What do bamboo bikes and high tech composites have in common? The answer is a lot if you ask IYRS student Larry Adamson.

Larry Adamson '21 & '22 Wins International Fellowship 

What do bamboo bikes and high tech composites have in common? The answer is a lot if you ask IYRS student Larry Adamson (Composites Technology ’21 and Digital Modeling & Fabrication ‘22).  Before attending IYRS, Larry spent 10 years living in China. A passionate cyclist, he became immersed in China’s bicycle culture. He saw an opportunity with the abundant growth of bamboo in the country, a highly sustainable and lightweight material – and with some varieties, an incredibly strong one too. China uses bamboo to manufacture everything from textiles to construction scaffolding. Larry decided to put his passion for biking and sustainability together and Source Cycles, his custom bamboo bicycle company, was born. In the photo, Larry holds custom bamboo bike frame he built. His company grew and today Source Cycles has built custom bikes for customers across the world.

Larry’s interest in building brought him to the IYRS Composites Technology program in 2020. There he learned the “how and why” behind why composites is used to build everything from rockets to bike helmets to yachts. He learned how to design and build with materials like fiberglass and carbon fiber and when it came time for his final project, he knew just how he would approach it.  

Larry holds a composite and bamboo core prototype he designed and built.

An important part of using composites in manufacturing is the material selected for the core. The core material provides critical strength properties but must be lightweight and meet other standards. With his extensive background using bamboo to manufacture bikes, innovation struck again. Larry began work on a carbon fiber swatch built with a bamboo core using a varietal known for its strength and attractive density and weight for this type of application. 

Once his prototype was complete, and with the encouragement of his Composites Technology faculty, Larry applied for the highly competitive MassChallenge Blue Technology Accelerator Program. The program is for start ups and inventors with a blue technology focus. It provides a business boot camp, mentorship, networking, and a final product showcase. More than 150 companies and inventors from across the world applied and only 16 were chosen, including Larry. 

Larry plans to use his MassChallenge fellowship to learn how his carbon fiber and bamboo core material innovation could support product manufacturing and hopes to lab-test its strength and other properties to learn what products it would be best suited for. Meanwhile, Larry is now enrolled in the Digital Modeling & Fabrication program at IYRS, immersing himself in the industrial design process. We can’t wait to see what he builds next.