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GRAVEL BUILD BY JASON

by James Marr 22 Mar 2023

What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?

I didn't know if I could build a bike - but everything about Bamboo Bicycle Club gave me confidence that I could do it - and the lug kits felt like an opportunity to dip my toe in the water so to speak when it comes to building a bike frame.

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

Short answer. Yes. I'd recommend the lug build to anyone who wants to give frame building a try. The only skill you need is patience and follow the motto, 'measure twice, cut once!' The gravel kit is put together really well, clear step by step instructions and when I did run into a question/issue the guys at BBC were always there to help get things back on track. Considering I am in Australia and they are in the UK - I thought things worked out well!

What did you find most difficult about your bike build?

The most difficult part of the build for me was getting the alignment of the rear triangle correct. The jig really helps with this process (brilliant engineering that!) but I also realised that it's important to make sure the surface the build is being built on is level and flat.

What was the easiest part of the build?

The easiest part of the build is shaping the tubes with the blade and sanding so the tubes fit nicely in the lugs. It was a process, and took time to get them all just right but it was by far the easiest part. The second easiest part is gluing it all together. Once everything was checked and double checked - gluing is really just following instructions. My only tip would be to tape the lugs before gluing - as it's easy to get the epoxy on the lugs during that process.

How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?

Before I bought the gravel lug kit I read every review and comment I could find, very interested to know what it feels like to ride, and what the weight was. I've had steel, aluminium and carbon road bikes all my life and they all have their unique qualities. Currently I have the stock components (GRX 600) on the build, only using slightly different aluminium handlebars and when I ride this bike, whether I'm putting down power or negotiating some tricky gravel section or climbing a steep hill - I'm not thinking, 'oh this frame rides like this material'. What I'm thinking is, 'wow is this a fun bike to ride!' Can I put down some power: absolutely, does it handle the trails: you bet! and does it feel like a 10kg bike when climbing hills: no it doesn't! Which surprised me coming off the 7kg road bike experience. It's an all-road bike and it's no slouch. Could I make some choice upgrades to improve the feel, sure but fundamentally it is a truly fun bike to ride.

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

I wish there were pictures of all the components, so that when I received the build kit and the component kit - I could easily make sure I had everything I needed. It'd also be nice to have a bit more detail on setting up and prepping the rear triangle before gluing.
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