City Bike by Ron

City Bike by Ron

Design: City Bike
Build: City Bike with Custom Component pack
Location: Swansea, U.K

What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?

For some years I had this idea of building my own bike.  The problem is that I don't have the metal skills that would be needed to do so. 

I came across the article by Kate Rawles in Cycle Feb/March 2017 about her bamboo bike and world tour. This made me realise that could build my own bike using materials that don't need welding!  Now the question what type of bike to build. The bike to build was a recumbent to replace my 20 year old Hp- Velotechnik Wavey. This build was done at Bamboo Bicycle Club in London 2018.

When it became time to retire my commuter bike I decided to build another bamboo bike to replace it.

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

I enjoyed building the bike a lot.  After deciding it was going to be a commuter bike, the next was to work out which parts and fixtures were needed to achieve this function.  The bicycle had to be low maintenance, clean running and build in lighting.  From this I came to a belt drive 8 speed gear hub, hub dynamo, disc brakes and flattish bars.

I think it is important to work out what you want out of your bike, this makes for a great experienced with a unique bicycle.

I would recommend building your own bike but you will have to do be prepared to problem solve on the way as choices you make might have knock on effect later.

What did you find most difficult about your bike build?

The most difficult part is when something doesn't go as expected: I sanded the frame in preparation for varnishing but the varnish was delayed in the post. When I got to do the job a crack had appeared in the down tube(due to the quick rate of drying).  Luckily this was not a major problem and was sorted with glue and filler.

Despite my careful measuring I had the chain-set interfering with the chain-stay.  The Gates belt drive chain-set ring is a lot wider than (4x).  When I put the frame together I didn't have all the parts, as you can read in the instruction booklet you are advised to build around your components.

After another SOS call to James a solution was found.  

What was the easiest part of the build?

Sanding is the easiest part by a long way however there is a lot of it.  Depending on what finish you want it can be the time allocated in the instructions but if you want a nice finish it can easily be 3 to 4 times longer as you go back to fill in imperfections which need sanding again.

How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?

The bike ride easier than the bike it is replacing, this is due lower gears and to a lighter bike by 3 kg (despite comparable components)  It is a relaxing and stable riding position.  With the component chosen my bike is never going to win any prices for lightness, but its use is going to be getting me dependable from home to where I need to go with minimal cleaning maintaining or repairing.

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

Check the components to make sure they work/set up as you expect.  The hub gear 's cable run was different than cheaper model I was use to.

I would mock up the bike before finishing the bike to prevent having to redo some work and improve cable runs.


Tools I found useful.

  • Speedsquare, angle finder and laser to set up the jig.
  • Pipe-notcher for cutting.
  • Angle-grinder with flappy disc, detail sander for rough and quick sanding and an old belt of belt-sander in thin strips for the final sanding as this last better than sand paper.
  • The item help me in getting the handle bar in the correct position was the Salsa Size-O-Matic, thanks to my local bike shop.