Zambikes, a company that sells bamboo fame bicycles handcrafted in Zambia internationally and reinvests the profits locally, has finally set up shop in Japan!

Zambikes employs “uneducated and underprivileged” Zambians who would normally have a difficult time finding work in a country with unemployment at over 50%. The bicycles use a frame composed of 95% bamboo and other natural materials that are all grown in Zambia near the Zambikes production facility.

In other words, those who purchase these bicycles are supporting economic development in Africa AND getting a quality, environmentally-sustainable product.

Conducting the import and sale of Zambikes in Japan is distributor Alliance Factory Inc., which currently manages domestic sales of Abici, a brand of handmade Italian bicycles. The company signed a contract with Zambikes last year and the bicycles were made available for general sale January 17 of this year.

Founded in 2007, Zambikes is a social venture run in partnership with US non-profit organization Acirfa. As of 2011, Zambikes has employed more than 100 Zambians and distributed upwards of 200 bamboo bicycle frames worldwide. In addition, the company has distributed domestically more than 10,000 steel frame bicycles and 1000 bicycle ambulances—a life-saving means of transportation when the only alternatives to carry patients to health centers are ox carts and wheelbarrows.

Zambia is one of Africa’s most impoverished countries, with over 60% of the population living on less than $1.25 a day and unemployment at above 50% with the country’s principle industry of copper production mired in a depression.

Some might question the durability and comfort of a bamboo bicycle, but satisfied customers from around the world claim the bikes are as sturdy as steel and offer great shock absorption thanks to the pliability of the bamboo frame.

Zambikes also ensures that each frame is put through extensive product testing and claims there are bamboo bikes that still run great even after being ridden for more than 10 years.
Zambikes bamboo frames are available for order online starting at 99,750 yen (US $1,296) and Alliance Factory offers referrals to shops that will build the bike for you.

As we pull out of the coldest part of winter and head into spring, a new hand-crafted bamboo bike could be the perfect opportunity to get outside and pedal for a change.

Source:Zambikes Japan, Zambikes International

▼ Zambikes Promotional Video

Zambikes Bamboo Frames Commercial from Russell Brownley on Vimeo.

▼ The frame is connected to the rest of the bike using sisal hemp, which is said to be as strong as carbon

▼ There’s just something soothing about the rustic appearance. Nothing says “I support awesome people in Africa” like an awesome bamboo bike!

[ Read in Japanese ]