Full disclosure – I’m a vintage bike geek. I’ve restored 1950’s British touring bikes of which I now have two – a Rudge and a Humber. Great names! I also have an affinity for 1970’s and ‘80’s racing bikes.
So you can imagine my excitement finding this bamboo bike at a flea market in NE Oklahoma a few years back. I recall that the original price was $70, but I’m sure we managed to negotiate the price down. There’s a story here, though we won’t ever know about it – how did a French/Vietnamese designed bike manufactured in France end up here???
Anyway, my research into this awesome bike has uncovered the following:
The designer, Quasar Khanh was Vietnamese born architect/civil engineer/designer living in France. He is best known for his line of “Aerospace” inflatable furniture that came out in 1968. Think pop and the mod scene.
Here’s a link to his biography:
From what I can tell from the research – the first Bambooclette or La Bambouclette was designed and built around 1985. Later versions had markings on the top tube – “The Bambooclette” and “Designed by Quasar Khanh” and “The First Bamboo Bike” on the downtube. I believe these versions from the ‘90’s were made in Vietnam – Khanh moved back in 1995. My bike does not have these markings though all of the other details and construction are similar. My guess is the bike was built before there was greater production (though I suspect these never really took off - they're pretty rare on the on-line marketplace) and where the manufacturers were branding the bikes for a larger audience. I believe these versions from the ‘90’s were made in Vietnam – Khanh moved back in 1995.
The bike is made of a mix of rattan cane wrapped steel (seat tube, seat and chain stays, and fork), bamboo top and down tubes, and decorative hoops of bamboo or rattan. Pretty much every surface is wrapped in rattan cane. It even has bamboo handlebar grips and a woven rattan seat! The bike came with very old “made in China” red tubes with an unusual valve type and it has a Chinese rear band brake.
I use this as one of my get-around-town bikes. It’s a head turner!