The idea came to him while he was building a staircase.
The distinct look of laminate bamboo was crying out for application in a bicycle, thought Corey Collier, a former professional cyclist, architectural designer and builder.
This weekend, the Glissando concept bike will showcase the collaborative work of Collier, framebuilder JP Boylan and Boo Bicycles Nick Frey.
'Glissando' is a musical term for a glide between pitches, and was the suggestion of Frey's architect father as an apt description of the aesthetic and function of the bamboo and titanium frame.
"The idea of bamboo is really striking in that it can be really shaped, but still have the vibration damping of bamboo as a material," Collier said. "At the same time, we are seeing the opportunity for a higher-end town bike."
Laminate bamboo is shaped with steam, molds and epoxy
Collier had been riding bamboo-tube bikes from Boo, which feature treated bamboo tubes lugged with carbon fiber. Laminate bamboo, by contrast, is a processed material that features planks of bamboo glued together.
To form the Glissandro's bamboo structure, Collier built a steamer tube with a wok and a length of PVC. First, he tapers the bamboo to shape with a saw. Then he inserts pieces of bamboo laminate into the steamer wrapped in wire to keep it centered in the tube. He made curved molds out of wood into which he puts the steamed laminate bamboo to shape it with the help of some epoxy. The final product is then sanded.
Boylan welded the titanium frame and fork, and Frey provided expertise on working with bamboo.
"Nick [Frey] is a Princeton-educated engineer, who started a bike gig as school project," Collier said. "Together with James Woolf, they have been working with bamboo for 15 years. Nick has the scientific detail of the bamboo. As I’ve been dabbling back in architecture after racing, I just wanted to really push the design."
The Glissando will be on display this weekend at the North American Handmade Bicycle Show. Check out all the details of the bike in the gallery at the above right.