I already had a Cooper Spa single speed bike (which I later sold, a real regret now as they don't make those any more) and a Genesis touring bike. I was starting to get addicted to biking and I found the Bamboo Bicycle Club in Hackney Wick where I was living at the time. I was starting a lot of hobbies including a drawing course in the area. Building a Bamboo Bicycle really appealed to the part of me that likes to do stuff with my hands since most of the time I'm behind a desk, and so I booked a course. I asked for the bike frame design to match the geometry of the Cooper.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
I thoroughly enjoyed the course and the fact that I could have a frame ready in one weekend. Of course putting the parts on and finishing took a lot longer than I expected but when the final bike was complete it was super satisfying to know I had built it.
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
I made a mistake in the build that meant the alignment was off but James kindly had his assistant at the time sand down the joints and redo the seat stay wrapping its pretty cool that they could fix something like that. Choosing the parts was also pretty hard there just so many little bits to a bicycle that as a casual rider you don't thin kabout and it can get bewildering. Again James was on hand to adivise on parts - I knew I wanted an internal gear hub because I love the simplicity iof single speed but also the ability to ride up hills without dieing
What was the easiest part of the build?
The workshop building the frame. James made that fun and because you're doing it with a bunch of other folks you have the shared experience of building and the banter during the workshop plus you're all into cycling so it's super fun to see what people's final creations are.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
Having had it now for about 7 years and ridden it hard for about 4-5 of those years I would call it my beater bike. It rides fast when I need. I loved my Cooper, this is not as fast as that but the ride is much smoother. It goes the distance
I've ridden over about half of Crete with it and used it as my commuter bike in Bucharest for 3 years. I rode it in an amateur race up the Transfagarasan highway in Romania which was a 37 km slog uphill on an eight speed hub! The tubes have vertical cracks along the length but a called to James under the lifetime guarantee and he sent bit of epoxy my and with that and a bit of wood filler I managed to seal her up again.
What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?
The build experience was great but I'm buying version 2.0 now... I've decided to go with a Gravel Lugged frame. I don't like the messy wrapping process and the fact that those glued joints added a lot of extra weight to the frame, at least in my case it feels that way. I'm looking forward to having a more straight forward self-build with no assistance this time (at least not right next to me) and internally routed cables so a cleaner look overall. If I didn't live in Romania I would book a workshop and be drinking bamboo beers out of bamboo cups with James but alas my home workshop will have to suffice.