Deep Wood

I’m not sure where to start this post. At some point I dented my cyclocross frame and so needed a new one, naturally designing my own frame was the way to go. However I really wanted to physically make my own frame too. So I did some research on cost and time requirements for framebuilding courses and I stumbled across the bamboo bicycle club. The concept appealed to me as it was relatively low cost and took only a weekend to make the frame. A couple of emails and I was all signed up.
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The frame I wanted to build was a little unusual as it was a single speed with disc brakes but mainly because I wanted to  use a 44mm internal diameter head tube as most disc ‘cross forks have a tapered steerer. This meant two special pieces for the jig to accommodate the larger tube.
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A bamboo bike is essentialy a very simple structure. Tubes of bamboo are cut and then bonded together. The method used by the bamboo bicycle club is to wrap the joins in strips of hemp fibre soaked in an epoxy resin. Metal parts are used for the ‘contact points’, headtube, bottom bracket, drop outs and the top of the seat tube.
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The simplicity of it is great because essentially any one could do it however it does take patience and hardwork! Day 1 of the course was given over to selecting our bamboo and shaping the tubes before tacking them together in the jig with glue. Bamboo as a material is very strong but when cutting it there is as with most wood a danger it will split along the grain. When bonded together and the frame ‘sealed’ this risk diminishes.
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Day 2 of the course then sees you wrap the joints in hemp soaked in epoxy resin. The joints are then covered in electrical tape whilst they set and the epoxy cures. After a short break to let this happen you cut back the tape for a big reveal, tidy up any areas of excess hemp/epoxy and voila finished frame.
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I can’t wait to get the frame built up and ride it but even if I hate it the experience of making it was great. Just the feeling of being hands on with different materials and producing something has always made me happy. However James and Ian at the Bamboo bicycle club made the whole process relaxed and fun.
4077If you can’t get to London to do a course they also produce a self build kit with detailed instructions though I think some previous knowledge of bicycle frames and/or the material involved would be advantageous.

3 thoughts on “Deep Wood

  1. Did they supply the disc mount dropouts? I want to build a similar one but for a nexus hub gear. How are you finding it now it’s a few months down the line?

    Cheers,

    Paul

  2. Yes they did supply the dropouts.

    A few months on and I’m still enjoying riding the bike.
    The fact the bamboo tubes aren’t uniform mean that the part of my brain which yearns for order/symmetry has to be supressed when I look at where the tyre sits between the rear stays. I aslo now wish I’d made the clearance larger for a 40/42c tyre. The frame has so far held up to all the abuse I’ve given it quite happily.

  3. Ah, I’m glad it’s all working out. I too was thinking of making one with a larger width tyre but I wasn’t sure how to do it as normally bike have curved seat stays to accommodate the larger tyres.

    If it stands up to a cross race it should be able to cope with most things!

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