, you can have all three.

Our prototype is meant for testing--it is the first one.  The drivetrain is on the left and it is a fixie, basically to make it even more one-off.  We plan to put this bike through its paces, basically until it breaks in half (a la the Cervelo R3 cyclocross video), but I have done a couple 3+ hour rides on it and the ride quality is simply incredible.  It is very stiff for climbing and sprinting, reasonably lightweight, and the fatigue I usually have at the end of a ride was just not there.

We are investigating different species of bamboo, different layup techniques, different dropout designs, geometry, etc.  We have already done a full finite element analysis of the frame, and have tested and optimized the individual frame tubes based on wall thickness, diameter, node spacing, and heat treatment.  We have built test joints and had some lineman friends jump on them.  We are testing finishes (clearcoating, teak oil, paint) and we are going to give samples to the art department to run a full acid test to simulate 10 years of abuse.

If you are interested in replicating an existing frame or creating a full-custom frame, just email me at nfrey@princeton.edu.  Over the next year we are planning to build our company through word-of-mouth, third-party reviews, and trade shows like the North American Handmade Bike Show.  Let me know if you are interested--our prototype (and possibly our second model--my bike--made from imported high-strength Brazilian bamboo) is going to be displayed in the Rasmussen Bike Shop this summer.

3 comments:

Pete Basso said...

WOW, now that is what I call "putting on your thinking cap". Keep the reviews coming Nick, pretty cool stuff. Also, get a website built and hire some guys to help position you with some strong search engine placement and a stronger web presence as the product develops. really cool stuff though.

S.Fuller said...

Nick, cool stuff. Looking forward to seeing them in person at Rassy's this summer. Bamboo road bike is a terribly tempting thought depending on the price.

Ron said...

Wow Nick, from student to entrepreneur. Awesome. Keep the news coming, maybe I'll throw up a link in my blog to this page.

Bamboo undoubtedly has the high strength to weight ratio.

I have some questions for you guys.

1. How are you making it fire and insect proof?

2. How do you plan on keeping the frame preserved? Some sort of oil treatment?

3. What wall thickness are you looking at for preventing splitting and damage?

Calfee has built one of these before and their average price seems to be 2800 dollars.