This is from an article featured in The Hindu earlier this week.
Craftsman Vijay Sharma says he chose to work with people of Manipur to make his bamboo bicycle as they understand the material very well.
The ‘Bambike’ — city-based Vijay Sharma’s bicycle made of bamboo — that has been well-received in the cyclist community, will now be made in the Northeast, home to some of the best bamboo in the country.
Nearly three years after he came out with the prototype of his eco-friendly two-wheeler, the 37-year-old is busy with the project to make 1,000 Bambikes over the next two years by training skilled artists in Manipur.
The project will provide job opportunities to the local community.
Mr. Sharma said he received offers from various companies for a tie-up, including one from the South Asia Bamboo Foundation, suggesting a tie-up with a Manipur-based NGO to make the bikes. He says he chose to work with the people of Manipur as, “Life revolves around bamboo for Manipuris and they understand the material extremely well. As a designer, you need to explore the material as certain materials have certain properties.”
From the first prototype to the current design, the Bambike, which is in demand in the West, has undergone some changes. Mr. Sharma has added an Indian touch to his creation by burning designs on to the body.
Of course, customers can also have their bicycle customised. This process, he says, is labour intensive and takes him nearly a week to finish.
The Bambike reflects Mr. Sharma’s wider philosophy that underlines his innovative designs. “I like to reuse materials that are lying around. I believe in minimising the use of materials but at the same time I want to make the product look good,” he explains, surrounded as he is by unique items including a bamboo and coconut fibre stool and a chair made of tyres, at his workshop near Bommanahalli in the city.
So where did he get the skills from? “My father was a carpenter and I would spend my vacations in my father’s workshop cutting plywood. I have grown up not playing with building blocks but playing with wood and plywood, making my own toys, sandals and mechanical pencils,” says this graduate from the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology, Ahmedabad.
His innovations were created out of necessity, he adds. And, “My inspiration comes from the common man.”