Clauds Bamboo Bike

NICK EE |17th May 2016 | BIKES

There is a saying, “You will always remember your first love!”.  Well this phrase holds true for me and my bicycles as well, as I can still clearly remember my first bike, a BMX made with crash proof steel and could take a good beating and some very big crashes without so much as a single dent in the frame.  A few years later, I progressed to an aluminium mountain bike, then to an aluminium road bike which was my ‘fastest’ bike at that point in time, I’d never thought that I could reach 40+ km/h just from the strength of my own legs.  It was only years later after I had worked for a few years and had saved up enough cash to pamper my hobbies that the venture into carbon fibre began.  My first foray into the carbon fibre world was a professional road racing grade road bike, it was so light that even my Dad was amazed at how light a bicycle could weigh nowadays, lightness aside, it was also extremely stiff, every movement of the pedal and crank seemed to translate into instant movement at the wheel.  With my brand spanking new carbon fibre road bike having such a low weight on the scales, it also proved to be a major downfall for me personally, because I somehow couldn’t get used to the frame’s stiffness and rigidity, the more I rode it, the more I realized that this professional road racing machine wasn’t particularly suited for my riding style and pace, and so luckily after about a year, I managed to sell it off without losing too much money.  My next few bikes were all carbon fibre, but they were all carefully selected, tested and bought, I wasn’t going to make the same mistake again as I did previously with my first carbon bike, but after clocking many cycling events locally and overseas, I think my first carbon bike was a really good value bike, something that I might be able to enjoy right now after gaining plenty of road riding experience, it was definitely not a beginner bike for me at that point in time.

Currently, other frame materials like Titanium also seems to be making some headway into the bicycle market, and some major bike manufacturers are still offering newer and latest versions of aluminium bikes, some of which are now still world renowned for their excellent ride comfort, lightness and stiffness despite being made from aluminium.  I’m also slowly seeing a comeback for steel frames nowadays, especially with some die-hard fans who love their lugged framed bikes, these beautifully built bikes will forever be a classic to be treasured.  Recently I’ve also come across a frame that is made entirely from a special type of wood, with a frame that is CNC machined out of a single block of wood which the manufacturer claims offers a mix of flex and stiffness that is comparable to composites.

One bike that truly amazed me is the Clauds Bamboo bike, and yes the frame is really made from real bamboo!  Clauds is a Singapore-based social enterprise which sells authentic handcrafted bamboo bikes, supporting economic empowerment of the poor in rural Vietnam.Each frame design embodies 3 principles: Look Good, Feel Good, Do Good.  Clauds bamboo bike frames are made from a specific specieis of bamboo called Tam Vong, also known as ‘Iron Bamboo’.This species has a thicker wall compared to other types of bamboo, making it more durable. In terms of tensile strength, studies have shown it to be more than 20 percent stronger than steel.  Each bamboo tubes are carefully selected from a harvest of bamboo with 3-5 years’maturity, as well as treated for insects and humidity  before being used in bicycle frame-making to ensure higher durability.

I have had quite a fair bit of time to give this bike a thorough test ride, the model that we received from Clauds is a hybrid bike with a flat handlebar and 700c wheels, giving this bike a very upright and comfortable riding position, great for both a quick commute or a leisure workout ride.  The front crank is a Shimano Sugino and is mated with a 9 speed Shimano Acera cassette at the rear, controlled by a single Rapidfire shifter located comfortably under the handlebar, with the cabling for the rear shifter and derailleur being run internally, a nice move by the manufacturer so that there’s no unsightly cables to spoil the beautiful bamboo finish of the bike’s frame.  Dual pivot caliper brakes provide solid braking when clamping onto the Shimano R500 aluminum rims which have been fitted with brown coloured clincher tyres, matching the frame’s original bamboo finish perfectly, the very comfy Shulz saddle is also finished in brown leather similar to the handlebar grips, completing the overall earthy look of the bike.

The Clauds bamboo bike is surprisingly very comfortable to ride, and the frame seems to be doing a very good job at absorbing road vibrations, all good qualities of a very smooth riding bike, it’s no wonder that Clauds owner Claudia managed a 600km bike ride with this bamboo frame in Taiwan all by herself, and everywhere she went, the bamboo bike caught the attention of everyone and many people also wanted to take photos of her unique bamboo bike!

Clauds Bamboo Bikes are exclusively distributed by BambooBike