Want a Bamboo Bike? Build it yourself with the Bamboobee BIY Kit

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If you’re a fan of DIY, you might want to check out the Bamboobee Bike’s BIY kit. Designed as an economical way to get your own bamboo frame, the kit takes is a step further by providing the raw materials to build a frame along with some instruction. If you have been longing for the satisfaction of building your own bicycle frame, this is probably as easy as it gets – until Lego makes a life size, rideable bike that is.

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Initially, frame kits will be limited to a “cross country” style design with a sloping top tube since Bamboobee has found this design to be the most versatile. Available in 3 sizes, they are listed at Small for riders under 5’7″, Medium for 5’7″-5’11”, and Large for riders taller than 5’11”. Optional top ups are available to add disc brakes or a belt drive to the bike.

Inside the box you will find all of the raw material to build a frame from scratch with the exception of the epoxy. Bamboobee isn’t able to ship the epoxy with the kits without getting a special permit, so they recommend getting it locally and provide a link to find the West System Epoxy.  Otherwise the kit has all you need including pre-mitered bamboo tubes, 25 meters of hemp fiber, a one time use frame jig, 6 cable holders, dropouts, aluminum tubes for the head tube, BB, and seat tube, as well as a file, metal wire, tape, and instructions.

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All of the jig supports cleverly pop out of the sheet that acts as the base, and builders can go to work assembling the tubes. Once everything is in position the joints are wrapped in the hemp fiber which is then covered with the epoxy. After the epoxy has dried the third day, the joints are then sanded to clean up the rough edges. The process is said to take 3 days and probably won’t result in the super clean joints you see on the professionally finished bikes, but hey, you built it yourself.

Currently available through the Kickstarter for just $169 per kit (after earlybird special price goes up to $179), frame kits will require an additional $30 shipping and do not include any bike parts. Expected delivery of the frame kits is set for February 2015.

kickstarter.com

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Nicholas
Nicholas
8 years ago

It is likely not a good idea to employ a rarely used frame material in bike building, to build your first frame, totally without expert supervision or guidance. I am sure that is not a recipe for success. You can easily hit 30+ mph going downhill on a bike. I never experienced frame failure and I never want to contribute to an increase in the probability of experiencing it. I will let the blowhards who are obsessed with being cheap or bragging about their DIY projects have that niche. Maybe if I lived in an area that was almost totally flat like Nassau County in Long Island, New York, again, it could be something I could consider with the difficulty of achieving significant speeds to cause a nasty crash due to frame failure on flat terrain.

Velo
Velo
8 years ago

Commence bamboo hate in 3… 2… 1…

Chris L
Chris L
8 years ago

Nicholas: I don’t think you know what you’re talking about. People with no prior experience have been building aircraft in their garages for decades. Growing up my neighbor built a Rutan VariEze plane despite having zero experience with composites and that plane has been flying for over 30 years (and at speed a whole lot greater than 30 MPH). He even let me help him laminate some of the surfaces. I’ve also built several paddleboards and kayaks from plans and kits. It’s really not that difficult and West System Epoxy is ridiculously strong stuff – way stronger than anything you can buy at your local Home Depot. Only part I question is the 3 day completion time. You can probably do it in 3 days but it will almost certainly look like crap! With all the kit boards and kayaks I’ve built I find that I spend more time on the finishing than the actual assembly. Cleaning up hardened epoxy is NOT easy. That said, composites are a much more DIY/first-timer friendly option than brazing or TIG welding! I also wouldn’t expect this to be the best riding bike and doubt it would weigh less than a decent steel production bike. Finally, you likely won’t save any money. Anyone who builds a bike or kayak thinking they’re going to save money probably isn’t doing the math. You do this because it’s fun and the satisfaction of doing it yourself.

Nicholas
Nicholas
8 years ago

Do you have any stats on the actual safety record of home-built aircraft or DIY bike build kits? I don’t really care for what anecdotal annies say on the internet much, you see. I rather value spending more money for increased safety and reliability rather than getting credit for being cheap and handy at do it yourself projects. I think a good project would be a DIY bamboo table where failure likely won’t mean much, and not a bike. At $180 this DIY bamboo frame kit is way cheaper than you could buy a properly done, professionally built frame of bamboo.

ACE
ACE
8 years ago

Although I agree with the safety concerns of Nicholas, I think this would be an interesting rainy day project you might have a little fun with.

Chader
Chader
8 years ago

@ Nicholas, that’s the whole idea. You buy this kit without the labor and related costs of someone else building it. That is the real cost savings in most DIY projects.

Yes, the builder takes on all the responsibility. But this is reasonable and there is a wealth of information about bamboo building available. That and whatever you get with the kit should be enough for the average bike person to build something reasonably safe.

Simon
Simon
8 years ago

This looks like fun! Which is what I think the point of this product is: have fun with a project and at the end have a usable frame. It’s a “cross-country STYLE” bike, not an actual XC mountain bike. Sure, you could hit some fire roads just fine, but you’re not going to be ripping it up off road. It seems this is mostly focused on urban riding, and unless you’re doing urbal “assault” with it…I highly doubt the integrity of the frame will be an issue.

In the end, this is a cool idea, not too expensive, and it looks like a good bit of fun! I’d be eager to try it, and with all the spare parts most of us mountain bikers have lying around in are garages, an rigid SS cruiser could probably be put together for just a few hundred bucks.

Craig
Craig
8 years ago

I think you are missing the point somewhat Nicholas. Hey, guess what, don’t buy it! Go and build your DIY table….

But this is a really cool product for someone who wants to have some fun at home. I’m sure the sellers have taken due diligence when it comes to their liability and informing the buyers of any such risks of a DIY product.

To call DIYers “blowhards” in your first comment is somewhat insulting to the many people who enjoy the challenges and fun of making something themselves.

Good on you Bamboobee, if this product helps introduce more people to the enjoyment of building something themselves and increasing their skill and knowledge with bikes in general then that’s great!

Greg
Greg
8 years ago

Bamboo frames and Ebola are going to kill us all.

Drew Diller
8 years ago

The bamboo poles themselves are safe. Make sure your joints are good and that you don’t heat up the bamboo *too* much in so doing (epoxy gets hot in cure).

Source: I’ve made some bamboo frames.

Only thing I’m underwhelmed by here is the lack of the down tube diameter being known, maybe I missed it. Anything less than 2″ down tube is a waste of time. I have two really flexy bamboo frames that have 1.5″ down tubes.

Jimmie
Jimmie
8 years ago

I love it! This is truly a great way to share/show your love for cycling. Even if you just build it to hang it on a wall as a great talking point. I don’t think this intended to be used on the race course at all. This is about the core of what cycling is about, affordable transportation and having fun. And for anyone that hasn’t broken a frame yet………you ain’t riding hard enough 🙂 Cheers!

Drew Diller
8 years ago

I haven’t broken one yet, I’m making a destruction jig for breaking them on purpose actually…

Here’s me not breaking one with a two foot drop followed by a chest high log pile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmyPSU2GdCI

ruben
ruben
8 years ago

how about a bamboo fork to match, or is that asking for to much catastrophic failure ??

anonymous
anonymous
8 years ago

The problem with diy kits, is people who tend to buy diy kits tend to be people without the skills to diy. That’s why they opt for a half-way solution.

ObligatedToSay
ObligatedToSay
8 years ago

@Nicholas:
It is likely not a good idea to employ a rarely used [food source] in [cooking], to build your first [meal], totally without expert supervision or guidance. I am sure that is not a recipe for success. You can easily get [food poisoning]. I never experienced [food poisoning] and I never want to contribute to an increase in the probability of experiencing it. I will let the blowhards who are obsessed with being cheap or bragging about their DIY projects have that niche. Maybe if I lived in an area that was almost totally flat like Nassau County in Long Island, New York, again, it could be something I could consider with the difficulty of achieving significant [meals] to cause a nasty crash due to frame failure on flat terrain.

😉

Drew Diller
8 years ago

@ruben:
Bamboo is good for flexing all day. Not as good for compressive strength.

You could probably make a truss fork. Eh. Not something I’d pursue.

Chris L
Chris L
8 years ago

@Nicholas:

With regards to home built aircraft the safety record is quite good. There’s this thing called the FAA and they require aircraft to be inspected before being allowed to register and thus fly. Unlike roads, there are very strict rules around flight because planes falling from the sky is considered to be a very bad thing.

As for costs, $169 is just the basic kit. You still need the epoxy and that stuff isn’t cheap (~$50). You’ll also need a fair amount of sandpaper and unless you’re completely unconcerned about aesthetics you’ll need a ton of patience or a power sander. You’ll also want a box of disposable gloves and probably a mask because breathing in epoxy fumes and dried epoxy dust isn’t exactly healthy. Finally, it’s usually recommended to cover the epoxy with schooner varnish to protect from UV degradation ($40 for a quart). Also note this kit doesn’t include a fork so you need to budget for that as well. Realistically, the cost for this is getting pretty close to what a Surly or Soma can be had for and your home built frame will likely not be nearly as nice.

Frederick
Frederick
8 years ago

The shape of the rear dropout and the way its attached to the stays looks like a
sure fire recipe for disaster.
Perhaps roadworthyness inspection by NHTSA should be mandeted to save the skillless from themselvs.

BTW wher does the bamboo come from, China?

DIYer
DIYer
8 years ago

@Nicholas:

It’s a shame that people think that little of their own skills or ability to take on a project such as this. I have no engineering, CAD or composites background whatsoever, but designed and built two carbon frames in my garage. The entire process was fun, frustrating at times and time consuming. I learned an enormous amount along the way, which was the ultimate reward. Just because you don’t think you have the skills, shouldn’t stop you. As for safety, who says a purchased frame is any safer? I’ve cracked a production frame (which was never crashed) but have no material failures with the ones I’ve built, even getting them up to 40mph in the corner on a steep velodrome.

This seems like a great way to get your feet wet with frame building while having some things already worked out. The frame jig, mitered tubes, and geometry are already sorted out and don’t have to be thought through from scratch. No this won’t save you money over going out and buying a production steel frame, but that’s not really the point…

Durianrider
Durianrider
8 years ago

Bamboo is a great frame material. Ive been thrashing a Webb Works since March 2011 now.

Oli
Oli
8 years ago

Its a good job Nicholas isn’t in charge of inovation or we’d all be walking still.

matt
matt
8 years ago

@Nicholas
Nice, using anecdotal evidence to criticise people’s anecdotal evidence.
You’re not St. Nicholas are you? I wonder if you’re worried about people usurping your elvin work force. Hopefully their pay conditions have improved these days…

cleo
cleo
8 years ago

I couldn’t resist… My dark brown Brooks Swallow needs a frame so what the hell! With all of my extra parts lying around, this could work but I do hope it turns out solid. As mentioned above, worst case it can become a fine piece of wall art and a source of BSNYC derision!

bsimon
bsimon
8 years ago

I, for one, am impressed with the design of the jig. Rather clever, really.

Martin
Martin
8 years ago

@ Nicholas

I’ve broken 8 frames in my time as a cyclist, in steel and aluminium, rigid and full suspension. I don’t see how bamboo could be much worse.

I would certainly give it a go. And it’s cheap. With the jig, the problems of alignment should be taken care of as well.

Hotep
Hotep
8 years ago

#Obligated for the win.

MikeB
MikeB
8 years ago

Seems like it could be a fun project, for a town bike, but I’m not sure I’d take it on my local trails.

Jayson
7 years ago

I really love tools such as this. I actually have this excellent exact unit.
But your resilience will get even worse because it will get older.

Paerials60
5 years ago

I don’t see what the issue is with someone wanting to build a kit like this. I know there are those nervous nellies worried about safety at every turn but truthfully if you’re that concerned with safety then you shouldn’t post on a site about a diy moving object Period. I built my own lugged frame bicycle and at the time was 260 lbs. been riding the living hell out of that frame and trust it’s integrity more than my Raleigh lugged frame.

The savings in a diy of this nature is in the labor and experience. By the time you finish this buid you are looking at $400 just for a singlespeed and for that you can get a whole new Trek.

Anyway i have rambled enough either you want to build and ride your own fabricated frame or you don’t (for whatever reason) it’s just that simple but please don’t bash those of us who like building our own stuff and are not scared that we may potentially get hurt in the process!

Craig Fulton
Craig Fulton
1 year ago

I was one of those first time amateur bamboo bike builders several years ago, and now have several thousand miles on my bamboo bike with no issues. My worries are never about the frame which has stood the test of time and is absolutely beautiful (admiring comments whenever I am out and about), My worries are more about tire blowouts and other drivers and bikers. The bamboo bike (single speed) is extremely smooth and quiet ride. Of the 5 bikes I own (tri, road, mountain, “beater” and bamboo), the bamboo is my favorite ride…and being single speed, it provides the greatest workout…no shifting when the hills come. The “Bamboo Bomber” as I call it is a bamboo frame, bamboo handle bars with wood grips, bamboo mud guards and bamboo rear rack….amazingly smooth fast ride, built to take on road or dirt.

The provided jig makes this kit easy to assemble, though I did use local store bought twine for appearance reasons on the wrappings. It was a very fun project