What made you decide to build a bamboo bike?
I had previously built a bike by fitting parts onto a steel frame and enjoyed the experience of planning and putting together a bike that was one of a kind. I was keen to build as much from scratch as possible and building with bamboo seemed easier than learning to weld! It also came about at a time when I was seeing how I could live a more environmentally friendly and sustainable lifestyle and bamboo ticked all those boxes too.
Did you enjoy building the bicycle from scratch and would you recommend the experience?
It was really good fun thinking about all the details of a bike from geometry to picking bamboo to parts to choosing colours. I was a bit nervous about the building stage as I am not an experienced wood worker but actually really enjoyed it. Doing it through a two-day workshop was great as you had the chance to see the ideas other people had come up with and share a beer or two. I also had a lot of help from James at all stages which made it much more straightforward. It is a great way of having a bespoke bike and I would thoroughly recommend it.
What did you find most difficult about your bike build?
Once I got home I completely underestimated what was needed to prepare the bike for painting. Having a strong stubborn streak I did all the sanding by hand which made it quite a laborious task. I am also not great with filler so struggled with the final preparation prior to painting. Having said that one of the build parts I found most enjoyable was the final sanding and painting. It was really satisfying to get it all smooth and to watch it transform as you painted.
What was the easiest part of the build?
Fitting all the parts once the frame was built was the easiest part. I had done this before and also do a fair bit of bike maintenance so this was much more in my comfort zone. I found a cheap single speed bike on gumtree which I bought the evening of day one of the workshop and started by just switching all the parts across. I am now gradually building up the parts to convert this to a 1x set up to make longer, hillier rides a bit easier.
What advice would you give to other bamboo bike builders and what would you improve if anything?
With hindsight I would have considered the 4 day workshop option as I would have benefited from some help and workshop tools for the sanding, filling and painting. Whilst I was doing the workshop James brought out some pre-made lugs. I would definitely use this option if I was doing a home build as it seems more straighforward and looks good too.
How would you describe the ride of your finished bike?
The bike is really fun to ride – it feels smooth but stable. I was expecting it to have quite a lot of flex and it is a much softer and smoother ride than a metal frame. Given that I was surprised how responsive it is when going up hill or pushing on the pedals and it makes my usual commute to and from work a joy instead of a grind.