Forget steel or titanium. Meet the man who builds bikes out of bamboo

Updated: May. 17, 2018 at 4:09 PM HST
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KAILUA, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - When carpenter Barret Werk started building furniture out of bamboo, he was amazed at the sturdiness of the hollow stem.

"It just blew me away! I said, 'I gotta do something to showcase how amazing this material is,'" he said.

And that's exactly what he did — turning his passion for cycling into a way to demonstrate how versatile bamboo is.

Werk built his first bamboo bicycle in 2015. He entered it into a wood show and got a lot of attention.

Before long, word got around and people wanted in.

Since that first one, he's built about 40 custom-ordered bamboo bicycles in his Kailua shop called Werk Arts.

"These are bikes that will last you a lifetime," he said. "It actually is one of the best materials for a bike because bamboo is a natural dampening material. Road vibrations are naturally absorbed in the frame.They aren't carried through to your body."

His bikes are light and durable.

And he's partial to homegrown bamboo. He has a permit to harvest bamboo poles from state land.

"If you select carefully you can get a really premium product, one that doesn't get eaten by bugs and split, one that's super strong," he said.

Werk's bikes range in price from $2,000 to $5,000, depending on style and components.

It costs less to have him teach you how to build one yourself. He charges $1,200 for a three-day workshop that includes the bamboo.

"it's just a unique experience to have something like that that's yours," he said.

His bamboo bicycles take about 50 hours to build, and he's always looking for ways to make them better.

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