Saturday, April 30, 2011

Bamboo Bicycles?

On a recent visit to San Francisco's Academy of Sciences, I saw a display of a fascinating product - a bamboo bicycle.

The bicycle frames are made by Stalk Bicyles, an Oakland, California company. They've been developing the design and techniques for a couple of years.

While the frames and even handlebars can be made from bamboo, other components use traditional materials. (Stalk is currently doing research and testing of bamboo composites that could eventually be used in new ways.)

Bamboo is a fast growing, renewable resource. It can be locally grown, and while growing it absorbs much more carbon and produces more oxygen than hardwood forests.

Its strength and resilience compare favorably with the steel alloys and carbon fiber materials used for most bicycle frames today.

But just as importantly... these bikes are cool!

Currently, Stalk is producing custom frames and bikes "to order." As production expands, they will begin producing ready-made frames in standard frame sizes.

Check out the Stalk Bicycles website, and if you are in the area, visit these guys. Let your bike make a statement for sustainability.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Coming soon: Maker Faire 2011

May 21 and 22, 2011

What is Maker Faire?

The 21st century equivalent of an old-fashioned county fair. The world's largest Do-It-Yourself festival. Steam Punk meets Silicon Valley, with a bit of Burning Man thrown in.

For two days, people gather to celebrate and see creativity in all forms. Some of my favorite memories of past years include:


  • The crazy cupcake cars whizzing and whirling around the entryway.

  • The Flaming Lotus Girls, combining kinetic sculpture with propane, fire and mayhem.

  • The robot rickshaw plodding patiently through the fairgrounds.

  • Lightning harnessed and unleashed by the enormous Tesla coils.

  • The 3-D printer, making replicas and models directly from engineering specs.

  • The Mentos and diet coke show (don't stand too close to the stage!)

  • Rockets, fire, balloons, costumes, robots, art, tools and projects, and oh yes, did I mention fire?

Maker Faire began in the San Francisco Bay Area (at the San Mateo Fairgrounds) in 2006, and has since spread to New York and Detroit; there are also smaller "mini faires" in a number of other cities.

The Bay Area Faire is May 21 and 22. Get your tickets in advance and be in line when the gates open... things get crowded late in the day!