New Tenderloin Studio Makes Bikes From Bamboo

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    Next year is shaping up to be an even bigger bicycling renaissance than 2010 was. A slew of new programs, services, and stores are popping up all around San Francisco, including one innovative new shop that relies on old-fashioned techniques.

    It's called "The San Francisco Bamboo Bike Studio," and it does just what the name suggests: teaches you to make your own bike out of naturally-grown bamboo components. (Plus a few more modern items like fiberglass and carbon.) "The best bike is the one you build yourself," says their slogan.

    Learning to hand-craft a bicycle doesn't come cheap -- lessons for building just the frame are $632, or $948 if you want to learn how to build the entire contraption. It's a slow process, starting with a fitting, then gluing the tubes. After that, you sculpt the connectors between the bamboo components, then strengthen them with carbon fiber. From there, you file down the frame to make it smooth, and then finally you're ready to start adding on the wheels and handlebars and breaks.

    This isn't just a product for rich hipsters. The makers of the bamboo bikes hope to export their production process to developing nations -- though hopefully with a lower price tag.

    And that's not the only bike revolution happening in SF right now. Just a few blocks away from the bamboo shop, a demonstration program in Civic Center is showing off various bike-sharing options. The city is committed to starting a bikeshare within the next few years.