Design: Aero Road Bike
Build: Road home build kit
Location: West Wales, U.K
What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
In 2017 I had built a couple of home build kits with a friend, Dan. We did this as part of a charity project (raising money for The British Heart Foundation). We had a great time building and riding the bikes - cycling from The National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Carmarthen to The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London. We both enjoyed the experience and challenge of the builds and with some 'spare parts' and a new 'itch' I decided to have another go. This time I went a little 'off piste' to try to produce something a little different! I started by deconstructing an old aluminium frame, using fixed points in the jig before rebuilding with bamboo tubing. The use of some foam inserts gave the frame a slight 'aero' flavour. The bike was finished with E-tape set up to avoid external cables and internal cabling for the rear brake cable.
Original bamboo builds.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
I would certainly grab the opportunity of building your own bike. I came into this with little knowledge of the mechanics of bikes but have learned enormously from the experience. There were pitfalls and challenges that had to be overcome (eg. too large diameter seat tube for a front mech on the initial build - solved by running a 1x with MTB cassette) but this only adds to the sense of achievement when it all comes together.
What was the easiest part of the build?
Lessons were learnt getting the rear triangle right and perhaps I didn't pay enough attention to this during the initial build up. Ensure there is enough clearance for the the rear wheel (again large seat tube can make things tight) and ensure symmetry of the rear dropouts to ensure rear wheel sits and runs true. A little tip from Sheldon Browns bible is to run a piece of string from one rear dropout around head tube and back to the other. Measure the distance from the string to the seat tube on either side to confirm symmetry. If you want a nice finish be prepared to sand, fill and sand some more!
What advice would you give to other bamboo bike builders and what would you improve if anything?
In hindsight, many problems I have encountered could have been avoided if I had been able to attend a workshop. Be patient - measure 2, 3 or 4 times before cutting and try to think ahead. Ask for advice if uncertain (James and his colleagues at the Club have been a great support). If something seems to have gone wrong - don't panic you can sort it out- there are ways and means.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
This is my favourite bike that I ride. It's fairly lightweight, runs smoothly and being bamboo very compliant.