Jong Narciso(jongnarciso.multiply.com), a veteran outdoorsman and seasoned mountainbike racer, shares his thoughts on a kawayantech bamboo bike.
Feb 6, ’10 12:23 AM
Kawayan Tech has finally produced a bamboo bike frame all made here in the Philippines. From local bamboo gathered here in the country, a mountain bike frame was meticulously handcrafted.
Luckily enough I knew the visionary guys at KawayanTech and they were nice enough to lend me their very first prototype. After two weeks of riding the bike on the road and trails of Manila, I knew that I had to have one.
First off I want to remind you guys again that I was riding the prototype. The guys at KawayanTech are already planning on improvements on the frame as I write this down.
The bamboo for the frame was sourced here in the country. At first look the frame looks elegant with clean lines. Geometry is standard cross country mountain bike.
The frame is 97% bamboo with only the critical parts that has metal on it. Like the head tube, bottom bracket and the dropouts. To make it more natural the frame is held together with abaca twine.
The first thing you will notice though, or for me are the big bamboo “tubes”. They remind me of all mountain rigs or dirt jump frames. But KawayanTech told me that at first they were kind of scared of frame failure so they overbuilt and made a frame with oversized bamboo. Production models would have smaller diameter bamboo with the same strength as the big ones the prototype.
It takes almost half a year to make one bamboo frame. Attention to details and treatment of the bamboo is necessary. So a bamboo frame is really special.
The bike I rode had a mish mash of components. The front was equipped with a Suntour XCR fork. For the roads, my wheels were Mavics with size 2.0 slick tires. But for the trails there was Sun Ringle Single Tracks with Gazzalodi tires. The 2.1knobby tires were a tight fit and I have to trim some parts of the knobs. As you well know I like big tires, so hopefully the people at Kawayan Tech would have a wider tire clearance for the production model
The prototype frame was a tad big for me. It was a size 16 and I like size 15s for my rides. Top tube was a bit long too with a length of 55cm. But after having a go on the trails with the bamboo bike, I am now rethinking my sizing. The bike is a sweet ride. I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun riding a hardtail bike.
For the past few months before I got the bamboo bike I was riding a full suspension rig. I was used to soft and flexy rides. The rumor was a bamboo bike is very flexy. Well after riding the bike to work and through the trails of Maarat, I think it felt more like riding a steel hardtail. The wheels were not washing out all over the trail. The frame was very responsive to every pedal stroke. Although I felt that the frame was stiff and rigid. Amazingly enough it felt that the bamboo was absorbing the bumps and chatter of the road and trail. Making the ride on the bike was pleasant and comfortable
The bike was also ridden on the Red Trail of Philip’s Sanctuary at the Pestanos Farm. It handled the jumps well and the frame was able to take the abuse. The bamboo bike was easy to rip into the berms and twist in the corners. It also felt stable in the high speed descents.
Overall the bike felt great and I think it wouldn’t be just limited to the streets and easy trails. This is a bike made for everything. A true mountain bike. The only problem now is that I want one.