Bikes are reliable and efficient. They can bring a better life within reach: access to safer drinking water, improved medical care, and more nutritious food.
Bikes can make jobs, markets, and schools more accessible.
And since bikes are easier to maintain than cars or buses, particularly in areas where parts and mechanical skills are scarce, the improvements they create can be counted on day after day, season after season.
While donations of food or medicine can help in extreme situations, bicycles enable villages to build their own economies and connect with resources beyond their own area. Donations to help get Bamboosero programs started will go further than most charity efforts because the model is truly sustainable.
Bamboo has been used throughout history for everything from musical instruments to medicine. Its combination of strength and flexibility make it an excellent choice for building bikes. And since it can be worked without industrial-grade tools – without electricity even – bamboo is an ideal fit for the developing world.
By sourcing the bamboo locally and building the frames locally we add value to an abundant resource and provide jobs and skills for people.
Bamboo's recent gains in popularity in developed nations for things like flooring owe to its sustainable nature. Much has been written about how bamboo is the most eco-friendly and useful renewable resource on the planet. Coincidentally, it happens to be very common in most of the developing world.
Don't believe that a bamboo bike frame is stronger than steel? Take a look at this video: 600 lbs., carried on a bamboo bike. As you'll see, the frame is fine, but we had to reinforce the steel spokes – with bamboo!
Bamboo is not just strong, it's flexible. So it absorbs road shock and is better able to withstand the stresses a heavily loaded bike frame sees. It's also more comfortable to ride.
Bamboo doesn't rust or fatigue like metals do. It simply need to be preserved properly and coated with a waterproof sealer.
Bamboo is native to the areas we're working, so there's virtually no carbon footprint for transportation, and an extremely low cost for raw materials.
So why not just muster our connections in the bike world, solicit donations, and ship container-loads of bikes to places in need?
Because our goal is to create self-sustaining businesses that help the developing world break the cycle of dependence on Western aid, one village at a time. Bicycle building can be the first step toward economic independence.
Building bamboo bikes on a local shop scale spreads out the little capital investment among many responsible individuals. Bamboo bikes don't benefit from mass production techniques like a steel bike factory can. Sourcing the raw materials is far easier with bamboo so each area can support its own bike building operation.
Once a local craftsperson has learned the skills to build bamboo bikes, others can be trained to build bikes. And the skills learned maintaining bamboo bikes transfer to other types of bikes, as well. The new bicycle shop creates reliable, affordable transportation while creating jobs and becoming an important part of a village's growing economy.