As an individual I always felt that India has to learn a lot on cycling innovation from evolved countries. But in my last one year of exposure to the local cycling community, I am compelled to revisit my beliefs. First came the ‘Bicycle Bus’ than ‘Solar Cycle’ and now another unique concept called the ‘Bambookaa™ Pedelec’ gets launched.
The Making of Bambookaa:
Developed by Kaushik Shinde, Bambookaa™ is a unique project of making a cycle using a Bamboo frame. Speaking to the curator, Kaushik says “Bambookaa™ began as an idea to create an everyday utility product with naturally available raw material and integrating electrical assist to make everyday commute and hobby riding a whole new experience. The Bambookaa™ also delivers a new lifestyle choice for the adventure seekers who like to explore nature in an organic way”.
The task of building this indigenous marvel wasn’t easy, he had his share of failures until luck favored him. 270 plus design sketches and drawings, 27 scaled down prototypes and over 180 days of design, physics and aesthetics to arrive at a workable model with unconditional help from Mr. Kiran Agadi from Karnataka. “Working with a Bamboo frame was very challenging and it took me over 120 days to get that perfect frame. I converted my bedroom into a small workshop experimenting with the design day and night. Each frame is cured, disinfected and glass epoxy coated for extreme weather resistance. It is also tested as per stringent in-house norms for strength, durability, shock absorption and load. In the previous monsoon season, I use to keep the Bamboo frame under the rains to see what happens” says Kaushik.
- The inspiring design has an handcrafted bamboo frame with laser engraved logo
- Powerful 250W brushless DC motor
- 36V, 5200 mAH, IP65 battery which lasts 80-100 km range on a single charge for 3 hrs
- Smartphone app with Bluetooth® connectivity for optimal assist control
- Comes in natural shades – Earth Brown, Desert Fawn and Jungle Green
- Another unique feature of this bicycle is that it comes with a ‘Thumb Controlled Throttle’ for acceleration when needed. I first thought why this feature? The answer is – If one feels exhausted or gets out of breath during a long ride, Throttle assist will come to rescue. This is specially helpful for senior citizens in tricky circumstances or even otherwise
A Mechanical Engineer himself, Kaushik has been a bicycle lover since childhood. Way back in 1988-89, he successfully managed to modify his first Avon BMX cycle. His father had replaced an old Fiat car steering with a new one. Discarded and kept unattended in the store room of his house, Kaushik one day decided to use it as a handle and fixed it on his cycle. “It was a creative modification and in no time became a piece of attraction. My friends often borrowed it for rides and took pride in my proactive move” he recalls.
In 2016, he went for a holiday to his friend’s village near Maharashtra – Karnataka border. He observed the local tribal population using Bamboo for different purposes. That’s when the idea of a Bamboo cycle struck to him. He pitched it to the locals and they agreed to offer support.
Kaushik elaborates “Bamboo is a quick-growing, versatile, non-timber forest product that comes from the grass family. The strength of the culms, their straightness, smoothness, lightness combined with hardness and greater hollowness makes them flexible to work with. A Bamboo can be easily split into different sizes, lengths and thickness of their joints making it suitable for a cycle frame. The natural versatility of Bamboo outmatches standard aluminum frames in many ways.”
Far from Urban city life, working with tribal workers brought a new perspective in Kaushik’s thinking. “These people live a raw life. They use native tools and are blessed with amazing skills to work around with Bamboo. I was amazed to see their skills in handling the raw pieces – you name a utility item and they have the capability to make it. Their extraordinary expertise is passed onto generations and there is no formal learning which they undergo. It’s all through observation and years of practice. A child gets introduced to Bamboo right from an early age as most of the items used in the huts comes from a Bamboo. And inevitably, their huts are also made of Bamboo.
Unlike a factory set-up, they don’t have their roles defined, but each one takes ownership of their duties and delivers with precision, and with the limited resources they have. The community of tribal’s have deep respect for the environment and they never waste anything. Even the spoons, knives and forks used for eating or serving food are made of Bamboo. “For the ethnic group, Bamboo is most precious and am happy to boost their livelihood through this project” adds Kaushik.
The Mobile App:
Kaushik explains, “Coupled with our indigenous SmartGlide™ technology for cruise control capability, our unique Bamboo pedelecs offer excellent ride quality with seamless power assist (a pedelec is a low-powered e-bicycle where a riders pedaling is assisted with a small electric motor).
The Bambookaa™ pedelec is assisted by a simple, easy-to-use mobile application with Bluetooth® connectivity to the motor. It offers an industry-first 99 levels of electric assist to suit any riding mode and comfort.
This custom app offers 4 preset riding modes (commute, leisure, exercise and climbing), with manual override for a personalized experience. The app allows you to customize the assist based on the rider’s weight. It has a built-in Odometer, Speedometer, Clinometer and a battery monitor that displays charge and temperature (a clinometer is used for measuring angles of slopes, elevation or depression of an object with respect to gravity). I tried all the modes and personally found the leisure mode quite relaxing. One can also use Bambookaa™ as a normal cycle without the app.
The design can also be made available in Bamboo handles and custom laser engravings on frames upon request.
The Bambookaa bicycle can be booked through the website: www.bambookaa.com
or send your inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai