How It Compares
Bamboo vs. Carbon
Bamboo and carbon fiber are both composite materials. In fact, a Boo is over 30% unidirectional carbon fiber. They are surprisingly similar materials, considering one is natural and grows from the ground while the other is synthesized in a factory.
The unidirectional vascular bundles that make up a bamboo tube are extremely stiff, on par with carbon fiber, but their lower torsional stiffness provides more front-end compliance when descending at speed or riding through rough terrain and singletrack.
The acceleration and efficiency of bamboo and carbon are very similar–some riders cannot tell any difference in this category. Bamboo climbs very quickly and accelerates and sprints like the best carbon bikes. However, its additional vibration damping (due to the bamboo’s fleshy lignin) and progressive stiffness combine to create a bike that is more supple and comfortable, without giving up speed and performance.
Bamboo is significantly more durable than carbon fiber, but it also weighs more and is denser. While a bamboo frame may add weight over a superlight carbon monocoque frame, Boo can boast that it has never had a single tube or joint failure in its entire history–including car accidents! Compare this to any carbon frame and you’ll realize the benefit of a little additional static weight is that a Boo frame will last.
Bamboo vs. Titanium
As an “investment bike” titanium is without equal. We believe a Boo frame is the closest thing to a high-quality Ti frame in terms of longevity. They are both long-term purchases meant to outlast all of the components that are hung on them.
Titanium is a homogeneous alloy, not a composite. While it has multiple metals in varying amounts, they are mixed together in a random nature–not arranged in a strict unidirectional composite structure like bamboo. Therefore the feel is not as complex–Ti has a bit of spring to it, like bamboo, but its stiffness is not as progressive and thus a Ti frame will not be as stiff or efficient when really pushing.
The supple feel and forgiving nature of Ti is quite similar to bamboo, but when speaking of an all-out racing bike, bamboo is a superior material.
Bamboo vs. Steel
Steel is real. This phrase originated when riders felt “connected” to the road and trail when riding steel because it transmits the sensations coming from the wheels without being overly harsh. The communicative nature of steel coupled with its lively nature has ensured its popularity as a bike frame material for over 100 years, having been used in some of the first bicycle frames in the world.
Bamboo transmits slightly less from the road and trail, due to lignin’s amazing damping capabilities. But its lively, springy nature shines and makes it similar to steel in this regard.
However, again as compared with Ti, bamboo will far surpass steel in both stiffness and weight. While steel has a classic nature and harkens back to historic times of the sport, bamboo has much of the “life” while providing greater performance, on-road and off.