What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
I spotted them online a while ago looking into more sustainable alternatives to buying a new bike, but didn't think building a bike from scratch was something I'd ever get round to doing... then Lockdown hit and I suddenly had a whole lot of time on my hands, and access to my dad's toolbox!
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
Yes it was a lot of fun! I knew essentially nothing about bike building and maintenance before I started, but I'm always looking to learn how to make things from scratch so this was a really good challenge. I built the bike at my family home during lockdown. I got the whole family involved, sanding, cutting to size, sticking together! It ended up being group effort, and kept us more than occupied for a few weekends and evenings. Who needs a sanding machine when you have a team of dedicated live in volunteers?!
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
Mmmmm, everything! but in a good way. Being complete beginners, pretty much every step threw a curveball our way... excellent problem solving practice. The team at the Bamboo Bicycle Club were really helpful and answered all of our questions when we got stuck through instant messaging. Although it was difficult, and we made some mistakes along the way (the back wheel went on a bit wonky and we mixed up the orientation of our bottom bracket), we managed to solve all the problems and the bike runs really well! It was also surprisingly difficult to attach all the bike parts to the frame. But going through the process was very helpful in terms of understanding how all the parts of a bike work for future fixing.
What was the easiest part of the build?
The binding of all the joins was definitely the easiest step. As long as you keep the hemp strips nice and tight it goes on really well and really strong. Also all the finishing touches. I've recycled pedals, mudguard and seat from an old bike to avoid buying new, and had a go at a bit of decoration as well as adding lacquer to protect the bamboo.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
I'm in no way a bike expert, but I think it's good! I go faster than I did on my old bike, I like how the bamboo frame seems to absorb bumps, and I have preeeeety much got the gears and breaks to work nice and smoothly. The bike's been used in the Peak District, up on the Isle of Mull and the streets of London!
What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?
I think in places the manual could be even clearer in spelling out exactly how to do some parts of the build process. From a total novice's perspective, even the easy bits aren't totally obvious to me.