Those of you who have known me for a few years will know that I have a bit of a sorted history with cycling. In 2016, during the Edinburgh Festival, I had a major accident on Princes Street spending 4 days in the hospital and losing about a week of memory (not to mention 10 other injuries). Although I’m largely past that, it took me more than 8 months to get back on the bike, and a year before I was able to go on a long ride.
I don’t tell that story for sympathy, but to make the point that cycling is very important to me. And, any of you who know me even a little bit, know that I am a strong believer that business should be a leaver for good and social enterprise is something I’ve dedicated my life to promoting.
When I first heard that Challenges Worldwide was importing bamboo bike frames from their partner, Booomers, in Ghana, and was working with Velow Bikes in Leith who recycle and restore old bikes, I was intrigued and instantly put my name down on the waiting list. Fast forward to last Friday when Challenges lent me the first of these bikes in Scotland to road test it for a few days before the first shipment of frames arrives in Scotland.
As you will see from the photos, it’s a beautiful bike and I don’t think I’ve had more people stop and point at me as the times I rode the bike up and down Princes Street. The components picked out by Walter at Velow perfectly accent the look of the bamboo and give it the feel of a luxury bike despite being made up of pieces of other bicycles.
But, more importantly, how does it ride? So far, I’ve had the opportunity to take it on my commute between Shandon and the top of Leith Walk in both directions and for a ride along the canal to Ratho. The frame is extremely light and has a slight, but almost unnoticeable flex to it. The result was an extremely pleasurable ride, and despite being a single speed, allowed me to cycle up Broughton street and the Mound with relative ease. The biggest thing I noticed was how it handled cobbles. Anyone who cycles around Edinburgh will know what it is like to ride over cobbles and the headache of cycling across cobbles. For me, this is even more apparent as my left arm is still recovering from that accident nearly 2 years ago. Cobbles on the bamboo bike we’re fantastic. The slight flex of the bamboo gave the feeling of a light suspension, and this alone is what would sell the bike to me.
The other big benefit is a bit harder to measure, but while riding it around I was continually stopped by people wanting to know more about it. Never, have I had more opportunities to talk about social enterprise with the general public than by telling the story of this bike. And, that is an opportunity too good to pass up.
All and all I would recommend this to anyone who is a city cyclist. Its fast, easy to manoeuvre, and most importantly, fun. But, not only is it a great bike, but its supporting employment in Ghana, a local Leith bike shop, and is 100% sustainable. If you are interested in hearing when more arrive and are put together, keep an eye out for information on Challenges Worldwide social media!
The only question now is, How long can I convince them I'm still "trying it out!" :)