Bamboo mountain bike tested in Alpine race

Friday, 05 August 2011


Two Brookes academics put innovative mountain bikes with bamboo frames through their toughest test yet by riding 400 miles across the Alps.

Two Brookes academics put innovative mountain bikes with bamboo frames through their toughest test yet by riding 400 miles across the Alps.

Dr Shpend Gerguri (pictured on the right) of the Stress and Materials Analysis Research and Testing Group (SMART) and Dr James Broughton of the Joining Technology Research Centre (JTRC), climbed a total of 21,000m during the eight-day Craft Bike Transalp event.

The course began in Mittenwald in Germany and took in the spectacular mountain ranges of Germany, Austria and Italy. Five hundred and fifty teams from all over the world took part.

The bamboo bike has been under development by a team led by Shpend and James with a concept frame being designed and made by students. The frame used in the Alpine race was made by students Hayden Krause and Gunnar Gunnarson.

Natural fibres are becoming increasingly important in modern design as engineers strive to meet mounting demand for more sustainable materials.

Bamboo is a fast-growing grass which matures after about three or four years and has properties ideal for use in bicycle frames such as strength and shock absorption.

At the moment, up to 3.5million bikes are sold every year in the UK alone and more than 95% of the world’s bicycles are built out of steel tubing. This project aims to buck this trend and exploit more sustainable materials.

The frame has recently passed stringent European testing standards and the know-how is patented.

James commented after the race: “The bamboo bikes exceeded everyone’s expectations and were the talk of the event. Throughout the race stage we were constantly asked about the bike and whether it was really only made out of bamboo and natural fibre!”