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Daedalus working on a bamboo city bike

Posted by on August 6th, 2007 at 5:35 pm

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Jacob Prinz (left) and Liakos
Ariston of Daedalus Cycles.
(File photo)

Local bamboo bike builders Jacob Prinz and Liakos Ariston of Daedalus Cycles are putting the finishing touches on their new city bike and they invited me to their shop to take a closer look.

Ariston and Prinz are building bikes from a loft of a building (owned by Ariston’s family-owned wine wholesaling business) in Portland’s central eastside industrial district.

The two friends and business partners have been perfecting their method for bonding bamboo to carbon composite lugs for over two years.

The lugs are composed of a mix of epoxies, foam, carbon fiber, and fiberglass and are joined to a high-grade bamboo that is stripped of its outer layer (which contains silica that inhibits bonding) before being placed into a jig for alignment.

They’re the only bike builders in town that don’t do any welding.

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Notice Ariston’s hand-stitched leather grips.
(File photo)
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Working with bamboo tubes presents unique challenges.
(File photo)

Currently, they’ve only made a handful of bikes but Ariston says they’ve learned a lot and he’s excited for what lies in store for his fledgling bike company. Their current project is a city bike based on a road bike frame with flat bars.

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Some of the carbon fiber
used in their lugs.
(File photo)

Ariston let me take his for a spin. It was my first time on a bamboo bike and I liked the ride. It was stiff and light, with just enough flex to keep things comfortable. The frame was paired with a basic steel fork, a Brooks saddle, mustache bars, and leather grips hand-stitched by Ariston (a classy touch).

They have plans to add bamboo fenders, an internal hub option, and other city bike essentials like a generator front hub.

But beyond the parts, there was something intangibly cool about pedaling a piece of bamboo.

Working with a natural material like bamboo has its challenges (vs. using machine made tubes), but if Ariston and Prinz can achieve their vision, I think they’ll find plenty of folks willing to give a bamboo bike a spin.


You can meet Liakos and Jacob at the upcoming Oregon Handmade Bicycle Show. For more photos, browse my Daedalus Cycles gallery.

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Comments
  • Todd B August 6, 2007 at 6:38 pm

    Very beautiful! (Reminds me of the bamboo water pump I built in the Peace Corps training camp.)

    Just keep that frame away from Formosian termites (HI, LA, etc.) unless you want an even lighter ride. ;-)

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  • Christopher Cotrell August 6, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    Ooh. I want one, of course. Any idea on range of costs?

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  • Ottawa Bikes August 6, 2007 at 6:54 pm

    Very cool. They must be light also which is a great quality. I want one.

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  • Liakos Ariston August 6, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Frames start at $1250!

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  • Dour August 6, 2007 at 11:43 pm

    I actually got a chance to chat with this dude a little while ago (he\’s a friend of a friend). I have never ridden his bikes, but he was riding one that day and he seems to ride them around all the time. He\’s very into building bikes and he defenitely has a clear love for the device. So I guess what I\’m trying to say is that I can\’t imagine his product being anything less then fantastic with the level of detail and work he puts into all his frames. And that\’s my sharing for the day.

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  • Simon August 7, 2007 at 5:03 pm

    I wonder how much abuse they can take?

    I recall seeing a bamboo framed hard tail mountain bike somewhere eon the internet once.

    I wonder too if \’cross racers might be interested if it really is \”light and stiff.\”

    Would metal lugs be possible in order to make it easier to have rack/fender attachments, and repair, or is that a silly notion since the bamboo varies too much in diameter to make that possible?

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  • Liakos Ariston August 7, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    We have found that the bamboo varies too much in diameter to make a standardized lug work.

    Attaching racks/ fenders is not impossible but we think that these bikes are best kept simple.

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  • Zach August 8, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    Way to go Liakos! I had no idea you were working on this…

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  • scott August 15, 2007 at 12:38 pm

    That has got to be the most beautiful bamboo bike I have seen! Very nice job!

    Scott
    http://www.gator-ventures.com/bamboo

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  • Bike Portland Article August 27, 2007 at 3:42 pm

    [...] Maus had a great piece on Daedalus Cycles on his always enjoyable site: http://www.bikeportland.org. The article was published a few weeks ago but it really did capture the spirit of our venture. It [...]

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  • Rogr November 10, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    Someone asked about durability.

    I\’ve got a Bamboo bike (Calfee) that I\’m well over 5,000 miles on this summer including Cycle Oregon. It has been fast, comfortable and as Jonathan says \”intrinsically cool\”. It\’s also quite to conversation piece.

    I sort of wish I had known there was a local Bamboo builder.

    Great to see these bikes being built locally.

    -r

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  • Doug Van Cleve May 1, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    Does Daedalus Custom Bamboo Bikes still exist, or did it ever exist? Google really only turns up a few elderly local articles (like this one ;^)

    Thanks, Doug

    P.S. I think it is a bit unfortunate that nobody ever gives any props to Craig Calfee for trying bamboo in high performance bikes in the first place…

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  • Meh, wrench May 1, 2008 at 2:58 pm

    Hey Doug

    I heard these two tried to garner proprietary construction secrets from Craig Calfee without any success and much to the distaste of Craig after his many years of developing his own craft.

    To be honest these two have a little too much attitude and way too little experience to be jumping into the business. Do you want a builder who doesn\’t know modern road hub spacing to be building a bike for you (true story)? I sure don\’t. Stick to builders who have actual experience in the industry, a great example would be builders like Ira Ryan or of course Craig Calfee if you swing the bamboo way.

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  • sandra February 21, 2009 at 6:35 am

    I love the idea of a Bamboo bike, hope this expands to the general public soon.

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