20th episode of the ThinkBamboo Podcast, we talk with Oswald Wieser, who founded in the year 2015 SmartGrassBicycles in Germany. We discuss tailor made bamboo bicycles, history, building bamboo bikes around the globe, handmade Bamboo E-Bikes, the challenge of repairing and the future.
Welcome to the ThinkBamboo Podcast! In this episode, we have the pleasure of speaking with Oswald Wieser, the founder of SmartGrassBicycles, a company that ventured into the world of tailor-made bamboo bicycles in Germany since 2015. We briefly met at the last European Bamboo Expo 2023 in Germany. Oswald takes us on a journey through the captivating realm of bamboo bicycles, exploring the over 150 year history, global bamboo bike-building endeavors, the intricacies of repairs, the distinctive characteristics of these eco-friendly two-wheelers, and what the future holds for this sustainable mode of transportation. SmartGrassBicycles stands at the forefront of innovation in the bamboo bicycle industry, showcasing the extraordinary potential of this renewable resource. Tune in to discover the fascinating world of bamboo bicycles with Oswald Wieser!
See Video Podcast Interview
Video Quick Links
[00:01] Oswald Wiesner is a bamboo bicycle builder in Germany
[05:43] Builds tailor-made bamboo bicycles and they absorb vibrations
[12:31] Bamboo bicycles can be customised with high-tech components
[19:02] The first known bamboo bicycle was built in 1894
[22:50] Oswald traveled around the world to research about bamboo bicycles
[25:01] Bamboo and Bikes is a book about personalizing bamboo bicycles
[27:32] Building unique bikes for clients and participating in German Design Award
[30:08] Building a bamboo bicycle fork is doable
[34:49] Bamboo bikes are easier to repair than Carbon bikes
[38:22] Working on a Bamboo Novel about a simulation vs real world
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The Fascinating World of Bamboo Bicycles
Oswald Wiesner has been pioneering the art of crafting tailor-made bamboo bicycles in Germany since 2015. His journey into the world of bamboo bicycles is nothing short of remarkable. Check out their Flickr Page where they have unlimitted amount of bamboo bicycle inspiration.
Tailor-Made Bamboo Bicycles
From the outset, Oswald focused on tailor-made bicycles, enabling individuals to create their own unique rides. Unlike mass production, every SmartGrassBicycle is a unique masterpiece.
The Workshop Experience
SmartGrassBicycles offers a unique Frame Building Workshop experience where clients actively participate in the creation of their dream bicycles. The process is collaborative, ensuring that the final product is not just a mode of transportation but a work of art. The workshop offers a hands-on experience for building custom bamboo bicycle frames. They provide materials and guidance to design your frame and assist in each building stage. The time required varies from 4 to 8 days of full-time work. Workshop fees depend on the type of bike, with a basic single-speed frame costing around 600 Euros and taking four days to build.
Bamboo’s Unique Characteristics
Why bamboo, you may wonder? Oswald explains that bamboo has some remarkable characteristics that make it an ideal material for bicycles. It offers a natural suspension, absorbing vibrations during the ride.
Bamboo vs. Conventional Materials
Comparing bamboo to traditional materials like carbon or fiberglass, bamboo bicycles aren’t just high-end; they are also surprisingly affordable when tailored to the rider’s specifications.
Bamboo Bicycles: On and Off the Road
Bamboo bicycles aren’t limited to smooth roads. Oswald delves into the exciting world of off-road bamboo bikes, designed for the most extreme terrains.
A Historical Perspective
While bicycles as we know them today are relatively young, bamboo bicycles have a more extended history. Oswald shares insights into the origins of bamboo bicycles, dating back to the late 19th century (Year 1894). During the Stanley Cycle Show held in November 1894, the Bamboo Cycle Co. Ltd. unveiled the world’s inaugural bamboo bicycle. This groundbreaking revelation ignited a wave of excitement among bicycle enthusiasts and technology aficionados in Klagenfurt, Austria. Notably, it was Franz Grundner, Otto Lemisch, and Karl Bräuer who accomplished the feat of refining bamboo bicycles into a production-ready form over the subsequent two years.
The Journey to Rediscover Forgotten Ideas
Oswald’s journey led him to rediscover forgotten construction ideas from the early days of bamboo bicycles. These ideas, lost to industrial manufacturing, are now making a resurgence.
The Impact of Bamboo on the Frame
One of the standout features of bamboo bicycles is their ability to absorb vibrations. This unique characteristic provides a smoother and more comfortable ride compared to conventional materials.
Repairability and Sustainability
Bamboo bicycles also shine in terms of repairability. Unlike carbon bikes, which can be challenging to repair if they crack, bamboo bicycles can be easily fixed.
Beyond Bicycles: Books and Exhibitions
Oswald’s passion for bamboo bicycles extends beyond the workshop. He has authored books about bamboo bike-building and actively participates in exhibitions worldwide.
Pushing the Limits
SmartGrassBicycles doesn’t stop at building tailor-made bamboo bikes; they also push the limits of design, incorporating new concepts and construction ideas.
The Future of Bamboo Bicycles
As we look to the future, Oswald hints at new projects and explores the intersection of history and cutting-edge technology in the bamboo bicycle industry.
The world of tailor-made bamboo bicycles is a fascinating blend of tradition and innovation. Oswald Wiesner and SmartGrassBicycles continue to play a pivotal role in reviving forgotten ideas while embracing the latest technology to create sustainable, unique, and eco-friendly two-wheelers.
Tune in to the ThinkBamboo Podcast to delve deeper into the captivating world of bamboo bicycles with Oswald Wiesner!