Calfee Design Bamboo E-Bike, Anyone?

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OK, so let’s say a folding fat-tire electric bike hasn’t won you over and you’re still wondering why, oh why, they can’t make an eco-friendly green electric bike?

Fear no more — a company named Calfee Design stepped up to the plate with a bamboo-framed prototype for you. Welcome, the Calfee Design Bamboo E-Bike.

Calfee Design Big Bamboo E-Bike

Now, Introducing a Bamboo E-Bike

The world of electric bicycles (e-bikes) is currently in the Far West period of its history, with an amazing array of creativity and “way out there” concepts. But it wouldn’t be fair calling bamboo way out there as a bicycle frame. In fact, Calfee Design has already designed two bamboo bicycles. Plenty of building scaffolds use bamboo in the East. Bamboo is a resilient material that grows quickly, is sturdy enough that it can handle great loads, and by all evidence is quite eco-friendly. So why not make a bamboo e-bike?

To be fair, there have been previous bamboo bicycles out in the wild, but to my knowledge, none have been electrified. What you might not know is that the bamboo bicycle was already invented in 1896. In fact, bamboo bicycles were first patented in England by the Bamboo Cycle Company. It was unveiled on April 26, 1894, with a US patent applied for the type of bike in 1895.

Bamboo Bike

However, in our case, the Big Bamboo e-Bike from Calfee Design was showcased at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in Salt Lake City, Nevada. And this bamboo e-bike is no slouch, either. It sports a hefty 1,500 watt Bafang electric motor. And the company didn’t skimp on power either. Backing it up is a 54-volt/980-Wh battery pack. The rear wheel is geared with a Sturmey-Archer hub transmission, which propels this e-bike well over the residential US speed limit at 40 mph (64 km/h).

The bike rests on a front fork and rear seatpost suspension, riding on 20-inch BMX wheels. The catchy part is that the spokes are obviously bamboo! And what makes this e-bike even more unusual is that it uses a dynamo on the front wheel for its LED lighting system. This is very unusual, as most e-bikes use their battery packs to handle lighting.

But let’s face it, the second biggest complaint with e-bikes after the price is weight. Most e-bikes hover between 60 to 70 pounds. This Calfee Design bamboo e-bike only weighs in at 50 lbs (23 kg), making it a fairly light contender. Speaking of price, the company expects it to be around $5,000, which, considering its moped-like performance, isn’t bad at all!

Calfee Design, Not Just E-Bikes

Calfee Design doesn’t only offer a bamboo e-bike. It offers a wide variety of normal high-end bicycles. In fact, currently, all of its bicycles are not electric. We’re excited it decided to dip its toes into the welcoming waters of pedal assisted e-bikes.

The company does offer a regular bamboo bicycle, as well as Bamboo Tandem, the latter being a first of that type for me.

Calfee Design Big Bamboo E-Bike

The Calfee Design Bamboo E-Bike is Eco-Friendly

We asked Craig Caflee, owner of Calfee Design, a little more about the Big Bamboo. This is what he told us: “We showed the prototype of the Big Bamboo Ebike at the 2017 NAHBS show. It is made from bamboo, hemp, plant-based epoxy, and some carbon fiber in key areas.  The bike was designed to be a stylish commuter capable of high speed so it can travel safely at the same speed as traffic — or easily lane split through slow traffic. It also has a long range and is compact for easy transport and parking in a vestibule or your cubicle.”

Calfee Design Bamboo E-Bike

What caught our attention is the Big Bamboo performance the e-bike has, and as Craig hints at above, that it’s sort of an electric scooter.

Although Calfee Design is mostly known for high-end bicycles, it has a lot of expertise with carbon fiber and racing. A high-end bicycle boutique looking into an e-bike is not unheard of, but using bamboo is definitely intriguing.

No matter how you look at it, the e-bike industry is bubbling with innovations and a wide array of choice. We can’t wait to hear more from the manufacturer and see where they take their bamboo e-bike story.

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Nicolas Zart

Nicolas was born and raised around classic cars of the 1920s, but it wasn't until he drove an AC Propulsion eBox and a Tesla Roadster that the light went on. Ever since he has produced green mobility content on various CleanTech outlets since 2007 and found his home on CleanTechnica. He grew up in an international environment and his communication passion led to cover electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, renewable energy, test drives, podcasts, shoot pictures, and film for various international outlets in print and online. Nicolas offers an in-depth look at the e-mobility world through interviews and the many contacts he has forged in those industries. His favorite taglines are: "There are more solutions than obstacles." and "Yesterday's Future Now"

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