Road to NAHBS 2014: Boo Bicycles Growing Like Bamboo

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Boo RS-R carbon and bamboo road bike with hydraulic disc brakes and integrated seat mast.

At last year’s show, and probably at this year’s too, Boo Bicycles impresses with some super sleek bamboo and metal bikes with a couple one-off or prototype parts from others hanging on them. This year, founder Nick Frey says he’s got more than a couple surprises shooting up:

BIKERUMOR: What are your main building materials?

NICK: Bamboo (always!) with carbon fiber or aluminum.

BIKERUMOR: What’s new with your company since NAHBS last year?

NICK: A lot…we had a successful Kickstarter in May 2013 for the new www.aluboobikes.com and have been focused on perfecting our craft with Boo as well as introducing Aluboo to a wider audience. We are building a dealer network in the US, selling fat bikes like mad, and driving around the country in a decked out 1998 Bluebird All American: BooBus Maximus. The BooBus will be going to many of the biggest events in the US, meeting with dealers, and riding all the local Wednesday Night World Championships. We have some great partners in TrainingPeaks, BRAAAP, and Pactimo—they’ll be stocking us with some things we need for the road, both in the bus and on bikes.

We have been working closely with Retül to make it possible for any Retül trained and certified fitter to order a custom Boo frame—this system gives us the confidence that the frame will fit like a glove and the customer knows they have a physical point of contact for service. We couldn’t be more stoked that such a revolutionary technology is based just down the road from us in Boulder, Colorado.

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Boo RS-X carbon and bamboo cyclocross bike with hydraulic disc brakes.

BIKERUMOR: Any killer custom bike builds in that time?

NICK: Well of course. But we are not going to let all the cats out of the bag. I will say that we are bring bikes that can be ridden many different ways…up the side of a fourteener in February, with your honey, or at the Cyclocross World Championships (Editor’s note: Or the Collegiate CX finals, like this one!). We are working with SRAM and Gates as we’ve done many years now, but you’ll see some sweet new options on our bikes that few others are offering. Most importantly, we are going to be showing off some incredible custom paint schemes done by a hot rod painter in Fort Collins, Newstalgia, who is doing all of our spraying. So many sweet custom options, we can’t contain ourselves!

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BIKERUMOR: Say a customer gives you free reign, where do you draw your inspiration for the best projects?

NICK: Last year with the Glissando, we were inspired by the graceful Ti of Budnitz and Black Sheep. This year, we’ve been inspired by the fat bike movement: 9:ZERO:7 and Borealis. Most of the design inspiration has come from within, honestly: recognizing challenges in current bicycles and designing them to overcome. For instance, the Aluboo has interchangeable slider dropouts from Paragon that we designed to accommodate all the different axle spacing options.

BIKERUMOR: What are you building this year that’ll draw a crowd?

NICK: A custom ski mountaineering ice climbing rig. We haven’t seen anything like this before, and as I live at 9,600’ in Breckenridge, it’s the bike I’m most excited about.

BIKERUMOR: Scenario: NAHBS introduces a new category called Mashups, pairing two completely different builders to make one bike. Who’s the yin to your yang, and what kind of bike do you think you’d build?

NICK: Honestly we draw inspiration every year at NAHBS…Don really has created a bike industry event that’s unrivaled in the world. We always love seeing our neighbors Black Sheep and what they pull out. We did a fat bike mashup together last year for a customer in Iowa City, and are always open to more of those partnerships! The curved Ti is such an organic compliment to the raw bamboo.

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The Aluboo road bike with mechanical disc brakes.

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Check the compound curve bamboo fenders on this Aluboo commuter!

Boo’s prior Road to NAHBS interviews have offered up some pretty good pics, check those out here and here.

BooBicycles.com

Comments

onion - 02/12/14 - 1:14pm

Who still thinks bamboo is a good material for bicycle frames?

GROSS - 02/12/14 - 1:16pm

not me

Misterha - 02/12/14 - 2:01pm

who still thinks carbon is a good material

goathead - 02/12/14 - 2:58pm

“Remember when companies thought it was a good idea to make bikes from bamboo?”

-Everyone in the 10 years.

eadm - 02/12/14 - 4:03pm

bamboo forks rock

Joenomad - 02/12/14 - 4:50pm

So what percent of the bike is actually bamboo? Appears to me that the majority of the frame is still carbon, alu or Ti. Pure marketing as far as I can tell. Calfee is using a lot more bamboo in their bikes.

Psi Squared - 02/12/14 - 6:38pm

Who still get’s their panties knotted about bamboo bikes? They’ve been around a long time, now, and apparently they work and are pedaled by adoring owners. Sure, that’s upsetting to all the armchair materials scientists and engineers, but the deserve a bit of upset, don’t they?

The top bike is a sharp looking bike.

Eric@505 - 02/12/14 - 11:42pm

An Open Letter to Nick Frey:

1) Nick, you do amazing craftsmanship. Have admired and followed your work for years. Wish you much success!
2) Have always wanted one of your frames, but would it work in the high desert of New Mexico (with its vanishingly low humidity)??? Everything wood splits here.
3) “Boo” is definitely one of the best bike names, ever. IMHO.

but..

4) I think I speak for 99+% of BR readers when I say: it is simply criminal that you mentioned Black Sheep and Budnitz in the same sentence (let alone that ‘Sheep was mentioned second!)

I hope you recognize that you owe James a HUGE apology (and a nice microbrew at NAHBS)–at a minimum! ; )

But again, very nice work!
Cheers, Eric in NM

1Pro - 02/13/14 - 9:40am

well NAHBS exhibitor rules are very clear about frames needing to be made entirely by the company showing… these Alu Boo bikes are simply stock chinese cheap aluminum frames with a couple tube sections cutout and replaced with overgrown grass… does this count?

Kyle - 02/13/14 - 9:56am

I love the road bike frame, but the Enve fork looks foreign. I would recommend a Fat Chance Yo Eddy style Bamboo Tube Crown or at least faux bamboo paint. Best of luck at the show.

Antipodean_G - 02/14/14 - 6:52pm

Ya know, there is so much choice these days that there’s something for everyone.

I have massive admiration for Boo and what they are doing, I know just how hard it can be to follow a dream. For me, Boo is probably not a right fit, even though I am on carbon at the moment, my next ride is slated for some hand crafted Stainless. I just like metal over everything else and I’d go so far as to say carbon is super over rated and it’s become the wonder material for none of the real reasons.

Don’t rag on those out there doing something left of field. Sometimes they are the ones that were right!

K11 - 02/17/14 - 5:12pm

kill the aluboo already. sad in comparison to the original. don’t care to hear about price point and gateway arguments, i am still trying to continue my respect for the regular boo product, but it is getter harder…

Nick Frey - 03/04/14 - 2:53pm

Joenomad – we actually use full bamboo tubing with a carbon overlay on the joints. The frame is about 70% bamboo by mass. You can see how it’s done here: http://www.boobicycles.com/building-a-boo. The Calfee frame uses the same construction method, but with hemp/sisal/bamboo fiber joints instead of carbon.

Eric@505 – thanks so much! In fact, our bamboo is cured for almost a year before being made into a frame, so the environmental concerns are alleviated. However, the bamboo will, like any hardwood, have small splits depending on the conditions. This is just like a Brooks saddle stretching, and in no way affects the strength or integrity of the frame. It’s much more durable than anything full-carbon. As for the Budnitz-first mistake…touché, good sir! You’re totally right.

1Pro – I think most NAHBS folks using any type of metal, made in a foreign country, may have an issue with a rule interpreted in that manner.

Antipodean_G – you owe it to yourself to try bamboo if you want SS. Stiffer, lighter, and similarly responsive/lively.

K11 – the original still exists! The Aluboos and Alubooyahs are sweet, especially for a $795 frame. The original will always be the top-shelf and has only gotten better over the years.

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