Design: Road bike
Build: Road frame easy build kit
Location: Surrey, U.K
What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
I've had an eye on building one of these for a while. I've put together bikes before, but never actually built my own frame. A combination of lockdown boredom and jealousy of my partner's hobbies (she knits and sews, and has had a steady stream of projects through the various lockdowns) finally motivated me to go ahead and give it a try.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
I definitely enjoyed the process. I think the most time was spent shaping the ends of the bamboo to fit into the lugs. The process was engaging without being tedious. Plus, there is something very satisfying about riding around on a bike that you've built from the tubes up. I think anyone with a bit of patience could put a frame together.
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
Carving the ends of the tubes was the most challenging part of the build. I have very little wood working experience, so it took me a little bit of time to work out the best system for shaping the ends. I was also trying to be as precise as possible, so I took my time to make sure I didn't mess anything up too badly. It is amazing what one can do with a sharp Stanley knife.
What was the easiest part of the build?
I was a bit concerned with the final assembly and glue-up. I wasn't sure how easy it would be to get everything together or how much bending would be necessary to get all the tubes into the lugs, or if said bending would damage anything. In the end, everything came together with a little bit of force but without too much trouble.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
I've only taken it around the block a few times, but I've been happy with how...normal...the bike feels. It feels fairly stiff and isn't noodly at all. It rides smooth, but that's probably a combination of the frame and the fattish tyres I have on it. I haven't pushed it too much as I don't trust the brakes on it (a more reliable front brake is on order), but the frame has some get-up-and-go to it.
What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?
From a personal standpoint, I would have been more careful about the amount of glue used in the final assembly. I went a little crazy and have a bit of excess on the frame. It's not so much that I'm going to bother to do anything about it, but a bit more care would have prevented it.
Something to include in future instructions for the easy-build kit may be internal tubing diameters for the lugs. It could be useful to know just how much material needs to be taken off before starting to carve the tube ends. I would also include a note to make sure to break out the internal dividers of the bamboo for the downtube and toptube prior to assembly so that the internal cable lines can be run. I'm pleasantly surprised that I managed to think to do that.