Environmental consultant and social entrepreneur Bryan McClleland asserts bamboo is “arguably the greenest building material” available on the planet. And he intends to bring it across the country and the world with his Bambike.
The Bambike Revolution Cycles founder welcomes the growing interest and excitement over cycling, as it has become a popular means of transportation during the pandemic-induced public transport shortage.
According to data from the Bureau of Customs, bicycle imports soared to 2.1 million units in 2020, more than double from the previous year’s 1 million. Apart from its utility, cycling appeals to modern eco warriors as it helps minimize one’s carbon footprint.
The government supports the promotion of cycling and the improvement of infrastructures such as protected bike lanes to help jump-start the economy. “Promoting cycling and other modes of active transportation will provide safe, healthy, and affordable means of participating in the economy,” Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said earlier.
Even before the pandemic, McClleland’s socio-ecological enterprise has been fueling sustainable mobility since it first hit the road in 2010. Bambike offers guided ecotours using the bamboo bikes handmade by skilled craftsmen in a community in Victoria, Tarlac which is part of Gawad Kalinga.
“Our mission is to build the greenest products on the planet while creating jobs for some of the people that need them the most,” said McClleland.
Started in Intramuros, the ecotours have become popular among locals and tourists as they offer the opportunity to pedal along the city’s Spanish colonial heritage and cultural landmarks. When the business was forced to close during the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, the enterprise provided Bambikes to frontliners in Manila, Quezon City, Pasig, and Iloilo, as well as offered maintenance services.
The ecotours have since reached other areas in the country, with the recent launch of Green Sparks Guimaras (Bambike tour around the island) and the soon-to-be-launched ecotours in Batangas (to explore farms, forests, beaches, and snorkeling sites).
McClleland believes that building Bambike into a global brand is the best way to deliver its positive impact to more people and communities around the world. Hence, Bambike is going international.
Bambike has provided a custom fleet of bamboo bicycles to a hotel in Siem Reap, Cambodia for guests to use.
“Our plan is to continue innovating our bike models and business operations to best meet global market demands.”
McClleland shared that currently, the company is producing only about 30 units per month because hand-making the bikes is labor-intensive. Enhancing its manufacturing process and collaborating with a reliable logistics provider like FedEx, he said, would help them attain higher volume production and wider cross-border distribution.
“FedEx has been a great logistics provider for us because of their professional services and international reach. We know that when we send out our products to customers in any destination, they will receive their orders fast, safe, and intact,” he said.
In a bid to further take sustainable mobility a few notches higher, McClleland plans to venture into offering electric bikes in the near future, which he believes is a game-changing approach to personal mobility and will appeal to the global bike market. The enterprise is also scaling manufacturing of the Bambino, a bolt-together bamboo balance bike for kids.
McClleland sees a brighter future as they aim to grow and expand amid an ongoing pandemic. “We’ll get through the worst part of the pandemic and see more people back on the saddle. For its many benefits, cycling will only continue to gain momentum.”