Having built a bicycle in April using black bamboo with hemp dyed with a red pigment. Tim’s been busy cycling to work everyday as well as a number of trips which included London to Brighton.
Tim recently travelled to Paris and got in touch with some great photo’s as well as a brief write up of his experience
Just wanted to let you know that the bamboo bike made it to Paris in one piece and gave me no trouble at all (unlike my mate’s Decathalon piece of crap). We did the trip in a leisurely five days with lots of stops for wine and food. The ride was remarkably comfy and the three gears were plenty for getting over those puny French hills.
I’ve enclosed some photographic evidence.
We were recently asked to give a talk on “how to build a bamboo bicycle’ for the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. The talk ran over two hours and we demonstrated methods of how to build a bamboo bicycle. Allowing people to gain a understand the material usage and how it was applicable for bicycles. We also talked about how our unique methods as well as how instructed people over a weekend workshop, how to build a safe and durable bicycle that would last and function as any bicycle should.
One of the key components for a successful build is developing a strong material base for connecting the frame together and there are a number of ways to go about doing this. Here at Bamboo Bicycle Club, we have explored and experimented with the most common and proven methods: hemp and carbon. It is often a question we are asked about, so this blog will act as a guide to better understand the different joining methods that exist, along with their advantages and disadvantages. This is all based on knowledge we have required both through research and testing it out for our own builds. There are many other methods out there, and it can be up to personal style and preference to choose one over the other.
About - The original bamboo bicycle used metal at the joints, which is then crimped around the bamboo. Although it is a good method, it requires considerable manufacturing to create the steel lugs and also adds additional weight to the frame.
-Easy to manufacture once designed and moulded/machined part has been created
-Clean finish and does not require a lot of work to complete
-Easy to test the durability
-Needs expensive tooling
-Requires large quantities of CO2 to produce
-The crimping needs to be done carefully to prevent damage to the bamboo
The bamboo bike building journey is far from over following the completion of our workshop – sourcing parts to fully populate your frame and get it on the road is now the final step. We can help you choose and source components to make the process as painless as possible! This is the how I went about completing by first bamboo bicycle: To achieve a glazed finish on my binds, I began by sanding down all the hemp bindings and recoating in epoxy – this makes them altogether more smooth and imperfection-free – but this step shouldn’t be necessary every time as careful final binds at the workshop stage should suffice.
Last weekend we ran our first workshop in Dorset. We are extremely excited to be hosting our first London bike building workshop in a few weeks time – watch this space!
Check out the photos:
Following the valuable lessons-learnt and fruitful output (albeit un-ridable) gained from the experimental first build, our preparation and set-up procedures became increasingly lengthy and far more complex! We appreciated from the outset that every millimetre counts and endeavoured to make sure we’d actually be able to ride on these frames when they’re finished! We ordered standard aluminium head tubes and off-the-shelf bottom bracket housing housings, while getting the drop-outs laser cut in advance.
The jig configuration was elaborate to say the least; involving many salvaged off-cuts for spacers coupled with millimetre-accurate measurements from our work-top datum, aligning the jig with our CAD model. With positions finalised, it was time to cut and shape the bamboo members!!!
Once the lengths were selected, ensuring their integrity while trimming them was vital – more so than most ‘timber’, bamboo is highly susceptible to splitting along the grain and fraying. Also, any dinks taken out of the surface now (with those casual slips of the saw!) will show on the finished product for all eternity!! Using hole saws and dremel sanders, we carefully sculpted each joint to butt correctly.
The bonding processes were as experimental as they come – we switched roles from cumbersome carpenters to meticulous pioneering-chemists, and began mixing and testing the broad array of glues and resins that we had at our disposal. We tacked everything in place first, then used a 2-part resin and a hemp cloth, cut into strips – Hell of a tricky job, but the results really were excellent!!