Gravel Frame by Gabriel.
24 Jan 2023
What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
A mixture of: wanting to build my own bike from scratch, trying to build a bike with a minimal environmental impact (besides bamboo being a natural material, almost all the components I installed on the bike were second-hand, even the tyres!), a general curiosity for getting experience with bamboo as a working material and the cool looks of a finished bamboo bike.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
Definitely! Bamboo is a great material, and once you get to understand how to best handle, cut and sand it, you realise how easy it is to work with with it and how versatile bamboo is as a building material. I've even been using the left over parts to create other things, like a flower vase and rings.
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
Sanding all the joints by hand (it takes time and muscles!), trying to drill holes for inner cabling (I ended up splitting the bamboo and having to order some replacements... in the end I gave up and just did outer cabling) and fitting the rear triangle (for the rear wheel). I did not properly try out fitting the pedals before gluing the parts together so I ended up messing up the spacing of the chainstays for the rear wheel - I tried to let as much space as possible for the thick tyres I wanted to use but I didn't think that the pedal could end up hitting the chainstays on the outer side. So I ended up having to cut almost half of the chainstay so the pedal could even rotate freely. But with some helfpul tips from James and the incredible strength and hardness of the hemp + epoxy mixture, I reinforced the area where I had to cut and now I am sure it is not fragile and won't break.
What was the easiest part of the build?
Gluing seemed tough because you have some time pressure once you start, but the glue takes quite a while to harden so it was easier than expected.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
Amazing, it's exactly what I was looking for: it is not only smoother because of the vibration dampening properties of bamboo, but it is also very agile and lighter than I expected. I feel like I have great control handling the bike, and knowing that you are riding something you built yourself feels great!
What would you improve about the build experience or your finished bike?
While it was nice doing the classic "harder" build with hemp joints once, if I was to build another bike I would get the new "easy" 1-day build with pre-made aluminum joints which Bamboo Bicycle Club released. It should be not only much quicker to build but it also avoids issues with spacing and measuring the dimensions correctly.