INDONESIA: Joko Widodo gifted new Australian Minister Anthony Albanese with a bamboo bicycle when he toured the presidential palace gardens south of Jakarta earlier this month.
As soon as Singgih Susilo Kartono realized the leaders would be riding the Spedagi model he had handcrafted in a little town on the island of Java, he was ecstatic.
During the symbolic bike ride, Prime Minister Albanese would slip his trousers into his socks after the statesmen removed their coats and ties and put on helmets.
An interview with AFP by the bike designer, 54 years old, revealed that the diplomatic gesture was a “unique, magical moment” for him.
This is not about whether Jokowi purchased the bike, but rather that it was used to greet Albanian Prime Minister (Albanese) Enrico Letta.
Aside from making bamboo wheels for world leaders, Kartono uses his sustainable bike crafting to employ locals and demonstrate to Indonesians how to better utilize the natural resources around them.
He said that he works with young people who lack the necessary abilities. They have a mechanism in place to teach unskilled people in product development how to do it properly.
15 workers in Kartono’s village in Central Java built the model, which is named after the Indonesian terms “sepeda” for bicycle and “pagi” for morning.
Bamboo stalks are harvested, coated with preservatives, dried, and laminated before being assembled into the bike frame.
Studies have demonstrated that bamboo has a high tensile strength that makes it a viable and environmentally acceptable substitute for steel when utilized in lightweight buildings.
Tri Wahyuni, the co-founder of the Spedagi bamboo bike company, told AFP that a fully completed Spedagi bamboo bike can take a week of meticulous effort, and some have been sold as far away as Japan.