Grass roots, grass bikes

The first step to making a Semester bike at Hero Bike is to walk down Main Street in Greensboro, AL to a bamboo stand and harvest a large section of the tall grass. Hero Bike is using an abundant local material, bamboo, to produce bicycles, create jobs, and spur economic growth. Hero Bike has been around since 1994, but only started producing the Semester bamboo bike with a hexagonal top tube in large quantities after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised more than $40,000.

Using bamboo as a material for bicycle manufacturing is not unique to Hero Bike, what is unique is the six-sided hexagonal shape Hero employs to create their bicycles. Bamboo is round and being a plant it can be a challenge to find consistent sections of the grass that share the same dimensions, as well as strength and rigidity. Lance Rake, professor and industrial designer, came up with the hexagonal design in order to make a consistent product that is as comfortable to ride, as it is strong.

Though the bamboo Hero Bike uses are locally grown without irrigation, pesticides, or chemicals, the epoxy resin and carbon fiber that strengthens the bike neutralizes any attempts the bike makes at being environmentally sustainable. But environmental sustainability, though important, is not the focus of Hero Bikes; rather their focus is on the local economy and improving their community. Pam Dorr, Project coordinator at Hero Bike, works with and hires local dropouts in Greensboro to provide them with professional training and skills necessary to get them on the path toward a professional lifestyle.

Currently anyone can purchase a bamboo bike from the Hero Bike website. Prices of bikes range from a $450 bamboo bike frame, to an $1100 fully assembled commuter bike with Sram components. Also available on the Hero Bike website are bicycle kits and instructions that let amateur bike makers try their hand at creating their own bamboo based modes of transportation.

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Grass roots, grass bikes

The first step to making a Semester bike at Hero Bike is to walk down Main Street in Greensboro, AL to a bamboo stand and harvest a large section of the tall grass. Hero Bike is using an abundant local material, bamboo, to produce bicycles, create jobs, and spur economic growth. Hero Bike has been around since 1994, but only started producing the Semester bamboo bike with a hexagonal top tube in large quantities after a successful Kickstarter campaign raised more than $40,000.

Using bamboo as a material for bicycle manufacturing is not unique to Hero Bike, what is unique is the six-sided hexagonal shape Hero employs to create their bicycles. Bamboo is round and being a plant it can be a challenge to find consistent sections of the grass that share the same dimensions, as well as strength and rigidity. Lance Rake, professor and industrial designer, came up with the hexagonal design in order to make a consistent product that is as comfortable to ride, as it is strong.

Though the bamboo Hero Bike uses are locally grown without irrigation, pesticides, or chemicals, the epoxy resin and carbon fiber that strengthens the bike neutralizes any attempts the bike makes at being environmentally sustainable. But environmental sustainability, though important, is not the focus of Hero Bikes; rather their focus is on the local economy and improving their community. Pam Dorr, Project coordinator at Hero Bike, works with and hires local dropouts in Greensboro to provide them with professional training and skills necessary to get them on the path toward a professional lifestyle.

Currently anyone can purchase a bamboo bike from the Hero Bike website. Prices of bikes range from a $450 bamboo bike frame, to an $1100 fully assembled commuter bike with Sram components. Also available on the Hero Bike website are bicycle kits and instructions that let amateur bike makers try their hand at creating their own bamboo based modes of transportation.

Did you get your free issue of the Intelligent Optimist?  Click here for a free download.

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