Sometimes an idea is so good, and the events leading to its execution so perfect, that it seems as though it must be the work of fate. That's a good description for the story of Calfee Design, a carbon fiber and bamboo bike maker based in San Francisco, CA, that became known thanks to the crossed paths of a world famous cyclist and a man with a sculpture degree and a vision. When cyclist Greg Lemond and bike enthusiast Craig Calfee met, Calfee only had a few years as a carbon bike manufacturer under his belt, but the turn of events that fostered this collaboration would end up changing bike technology forever.
Craig Calfee wasn't planning on becoming a bicycle builder. The Pratt Institute graduate came across a job ad in 1987 for a boat builder. When he got there, he realized he would be building carbon fiber racing shells for the Olympics, instead of the grand wooden structures he had envisioned. However, it turns out he loved his job and might have stayed a boat builder if not for an unexpected twist of fate: while riding his Schwinn bike downhill, he was hit head-on by a car running a red light. He survived the crash and found himself in need of a new bike, so he decided to try his hand at building his own carbon bike.
Realizing that he had crashed head on into his life's work, Calfee moved across the country to San Francisco and opened up a small carbon bike manufacturing shop, a bike technology that was in its infancy at the time. At the same time, champion cyclist and Tour de France winner Greg Lemond had an interest in carbon bikes and was looking for someone to help him. Fate again intervened, and soon Calfee and his team of builders were making about 20 carbon bikes for Lemond and his racing team. Skeptics of the technology at the time scoffed at carbon bikes for being too light and flimsy, but that couldn't have been further from the truth, and the bikes had Lemond's enthusiastic endorsement: after he rode Calfee's prototype, it was love at first ride.
In the 20 or so years since Calfee provided bikes to Greg Lemond's racing team, Calfee Design has become an industry leader in carbon fiber bike manufacturing, bike repair, and innovative new bike design technology like their tandem bikes and sustainable bamboo frame bikes. Long before bamboo became as well-known as it is today for its green and sustainable properties, Calfee Design decided to try using bamboo to create a bike frame as a stunt, but the idea and the execution of it were so well-received that the company decided to put the bikes into production. People raved about about how smooth the bike rode, and it definitely had green cred, so the Calfee Bamboo Bike has become a staple for the company for people seeking an eco-friendly bike. Calfee has expanded their vision for the bamboo bikes after Calfee took a trip to Africa and noticed how many people rode bikes. He also observed an abundance of bamboo in the area. Ghana is the first place Calfee implemented his idea for local people to build their own bamboo bikes, and is hoping for the program to expand.
All Calfee bikes are manufactured to utilize the latest bike building technology, the best materials, and the most efficient designs. The frames feature carbon drive systems that are maintaince free, offer a smooth ride, and are durable. Calfee uses an electronic shifting system featuring a battery placed within the seatpost so the elements are not exposed. A super lightweight handlebar and stem design completes the Calfee bike. After a customer expressed an interest in a carbon tandem bike design, Calfee began producing the Tetra Tandem, and later added off-road tandem bikes. The company is also well known for their bike repair services. They will repair most styles and brands of bikes, and have completed more than 8,000 bike repairs since they began offering the service in 2003.
While you may not be ready to swerve downhill at 55 miles an hour like champion cyclist Greg Lemond, you may be interested in the bike technology he helped bring to life with Craig Calfee. Not only are the carbon and bamboo bikes extremely lightweight, they are much more durable than their slight weight implies. Coupling the carbon fiber or bamboo frame with the high quality and innovative parts creates a bike unlike any other, and the best part is that a Calfee bike is eco-friendly and affordable, too. Fate may have had a hand in helping Calfee Design create and produce carbon fiber and bamboo bikes, and now you will be able to reap the benefits by enjoying the view from a Calfee bike of your own.