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2010, Bamboo Bike Project Blog

2010, Bamboo Bike Project Blog

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Bamboo Bike Project Blog
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July 23, 2009 by marissabrodney Marty has returned from Ghana. We are in the beginning stages of funding a test run of 800 bikes. We are entering a new stage in bamboo bike-producing game, and we have a re-vamped Facebook fan page to keep you posted on our progress and involved every step of the way. Join us on Facebook to stay informed and contribute, and check out our updated website.

A taste of Marty Odlin’s trip to Kumasi and the Millennium Village of Bonsaaso Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Going for 800
July 23, 2009 by marissabrodney To achieve our ambitious goal of making bamboo bikes in Africa at a scale that matches the need we know exists, we have to do something that has never been done before in Africa (or anywhere else) – we have to make large production runs of bamboo bikes. To date no one, not even the most prominent bike builders in the US, have produced more than a handful of these bikes.

the amount of time needed to construct each bike is large – and so we have to come up with ways to make bike construction go a lot faster. because at present this is the fastest and most economical option. yetit is the sort of test run that will allow us to determine where the issues lie in eventually reaching a much larger production. etc. as it reduces the treating time from around 2 hours to less than 20 minutes for one frame. In the US. we must come up with technologies that will permit this. we are looking first into spaces to get set up. seat tubes. – and eventually make everything there on the ground. We must develop ways to quickly make the cuts and borings that allow metal parts like the rear dropouts and seat tube to be married to the bamboo sections. and then we need to put our supply chain in place. We are looking for the moment at using metal parts from China. This also holds true for the way the bamboo is treated. If processes like these are done fully by hand. We would like to start making some of the simpler parts in Africa soon – such as handlebars.Taken during Marty’s recent trip to Kumasi and Bonsaaso One of the outcomes of the trip Marty Odlin made to Ghana this year was a commitment from an investor to make a test production run of 800 bikes. This may seem like a modest number compared to the true need. the flame treater looks like the most promising way to maximize efficiency in the treating process. In Ghana. . But for this run of 800 we still need to source from China.

Ghana. Posted in Bamboo bike.000 including development costs. we need to raise the funds for this next critical step. Kumasi | Tagged funds. 2009 by marissabrodney In partnership with students at Columbia University’s undergraduate School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Costi had his angle. Costi got in touch with Marty and asked what kinds of engineering innovations could benefit the project. He would create a mechanized form of bamboo heat treatment. we should be able to get into serious production by next year – and then. Interested in the Bamboo Bike Project. and there are seven bamboo rods in each bike). Ghana. our ultimate goal of helping to alleviate rural poverty in Africa through improved transportation will be that much closer. as part of a senior capstone project. Many people have made very generous donations directly and through the purchase of T-shirts and jerseys. The project has reached a very critical and exciting stage. run. When Costi discovered that current flame-treating processes were very time intensive and labor intensive (it takes 20 minutes to treat a piece of bike-length bamboo by hand. test | 1 Comment » Innovation in Bamboo Flame Treatment! May 25. . That has kept us going and is deeply appreciated. If we can pass the 800 test. but the estimated cost of the 800 test run is around $120. was one of a team of students who designed a machine that automatically flame-treats bamboo. purchase of parts and the management of the work. We don’t have sources for this amount identified at present and are in search of donors and investors to help us achieve this next critical milestone in the Bamboo Bike Project. production. Costi Quffa. recent mechanical engineering graduate.Most important. the Bamboo Bike Project brings you news of technological exciting advancements that are helping us construct stronger bamboo bikes more efficiently. So far we have been operating on our initial seed funding and that is not going to work from now on. Investments.

. A motor on top rotates the piece of bamboo itself. a motor on the bottom pushes a carriage carrying the flame back and forth along the length of the bamboo.Bamboo Flame Treater Costi’s bamboo treater is a robust prototype. It employs a propane flame. ensuring that all areas of the bamboo section are evenly treated. When a piece of bamboo is placed in the machine. It takes this machine five minutes to treat a piece of bamboo approximately three feet in length. The machine can make multiple passes over the bamboo if needed. and motors that can be solar powered.

The machine can also be adjusted to treat all lengths and sizes of bamboo.Bamboo is not uniform. Accordingly. so treatment machines must be adaptable and able to work with many different sizes and diameters. . Costi’s heat treater has an adaptable carriage that allows users to alter the distance between flame and bamboo.

heat. What a fruitful partnership! Posted in Bamboo bike | Tagged bamboo. furniture. capstone project. Some are already investigating the humanitarian impacts of using this machine to strengthen bamboo structures used by refugees in settlements affected by cyclones/tsunamis. 2009 by marissabrodney In February. flame treater.Bike treated with the new flame treater Costi and his fellow engineers see the versatility of the flame-treater as giving it an application beyond bamboo bikes to bamboo scaffolding. engineering. innovation | 7 Comments » Bamboo Bikes in Kenya: Presentation Update! April 28. and other infrastructure. we brought you news of the student research team at Columbia University’s graduate School of International and Public .

the insights they gained. They collected information on the pricing costs of potential factory components. Kenya. using the KPMG-authored Ghana study as a partial model. Kat Athanasiades. and they identified three principle markets for sturdy bamboo cargo bikes in Kenya: boda boda drivers. and industry fees. and Young Rhee will present their final report and business plan to the public this Thursday at 4:50pm in SIPA room 1512.Affairs (SIPA) working to assess the feasibility of bringing bamboo bikes to Kisumu. import taxes. Riham Hussein. They attempted to size the potential bamboo bicycle market. Michelle Eames. to learn more about their recent return trip to Kenya. by pricing with Chinese components). as well as detailed information on labor costs. They worked to determine who would be able to afford the cost of a bamboo bicycle (at the same time that they investigated ways to drive down the potential cost of a bamboo bike to significantly less than what is available now in Kisumu. We sat down with Kat before the team’s big day. and some details of their final proposal to the UN Millennium Cities Initiative. Learning about bamboo in Kenya For two weeks in mid-March. this SIPA team traveled through Kisumu and the surrounding region collecting market data and information on bamboo infrastructure. .

The team brought back a good deal of demographic information that will also translate well into market information for the final study to be presented this week. where they learned that the bamboo industry in Kenya is already in its primary stages of development! Bamboo in Kenya is already being harvested and used to make a number of specialty crafts items ranging from tables and chairs to kitchenware. Contacts at the African Bamboo Center in Kisumu say that this industry could likely supply enough bamboo to support a bamboo bike factory in the very near future! . giving these leaders the opportunity to test-ride bamboo bicycles that Kat and crew brought from New York.community health workers. They encountered nothing but receptive responses. and encouragement. and rural students and commuters (many of them women who travel daily to the urban market stalls they staff during the day). and is also burned in the form of bamboo charcoal. They left a good deal of excitement about bamboo bicycles in their wake! The group also visited the Kenya Forest Research Institute. Bamboo in the sun The team met with representatives of Kenyan professional organizations like the Boda Boda Association.

head of Boda Boda Association. on a Bamboo Bike .Nashan.

boda boda.Nashan riding away Come to the Columbia University School of International Affairs. Kisumu. and takes place in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. business plan. industry. We certainly look forward to it! Posted in Bamboo bike | Tagged bamboo. presentaion. 2009 by david The Tantalus Time Trial is the oldest running bicycle race in Hawaii. this Thursday at 4:50 to learn more about the intricacies of the business plan to be presented by Kat. SIPA | 1 Comment » Tantalus Time Trial April 6. field. room 1512. Michelle. For those who . Millennium Cities. market. Riham. and Young. research.

Katharina and Ron proudly displaying their Bamboo Bike Project jerseys Two residents of Hawaii. approximately 100 meters before the first hairpin turn. Racers climb to Tantalus Drive. . where the riders pay for the jerseys. In this case. turn right. they pay for the expenses of the rider. and climb to the parking lot at the top of the hill (Just before Tantalus turns into Round Top Drive). Normally. and then help promote the project by training and racing in our jersey. when a company or organization sponsors a rider. the race starts on Makiki Heights Drive. Katharina Pahnke and Ron Ogomori entered the race as members of the Bamboo Bike Project. what we have is reverse-sponsoring.know the area.

Katharina did especially well in her first ever bicycle race. while she rounds one of the hairpins on Tantalus Drive Both Katharina and Ron did well in their respective races. Posted in Bamboo bike | Tagged jersey | 1 Comment » Bamboo Bike Project Clothing! April 1. please feel free to send them to us along with your story. If you would like to share pictures of yourself in your Bamboo Bike Project jersey. 2009 by marissabrodney .Katharina checks out eventual winner Shannon Cutting. placing 2nd (with a finishing time under 26 minutes) behind a very experienced Shannon Cutting.

Check out this shirt-wearer in action: . with all proceeds going toward paying for raw materials.Bamboo Bike Project Clothing! Support the Bamboo Bike Project by purchasing a t-shirt! Show off your commitment to sustainability initiatives with a fashionable brown tee replete with blue Bamboo Bike Project logo: T-Shirt Logo Your purchase will directly fund our efforts to develop a bamboo bike-building factory in Ghana.

Posted in Bamboo bike | Tagged clothing. 2009 by marissabrodney Marty Odlin. will be heading off to Ghana in the coming week! Marty will join a team in Ghana comprised of potential investors. shirt. as he oversees field tests that will be run on our prototype bicycles! . purchase.Marissa Wearing Shirt and Riding Bamboo Bike Find out how you can buy a shirt here. scientists. all donations are tax deductible. support | 2 Comments » Marty Prepares for Ghana! April 1. As always. you are also welcome to donate to our project online. engineer extraordinaire for the Bamboo Bike Project and assistant director of the Columbia University Center for Sustainable Engineering. and engineers.

The encouraging feedback they received has led them to begin the next stage of product development: product testing in the field. oversee. Kumasi | Tagged engineering. what’s been accomplished. . Check it out. trip | Leave a Comment » The Record March 19. Ghana. Because the bamboo bike models being used by this Ghanaian team are prototypes. tests. Ghana. Investments. 2009 by david The Record of Columbia University has a nice story featuring the bamboo bike project and our own Marty Odlin. better understanding the way these prototypes fare will enable him to refine the designs of future models. Marty decided it would be a good idea to be present at these field tests. our contacts in Ghana ran some preliminary market tests to gauge interest in the product. Marty will be in close contact with us throughout his trip to Ghana so stay tuned for updates on his travels and his findings! Posted in Bamboo bike. under the conditions and stresses that a bamboo bike would face when put to daily use by local residents. as well as assess any problems should they arise. The story gives a nice summary of the genesis of the project.After receiving the bamboo bikes that we sent some weeks ago. and where we hope to take it. The Bamboo Bike Project also hopes that Marty will be able to answer all possible questions that might arise concerning engineering and structural mechanics.

yet that does not imply that their production should be. and it is with large-scale production that we will see the success of this project. It is very hard to estimate the number of bicycles there are in Sub-Saharan Africa. Currently. and the transportation situation would remain unchanged.Marty Odlin shows off prototypes of bamboo bikes. bikes can be seen in all stages of production from the cutting of tubes. even small ones. There is absolutely an economy of scale in building bamboo bikes in a factory-like setting. as the supply chain can be managed from a central location. That doesn’t mean the equivalent of a vast Trek factory with thousands of employees. good work has to be done on a large scale. In any factory.5 million bikes. have proven that it is possible to build bamboo bikes that work well – and they are indeed as good if not better than bikes made with frames of other materials. do nothing for poverty in rural areas and nothing for the economies of those countries that would benefit from bike manufacturing. Posted in Bamboo bike. Thus. Keyna. Ghana and Kisumu. Workers are trained to be skilled at tasks in different stages of production. But we at the Bamboo Bike Project maintain: to truly make an impact. 2009 by marissabrodney All work done to better the state of our world is admirable. we are focusing on facilitating factory-scale production in the Millennium Cities of Kumasi. That strategy would likely just increase the fortunes of a few roadside bicycle builders. Bikes are sold everywhere. but it does mean a mode of production where both economies of scale can be created and a group of workers can be trained to perform skilled tasks in a coordinated and efficient way. that’s 55 million bicycles. The need for these bikes is highly distributed. These . Certainly there are millions. that’s still 5. There are 550 million people in that region. We must not fall into the trap of helping to start yet another small business that will do little but create a few interesting bikes. These local shops cannot produce goods at a rate that factories can. that approach could never meet a need at a level anywhere approaching 5-50 million bikes. Ghana | 3 Comments » The Importance of Scale February 15. We. What is an appropriate level of production? It is certainly a question we are hard at work to answer. we have come to the conclusion that factory-style bamboo bike production is necessary. and bike stores of all shapes and sizes are everywhere. While we could encourage the growth of roadside or village level bicycle building. to initial assembly to finishing. and others. their images are everywhere. Shipping is more efficient. Yet validation of our prototype does not explain how we get from one good bamboo bike to their large-scale production. If one hundredth of the population rode bikes. if even a tenth of them rode bikes. nor can they produce to similar scales.

factory. Kumasi | Tagged assembly. lone bamboo bundle Posted in Bamboo bike. millions. T-shirts and sunglasses for tourists can do well on the roadside. production. Kumasi and Kisumu are ideal locations for producing bikes and distributing them to areas where they are most needed. scale | 2 Comments » Bamboo Bikes in Kenya? A New Study Underway . Investments.are planned production sites that will both provide bikes to urban markets and do so at prices affordable enough to reach the rural poor. Millennium Cities. but bikes to help the poor need a factory. businesses. Ghana.

who began work on a feasibility study and business plan this past November. is an area rich in both bamboo and imported Chinese bicycles. The team has recently returned from an exploratory visit to Kenya. to assess the feasibility of growing a bamboo bike-building industry in Kisumu. This study. A boda boda operator and his customer Kisumu. Not only are bikes a primary means of personal . and Young Rhee.February 8. is a capstone project that fulfills a program requirement within the school’s international and economic development concentration. which they are now close to completing. they explained. and had some interesting things to share about the potential for a Kisumu arm of the Bamboo Bike Project. 2009 by marissabrodney A student research team at Columbia University’s graduate School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) has partnered with the UN Millennium Cities Initiative. Kenya! We recently sat down with Kat Athanasiades. Michelle Eames. Riham Hussein.

Kat. with a tensile strength greater than steel.” boda boda businessmen The bamboo industry is negligible in Kenya at the moment. Assuming that it would be possible to work with Kenyan officials to lift existing restrictions on bamboo harvesting. self-replenishing resource. locally made bamboo ones. and Young are exploring the possibility of phasing out the heavy metal bikes currently used by boda boda drivers with stronger. “they indicated that bamboo bikes would sell if they were perceived as being stronger and more attractive than what is there now. well-made bamboo cargo bike. “There is also great pride to be had in local construction. even though bamboo is an abundant. but Kisumu also lays claim to a massive boda boda taxi industry (boda bodas are essentially bicycle taxis). this SIPA group is evaluating the . it’s easy to communicate the advantages of using a lightweight.” Kat explained. Michelle.transportation for many local Kenyans. “especially in business ownership by ethnic Kenyans. Riham. A bamboo bicycle would weigh about half as much. “When we met with the heads of the Boda Boda Association.” And when local metal bikes register a weight of over 48 pounds (as Kat discovered when she weighed one by the side of the road).” Michelle continued.

effectiveness of production models that range from small-scale farming with a central factory (mimicking the way in which sugar cane is currently grown and harvested) to a plantation farming model comprised of a factory with radial farming around it. in addition to the specific ways in which bamboo might be used to make bicycles. Following its publication. and we will post a link to the report on this blog when it becomes available. As a development project. Kat and Michelle with a sign for the Millennium Villages . and Young will present their final report and potential business plan in March 2009 in Kisumu and in April 2009 in New York. Kat. government officials. Riham. and residents of Kisumu about the possibilities of bamboo harvesting and bike production for local socioeconomic growth. The Millennium Cities will publish this report in its working paper series. their feasibility study involves an analysis of long-term sustainability and possibilities for the bamboo industry in general. the Bamboo Bike Project and Millennium Cities Initiative can further dialogue with Kenyan business leaders. Michelle.

Posted in Bamboo bike | Tagged boda boda. Kenya. Kisumu. SIPA. Study | 1 Comment » Older Posts » Archives July 2009 (2) May 2009 (1) April 2009 (4) March 2009 (1) February 2009 (2) January 2009 (2) December 2008 (1) November 2008 (5) October 2008 (2) September 2008 (2) August 2008 (1) April 2008 (1) Categories Bamboo bike (20) Ghana (11) Investments (10) Kumasi (10) Uncategorized (3) Pages Blogroll Bamboo Bike Project . Millennium Cities.

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