Published on November 10th, 2011 | by Ari


The truth about Bamboo Boards!

In recent years there has been a growing trend for board companies to come out with “green boards”; while I fully support longboarding going green I feel as though most companies are using this as a marketing tactic and not to really better this earth. I say this because to make bamboo boards the bamboo distributor must boil the bamboo, dry it, boil it again, and then pressure laminate it using toxic ingredients such as urea-formaldehyde. Also most bamboo is imported which means it causes more use of gas and oil. Now I do not know most board manufacturers sources and bamboo that avoid formaldehyde use is available however I doubt most longboard manufactures note of this. Bamboo is more of a renewable source than wood but it is by no means “green” Am I saying do not buy bamboo boards? Absolutely not, if its a good deck and you enjoy riding it… go for it! However buyers should know that it most likely isn’t anymore green than your standard maple deck.

What do you guys think should this type of marketing be shunned? Any knowledge of where longboard suppliers get there bamboo from?

Source: Adventure Journal

About the Author

Born and raised in San Diego, CA. Moved to Roswell, NM to attend high school. Then went to Marymount College Palos Verdes for two year before taking a year off to longboard from Oregon to New York. Currently is finishing last year at UC Santa Cruz.

2 Responses to The truth about Bamboo Boards!

  1. Alex says:

    Bamboo is cultivated and harvested mainly in China but also the US.

    The real misconception about bamboo (which is a grass, not a wood) is that the cool properties (hollow, light structure) of this plant would be transfered to the processed laminates. As you stated above, the process includes cooking and re-arranging the fibres into solid plies or laminated boards (v-lams plies).
    What you´re left with is the really long grained fibres that indeed can take a lot of tension. This can make for a snappy rebound of the deck if you build a flexy one. The offside is that the bonding between the fibres totally depends on the glues/chemicals used in creating the plies from the plant. What these bamboo laminates can´t really cope with is lateral or torsional force that can tear the fibres apart. This could be seen with a lot of dropthrough decks forming lengthwise cracks in the mounting area due to torsional stresses. Some brands found a cool solution by using a (bamboo-) cross ply in this area. Other brands just prolonged the drop-cutout slit into a wider area of the deck to relieve the torsional stress.

    If you want a green board you have to define “green” or sustainability first:
    – The “greenest” materials?
    – The lowest CO2 impact (transportation, processes)?
    – The longest product life (sustainability)?

    Is a wood-only deck which is built with “green” glues more sustainable than a wood/fibre/epoxy-composite one that maybe lasts 2-3 times as long?

    Be assured that ANY skateboard has a smaller ecological footprint than any bicycle made from aluminum (digging and melting ores, refining them, creating alloys, melting and forming the ingots into tubes … etc.).

    After bad experiences (non-compatible business ethics) that I was stubborn enough to make with China I have moved the wefunk deck production completely into Europe. The facility we work with processes the wood from log over veneer to the pressed and CNCed decks all on the same premises (low transportation cost). We only use local European woods that have a long tradition in Ski and Snowboard manufacturing (ash, beech, poplar) and euro-made composite prepregs.
    Our new proprietary glueing and curing technology (by high radio frequency induction) gives us excellent bonding with much less epoxy than ever before.
    It is still epoxy (which is not bio degradable but also not toxic once cured) but less of it (which also results in a lighter deck).

    Though I try to build our decks with a low CO2 footprint and try to save on glues I honestly see no sense in marketing our decks as “green” because if you want you can always argue against it as I explained above.

    Skateboards ARE the greenest way to get from A to B (besides walking) – period.

    There is no single superior material.

    Each material has it´s pros and cons.

    Like in an alloy the result in a mixed laminate is always much more than the sum of the parts if the materials and their arrangement is chosen in a way that reflects the intended ride/deck characteristics.

    There is no need to flatly reject bamboo or any other material. It is always the way how it is put to use that makes a good and/or green product.

  2. Ari Mannis says:

    Thanks for the blast of knowledge Alex, I learned a lot from your comment.

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