NAHBS may be the biggest handmade bike show in the US this weekend, but not every builder is there. The Southeast Bike Expo in Conyers, Georgia, hosted a few small builders including steel framebuilder, Silent Cycles, and the bamboo builder WebbWorks Bamboo Bikes. We chatted with the vice president of WebbWorks, Micah Webb, and took a look at his own personal cyclocross rig.
Similar to Boo Bikes in their construction technique, WebbWorks has been in the business of building bamboo frames for four years now. However, while Boo Bikes builds and sources material from Vietnam, WebbWorks elects to source and build in Thailand, using a bamboo that’s specific to the region. Carbon fiber may be carbon fiber, but bamboo has slight variations, making locale an important choice. Micah’s father, the “engineer behind it all,” lives in Thailand and runs the building side of things, while his sons stay stateside and run the company.
“We’re a bicycle oriented family, and my dad was a designing engineer for Michelin for years, so we put our passion with knowledge. There are some humanitarian efforts behind it too. Thailand is an impoverished country so there are some humanitarian efforts involved.”
And as for the cyclocross bike displayed at the second ever Southeast Bike Expo, Webb adds, “I raced this in the APLCX series this season. Most people didn’t know what it was. I did Pisgah Monster Cross on it as well.”
“The cyclocross bike is one of our newer models; we just added it two years ago. I built this one up and I had it in mind to race, so I put some extra time into it. It’s got a carbon fork and SRAM Rival. It’s bamboo with hand-wrapped carbon fiber around the joints, so all the cable stops and everything, that’s hand-fabricated.”
With a price-tag of $1200 for the frame, it’s within the range of carbon frames and less than most custom frames. But I had to ask what happens if it breaks: could I get a splinter? “I haven’t had one break yet, so I couldn’t tell you,” Webb laughed, adding, “It would probably break at the joint.”
And why go with bamboo? “The natural tendencies of the bamboo absorb the road shock, so it’s great for on and off-road, and it’s still stiff and responsive as well.”
While it hasn’t taken off in the cyclocross market just yet, Webb is optimistic. “It’s one of the new things – hopefully it’ll pick up even more so now that the cyclocross scene is growing.”
Curious about bamboo frames and cyclocross? Get yourself a copy of Issue 17 and Issue 18 for parts 1 and 2 of our Considering Custom series where we take readers through our custom bamboo bike with Calfee Design, and don’t miss our wrap-up in Issue 20.