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Bamboo Bicycle Club produces a wide variety of DIY bamboo frame building kits for people that want to build their frame themselves. Although they are not usually the ones building the frames, they decided they wanted to show off a little by illustrating what was possible with the renewable resource. The bike they made out of bamboo is unlike anything that had ever been done before.

Shoot past the break to see the sweet bamboo aero road bike they built to display in the Cycle Revolution exhibition in London’s Design Museum as well as the many frame kits available to do-it-yourself’ers…

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photos c. of Bamboo Bicycle Club

The Bamboo Aero Bike is so much more than just epoxying a bunch of bamboo together. Through a careful selection process, they chose tubes based on the size and thickness they needed and split to reform pieces with epoxy into aerodynamic seat, down and top tubes. Custom pre-cut composite lugs are made of flax fiber and internal cable routing keeps things clean and out of the wind.


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Claimed to be the most world’s advanced bamboo bike, the aero road bike was created to be a part of the Cycle Revolution exhibition in London’s Design Museum. If the bike had no visual signs of the bamboo, it could likely be mistaken for being made out of carbon. The bike will be on display until June.

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With NAHBS coming up next month, many of us, myself included, think about how fun it would be to craft our own frame. However, having known quite a few *real* frame builders and even seen a few start out from terrible welds scratch, I can barely fathom how much dedication, practice, and even more dedication and practice it takes to build a straight and sturdy frame.

Fortunately, Bamboo Bicycle Club has developed several kits in various sizes for do-it-yourself’ers to build their own frame with minimal tools. For those who want to do it from scratch, they offer an in-house workshop at their London headquarters where your imagination is the limit. In looking at the kit and what is involved, it appears to only require a few common tools, A LOT of elbow grease, and a “jack of all trades” skill set (or mindset, anyway).

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 With bamboo, there is a lot less margin for error when compared to any metal that requires the use of a torch as the bonded joints are going to be consistently strong so as long as you follow instructions. All of the instructions in the world could not teach you how to weld or braze from cold turkey. Each kit comes with size specific tubes according to what frame size you ride, but you still need to cut them to proper length to obtain the desired fit and geometry. Each tube’s diameter and wall thickness is specific to its application and must be cut and notched (mitered) so everything is a nice tight fit once in the jig. Luckily the bamboo tubing can be easily mitered with a basic rotary tool or a hobby knife (which they opt for in their workshops). Though fun, this is still a lot of work that will take on average 3 days (or 6 evenings according to their site). Most kits come with horizontal dropouts, but thru-axle can be requested. Rack-mounts & bottle holders are an option and they even go over how to make your own bamboo cable stops.

Prices

There are several kits available including a road, mountain, commuter, fat, & BMX bikes and even a tandem! Included in each kit is everything you need to build a frame -components, including a fork, are not included- and there is even a makeshift jig included for setting everything up nice and straight.

What’s in a kit:

  • Schematic
  • Cut to size head-tube
  • 200mm cromo seat-tube
  • 68mm English-threaded bottom bracket shell
  • Custom-designed Disc stainless steel dropouts
  • Hemp webbing for lugs
  • Glue for tacking
  • Epoxy resin
  • Instructions manuals – Workmanship Guide, Introduction and Set-up, Step by Step build guide
  • Custom developed Bamboo Bike Jig

What do you need to provide yourself:

  • MDF – you’ll need a sturdy board that is flat and machine-cut on at least 2 perpendicular sides
  • Tools and consumables – you’ll need saws/files/knives/drills and you’ll consume rubber-gloves/brushes/tape/biscuits – all items that are readily available at your local hardware store and they’ll provide a full recommended list on request prior to purchase.
  • Components – you don’t get bike components (wheels, seat, pedals, brakes, etc.)

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For a more in-depth experience, Bamboo Bicycle Club offers a workshop once a month at its facility in London. This gives people an opportunity to learn as they build and have access to the tools and answers to any questions they might have. They are also privy to all of the tea, coffee and biscuits they want, plus their bamboo beer.

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They also give you an opportunity to sign up for a finishing and assembly workshop should you desire to paint and stain your new natural rig or need help assembling it.

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When taking the workshop, the possibilities are endless. They even offer 6-bike school and educational packs so these can be used as a teaching tool in a learning environment.

Check out some of their customers’ and students’ creations below, and be on the lookout for an upcoming Bikerumor.com project of our personal build experience with one of these frame kits.

BambooBicycleClub.org

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17 comments

  1. Antipodean_eleven on

    So you get all these bits of bamboo, split them glue them, then glue them to the composite (read ‘glue infused’) lugs…. Did I get that right?

    I like the idea of exploring materials (wood frames for example) but I am left wondering about this aero bike. As @joenomad said, 7-8 bits are ‘renewable’ but the rest?

    Also, unless I have my engineering wrong, every join is a weak spot, so ‘tubes’ made out of multiple parts…. there must be a lot of epoxy going on there. Unless of course, the stresses and strains placed on road frames are a LOT less than the industry will have you believe….

    Reply
  2. DoWopBamboo on

    I think it’s more about awareness of bamboo in general, it’s uses and the benefits it brings to our environment and our health. It can clean air more effectively than most other plants, it’s great for building materials, renewable, grows quickly, it can be used for medicinal purposes.
    Even if 20% of the bike is bamboo then that’s 20% less carbon and then multiply that by thousands maybe even millions of bikes in use and that’s a lot of carbon prevented from going to landfill.

    Reply
  3. anonymous on

    I’m thinking of selling bamboo veneer, sort of like the wood paneling on an old PT Cruiser, except made of bamboo, for bikes. That way anyone can convert their carbon bike to a bamboo bike for the low price of $99.95. A small price to pay for the pride of making your own bamboo bike from a renewable resource.

    Reply
  4. Bamboobicycleclub on

    Thanks for all the comments. In response, our pricing is based on manufacturing everything in Great Britain and therefore we have higher cost associated. We also have a brick and mortar workshop and therefore we don’t operate as a web-shop with limited overheads. In our experience bamboo is extremly durable as a bike. In terms of deterioration there are still bamboo bikes which are over 120 years old. (also made in the UK!) The concept we produced for the Design Museum was an attempt to push shapes and weight to try emulate the highly desired carbon frames. Our total investment was around £4500. Tiny compared to what industry invests in non-renewable materials.

    We are keen to promote people building their own wether in bamboo or steel. Most bicycle are no longer made in the US due to consumer driven market which is keen for the latest product at a cheap price regardless of the associated labour conditions or environmental impact. Hopeful small workshop like ours will make people think more about the bike and therefore invest their time and energy and produce something they understand and are proud of. If people support us great if not we’ll still enjoy teaching and building!

    Reply

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