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Carl's Bamboo Gravel Bike

Posted by James Marr on
Carl's Bamboo Gravel Bike

What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?

I'm an architect with a passion for using materials with low embodied energy, so I've had a long-standing interest in using bamboo as a building material, but never had the opportunity to do so. A bicycle frame seemed like the next best thing!

Bare bamboo frame all cut and shaped ready for gluing

Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?

I really enjoyed the process of the build; shaping the bamboo, fixing the binds and finishing and detailing the frame. It was a novel experience that I would definitely recommend to others.

What did you find most difficult about your bike build?

Having a home build kit and not knowing enough about modern bicycle components! I came into the project with the building of the frame as the end goal rather than the means to a new bicycle, so I hadn't researched enough about suitable components for both the frame and what I wanted to achieve. That and the importance of making sure the bottom bracket is the right way round, a mistake that brought an end to the mark I.

Beautiful shapped chainstay bamboo

What was the easiest part of the build?

After the failure of the first frame I experimented with shaping spare bamboo tubes using a power file. It sped the process up for the mark II and I managed to get good contact point coverage between the tubes.

Finished lugs in a raw form before sanding and finishing

How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?

Comfortable. The frame geometry and set up is intended for cyclocross but feels more suited to touring. This is probably because I took a belt and braces approach to the joints and made a heavy frame.

Sanded lugs ready for painting.

What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?

I don't think I would change the build experience as it was enjoyable, even when it ended in failure. It feels like an iterative process, so I'll definitely make another frame in the future and build on the experiences of the previous frame. As for the finished bike, there is always room from improvement. The great thing about bamboo is that I can adapt and make changes to the frame with little fuss; I've had issues with various cable arrangements, so I intend to reposition the cable stops.

Finished Bike

Build the bike

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