A group of activists and artisans in the small Alabama town of Greensboro (population 2,497) are making high-end bikes from bamboo grown on the side of the road.

The result is a product line called HERObikes.

The third model, the Semester, recently debuted on Kickstarter.

The bike is built from hexagonal tubes made from bamboo and lined with carbon fiber.

"The look of the Semester Bike is designed to be minimal and sparse," says Pamela Door, the executive director of HERO, the community development nonprofit in Greensboro spearheading the project.

The bike will retail for $850.

HERObike currently employs two people in its shop, according to Dorr, while the main arm of the nonprofit employes another 30, focused on its mission of alleviating rural poverty through responsible development of housing and community spaces.

2013-08-12

An Alabama Town Revives Local Manufacturing With Bamboo Bikes

It grows by the side of the road (and incredibly quickly). Could bamboo be the material that revitalizes this dying town?

A group of activists and artisans in the small Alabama town of Greensboro (population 2,497) are bucking the trend of declining manufacturing and unemployment across the South with an unlikely solution: making high-end bikes from bamboo grown on the side of the road.

"We are always looking for materials we can make something from, and neighbors are always complaining about how hard bamboo is to get rid of," explains Pamela Dorr, executive director of HERO, the community development nonprofit in Greensboro that’s spearheading the project. "As we talked to designers and friends about what could be done, we learned about the DIY bikes at Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn and started working with them as a partner."

The result is a product line called HERObikes. The third model, the Semester, recently debuted on Kickstarter. Built from hexagonal tubes made from bamboo and lined with carbon fiber, "the look of the Semester Bike is designed to be minimal and sparse," says Door. The bike will retail for $850.

HERObike currently employs two people in its shop, according to Dorr, while the main arm of the nonprofit employes another 30, focused on its mission of alleviating rural poverty through responsible development of housing and community spaces. "When the Kickstarter is complete, HERObike will be able to employ two additional positions to build bamboo bikes," she says. "We hope this is just the beginning of big changes in our small town."

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4 Comments

  • think5577

    Rain, water, or snow does not damage the frames. The frames are heat sealed, so they are water tight.

  • Benjamin James Riddle

    Sweet bikes, awesome campaign! What an ingenious way to make use of what some might see as a nuisance. Ingenuity is about about using what you've got to make something that matters. 
    How might this story inspire a broader movement that unlocks the ingenuity of people from all walks of life to bring new life to rural America?

  • Paul Noel

    I live in Alabama, the very idea that the Black Belt of Alabama is an odd place for innovation might seem a obvious thing but you would be ignorant of history if you think so. Alabama is literally the biggest influence on human daily life on earth. Without filling in details, it is the place that literally taught the world how to raise the crops to eat. Before these people, the world had a billion people and a large part were starving. Today fewer people are starving and the population is headed for 7.5 billion. No general or leader of the earth has had more influence on the daily lives of mankind that the People of Alabama and the Black Belt is part of this. A short list of things that come from Alabama would stun most people. It ranges from Space technology to Military technology to Agricultural and Medical technology. I love seeing people learn to do better in their lives. The history of Alabama isn't the history of our problems, it is the history of the end of those problems. We are leading the way for mankind to treat people better and this story is a great example of it.