Craig Calfee uses sustainable materials to create high performance machines
Dreaming up cutting-edge, sustainable design can happen in places far afield, often away from the drafting table. Just ask Craig Calfee, renowned designer of bicycle frames that are the go-to product for some of the most serious cyclists the world over. After making his name with carbon fiber bicycles, he got the notion to build a frame from an altogether different sort of fiber material: bamboo. The result was a beautiful bicycle exactingly engineered for a swift, smooth ride that is sure to bring pleasure to anyone who encounters it. This same philosophy is celebrated by Lincoln, a brand that recognizes that people are looking for products with superior functionality, yet remains an experience of remarkable joy.See how the MKZ Hybrid combines innovative
thinking and absolute comfort.
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Nature has a great RD Department
- Q: How does your own pleasure come into play during the design process?
- A: Oh, it's a lot of fun to solve old problems with new materials. One of the things I like best is cutting the bamboo for each piece together. The shop starts smelling like a barbeque because we use smoked bamboo. Working with these new materials and with different vendors keeps it really interesting. Having lots of wall thicknesses and diameters of bamboo offers a great variety of options for me to play with. To design a bike, build it, and then go for a ride - that's really fun.
- Q: What do you consider the joy of the ride for your customers?
- A: One of the main things about riding a bike is how the bike feels, which is something that's so difficult to design for. We listen to our customers and try to find the exact characteristics that they're looking for. Most of our bikes are custom-made for our customers. It's very important for everything to be exactly where you want it so that you're naturally fitting the bike — like a custom-tailored suit.
- Q: How did trends and technology influence your process?
- A: The basic diamond shape of the frame has been the same for almost 100 years now. Bamboo was used right at the beginning. But those early bamboo bikes were made with metal lugs. That didn't work very well and not many were made. We simply came up with a better method of joining the bamboo. So this whole recent bamboo bike trend is something we've basically started.
- Q: What would you consider to be the perfect ride?
- A: The perfect ride for me is to take a bike that I've recently designed for the first test ride. That's the ultimate best ride for me as a designer. I love to take the hours upon hours of testing and working out the problems and see how it actually performs.
- Q: Why are bamboo bikes so much fun?
- A: For similar reasons why single-speed bikes are very popular now. A one-speed bike is a much easier machine to understand and use. And that's why the bamboo bikes are so fun, because you understand how it's made. I mean, you look at it and it's just bamboo. Everyone knows that bamboo just grows out of the ground. You cut it, you wrap it together with some fiber and you're done. Most people can relate to that.
- Q: What was your most memorable, fun ride?
- A: We were scouting a ride in Ghana for a bike tour. And I ended up riding on a footpath through a bamboo grove with a bamboo bike that was made in a nearby village. I almost ran into a guy walking on the same path. When he realized that the bike was made nearby, he was just blown away.