Too often, people associate living a more conscious, “down to earth” lifestyle with plain colors, earthy textures, and appearances that some may sum up as “blah.” Living sustainably seems to have a stigma attached to it: products are more natural, but of lesser quality, and all five senses suffer because of it.
They’re challenging this notion over at Stalk Bicycles. And while they’re keeping the earthy tones and textures, they’re proving just how artistic, thoughtful, and stunning Mother Nature can be.
Take Root with Stalk Bicycles
Let’s start with how it all began.
Zack Jiang, one of the founders, had been spending time in Beijing, looking for a new product to create that was purposeful and environmentally sound. Soon, he stumbled across Craig Calfee, the modern forefather of bamboo bicycles. At first glance, Jiang was inspired by the idea, design, and unquestionable mastery that was put into the bike.
He had to make his own.
Jiang began production on his first bamboo bicycle for the popular female trick bike rider, Innes Brunn, and after it was completed, he headed back to the States where he would start assembling his team, starting with some old college buddies: Lars Jacobsen and Nick Chan. From there, the company began to take root.
Meet Stalk Bicycles
Today, Stalk Bicycles is a leader in handmade, sustainable bamboo bicycles. Each bike is delicately crafted, using locally sourced bamboo*. Bamboo makes for a dynamic choice of plant: with a huge variety of strains, Stalk Bicycles are able to find the perfect plant for compressive strength, durability, and, of course, style.
While one may think these bikes are ultra light, their weight is actually most comparable to typical aluminum bikes. But, as Nick Chan reminded me over the phone, the focus of the company isn’t on the issue of weight, but rather the issue of ride quality. Bamboo provides vibration dampening and is as tough as nails. Kind of like nature’s carbon fiber.
Despite the craftsmanship and sustainability behind the company, they still face challenges, albeit the type of challenges some businesses seek out. “One of our biggest challenges,” said Chan, “is to legitimize the bike. A lot of people look at it like a piece of art.” To be frank, I would have to concur with some people’s skepticism – these bikes do look like art. They are majestic and bold, almost to the point where I would be too afraid to ruin them.
But as Chan assured me, Bamboo Bicycles are built for riding, and the company has integrated dependability into every piece of the puzzle. These bikes offer a more sustainable way for riding, and while they look wonderful, they remain to be built with that purpose in mind.
This has got some people throwing somewhat zany requests the company’s way. As Chan noted, they’ve had requests for tricycles, cargo racks, strollers, bamboo forks, bamboo handlebars, wheelchairs, and even a dog sled cart. (Yes, a dog sled cart.) In most cases, the team will take on the project with youthful ambition – but you should always consult with them before you get too excited.
Get the Bike
If you’re interested in getting a bamboo bicycle, the company is releasing ‘The Mantra’ on February 15th, 2012. Chan reminds potential buyers that there is a 4-8 week build queue, so get your preorders in now to make sure you bike will be ready when you want it.
And if it couldn’t get any better, Stalk Bicycles has decided to offer a $200 discount for pre-ordered Mantra bikes ordered before Christmas this year. Simply mention this article over the phone, and the company will honor the $200 discount at the point of purchase.
Check out Stalk Bicycles online and find out how you can start making sustainability part of your daily commute!
*Stalk Bicycles sources as much bamboo from local regions as possible. Some strains of bamboo, though, require different climates and growing processes. Some pieces of bamboo, then, may be sourced from non-local areas, but the company continues to only work with sustainable manufacturers in these cases.