Friday, June 13, 2008

Michelle Kaufmann Design, SolCycles - Bamboo Bikes

Juniors at Princeton University, Nick Frey, Will Watts, Doug Wolf and Tom Yersak are building bamboo bikes. The bike is light and made with carbon joints to hold it all together. They have a special way that they cure the wood, some sort of heat treatment I am told. The bike that I saw still the beta version was a one speed and was ridged as any carbon frame.

"What started as a homework assignment is morphing into a successful and lucrative business. The four engineers met in mechanical and aerospace engineering classes during their sophomore year and have been friends ever since. They were given an open-ended assignment in MAE 321 to build something, and, partly because Frey is a competitive cyclist, the group chose to build a bicycle. The first bike took about a month to make, but after they mastered the technique, they started making each bike within a matter of days. Shifting from a class project to a full-fledged business, they already have many commissions and are planning to spend the summer building bikes in their professor’s basement.

The bike project, however, is not just a way to make some spare money during college: These four engineers have big plans for their company, which is called Sol Cycles. They have already started talking to an American who lives in Vietnam about outsourcing production there because of the plentiful bamboo, and several companies have already agreed to donate parts.

“We are working with a company called Time Cycle, and they are a very high-end company,” Watts said. “[We are also speaking] with another company that would like to sell their wheels through us.”

Frey, in addition to being one of the creators of the bikes, is also the reigning national time-trial champion for cyclists under age 23. His experience gives the group an advantage as it tries to expand its project: Frey’s position in the cycling world helped the group break into the business. “My connections in the industry and the cycling community have helped me get advice and direction from experienced salespeople and engineers,” Frey explained."
read more at Daily Princetonian

This is one of the most fascinating ideas that has been applied to bike design in quite some time, it also helps they are being green. Keep it simple and affordable and these will sell like hot cakes, I can't wait to either get one of my own or start seeing them in production.

Nice job Guys.