Out of the boisterous blue-clad motor bikers, comes the man in the bamboo bike. Like many of his townsfolk, Mr. B is a fervent fan of the local football team Arema, who proudly called themselves The Aremania. That day, a big birthday celebration of the Singo Edan (Crazy Lion) is to be held so that from every corners of Malang and its neighbouring villages and smalltowns, the soccer supporters come parading before they finally reached Gajayana Stadium.
Even from the painted bodies and plush lion toting house-sized flag carriers, Mr. B managed caught quite an attention. “I do get invited to parades and parties and the likes, thanks to my bike. They say it’s unique.” In fact it is. Excepting the gears, chains, pedals, and bolts, everything is made of bamboo and wood. Unconsciously green, Mr. B’s bamboo bike is 90% biodegradable.
“It didn’t really take that long to make, the hardest part is to collect the raw materials really.” For the bike, Mr. B use a special kind of bamboo called the Ori Bamboo or in its native tongue Pring Ori that only springs up in certain areas. Ori Bamboo is light, strong and flexible yet took longer time to mature. “I already had few offers for the bike, and quite a lot of money too, but you have to wait for the bamboo first. Let it grow you know,”
”I want to make something for the kids to play with, so at first it was really haphazard with no measurements or whatsoever but just did it anyway,” said he, “this is the third and I think I’m getting a lot better but the bike still needs improvements, it is not as easy as riding the normal ones. It’s wobbly and harder to control, and you have to use your own feet for brakes,” said Mr. B with a gummy smile that reveals two front teeth missing. “That’s why I didn’t wear blue, I’d feel bad if I lagged behind. We will rejoin the parade in a bit, but we’re going to sit here for a while. My son could use a little rest.”
I wish I could talk some more with him but if I don’t have a plane to catch, not to mention that the parade could cause a lot of traffics. Bearing that in mind I asked too many question at too little time before I realized I forgot to ask his name. All I can remember is that he has a big B carved in one side of the bike. I’m guessing that’s probably his initial. But then I could be wrong. So I tried too Google him out, instead of finding his name, I found other bamboo bikes. His idea in using bamboo for bike-making may not be the first or the most original. But in my opinion, with children in mind, his bike definitely looks the most fun. And for this while I decided to call him Mr. B for Bapak (meaning father), Brilliant, Bicycle, and of course Bamboo.