Bamboo bicycles have arrived in Barcelona to stay

Bamboo bicycles have arrived in Barcelona to stay

Bamboo Bike Tours is the first company in Europe to offer private guided tours with bamboo bikes. They take tourists and locals to the most emblematic and hidden places in Barcelona, always in small groups so as not to disturb the public.
The company is very committed to sustainability, which is why it obtained Biosphere certification in 2022. Florent Galland is one of the founders. With a strong French accent and great friendliness, he tells us his story:
He grew up in a small village of 900 people, 60km from Paris. Twenty years ago, he came to Barcelona on a trip and fell in love with the city. He knew he had to do whatever it took to build his life here.
For the first eight years, she worked at markets and festivals, helping to sell the crafts that her friends made and designed. In 2012, she created Tot Bambú, a small multidisciplinary collective that brings together architects, engineers, designers, craftsmen and artists, all specialising in bamboo construction.

While he was developing Tot Bambú, a friend told him that there was a guy who was making trips in Argentina with a bamboo bicycle. He liked the idea and did not hesitate to contact him. The traveller told him that it was a student project and they decided to market them in Europe. They started from scratch, developing their own models.
"I was the first to bring bamboo bicycles to Spain from Argentina. At that time there were only four people in the world who were dedicated to this, now there are more than fifty".
However, selling this product was not as easy as he thought, as it is a very niche market. For this reason, in 2015 he decided to set up Bamboo Bike Tours together with his partner Andre Podubecky. The new initiative not only brought him extra income, but also helped him to spread the word. "When people see us on the street, they often come up to us and ask about bamboo bicycles.
COVID was a turning point for the company. The production of bamboo bicycles in Argentina closed down, so they started making them in Barcelona. Until now, the bamboo came from Asia and South America, but since 2019, Florent has started a project with a farmer called José Manel Gruas Figuera. Near Lleida, they have set up a 5000m2 bamboo plantation and will harvest for the first time in the winter of 2025. "People want to consume more and more local produce and we also want to generate more circular economy".
Florent's commitment to bamboo is total. When you ask him why, he is clear: "it's a great plant".

Bamboo: the material of the future?

Bamboo has been used for thousands of years as a building material all over the world. However, it is only recently that its enormous advantages and ecological benefits have been recognised:

  • Rapid growth: it is the fastest growing woody plant in the world, being able to reach 25 metres in just five years.
  • Carbon sequestration: some bamboo species have been recognised as the most promising for carbon sequestration. Compared to an average tree, bamboo sequesters 35% more carbon.
  • Cleans the soil of heavy metals: Recent studies have found that bamboo has a high capacity to absorb heavy metals. This makes it an ideal plant for cleaning up contaminated soil.
  • Resistance: Bamboo is called vegetable steel. It is resistant to moisture, insects and traction. It is also flexible.
  • Easy maintenance: Bamboo does not require any special maintenance.

Florent is clear that the future is in bamboo and bicycles, so he and his team have created a new brand of 100% handmade bamboo bicycles in Barcelona called ETIKA bikes. In 2021, they started by making models that used fibreglass or carbon fibre to join the bamboo canes together, but now they are developing prototypes that use flax fibre, which is more sustainable. They use 3D printers that allow them to create their own moulds to offer custom-made models. One of Florent's dreams is to make these joints with bamboo fibre, for which he hopes to find companies capable of creating 3D printers that can directly inject natural bamboo fibres.

Entre sus proyectos futuros, se encuentra la fabricación de triciclos y cargo bikes para personas con movilidad reducida. “Acabamos de entregar un triciclo eléctrico para mi sobrina, que tiene una pequeña discapacidad mental. Queremos ofrecer bicis adaptadas a las necesidades de cada uno, por eso cada bicicleta que fabricamos en Barcelona es única y exclusiva.”
La sensación al hablar con Florent, es de tratar con una persona llena de inquietudes, ilusión e ideas. Sin embargo, antes de despedirnos quiso dejar algo muy claro: “todo esto es únicamente posible gracias a las personas que trabajan en el proyecto. No soy solo yo, somos un equipo, somos una familia”.

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