Design: Gravel Bike
Build: Weekday Workshop
Location: Aberdeen, Scotland
What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
I'd been considering getting a gravel bike but wasn't 100% sure I could justify it. I was also looking for a "project" to keep me busy for a few weeks. Building a bamboo bike was the perfect combination.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
I loved the experience. I am not know for being "handy" and was way out of my comfort zone. The process is extremely rewarding and doing it in a workshop setting with three other guys made for some good teamwork, mutual support and more than a few laughs.
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
James guided me throughout the build, assisted when necessary and ensure that no major mistakes were made. The thing I underestimated and found most difficult was the finishing process. I had imagined this would be fairly straightforward and it isn't technically difficult, but it is quite laborious and time consuming. It needs a certain mindset to take things carefully and the temptation is to rush it, fit the components and go riding! This is where I made the most mistakes (or added the most creative flair!) To be honest, I hadn't really considered what finishes I would like to achieve until I got to that point and i would recommend that people do this beforehand as it has a big impact on the finished frame. Despite that, I love my finish, including all the quirks/mistakes! Also, although it's theoretically very simple, selecting the bamboo tubes was a lot more involved than I envisaged. It's worth taking time over this as it affects the look, feel and weight of the finished frame. The selection process also gets you to appreciate bamboo as a material gets you to be personally invested in the bike. Finally, wrapping bar tape well is harder than it looks!
What was the easiest part of the build?
I'm not sure that its the easiest part, but I was initially most daunted by the flax wrapping and glueing phase. In pactice I found this quite straightforward and rewarding. James was on hand to offer advice and suggest areas which needed strengthening and as a result this part went really well.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
Although I'd read previous positive reviews about the ride quality, having now done about 100 miles over varied terrain I am absolutlely blown away by the feel of the bikeI The combination of the custom geometry, comfort and strength properties of bamboo together with brand-new components means that this is by far the most comfortable, smooth bike I have ever ridden. My other bikes are a carbon road bike and a carbon 29er hard tail, but my bamboo gravel bike takes the best of both worlds, is far more comfortable and is awesome to ride. The finished bike is just less then 10kg and is lighter than I thought it would be. Whilst off road, the bike seems to float over the terrain and as a result I'm clocking up the flat/uphill PRs every time I go out. On the road, it's very stable and comfortable and is faster than I expected.
What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?
Although I'm very pleased with how my bike looks, next time I'd think about this much earlier in the process and determine the best combination of effect / effort.