makelab + HERObike weave durable bamboo composite skateboards
all images courtesy of makelab and HERObike




makelab is a collaborative design group developing social enterprises to benefit regions in need of employment and job training. in 2012, along with HERObikethe university of kansas, and future partners, the company created a bicycle that not only supports a sustainable and ecologically friendly-manufacturing process, but also provides a better life for residents of greensboro, alabama. after a successful kickstarter campaign, makelab started producing bicycles under the brand name ‘the semester’ since february of 2014.


video courtesy of makelab and HERObike




leveraging design experience in creating advanced bamboo composites from the previous project and several months of research and development at the material studio in mumbai, professor lance rake has developed another scheme in the form of a skateboard. the approach uses the strength and vertical compliance of the plant, strengthened and stiffened in key areas with fiberglass and carbon fiber to make a deck that is fun, responsive, and visually appealing.

makelab herobike beacon alley bamboo skateboards
‘cruiser’ street board




the woven wood mats, top and bottom, are critical parts of an advanced sandwich core panel. this component is made of end-grain balsa, known to be the stiffest and most shear-resistant timber found in boatbuilding, experimental aircraft, and other high stress applications. furthermore, the ingredient also shows superior compressive and bonding strength to the skins, resulting in a structure that is not only strong, but extremely durable. truck mounts are reinforced with baltic birch plywood and carbon fiber.

makelab herobike beacon alley bamboo skateboards
‘popsicle’ performance board




the university of kansas professor brought several students to greensboro earlier this year, where multiple design iterations were prototyped and tested in the field. the result is first skateboard for the ‘beacon alley bamboo board co’, which will fabricate the project in the makelab’s local shop. the innovative, high-performance products will provide job training and increase employment in the alabama black belt. the project is currently looking for funding on kickstarter here.

makelab herobike beacon alley bamboo skateboards
stiff where you need it, responsive where you want it!

makelab herobike beacon alley bamboo skateboards
promotional material for the board

makelab herobike beacon alley bamboo skateboards
sketches of the stress-skin composite construction

makelab herobike beacon alley bamboo skateboards
made in greensboro, alabama


 designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.