Earthbound's High Pivot Bike is Made From Bamboo & Carbon

Mar 8, 2021
by James Smurthwaite  

If 2019 was the year of downcountry bikes and 2020 was the year of mullets, 2021 looks set to be the year of high pivot suspension bikes. We've already seen new models from Forbidden and Deviate and, if recent spy shots are anything to go by, bigger brands are planning on releasing some of their own soon. Joining them all is Earthbound Bikes, who are bringing their own twist on the design, bamboo.

Bamboo bikes aren't uncommon but they generally occupy a niche of hardtails, touring bikes and road bikes. This model caught our eye as it's easily the most progressive we've ever seen from bamboo and looks far from the novelty bamboo bikes we're used to.

Frame material: Bamboo and carbon
Travel: 151mm (160mm fork)
Intended Use: Enduro
Wheelsize: 29" front and rear
Head tube angle: 64.5°
Reach: 490mm
Size: Custom
Price: N/A
More info: @earthbound_bikes

The bike was built by Jason O'Nions, who doesn't have a bike building background but more than makes up for it with a lifelong passion for bikes and a 'tinkerer's mentality'. He has been building bamboo bikes since 2010 using relatively simple methods but was inspired to push himself after watching a YouTube video from Cobra Framebuilding that pushed him to learn CAD and 3D printing. He built himself a hardcore hardtail last year and the next logical step from there was to step into the world of full suspension.

So, why bamboo? It may seem like an unusual material to build a mountain bike from, but Jason actually argues that bamboo is nature's carbon fiber. It's a composite material with natural fibers embedded in a resin-like material and refined over millions of years of evolution. Jason is also eager to harness the damping qualities of the material too. He first tried the material out of curiosity on a road bike and said it felt like the road had been freshly tarmacked. He says, "I find the vibration damping and slight flex allows you to go faster and push a little harder than usual with more grip and less fatigue - particularly, way less arm pump."

The dry carbon fiber ready to be applied
The bamboo and carbon parts are held together with epoxy resin

The bike is built from two main components, bamboo tubes and carbon lugs. Most carbon we're used to seeing in mountain biking comes out of a mold, but Jason has actually built this entire bike by hand. He explains, "The tubes are mitred and tacked together, then the lug is built up by hand by wrapping carbon fiber using a 'wet layup' technique. Basically, you take dry carbon fiber, wet it up with resin, and then apply it to the joint. It's quite a messy and awkward approach which takes a lot of time but is necessary." Once each lug has been built and cured hard, it is then sanded by hand for several hours until it's uniform and smooth enough for a clearcoat.

As Jason doesn't have a workshop or much equipment, he had to use as many off-the-shelf parts as possible to complete the bike. For example, the swing link that drives the shock is from a Stanton Switch9er FS, the Idler is from a Druid and the main pivot is a bottom bracket. The complete project took around three months to complete with around 50 hours alone dedicated to building the bike.

Jason has taught himself how to 3D print to help him make the jigs for this bike.

Building this bike is very labour intensive with Jason estimating the construction alone took 50 hours.

The frame ready to be sanded smooth before clear coating.



The bike is currently a 29er front and rear but Jason is working on an alternate shock mount to allow him to go mullet.

Jason took a lot of inspiration from the Forbidden Druid for this bike although it may not exactly show in the design. He says, "I've probably read every review of that bike since it came onto the scene and heard great testimony from riders, the typical comment is always that bike feels like it has more travel than it does and carries speed over rocks really well. I knew I needed to try and make a high pivot bike."

He said he sees the idler pulley on a design like this as an advantage as it allows him to tune the anti-squat. He admits he took a bit of a risk putting it at 160% but is happy with the result, saying, "When you need to put some power down the chassis doesn't bob at all, despite running the shock quite plush! Whereas I think if you had such a high value on a conventional design, you'd end up with too much pedal kickback."


For now, Jason is going to be just riding this bike for himself and doesn't have any plans to sell them to the public. With the amount of work it takes and with the fact it's a bit MacGyvered means it would end up being more trouble than it's worth at this moment in time. He says that if there ever were to be a V2 of the bike he'd try to shed some weight and make it a bit slacker and longer.

Jason's next project is most likely to be a balance bike as he has just become a new dad, however, if you're in the market for something simple like a road or gravel bike, Jason welcomes you to get in touch.

A copper candy finish looks great on the carbon lugs.




184 Comments

  • 803 2
 "I need a replacement triangle"
"That will be six to eight months as we have to grow it"
"Great better than YT"
  • 42 12
 The comment is extremely underrated.
  • 179 1
 Everyone who bought YT this year got bamboozled
  • 62 0
 Six to eight months? faster sir - "Certain species of bamboo can grow 910 mm (36 in) within a 24-hour period" - Wikipedia
  • 30 0
 @theperfectline: yep fastest growing plant in the world one of the most sustainable fiber available.
  • 3 3
 @ybsurf: Nah, Duckweed beats Bamboo. But close second!
  • 9 0
 I literally just spat out my beer LMFAOOOOO
  • 4 6
 @bike-nerd: Commencal has issues, you can buy Clash right now and have it delivered in 2022. One guy in Russia waited for half a year for his Specialized Status, Rose bikes are sold out until August-ish. Common problem.
  • 6 0
 Somewhere in Asian country: Your replacement triangle will be ready in two days.
  • 3 3
 That is about as long as it once took me to get a replacement alum frame from Scott too ... granted this was a good 10 odd years ago.
  • 7 0
 @HairyLegs: I hope you're not still waiting!
  • 1 0
 I bought a last piece of Trek Fuel Ex 2021 in size XL here in Czech. Distro told me they had it in order since 7/2020 and if I like to order another one the delivery will be 4/2022 =D What I understand is that they do not have the support components from Shimano or Sram available.
  • 8 2
 A bamboo bike made by a guy called O'nions? Is the drivetrain made from carrots? It's not April 1st yet!.
  • 1 0
 @FilipStrapinadotCZ: We were told last summer that bikes ordered on backorder would be delivered in March 2021. those orders have been trickling in, but now bikes are backordered into 2022 already. External cup bottom brackets are nearly impossible to come by though our suppliers, we can get a lot of SRAM stuff, but Shimano is out of stock on basically everything. I did mange to get an XT boost crank recently, but I got mine and the next day they were sold out again. My newest build will be using Microshift Advent 9sp since that's almost literally the only drivetrain I can purchase. (Plus at my cost, the groupset was less than buying an XT cassette at wholesale). My MTB is on a Sunrace 11sp cassette currently too since I can't get an XT or SLX, although the Sunrace has performed flawlessly and looks nice too.
  • 1 0
 @Chuckolicious: And kelp beats duckweed.
  • 2 1
 @djm35: Not by mass, Duckweed the king.
  • 3 2
 @boozed: Eventually got sorted out by taking my complaint to the Scott International head.

Just noticed PB users actually down voted my comment, twice ... what a sad world when people down vote such a simple and honest post.
  • 1 0
 Sorry to say mate, you ll get the bike much sooner. Bamboo grows very fast
  • 1 0
 @Chuckolicious: Ok, I'll give you that duckweed can multiply faster but it's a mass of individual plants, not a single organism. Giant kelp grows an average of 11 inches per day but with ideal conditions up to 24 inches per day.
  • 1 0
 Bamboo is one of the fastest growing "grasses" on the planet. Might just be a matter of weeks...
  • 138 1
 need huck to flat video now please Smile
  • 116 0
 If I get around to filming something I'll post it up here Smile
  • 8 0
 Flaming hoop jump?
  • 12 2
 @earthbound-bikes: Nice job! People will give you crap. Keep innovating. A video from Whistler crabapple would really prove the strength of you design. I guess start with A line.
  • 6 0
 All fun aside, this is a seriously cool bit of engineering. Please film some rides and post. Will be cool to see if the purported tensile strength of bamboo holds up to a real world chaotic test.
  • 6 0
 Panda nose bonk
  • 2 0
 www.instagram.com/p/CMXP9BBo9b_/?igshid=10wqtfbwxvb7k

Not a true huck to flat but the best i could do on today's ride. I forgot the mini tripod so had to tie the phone to a branch with a hairband! Hope you appreciate Wink
  • 1 0
 @bob-oso: Rode my last bamboo bike over rocky trails like I stole it for four years before selling it to a local doctor 2 years ago. I think he's still riding it. Bamboo is super durable, just not super stiff. That's a feature or a defect depending on your body weight and where you ride.
  • 79 0
 Be careful riding this around the Panda trails
  • 56 1
 Looks like something the Professor built for Gilligan, so he could send it around the island.
  • 44 0
 Looks like a ...... wait no it doesn't
  • 72 0
 Tree?
  • 35 1
 @TobiasHandcock: I am groot?
  • 4 1
 I mean it kinda does, doesn't it?
At least according to those spy shots of the upcoming model.
  • 4 0
 PROTOTYPE SESSION
  • 34 0
 “The bike was built by Jason O'Nions, who doesn't have a bike building background ..... He has been building bamboo bikes since 2010 “

@pinkbike standards are getting way to high, if 10 years of building bikes doesn’t qualify as having a bike building background, then what does?
  • 35 1
 Because I didn't spent all those years building. Just very very occasionally.
  • 1 3
 *too
  • 1 0
 In my eyes an engineer would have a bike building background... obviously an engineer that specializes in bikes. but that is what I would interpret as "Background" ie studies in the subject
  • 28 0
 Does the warranty cover termites?
  • 20 0
 Does that mean when you snap a frame, you can cut a section of wood with the same diameter and replace the broken part on the fly?
  • 7 0
 Certified bamboo biker repair service
  • 2 0
 @Kimura: much cheaper than carbon repairs
  • 6 0
 @JerryL98: then they will grow into each other and repair itself...?

hmm.. living bamboo bike ??? genetically modify it to reach a certain size and stop growing, and have a root container under the BB. water bicycle periodically? would it be self healing?
  • 2 0
 @Civicowner: Ooooooo you got a point, just water it, hahaha. Perfect kids bike, haha, just let it grow as kids grow taller
  • 2 0
 @Civicowner: I hope it doesn't get overgrown - we have several creek crossings around here.
  • 22 0
 Bear grylls getting lost in whistler be like:
  • 2 0
 Hahahahaha
  • 12 0
 I'd like to know more about the chainguide that slides between chainstay and seatstay. Anyone notice that?
  • 1 0
 That would be the i-track suspension layout. Surprised it didn't get a bigger mention.
  • 2 0
 Hi @endlesstrailz that's a Chaintamer. Check out www.chaintamer.co.za
  • 1 0
 Yep, that's a chaintamer! won't ride without one after using it for a while.
  • 1 0
 @earthbound-bikes: I've seen those, and I always thought it was a draft idea as it could potentially bounce into the spokes. Then bad things. But if they're being happily used, maybe I'm wrong...
  • 3 0
 @mountainsofsussex: Yeah, I think the chain itself probably helps with that more than you realise. Like the chain doesn't go into the spokes so the tamer wont because it's connected.
  • 11 0
 Holy Sh*t that is so sick
  • 10 0
 This makes me want to quit my job and build a custom bike.
  • 6 0
 If it helps motivate you then I did this while working full time. Get to it! Smile
  • 8 0
 Earthbound child Earthbound child Come up with the shit I'm the Earthbound Child Anyone remember that section of... the collective... or some old great movie.
  • 5 0
 I still listen to pretty well the whole soundtrack, and just just for nostalgia

youtu.be/_CDJl27tOVc?t=509
  • 7 0
 I'm thinking I like it! Not bad, not bad at all... actually very innovative.
  • 8 0
 High pivot everything
  • 6 0
 "around 50 hours alone dedicated to building the bike."

thats actually amazing. It would take me like 300 hours haha.
  • 3 0
 That was my thought. 50 hours seems like really short for that amount of work.
  • 2 0
 This is exactly why I dig the PinkBike community! That song was the first thing that popped into my head when I started reading this article. I scroll down to see that I'm not the only one that thinks this way.
  • 6 0
 @Tshawn: I think it was around 50 for actual hands on work (cutting, sanding, laying carbon etc) but it was WAAAY more than 50 if I included all the design, prep, and head scratching time etc etc

The missus also isn't convinced it was 'only' 50 hours too, haha.
  • 1 0
 @earthbound-bikes: My Missus tend to keep clse track of the palnning times too. Never build a bike though. Curious about your HC HT, any pic's? How's it been panning out? Seriously would love to see a ride video and keep on with updates of this rig, love it. Two more rando things. Thanks for the tip on the chaintamer will check it out. Second Did you notch and steam bend the upper part of the swing arm? then wrap in CF?
  • 1 0
 @jethromtbr: Plenty of pics of the hardtail on my profile, it worked out great and I totally love it. Its a shame it's now redundant as all the parts from it are on this full sus! nooo

No steam bending on that part, I cut the bamboo in two, rejoined, then wrapped
  • 2 0
 Impressive craftsmanship.

This truly ups pole in the eco friendly-ness department. As you can see in the first pic instead of having to collect Alu shavings and reprocess it vía energy intensive, the guy made a fence with his leftovers!!!
  • 2 0
 I remember traveling through SE Asia and being amazed by the massive modern glass and steel skyscrapers going up, all surrounded by incredibly elaborate bamboo scaffolding ????
  • 5 0
 Better than the big bamboo skyscrapers where I live all surrounded by glass scaffolding
  • 1 0
 I was into powerlifting in my younger days. The gym had bamboo barbells. I forget what they called it, Tremor or something, it would shake violently, I guess the idea is to work those fine motor muscles. My point, what the hell does this thing feel like on the trail?? Every tube is a 'Flex stay'. The 2024 Stumpy Arashiyama Edition is more eco friendly then ever! featuring "Green" Bamboo flex stays....
  • 4 1
 How much $$$ to rip a full pull of Dirt Merchant aboard this steed?
No reserve. Bidding starts at $5
  • 3 0
 If you’re doing it right Dirt Merchant is smooth as a green trail. I’d give $10 to see someone ride Monkey Hands in September on this. So rough my fingernails fell out.
  • 2 0
 @kungfupanda: all the green/blue trails in fitz are hilariously bad all the time. there are braking bumps on the braking bumps.
  • 5 0
 No mention of weight?
  • 1 1
 This
  • 1 1
 following
  • 22 0
 Frame w/o shock is a little portly at 3.6kg but I'm fine with that, especially as its an L/XL

The similarly sized hardtail I built is just over 2kg which is great.
  • 5 1
 @earthbound-bikes: 3.6kg isn't bad at all! I think thats the same as a carbon Megatower L ....
  • 13 0
 @hamncheez: Ah Thanks, that's great to know. I didn't want to look at too many weights in case it demoralised me. I was just happy with it being lighter than the steel full sus it's replacing Smile
  • 1 0
 59 Lbs, but next version will be grown with weed killer to save weight.
  • 2 0
 @earthbound-bikes: That's a lot better than I expected. Nice work on this bike!
  • 2 1
 Cool to look at, cool to talk about, not so cool digging bamboo out'cha ass from some badness that happened & after owning bonded bikes in the past, when those joint go they usually don't kid around about it.
  • 1 0
 This is by far the coolest bamboo bike I've seen. I have a ton of respect for your patience and attention to detail. If I tried to build a bike like this, it would certainly have been a failure.
  • 3 3
 I cannot understand the majority of this article’s comments…
Jason manage to design & build his own bike (bikes actually). By all means this is something that should drawn only positive comments.
This guy is creative.
But instead of that I see a flood of negativity. What’s wrong you?
Instead of been so rude, just ask yourself s this:

-Are YOU able to design & build what he just made? (or are you too occupied your “expert opinions’…?)

This guy deserves your respect. And for those (too many!) who don’t get it, ridding the bike you’ve made yourself is exhilarating.

That’s all.
(although I can smell the shit-wave of negative comments, coming)
  • 3 0
 Thanks for the kind words bud, but to be honest I was expecting way more negativity than this and I'm actually really happy with how it's been received!

With something like this there is always going to be naysayer's and doubter's and that's understandable and I accept it. Ultimately they are the ones missing out Smile
  • 2 0
 but, isnt the whole point of bamboo the fact is fairly low environmental impact.. Should have just went all carbon at this point. better yet, steel
  • 1 2
 For me the whole point of bamboo is ride quality. It rides far better than steel and is lighter too.
  • 2 0
 @earthbound-bikes: yeah but an assembly joint of two dissimilar materials vs. a fully welded construction. ill go with steel.
  • 1 0
 Love it! I would have strengthened the headset more. There are even printed parts for straight metal tubes for a complete road frame. I might build it one day. Always carry a helmet!
  • 1 1
 An impressive build, but I question the structural integrity of those tubing joints. Looks like an over dependence on epoxy and not enough dependance on carbon fiber for strength. I do like the clever use of bamboo, and seeing it applied to full suspension rig. I'd love to see some test vids to see how this bike handles the rigors of mountain biking.
  • 1 0
 Dude that is so damn cool! I need to look up some of these frame building videos. Definitely couldn't do something this elaborate but a homemade hardtail would be awesome to build. I'm damn impressed!
  • 4 0
 YES!
  • 2 0
 Careful with that idler pulley placement, that i-Track suspension guy will sue you
  • 2 0
 Ha, thanks for the heads up. I think I'm OK so long as I don't start selling them without paying for the full licence. This is just my personal hobby bike. That software sure was useful though....
  • 1 0
 @earthbound-bikes: ya it was more of a joke. Kudos on such an amazing build
  • 5 1
 It is Groot
  • 1 1
 I like the idea of the main pivot being a bottom bracket...what bottom bracket did you use? I could make about a million jokes about specific brands or standards, but in reality it just seems like a good idea...
  • 1 0
 Cheers, its an evo386.
  • 1 0
 Didn’t one of the older iterations of the Santa Cruz Bullit have an external BB as the bearing for it’s main pivot? Easy and cheap to find and replace and a pair of big ass bearings that can take a beating.

Seems like more companies should do stuff like that
  • 2 0
 @CustardCountry: Production Privee Shan, and Pipedream Full Moxie too!
  • 2 3
 "The bamboo and carbon parts are held together with epoxy resin" - With that confidence inspiring picture of resin gooped onto the seams.. Are flippin' kidding me? I really did think that was a joke caption / picture. But apparently not. Phew.. cool idea and all.. but scary AF.
  • 5 0
 All of the joints are carbon fibre
  • 7 0
 The epoxy just holds the parts in place till the carbon lugs are made on top of the joint. This epoxy will also help form a fillet in joint to help make it stronger. The strength of the joint comes from the carbon lug.
  • 1 0
 @shirk-007: You very well might be correct - in which case, the wording "The bamboo and carbon parts are HELD TOGETHER with epoxy resin" (verbatim, emphasis my own) is somewhat misleading. Anyways, neat idea - epitome of a boutique bike.
  • 7 0
 @CDT77: all carbon fibre is held together with an epoxy resin? Carbon fibre is just sheets of woven cloth. Doesnt stick itself together.
  • 2 0
 @drfunsocks: this guy sheets of woven cloths
  • 1 0
 *Factory tour guide -
"And here we have our factory arborists prepping the downtube and top tube sections, we only use 100" Chinese scaffold grade bamboo..."
  • 2 0
 I wander who will be the first one to build a bike from a spider net - strongest material in the world!
  • 2 0
 Everybody wants a piece of the HSP pie
  • 2 0
 I would love to ride that.
  • 4 2
 I don't think this bike wood be good for everyone...
  • 2 0
 Put an Avalanche Woodie on that bike!
  • 2 0
 That bike is fire! Oh wait....
  • 1 0
 I would love to see some action shots of this thing! And, good choice on the suspension! DVO FTW!
  • 2 0
 DVO, ma maaan Wink
  • 1 0
 @earthbound-bikes: I've got a hardtail with a 170 Diamond, and I love it! Keep up the good and interesting work with those bikes!
  • 3 1
 I'm all for sustainability, but this concept bamboozles me.
  • 1 0
 Bloody great job Jason! Bamboo has so much potential in the bike industry, it's super cool to see a proper mtb made of it.
  • 2 0
 Thank you Smile
  • 1 0
 It’s like making something from Trump and Greta thumburger , they be at each other’s throats !
  • 1 0
 For what there is, they could also do without it and make it completely in carbon.
  • 2 0
 Who knows what the future holds....... Razz
  • 1 0
 @earthbound-bikes: never say never, maybe one day it will be all aluminum, so it will be truly recyclable.
  • 2 0
 Beautiful bike. Well done, @earthbound-bikes.
  • 1 0
 Unconventional yes, but the craftsmanship is very impressive! The copper candy carbon lugs are beautiful!
  • 2 0
 Beautiful work. I appreciate your passion.
  • 1 0
 I think it's cool. Bit crazy but definitely cool. Bamboo is an amazing material too.
  • 2 0
 O'nion's creation brought a tear to my eye.
  • 1 0
 Just the right amount of flex
  • 3 1
 This is SUPER cool
  • 1 0
 Dunno about sending it on this bike, but this is rad...
  • 1 0
 Good show. Amazing ingenuity.
  • 2 0
 Great work.
  • 1 0
 High pivot bikes are so hot right now
  • 1 0
 This has Mike Levy written all over it. Just needs a Trust fork....
  • 1 0
 If it doesn't use the sram UDH, I'm not into it
  • 1 0
 “The bike has a bit of a wallowy feel”
  • 1 0
 Quite the opposite, most supportive full sus i've ever ridden thanks to the anti-squat values! Smile
  • 2 0
 I wood buy \m/
  • 1 0
 I‘d say we got Bamboozeld!
  • 1 0
 no comments on the front fender?
  • 2 1
 Any pubic hair laminated into it ?
  • 1 0
 Haha, underrated.
  • 1 0
 You can recycle this bike into chopsticks.
  • 1 0
 Huck to flat has a whole new meaning
  • 1 0
 Is it made from Bambon or Carboo? Got to name that hybrid!
  • 1 0
 Wow, ill give anything a go but i "wood" not ride that
  • 1 1
 All I have to say is I won't buy it. Too heavy...if it had Balsa Wood I may consider it....
  • 1 0
 i have the same pedals, and i like them
  • 1 0
 Wonder if someone could grow bamboo into a bike frame shape...
  • 1 1
 Doesn't have a bike building background, yet has been building bamboo bikes since 2010? Lost me right from the get-go.
  • 2 1
 I wood love to try this!
  • 1 1
 This is awesome. See if you can jam a water bottle in.
  • 1 0
 That's my plan for the weekend! Thanks
  • 1 0
 How much does it weight?
  • 1 1
 That one ty rap holding together the top tube
  • 1 0
 THIS IS AMAZING!
  • 1 0
 beautiful lug work
  • 1 0
 Thanks man, the time and effort involved to get that finish is no joke!
  • 1 0
 Bamboozled
  • 1 0
 Banbooster!
  • 1 3
 Think about the starving Pandas, they can't eat or ride.
  • 4 7
 Looks like a Session. Too soon?
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