So while catching up on my other posts I thought I should conclude the previous post about my Bamboo Bicycle. As some of you who read my blog know, before I started my trip I decided to learn bike maintenance by building a bicycle. It took a lot longer and cost far more money than I care to think about at this time and I still have a lot to learn about maintaining a bicycle.
There is nothing more satisfying than building something yourself. Its an obvious statement but you often forget what you’re capable of unless you challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done before.
Anyway after the frame was finished I paid James the workshop price to use the materials and tools needed to finish off the bike over a period of weeks. It took a weekend or two to use a belt sander to take off the excess resin and hemp from the the lugs. Then about another weekend to hand fill and sand the lugs to a finer finish.
The finishing touch for my bike was a simple paint job on the lugs. Some of the earlier builders liked to go au natural and leave the lugs with just a light sanding but looking distinctly handmade. My preference was for contoured lines, sanding off as much of the resin as I might dare until I reach a bike weight I liked. I also sanded the bamboo but you don’t have to. It then required lacquer for waterproofing and to protect the paint job.
James continued to provide advice and encouraged me to finish all the while teaching more newbies the art of the bamboo bike. I had the option of kitting it out with parts from a salvaged bike. I thought about this – rescuing an old bike and stripping it of parts, this probably would have taught me a lot and been the more sustainable option. In the end I chose new parts – so sue me.
Needless to say my bank balance was slightly dented after purchasing an Alfine 8 speed internal gear hub, Mavic Pro rims, Tifosi carbon seatpost, TRP Spyre disc brakes, a Kinesis carbon fork and a Brooks b17 saddle. I did salvage the peddles and the bull bars on my Cooper Spa. The crank was part of a Shimano Alfine drivetrain set. This was pre-Brexit and I ordered a lot of parts from Germany and on Ebay before the pound took a nose dive and Britain set sail to Neverland.
I had some issues getting the bottom bracket sealed unit to meet the other crank arm but it’s in now. The fitting of the disc brakes and gear shifter was fun everything sort of clicks into place. I even added bamboo cable routing as a finish. I had one friend comment that he didn’t like my use of the twist shifter on the bull bar because it ruined the symmetry but I kind of like it in the same way you can love the asymmetry of the Millennium Falcon. Plus if I had used the trigger shifter I would not have been able to take full advantage of the Alfine Hub. You can shift while stationary and the twist shift means you can go from highest to lowest without hitting triggers up and down sequentially.
Sadly I did not build this bike to take on tour… for one thing it has track frame geometry which would be very uncomfortable over long distances. I had already bought a tourer – my Genesis Tour de Fer. Though I only rode it a for few journeys across London. I can tell you it has one of the most comfortable rides absorbing all the bumps while remaining rigid and agile enough for some pretty fast city street cruising. The Alfine hub does add some weight to the back-end and the bike isn’t as light as you would think however its weight is fairly well balanced.
This is the bike I built for myself for when I return from this tour. So when I think of what I want for next Christmas – its to be reunited with this bike. On the plus side I’ve been reunited with my mum who’s come to visit me in Greece along with a few surprise guests for new years eve…
I would like to thank my old friend James Roditi for hosting my bike in his apartment in London while I’m gone and for donating some memory cards to use with my camera.
If you want to try your hand at building a bamboo bicycle visit Bamboo Bicycle Club‘s website for more information. Kits start at £260.00 and Workshops are £495.00(exc VAT) to build pretty much any style of bike you want out of bamboo. Its a bit pricier now but still so worth it when you consider that buying a decent bike can start at that price.