So today I discovered that there is a Bamboo bike company in Yorkshire. Simply called Bamboo bikes they handbuild their bikes in Scarborough.
They’ve just launched their 2013 range which includes 26″ and 29er cross country mtb’s a CX bike and a hybrid. The main tubes are made from bamboo with the lugs manufactured in flax fibre.
I’d love a ride, sadly they’re out of my price bracket with frames at £1,199, although full bike builds are actually not that much more and quite keenly priced starting at £1649. More details here.
Went out for my first ever ‘mtb’ nightride last night, was fantastic peaceful even in the local woods. The trails were crunchy as most of the snow has been compacted a fair bit with even some patches of mud appearing were it’s melting. Good fun though with big tyres on the bike (it’s hard to take a picture of your bike in the dark). Hopefully going to get a longer ride in on Saturday and explore a bit further afield.
It is here, after what has seemed an age of waiting my custom self designed Reynolds 725 ‘do anything’ frame has arrived. It’s also been built up. Voila!
It’s a mix of new and secondhand parts with some bits I already had too, so not particularly ‘bling’ but not cheap stuff by any stretch. There has been some usual teething problems getting seat post height and stem length sorted and my first couple of rides were hampered by a ‘sticky’ headset so I can’t say confidently how it rides yet. At the moment it’s sporting my winter commuting wheels but it has the clearance for full 29er tyres as you can see below.
What I really want to test over the coming weeks (months?) is how the handling is affected by tyre size as I switch between wheels. It was in all honesty a bit of a guess when I was trying to fathom the impact of having a 2.4 mtb tyre in the front one day and then perhaps a 700x28c slick the next. Plus wanting the bike to handle well both off road and on the road too, I’ll let you know what occurs.
Frame weight came in at a very pleasing 2.4kg which is pretty good for quite a large frame, however I forgot to weigh the forks which should be somewhere in the 0.8-0.9kg region I think. Sadly I don’t have the means to weigh the full bike but it doesn’t feel super hefty. The one thing I can say from riding it on the road so far is that it’s very comfortable but still responsive and not flexy when you put some power into the pedals. Laterally stiff but vertically compliant?
My boss was impressed with the frame to the point that if testing goes well there is even talk of the frame going into production, although I need to get my head around scaling/sizing the frame as not everyone is quite as tall as me. Plus apparently I have to think of a name, ideas on a postcard please.
Is that all? No ALL!
A few years ago when 29ers and 69ers started emerging my thoughts were along the lines of
I figured it was a marketing ploy to create need and want – you know, your basic marketing strategy that our entire world economy is based on – that they might even disappear after a few years when people came to their senses. I even mocked them at times (in only the most respectful humour).
The arguments for the bigger wheel kept coming and they weren’t going away. In all this time, despite being confronted with them in person on a regular basis* I never rode one until now.
My 26″ wheeled mountain bike is a somewhat beautiful Yeti with many moving parts. Linkages, rear shock, dropper seat post, suspension forks, the lot – it is one hell of a great bike. It’s the greatest bike I’ve ever owned and that is why I’ve decided to retire it over the winter months. It gets muddy round here and apart from wearing all these moving parts out and being costly to replace it’s a pain to clean, and cleaning it is the last thing you want to do on return from a cold rainy ride, as you stand there with the whites of your eyes being the only spot not covered in a fine mix of sediment and cow shit. So I subtly pressured my wife into letting me build up a low maintenance winter bike. She eventually agreed and I decided to go the 29er route. A plunge into the unknown.
Most of it is second hand, except the wheels – and it didn’t cost me much to build.
Last weekend I went out on it for the first time. I was a little unsure of what to expect coming from my 5″ travel über steed.
Things were certainly different but nowhere near a harsh as I thought they would be. The larger wheel size does roll through things and it feels very stable. I did have to adjust my riding style. The Yeti ploughs through anything I throw at it and I pick very direct lines knowing the bike can take it. Over the course of the ride I became much more aware of my line choices. Excuse the cliche but I felt at one with the trail. It was a revelation; reminding me of my early mountain biking days when even the top race bikes had rigid forks (with maybe a flex stem) only this time I had the larger wheel size benefits. It’s even a Diamondback which is what one of my early mountain bikes was (though it was Diamond Back then).
I’m a convert. And it may have only been one ride but I’m a little fearful that I won’t want to go back. …but that remains to be seen.
* I worked at Singletrack Magazine where new and exciting bikes would roll in and out of the office on a regular basis (not that I was really party to that – but that’s a whole other story).
Another week passes and we rumble inevitably forwards taking in the high and lows, the excitement and the boredom. What have I learnt this week? Not much, but I have solidified my opinion (and one held by a lot of my friends/colleagues) that no peice of waterproof clothing is actually 100%* waterproof! I’d love to be proved wrong on this but generally the problem is you have to put holes in gloves, jackets, overshoes etc. so you can actually put the garment on. In summary the beginning of this week was wet!!
Exciting things to happen this week include being sent this picture:
I have to say it’s a pretty nice fence! What started as me sat at my desk thinking some ‘what if’ questions and then translating them into some very basic drawings using BikeCAD is now rolling towards completion as a Reynolds 725 steel frame thanks to Lee Cooper. I’m both excited and very scared as to how this is going to ride and pan out in the real world. Although my fears that it will be a terrible bike to ride have been eased slightly by the fact that we had a Salsa Fargo in the shop the other day and the geometry isn’t a million miles away from mine**. Luckily there are distinct elements to this bike that I personally wanted which set it apart from the Fargo, but it is firmly in the drop handlebar 29er ‘adventure bike’ niche. I am however planning my build so that it’s nice to ride as a commuter in the week and then a with a change of wheels thrashed*** off road at the weekend. I’ll post more when the frame is painted in my hands and then built up.
My only current problem is trailer towing. If anyone out there has any good solutions for converting a bike trailer that clamps onto the rear stays to another method compatible with disc brakes then let me know!
*Or probably even 85% for that matter, you’ve got to love good old made up stats.
**This is by pure coincidence, I had looked at the Fargo as a bike that was similar to what I wanted but it’s strange how close the numbers at the end of the day are especially considering I took one of the Spa Cycles designs that is in no way similar at all and ‘tweaked’ it.
***I’ve never ‘thrashed’ a bike off road in my life, I’m terrible on a mountain bike. I have fun though.