Love or hate the looks, this bike certainly makes a statement. California-based Masuelli use locally grown bamboo to create a range of green machines including road, cyclo-cross and mountain bikes, as well as this singlespeed.
The raw material arrives at the Stockton factory where each piece is carefully selected, then, in a process which takes over 40 hours, these ‘tubes’ are bonded together with carbon lugs to create each frame. Not only do you end up with a bike that’s completely individual, Masuelli also claim it has one of the smallest carbon footprints of any production bike.
That’s great so long as the bike is also good, and at £1,200 for a one-geared machine it certainly needs to be. To be honest, the ride surprised us. The frame is light and nimble with a feeling not dissimilar to carbon, and the bamboo tubes feel nice and tight with no undue side to side ﬂex. Where it differs from your average carbon frame is in its ability to swallow up vibrations over rough surfaces.
The handling is superb, both measured and exciting, with the combination of Kalloy Uno stem and narrow riser bar making it feel more like a mountain bike than a typical ﬁxed wheel machine. It’s a great fun ride, and we found ourselves ﬂicking the bike around and hammering it at any opportunity.
We were less impressed with the fork: an aero bladed time trial design that’s pretty harsh, transmitting huge amounts of feedback through the bar. Over longer rides this led to a fair amount of numbness in our hands. We can’t help thinking an aero bladed fork is pretty much surplus to requirements on a bike of this type.
We had niggles with the axle nuts and chainring bolts too – all showed rusty brown staining after just a couple of rides in wet weather. On a bike that’s bound to attract attention, small touches like this matter. The decal-less ﬁnish and bladed spokes of the solid-performing Vuelta track wheels match the bike well, though.
Overall, the bamboo frame impressed us a lot with its wonderful ride quality and the very welcome damping of the ‘tubes’. Its svelte 8.3kg (18.3lb) weight despite the relatively modest spec is impressive too. The trouble is, in this guise it’s not quite all it could be, and that’s a shame because the frameset is truly excellent.