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Gravel Bike by Javier

by James Marr 12 Apr 2021

Design: Gravel Bike
Build: Gravel Home Build Kit
Duration: 4 Days
Location: Austin, Texas, USA

Gravel Bike by Javier

What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?

I needed something to engage my mind, and this seemed like a good way to make it through 2020. In hindsight it was even better than I expected. Also, I have been riding for 30 years and it struck me that, as we learned from Star Wars, a Jedi’s skills are complete once they build a bicycle.

Gravel Bike by Javier

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

Yes. There were challenges when things did not quite go right, but these only served to increase the sense of accomplishment. As for recommending it - wholeheartedly! This bike inevitably gets conversations going, and I always will throw in a “you know, you could do this too” somewhere in that conversation.

Gravel Bike by Javier

What did you find most difficult about your bike build?

Nothing was particularly difficult. I can’t saw a straight line, so I am not an expert at these things, but overall the project is fairly straight forward if you are willing to take your time and think things through it all just comes together.

Gravel Bike by Javier

What was the easiest part of the build?

Wrapping the lugs with fibre. I spent a lot of time reading up on various techniques, theories of how to schedule the wrapping, and all that noise. But when it came time to sorting out how the wraps would actually go around the actual joint on the actual bike it all just fell by the wayside and I did what felt natural.

Gravel Bike by Javier

How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?

Fun. I went for a gravel bike (I already have 2 road bikes, so no need for a third!). When on a group ride I take perverse pleasure from cutting corners and riding through the field and rejoining ahead of the group and asking what took them so long. Obviously the first ride was tentative - how could I possibly trust this contraption that I built? But I quickly became comfortable with the idea of riding off road, or bombing down a hill at 50mph. It is solid, yet comfortable. I still beam when I look down and see the bamboo and lugs that I built. I hope it never ceases to make me happy.

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

With hindsight I know that I did not get the clearances correct for the chain stays (the pedals hit them). It was solved by carving out space. On the one hand it gives the bike some character, on the other part of me would prefer clean lines that don’t remind me of the big hack [literally I had to hack away at it.

Gravel Bike by Javier

Gravel Bike by Javier

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