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Alabamboo bikes from COMMON

I have been in the Pearl River Delta area of China the last few days, so I have seen a lot of bamboo. It is an inexpensive and strong renewable resource that is used for scaffolding, fencing, and many other applications that are highly visible in cities like Dongguan and Shenzen. Of course, you don’t have to come to China to see products (furniture, flooring and of course bicycles) made from bamboo. The United States is currently the word’s largest importer of bamboo, yet we grow very little of it. A group of people in Alabama is trying top change that though with Alabamboo, a new bamboo cash crop that is under development in Hale County, currently the poorest county in the state.

Project M, a Design Lab based in Greensboro, Alabama, has teamed up with COMMON Works to turn some of that domestically grown bamboo into bicycle frames (read the background on that story here). This bamboo bike project is the focus of COMMON’s first Maniacal Business Attack (MBA), a “startup accelerator program that encourages visionaries and their newfound constituents to put their collective talents toward making change happen immediately and collaboratively.” COMMON MBA #001 will be a three-day live event (held April 29 – May 1, 2011 in Hale, Alabama) that will bring together 10 passionate and creative entrepreneurs who want to be involved with “Common Cycles”. If you think you might want to be one of those people, read more about it here and plan to submit a video up to 3 minutes in length by April 10th explaining how you can make a difference.

Since I first started reading about them, I have been a fan of Fearless and COMMON, so I am really looking forward to hearing more about this event and the company that will emerge from it. Let me know if any of you submit an application in the next couple days…I’m thinking about doing it myself.

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9 Responses

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  1. Nicole Lavelle says

    Great write-up of a great project! Thank you, James.

    I’m part of a team of five cyclists who will be riding this summer from Greensboro, Alabama to San Francisco on hand-built Common Cycles. We’re pedaling to spread the word about the Alabamboo initiative, COMMON, and the power of design to shape a positive future.

    We’re raising funds to make the ride happen, and would love support!

    You can pledge at IndieGoGo:


    Thank you!

    • Juliano Pappalardo says

      That´s a nice initiative! “…encourages visionaries and their newfound constituents to put their collective talents toward making change happen …” that have arrived to Brazil due to Internet and this cool Blog.

      Nicole I don´t have much money, otherwise I would help your ride.

      Best regards

    • James Thomas says

      That sounds great, Nicole! I’ll look forward to following the progress of the team this summer on the website and on Twitter.

  2. Joshua A.C. Newman says

    My concern with bamboo is that the forms I know that generate good wood are invasive exotic. Nothing on this continent eats it and it spreads at an alarming rate.

    Is this a variety that’s held in check in some way?

    • James Thomas says

      Good question. I do know that some bamboo grows wild in parts of Alabama already. It’s not a problem like Kudzu at this point, but it is very hard to control.

    • Andy C. says

      Alabamboo is not planted, it is harvested from existing bamboo stands as well as back yards and other areas already infiltrated by the plant.

  3. Ashley says

    Mmmm bamboo bikes. I would probably kill (a bamboo plant) for one.

    It’s awesome to see how more and more attention is being placed on bamboo bikes. I’m a little scared of riding one, though. I’d never want to get off of it.

  4. Jacob says

    If you like what Common is doing, you should also explore We are a Fort Collins, CO based company that specializes in steel lugged bamboo frames.

    Common Team- if you swing by Fort Collins on the ride, look us up. Our fellow bamboo bike riders always have a place with us.

  5. Nicole Lavelle says

    Jacob, awesome. We’ll definitely get in touch if we’re in Fort Collins!

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