What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
I have been researching and writing about sustainability in design and particularly the bicycle industry, which is the industry my career has been focussed around. When I found the company and the course, I thought it would be an amazing way to understand more about some of the natural materials I’d been researching. I also wanted to get a rigid MTB at the time. After a lot of cycling in New Zealand on a gravel bike that was a little out of its depth, I’d got the ‘rigid MTB fever’. So it was perfect timing.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
I absolutely loved it. It exceeded my expectations by far. Knowing that you will be able to use the product when it’s finished, even as. Product designer, therefore quite used to this, was a strong and present feeling during the build. I think this was especially helped by being in the workshop with James, therefore being able to ask questions of context, in depth technical elements, and the philosophical side. In the end, I interviewed James as he was such a treasure trove of thoughts and ideals and was so willing to share them.
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
The most difficult part was definitely trying to understand how best to work with the material with the various tools and processes needed. Bamboo is a particular type of wood, so even if you are used to woodworking, you still need to learn quickly (obviously James is the man who fast-track's this for you) in order to work with the material/s not against them.
Alignment and measuring is always important, but is a known quantity from the start.
Understanding the best way to work with the materials was both the most difficult and the most interesting.
What was the easiest part of the build?
If we exclude fitting all the components and finishing parts (something I’ve done for many bike builds previously), then I would say the wrapping of the lugs. It was both fun and really easy, even with sticky hands. The wrapping process felt natural and with just a little bit of concentration on where you have and haven’t laid the flax fabric previously, it feels like an enjoyable breeze.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
Due to the dropped seat stays and the unique yoke (the chainstay area just behind the bottom bracket) design we used to ensure the wider tyre spacing, the ride is really compliant on the back end. It feels responsive enough for the genre of bike, especially with the right tyres.
Braking feels direct, even with an offset IS mount, giving a feeling of confidence.
I’m yet to use it over very rough terrain, but I’m sure it’ll smooth that out nicer than a rigid AL rig, probably akin to a steel frame.
What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?
I made some mistakes that threw some elements of alignment off a bit, making the bike even more ‘special’ to me. I will be altering them with Jame’s guidance. However this all occurred because of rushing the initial frame alignment, even with James’s help and warnings to ensure things were in their correct position. I’d have done some more checks in this moment to make sure the alignment wasn’t off. Perhaps with spirit levels or other alignment tools. Totally my mistake, it’s all a learning process, and even with its ‘unique features’ it rides great and nothing is affected functionally.
- Tags: MTB