Why bamboo - why a bike -

2 passions I have are fitness - primarily cycling, and well, gardening and anything that comes from the ground. In my garage you'll find bike parts and bikes in different stages of assembly/disassembly, and in my yard, palms, bamboos, flowers, oh yeah - and more palms...

Bamboo bikes are just cool. I've found a way to incorporate my passions, plus recycle unused items and come out with an end product anyone can enjoy - whether it's just looking at it or riding.

GETTING STARTED - I am just under way on this project, and will document this from the beginning with photos, so that this instructable is, hopefully anyway, easier to follow and better described than my last. Last time, I came to the instructable having finished my project, trying to go from memory, and axplain what I'd done several weeks before. This time I will update, both photos and commentary, as I go.


Raw Materials -

Bike frame - Aluminum, Carbon, steel, titanium, scandium, boron carbide - I've found many places to get wrecked/damaged bikes - local bike shop, yard sales, friends, in your own garage!

Bamboo - Blue Hennon (Timber Bamboo) or Thamvong (Iron Bamboo) - are thick and very strong, but several other species will work just as well, and may give you a different look. Iron Bamboo is quite a bit heavier and can be almost completely solid through it's structure. So, possibly either use Hennon for the front triangle and Thamvong for the rear stays, or figure out a way to hollow out a bit of the Iron Bamboo if you want it for the front structure as well?

Carbon string/tow - My suggestion would be to jump on eBay and do a search for Carbon Tow.You can get 3K, 6K and 12K. I probably used about 1500 - 2000 feet of carbon on the first project. 3K is the narrowest and easiest to use, but 12K seems to be cheaper and covers faster.

(Feel free to experiment here - you don't have to use carbon fiber if it is not available to you for whatever reason. I've seen palm fiber used, hemp - both cordage and raw hemp fibers, and there are others. Just be sure you have some way of tightly wrapping the joints and getting excess resin out of the joints. Extra resin left behind makes things heavy and weakens the structure substantially.)

Resin - A good resin is key to this project. I now use only West Systems epoxy resin - 105 resin with 205 (fsat) or 206(slow) hardner, depending on ambient temperature. Here again - I probably used about 1/4 gallon resin/hardner on this project - but much of it, perhaps as much as half, was wasted, and then a lot of it was sanded away.

Beware - this stuff sets up fast in the cup if you use the 205 fast cure hardner, and it's over 80 degrees F. But if you do use this, you can do several layups in a single day, which really speeds things along!

Misc. Small Parts - Things like cable stops, brake bridges, tubes if you want them - Nova Cycle Supply -http://www.cycle-frames.com/bicycle-frame-tubing/BRAZONS-SMALL-PARTS/ - Careful though with small orders - they will charge you a fee for an order under $50, just a head up!!!

Finishing Stuff - Clear coat, colored paint if you wish, wood stain (again if you wish), misc. rags, Tung Oil Finish, carnuba (car) wax - any kind, I like Meguiars Gold Class...

Misc. Bike parts - depending on what level of build you want - fixie, mountain bike, roadie, etc... But you'll definitely need a fork, headset, crankset, brakes, bars, and pedals at the very least!

Tools -

Plumber's torch - for the heat treating of the Bamboo

Gram Scale - To measure accurately the resin and hardner mixture

Dremel multi-tool - This is a huge part of what I do with this project - from cutting apart the old bike frame, to sanding bits, to the final finish the Dremel Multi Tool is my main go to item!
(Note, Carbon Fiber/Fibre dust is SUPER irritating to the skin, and mucous membrains of the mouth, nose, and throat. But, also will destroy your Dremel tool! Dremels have a couple of openings where the engine sheds heat. These also are a point of entry for carbon dust to go directly into the motor. You should over these with some sort of filter, cotton face pad, something, to keep the dust out. I've been making several bikes over the last many months, and was going through about one multi-tool a month, before I decided to cover the holes.)

Die Grinder/Angle Grinder - For cutting

Sand Paper - 100 grit, 220 grit wet/dry, 600 grit wet/dry - sanding belts can really help with rounding the lugs beautifully! If you Youtube bamboo bike you can see some of the sanding techniques in action - there's a lot more information out there now, on how to build these frames, than there was when I originally wrote this.

Measuring device -Tape measure, yard/meter stick, etc...

Marking Pens- for marking cuts

Assorted Rasps and Files - round and flat

Step 1: Prep and Begin

Initial step is to make sure you have all items to get started.

Once you've done that, and you have your bamboo, you can begin the heat treating process. I used the plumber's torch method.

WARNING - Make sure you punch out the nodes inside the bamboo prior to the start of heating your pieces or you'll be in for a very loud surprise - bamboo WILL EXPLODE if you do not do this! Between nodes is a pocket of air that if heated has no where to go under expansion, the build up of pressure will cause the cane to burst. It's fun, if you're face isn't right next to it, as mine was when I discovered this little secret!!! Also heating bamboo gives off a certain smell and will kind of make you sick to your stomach (me at least). Don't do this inside, do it somewhere with plenty of ventilation!

Take the torch and run it along the bamboo about 3 inches at a time while turning the bamboo slightly. You can take the bamboo to whatever color you are happy with at this point. I chose to go pretty dark, even burning the bamboo in a couple of small spots - not badly though. Don't stay in one place too long or your bamboo will burn badly or split due to uneven heating and shrinkage in that one place. Slow, smooth and easy... Use a couple of test pieces to get started, but once you get the pace down, the flow begins to make sense, and the rest is quite easy.

As others have stated, the reason for heat treating is to cook the sugars in the grass (bamboo is a grass) and carmelize them for strength and rigidity.

NOTE - Remember to go a little darker than you expect, or want, the final product - you will be sanding the canes and removing a good portion of the darkened surface to reveal a lighter shade below.

Step 2: Frame Prep

The frame I am using is a Felt F1R, Scandium frameset. It was wrecked and the botom tube bent ever so slightly - but that's ok, because I'm replacing it with BAMBOO!!!

I took the frameset and cleaned it thouroghly. I then sprayed aircraft remover (paint remover) on the joint areas to remove the paint for good adhesion of carbon/resin to underlying metal surface. I sprayed with a garden hose the aircraft remover from the surface and began the arduous task of sanding - I HATE SANDING! I had no need to remove all the paint as most of the tubes would be cut away and removed. I only removed paint from the surfaces I'd be working with.

At this point the frame is ready and the bamboo is ready. The first cuts this time are the top tube and the rear triangle uprights. I left enough of the scandium top tube to slip the bamboo tube over it, then cleanly removed the entire rear portion of the top tube to the bare seat tube. Did the same to the Rear triangle at the seat tube, leaving the seat tube bare of any lugs. The bottom of the rear triangle at the dropouts has a about a 1/2" overlap of bamboo tube over aluminum tube. See detailed photos below.

Step 3: Frame Constructuion - Humble Beginnings

At this point you have the ability to measure for the final fitment of the bamboo frame members. You should have chosen by now what piece is going where. You've heat treated and rough cut to length the pieces you will use.

Since the frame members are cut out, you can take a measurement spanning the gap on the frame, either with a measuring device or simply on the bamboo itself. I used the later method and just went by feel and sight. I made my cuts with a cut off wheel on the dremel tool. I outlined my cuts with masking tape and went to cutting. After this I rough fit the pieces to make sure I had everything close.

After the cuts were made and the bamboo frame member was cut to length, I needed to shape the cut ends to fit the tubes they were to bond with. This entire process for me is trial and error. You may or may not be more inclined to measure twice and cut once - but I'm just impatient! Again out came the dremel tool, this time with a sanding drum, not the sanding disc, but the taller one with the sanding surcface on the sides rather than the top surface. I did my fish-mouth notches this way. I don't have expensive tools like they would have in a metal shop or a mufler shop to make these cuts the proper way - if you have access to those pipecutting tools, it'll make this step that much more precise. That said, I take this part slow and am able to get a very precise and good fit!

See rough fit up photos below:

Note: Something I forgot to mention previously -

SAND YOUR BAMBOO AFTER YOU HEAT TREAT IT! There is a waxy film that builds up as you put the flame to the bamboo. YOU MUST GET RID OF THIS, or your resin will never stick to the bamboo. Plus you should throroughly clean any surface (in this case sand too) that you plan on gluing or bonding to any other thing in order to get the best possible bond!

Step 4: Initial Bonding and on to More Frame Cutting

Now that the initial fit is completed on the first 3 frame members - top tube, and 2 rear triangle down tubes/uprights, I can bond those to the metal surfaces and get on to cutting out the rest of the metal frame members to replace with bamboo.

This is the least complex step of all really - put bamboo tubes in place and apply some resin to the interface of bamboo and metal. I, for reinforcement, also wrap a smal amount of carbon tow/string just to make sure all stays in place. After all I am still going to be slinging this thing around quite a bit and cuting more pieces out. I want it to stay together!

I mix the resin as the instructions that come with it state - measure resin 10 grams, to hardner 5 grams and mix. It's a small amount, but then I don't want alot of waste either. After mixing in one cup pour into another cup and continue mixing. This is in an effort to make sure the resin is completely mixed and no unmixed resin gets applied - that'd be a sticky mess that would never cure!

Put the bamboo in place, smear a small amount of resin on the bamboo and in the joint area. I then take some carbon string and wrap the entire joint tightly making sure the carbon is completely wetted out. Then wipe with a paper towel to remove the excess resin if any.

Step 5: Lower Frame Member

2 very important places on a bike frame are the bottom bracket (all joints) and top tube interface with the head tube... These must be overbuilt if you are to enjoy this project for years to come! This is why I chose to overlap the joints at these intersections. You'll notice I ran the top tube on the outside of the original top tube of the frame and secured it in place. I also will be doing the same at the bottom tube/bottom bracket interface.

I measured this tube and rough cut it to size, as I did with the previous tubes. I inserted the lower portion of the tube into the overlaping portion of the original bike frame's tube and did a sight check to see how the tube would look best in its final position. Most bamboo has an ever so slight curve to it, and I wanted to make sure the curved portion looked right, not out to the sides, but down.

From here I made some lines on the bamboo and started cutting for the head tube interface. I shaped it to fit against the head tube and dry fitted it until it was just the way I wanted it. Again, more trial and error here.

After that, I came inside and got to work on the resin and tacked everything in place. A few wraps of carbon string and as always wait for it to dry. It's Fall now, so I'm doing alot of this inside the house or in the garage - IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!

Next I will cut the seat post out and begin on it.

Step 6: Seat Tube

A problem that I had on my first project was that the bamboo seat tube I used had a slightly smaller inner diameter than the original frame's seat tube. Now this would be ok if I had a 31.6mm tube on the original bike because then I could just down size to a 27.6mm seat post and use a shim at the bracket interface. But no... The bike I used used a 27.6mm seat tube, and I can't find a smaller seat post than that!

So, on the new bike - the tube diameter is again 27.6mm. So, thinking ahead I chose a bamboo tube that would actually fit over the current alloy tube a bit, so that I will not have any problems with the seat post fitting properly!

As you can see below in the pictures I cut the seat tube and ground out the seat tube bottom bracket interface. I trimmed my bamboo tube to match the cutouts. Came inside, mixed up yet another batch of resin and repeated the same steps as on previous tubes. Smear a generous portion of resin on the intersection of the joint inside the bamboo tubing in this case. Smear alittle resin on the outside of the tube and wrap with some carbon, strategically at this point to make sure everything stays together if it gets kicked or stepped on!

A little more detail on the wetting of the carbon:

Initially I usually put a small dab of resin on the tube I'm going to be wrapping. I do this just to ensure the initial bond. I wrap one or two times loosely, crossing over the very beginning of my string. I then pull tight wrapping one or two more times, again to ensure the string does not come loose during the rest of the wraping.

I then take a small dab of resin, I use basically a popsicle stick for this part, and apply the resin to the carbon I've wrapped - making sure it all gets wet - all the way through. You can be rough with this process kneeding the resin into the carbon, this stuff is strong. the next couple times around with the string don't need additional resin as the resin from the previous application usually pushes through - and I pull everything SUPER TIGHT! by doing this I get the same effect as vacuum bagging (kinda). It pushes all the air bubbles out and really makes for a good bond with any previous layers of carbon you've layed down.

Then simply wipe away any excess resin. Come back 15 minutes or so later and see if there are any drips, if so wipe those away as well. Then let it cure - depending on temp this could take 30 minutes to 24 hours. During the late spring early summer here our temps got above 110 degrees F. Now it's mid 50's. My initial project saw cure times around 30 minutes, which severly limited my layup time. Now the curing process is at least 5-6 hours. It's still tacky after that amount of time, so I've been letting it sit over night before I touch it again.


This is a true long strand carbon layup we are doing. Each time I start to wrap the carbon I cut a string around 12 feet long or more. It is ridiculously strong! In addition, by the time I've layed down all the carbon - it's about 1/4" - 1/2" thick in some places. It would take quite alot of shear force to bust one of the joints. That said - if done incorrectly, if not OVERDONE, you stand a real chance of getting hurt in the future. So, make sure you cross over your intersections at all joints MANY, MANY times. It's not enough to have a pretty bike, or even a somewhat safe bike. You want a Pretty and Safe bike in the end!!!

Slight update here - I finally broke a frame - one of my mountain bike frames. Hit a rock on a downhill section, over the bars at about 20 or so miles per hour. Bent the fork and cracked the headtube joint with the down tube - the carbon itself didn't break, but the bamboo broke away from the inside of the 'lug'. I didn't even know it until I took the fork off and inspected the frame. That said, the type of hit I took, probably would have sheered the front end off a traditional carbon frame. So, I'm pretty happy with the performance of the frame itself. It got me home that day, even if I was a bit busted up, the bike made it out and got me home.

Step 7: Building Up the Joints/lugs

Now that the frame is "tied" together, we need to build upon the lugs for strength and rigidity. Recognizing where the primary forces are going to come from and making sure the frame can handle the deflections and torque associated with the style of riding you plan on doing. Now me, I don't plan on showing this frame much in the way of mercy. I will ride it just as hard as I ride my other bikes, it is not going to be a cruiser and it is not going to be a coffee shoppe queen! So, I need to build accordingly!

This means building up the joints in virtually every direction, but especially laterally where I will place a great deal of torque at the bottom bracket and upper and lower head tube. To do this I actually cut roughly 6 inch strips of the string - about 25 of them for each lug. I lay them straight across the joint on the side I am trying to reinforce. I then wrap around the this wrapping around the tube then criss-crossing around say the head tube for instance, creating almost an x accross the front of the tube.

Check out photo number 3 below for this on the bottom bracket as well as photos 4 and 5 for the same at the head tube. This process is repeated time and again while doing some random crossing over as well.

Carbon Wrap Video:



Step 8:

After wrapping and wrapping some more, I came back and sanded with the dremel, and block with 100 grit paper, to the shape I desired each joint to take on. Yes, this does cut all the way trough many of the original layers of carbon tow. That said, have you seen the thickness of a carbon fiber bike frame, or carbon helicopter blade, they are quite thin? By the time this is all said and done the "in tact" tow wrapping will be quite enough.

By the time you add, and then remove and add some more each joint should be plenty thick, and plenty rigid, and plenty durable, having plenty of continuous fiber tow still remaining. As I stated previously my joints are close to 3/8" thick - way , way more than enough to do the job. I could be less concerned with looks here and go purely for lower weight, probably saving up to about 350 grams or .75 pounds, but I like the look of the carbon and don't really want to chance it with thinner joints.

I must add that although I cut though the tow while sanding, I always come right back over the sanded joint with more carbon. The final sanding is always a very light one, just to smooth out the surface for the final finish of clear coat.

In this step I also added the brake bridge. I was going to cut the old one out from the Felt frame, but came accross another gentleman's instructible where he made mention of a company that sold frame building components - Nova Cycle Supply - http://www.cycle-frames.com/bicycle-frame-tubing/BRAZONS-SMALL-PARTS/. Awesome company, easy to deal with, great website, and SUPER FAST SHIPPING! I ended up ordering cable stops and the aluminum brake bridge from them.

To get the correct placement for the brake bridge I mounted the rear wheel and got out the rear brake I was to use when the bike is finished. I fidgetted around with the placement till I thought it was close and marked the brake bridge where (approximately) I thought it should be cut to fit between the rear uprights. I cut the brake bridge with the dremel and cut off wheel where I had marked it and came in for a dry fitting. I cut too little (on purpose) initially and had to begin to massage it into place. Using the dremel tool again with a sanding drum I rounded out the brake bridge, so as to get a tight and form fitting joint between the bamboo and aluminum. I went back and forth until it fit snugly into place.

I dry fitted the brake assembly and wheel again and it was within tolerance to I mixed some resin and began to wrap the brake bridge into place. I criss-crossed the tow between the aluminum and bamboo several times then wrapped up and down the bamboo and out the bridge - mainly for looks and uniformity, but also to build up the joint, both for the sake of making the actual joint strong, but also to disperse the braking load over more of the bamboo upright.

Step 9:

I'm adding a couple of goodies to this bike that I did not on the last. 2 bottle cage attachments and a brazed on front derailleur hangar. The bottle bosses were an easy choice as I have missed them dearly on my current setup. It is just a bummer to have to carry watter bottles in your back jersey pocket. The braze on hangar is really a must as well, as the seat tube is a bit larger in diameter than the last and the tube is a bit off round, more oval shaped. I could have probably compensated and created a round shape with carbon for a clamp on mount , but this just made sense.

I found the braze on hangar at Nova Cycle Supply and the bottle bosses were cut out of the original Felt frame. I purchased a derailleur hangar that could be riveted on and the bottle bosses were cut from the Felt frame in a rectangular shape, so that the over hangs could be carbon wrapped to the bamboo frame.

After these items were acquired, I selected drill bits that fit the bottle boss holes and that fit the derailleur hangar. Having used spare water bottle holders to place the marks on the bamboo where they should go, I drilled holes to accomodate the bosses. I totally eyeballed this - I'm sure there's a more "professional way to do this, but it came out great - you may want to measure and find center points, etc... I placed the bosses in the holes and wrapped carbon around them. I covered the boss, hole and all. After the resin cured I came back with the dremel and sanded off the excess carbon and removed the carbon over the hole and there you go - bottle holder mounts.

The derailleur hangar was a bit more complicated. I measured my current bikes and came up with a measurement of 14.5 - 15cm from bottom bracket center to derailleur mount center. After this I wrapped carbon around the bamboo tube to reinforce the bamboo at the point where I would be drilling holes for rivets. I'm certain you could get away without this step, but it made sense to me to do this and not risk splitting the bamboo over time from the pressure of the ritets and drilled holes... I don't know, it works for me! WHile the resin was still tacky, I placed the derailleur hangar where I thought it should go. As it cured further I took the derailleur and played with the assembly till I thought I had it right, then left it to cure. Once cured I drilled holes and rivetted it into place. I am VERY pleased with the final look and how stout it feels.

I included photos below of the frame as it is at the point just before final sanding of all lugs. As mentioned previously I sanded and re wrapped and sanded again intil I liked the shape of each lug. Then I came back and began really structurally reinforcing each joint. These reinforcements I only lightly sanded, just to note that the shape was being retained. Right now the frame weighs 1639 grams. I hope to get to just under 1600grams completely sanded and finished, but it I was under 1650 I'll be happy. I will do my final sanding to smooth each joint to perfection. Any pinholes left will be covered by one last very thin coat of resin then resanded. I then have one last structural thing to add after all that, and that's the cable stops for the shifter cables on the head tube.

This is all there is left to do. If you've made it this far and like the look of the frame as it sits - by all means build it up and go! I am looking for the absolute AWE FACTOR! I will be finishing all the carbon in House of Kolor Apple Red Candy and a very deep Clear Coat. I have already painted the Reynolds Ouzo Pro fork and FSA crank set with the Red Candy and it looks amazing! You can see the carbon through the candy and it's just AWESOME! My opinion of course!!!

Now on to the finishing process.....................................

Step 10: Final Shaping of Lugs/joints and Touch Up Paint

I did one last final re-wrap of carbon tow on each and every last lug/joint. Afterward I dug into my supply of files and rasps. I found a medium file with a flat side and a rounded side along with a very narrow round rasp and a thicker diameter round file. The files help aide in getting flat tapers in each lug. I wanted the lugs to taper into the bamboo this time, asthetically I think it looks better. I filed and rasped each joint until they were smooth and to the desired look - this is a feel and sight thing.

After the filing/rasping I sanded with 100 grit dry sand paper. I sanded with strokes toward the bamboo and back making sure thecarbon/bamboo interface was smooth and clean. At this point I had some small pits (pin holes) and spots in the carbon that needed to be filled in before final paint. So, I mixed up some resin and spread a thin layer over each lug with my gloved finger.

This can get messy and I figured out early on that this needs to be done a small area at a time. The reason - the stuff has a tendency to run. My last project was done outside, under the hottest sun at as high as 116 degrees. Now nights are in the high 20s so I brought the whole project indoors. It's about 74 degrees F inside but the cureing process is quite a bit longer than I remember it being during the last build.

Once each lug had been coated I set the frame somewhere and and every 5 minutes or so turned it over so that no runs would appear. They did and I wiped them away. We're not looking for a very thick layer here, it is purely cosmetic and adds weight, it is just to lay a good foundation for paint. Once each lug cured I wet sanded the entire frame. Yes, bamboo and all. I did this with 220 wet sandpaper.

I Wiped the entire frame down with a clean towel, allowed to the next day to dry and repeated the entire process. Filed a bit, sanded a bit, here and there and hit it with another thin layer of resin. I only added about 35 grams in this process, so you can see I sanded away quite a bit of the resin after first application.

I wet sanded again, the entire frame and am now ready for paint!

You can see further down the photos that I painted the aluminum rails black. I also hit anything that was shiny with a touch of black. Places where the aluminum showed through the carbon, like the water bottle bosses, and brake and derailleur cable stops, were touched with black. It is all going to be covered by translucent red, so I don't want the silvery aluminum shining through.

I also decided on this frame to utilize some wood stain - dark teak. I sanded this frame alot to get all the resin off of it, the finger prints, the drops, the stuff I messed in wiping up. This lightened the frame beyond my liking. So, at this time I began to experiment with how much, how long, and how to wipe up. I ended up using papertowels and just wiped the stain on and then back off rather quickly. It ended up looking quite nice. I'll apply another coat of stain after paint and before the Tung Oil finish.

Step 11: House of Color Apple Red Candy

Taping off is a real pain - but the better the prep the better the paint job. I took alot of time taping off each piece of carbon from the bamboo.

I hit the rear rails of aluminum that I left in tact from the original frame with Shimrin White/Silver Decorative base coat - marbilizer. Took a plastic bag and dabbed the paint as is dried into the tecture I liked. This just added to the look and matched what I'd already done with the fork.

I peeled the tape from the rear rail after allowing some time for this coat to dry. I mixed the Apple Red Candy with some Cosmic clear to get an even more translucent red (to make sure you could see through to the carbon) and added the reducer and hardner per the instructions and plugged in my air compressor. This is the moment I've been waiting so many weeks for!

As I began to shoot the paint the carbon lugs began to show their form... It is beautiful! Better than I'd hoped!!! Don't get over zealous here though if you chose to color your carbon. This paint is like all other clears - it WILL run if you go too thick. Plus, you really don't want a deep color layer as it will inhibit the view of the carbon beneath with the pigment in the paint. Again, this is why I added clear to the candy, to reduce the pigment.

Here are some photos - I will clear it tomorrow and then next week add the final stain coat and satin poly finish.

OK - That was a bad idea... House of Color specifically states that the Candy Coats are to be followed immediately by clear, after only a flash dry period. If it dries completely, you must wait a full 12 hours or more and sand/scratch the surface or the candy will wrinkle/crack and ruin your project! Stressed as I was to find this out, I sanded lightly with 400 grit wet paper so as not to remove too much of the red, dried it, and taped off again for clear.

After one coat of clear, I untaped again, sanded with 2000 grit paper to get out some small particles, I don't have a proper paint booth... I then cleared one more time, with Cosmic Clear. Wet sanded again with 2000 grit paper and polished to a shine with a chemical cutting (non-abrasive) polish.

Step 12: Bamboo Finishing

I'm quite happy with the current look of the frame. In other words, I don't really want to change the look of the bamboo and go really high gloss like last time. I like the kind of low luster natural finely sanded bamboo look. I am going to experiment on some extra pieces I have left laying around to see if I can't keep this look while giving the bamboo some surface protection from the elements - water, sun, sweat, and bumps/nicks.

After doing some research I found out that most matte or low luster wood finishes start out life as high gloss finishes. This is because, if you add several coats of a low luster clear finish, you end up with a miky look. You want your base coats - at least 3, to be high gloss. Your topcoat or final coat is the one with the finished look...

That said, I hit the bamboo with a stain - a paste stain, dark teak colored, a reddish brown hue. The bamboo takes a stain, but not too much. Then hit it with a couple coats of the tung oil finish. After that was dry, I came back with 600 grit paper, then with a matte polyurethane coat. Just one coat was enough. Let dry and it was time to build the frame up...

Step 13: Bike Build Out!!!!!!!! FINALLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!`

Well, the time has finally come! The frame is finished, the paint and poly are dry, polished and waxed. So, I commenced stripping down the first bamboo bike to use it's components for the new bike. I'm going to make some improvements to the old bike (re-do the joints, so they taper into the bamboo, like this one, and paint the lugs, again like this one).

Anyhow back to my build. It only took about 15 minutes to strip down the old bike. I'm reusing almost everything. The cables should be the same length (as it turns out they were longer). I have a different bar and stem set, and Zero Gravity brakes for this new one. Putting together a bicycle could be an independent Instructable all on its own. But for the sake of time and because this is my VERY FIRST TIME and I'm learning as I go, I'll leave that up to some one more learned than I.

I started with the fork and headset, seemed obvious. I found this sweet headset from FSA, Maple wood... Very cool. My other choice was to go with bamboo spacers. I read the directions on the headset to make sure I had everything in the right order and set the stem in place atop the whole thing. Next the bars and Shifter/Brake levers with cables still attached. I installed the bottom bracket and crank, in the reverse order in which it came off. I hung the brakes. I then installed the rear derailleur hangar and front and rear derailleurs. I already think there's going to be a problem with the placement of the front braze-on derailleur hangar. Big bummer! I really should have waited till I was at this point to drill holes!

The front derailleur is turned at an odd angle as it relates to the front chainring. I drilled out the rivets holding it in place and began playing with the assembly to see if I could align it properly. I found the right location and re-drilled holes and pinned it back in place with the rivet gun. You can see 2 of the holes from the original placement, but it's hidden pretty well by the whole assembly, the crank, chain and derailleur. But, I know it's there... So word to the wise - don't get ahead of yourself, some things should be left to the end.

Next I installed the weels and chain. And another problem arose. In an effort to make the rear dropouts look cool, I wrapped the driveside (chainstay) dropout excessively. This impedes the chain when shifting into the smallest cog on the 10 speed cassette. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!! Whatever, out comes the rasp! I carved out a chanel for the chain, and actually it looks pretty cool. Only problem is, it's black inside the chanel and not painted. Oh well, it's in a place that woud've gotten oil all over it any way! Just more to perfect for the next one.

I strung the brakes and derailleurs (this is quite a process, definately best left up to the bike shoppe, if you have any concerns whatsoever!). This took me quite a while as it is the first time I've done it, but I figured I built a frame from bamboo! I should be able to string the thing too, right? After a quick trip around the living room to make sure the seat and handle bar were set up properly and to see if there were any odd creeks or cracks, I taped the bars!

ITS FINISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Well the moment of truth has come. Did I learn from the first one? Did I leave anything undone?

YES and NO!

This one is SO MUCH LIGHTER than my first one. Probably about 2 pounds lighter. WAY LIGHTER in the front end with a lighter fork, and bars and stem. It feels so light in the front. Plus this bike actually fits me. I worked with a 54cm geometry last time and I typically ride a 56.

I took a trip to Rocky Hill in Exerter, about 13 miles east of me. Nice little grade, short but it's a test ride. I wanted to see how it would climb, go through the gears and decend. It passed all tests with flying colors. It goes amazingly! It's so nimble! Same smooth ride and I got out of the first frame, no creeks or cracks, or wobbles, or anything strange. I'm going to have the bike shop do a once over on everything before I get too crazy bombing down any hills, not that I'm nervous about the frame falling apart or breaking, just that it really is my first time hooking up all the components and I've seen what can happen if a crank arm falls off, or a brake falls off and gets stuck in the front wheel, or the fork and or handle bar pulls away from the bike!!! All bad stuff! But first impressions speak volumes! This bike has superceeded all my expectations.

Thanks for looking - now put all this essay writing garbage to use and get building!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You should totally offer classes on construction of these bad boys -- <br>definitely the &quot;next big thing&quot; I think -- <br>I'd buy one and/or attend a class. <br>
I've contemplated that pretty intently, the class/workshop option. I am working on a couple of things right now with larger scale production options, and actually entering the market with my own line of bikes, aside from the one off customs for clients that I am already doing. But, if there's anyone out there, including you, that desires the one on one assistance in building one of these for themselves, I'm absolutely open to putting together a class/workshop to build a bike. Feel free to ask. I'm in central California.
Haha nice bikes! I have a Felt myself :) felt nine 60 29&quot; x 2.2
Yeah - I dig Felt's bikes! Met Jim Felt one day just by chance, cool guy. Couldn't bring myself to tell him I cut up one of his frames! Although I did give it a second life, so I guess it's not that that bad?
I LOVE felt. I ride my z95, and nine 60 about 30 miles a day. And i live near Irvine, which is where they are based. And you did really good on making that felt look nice XD. If you are near Orange County, California, you should visit a great bike shop. The best in OC. Its called East West bikes. Its a super high end store, but amazing. And Banning (the owner) is a great guy
My brother's in the area. I'll check it out next time I'm down there. Thanks for the tip and good word. Love it when people appreciate their local bike shops! The Internet has given them a huge amount of competition and driven price structures down so much, that it's hard for them to make it. Keep shopping with them!
i dont know what type of bamboo it is :( its some bamboo i picked up one day. it seems to be a thick walled one, and has 'branches' growing out from the nodes. Thanks for the quick reply! <br>and i couldnt reply directly to your msg as my com doesnt show the recaptcha thing we need to fill in
I came across a Cannondale Supersix HiMod that had a broken top tube and seat tube. I cut the tubes out and replaced only those tubes with bamboo. The top tube was replaced with a very small diameter bamboo tube, 1 1/4&quot;. It looks cool, but has also been very sturdy. I have to mention though, that the seat tube has to be large enough to accommodate a seat post. Unless you are doing a fixed post where the seat mounts directly to the top of the bamboo tube?
hi, for the diameter of the bamboo you use for your bamboo frames, if i were to use diameter similar to those of steel bikes, will it still be strong enough?
That depends on the type of bamboo you are using, and the size of the frame. If you are using 'iron bamboo' the absolutely, if something different, maybe?
this is an awesome I too am located in central California and I would love if you hosted a work shop. I'm currently in high school and I would love to start a career in bike building. also have you ever experimented with using hemp fibers instead of carbon fiber? if not you should. thank you just for reading this.
Cool - it's amazing how many people take an interest in this project. It's fun and you end up with a pretty cool and usable product. I was very into putting this together as a business and looked like thins were working out in that direction, but life and other things have gotten int he way over the last year. So, as much as I'd love to do the workshops, and produce bikes as my business a daily job, it's just not realistic for me at the current time... I am always willing to lend a hand when someone needs help. <br><br>And yeah, I've used hemp. It works out just fine, and may be more organic, I just like the look of the carbon - personal preference, that's all...
Hello, I keep coming back to this instructable and thinking I'll give this ago and I think this summer is the time to do it. I've got a damaged frame and found a source for the bamboo etc... I would be interested though how much epoxy you used in total? I've seen 500g and 1.2kg 105/205 sets for sale, which one would you recommend? <br> <br>Thanks again for the instructable! That really is a lovely bike.
I have been using the West System 105 quart resin and smallest hardner setup - seen here - <br><br>http://www.discountmarinesupplies.com/West_System_Epoxy_Prepackaged_Kits.html?gclid=CIX3h7OXubcCFSJlMgodfVoA8Q<br><br>Go with the slow hardner for summer - the fast will harden before you can work with it if its over 80 degrees out.
I just finished building my own road bike, take a look: <br>http://www.cameronbrown.ca/blog/2013/01/how-to-build-a-bamboo-bike-part-1-plannin-things-n-fetchin-stuff/ <br> <br>http://www.cameronbrown.ca/blog/2013/01/how-to-build-a-bamboo-bike-part-2-cuttin-things-n-wrapin-it-up/
Good job, and well written. The jig looks like it worked well for you. You should detail that bit of the build, it makes scratch building so much easier!
Hi, great frame and specially like the lug color! Nice job! I'm toying with the idea of building my own carbonfiber bike and already have all CF tubes taked together with epoxy, but am stuck on how to reinforce the jonts. I would like to use this carbon fiber tow technique, but would like some ideas on what pattern to use around the joint, specially for the bottom bracket. I would appreciate any comments or help with this issue. Thanks!
I PMed you with details and video links. But, quick question from me, where did you get the carbon tubes for the frame? What you are doing, is my next project... <br> <br>Best of luck...
Hi, I will be checking the videos inmediately, thanks!! As for the carbonfiber tubes, I got them from RockWestComposites (http://www.rockwestcomposites.com/browse/bicycle-carbon-frame-tubing) , they have bicycle specific tubesets but no chainstays (only seatstays) although I believe Calfee and Parlee use the 16mm seatstays as chainstays (because their chainstays look too thin) so I ordered them as well (hope this made sense!). I also contacted Joe Bringhelli at www.bringheli.com who has dedacciai carbon tubing, a little lighter than the Rockwest but more expensive, but he can get only the rear triangle for you (Firebox quoted for about $275, I believe). I decided for the Rockwest to get everything from the same place, but now think it would have been easier to use the Deda rear triangle, as it's 2 pieces it's easier to manipulate, center the wheel, and more reasonable diameters, etc.<br>Hope this helps<br><br>Ciao.
I used your instructable to build my first bamboo bike. It is awesome and I thank you for taking the time to make my first attempt easier than it would have been. I am planning on making more and would like to speed up the process by using the west marine epoxy and hardener. The max clr looks nice but, takes way to long to cure. I spent more time waiting for the epoxy to cure than I did building the bike. I know you now prefer to use the west systems 105 epoxy. My question is which hardener did you use? Was it the 205 206 or 207? What did you use for your heat source? I learned a lot on how to maximize my time and speed up the process with my first build. The only thing slowing me down now is the epoxy. Thanks so much for your help. Thanks to you I am now the proud owner of a self built bamboo bike and my wife and friends will be able to join the club too.
I'll PM you...
Good job! I'd love to see pictures! I used west systems 205 fast hardener for winter, and used a set of 500 watt flood lights which generates a ton of heat, as my heat source. The fast hardner is fast though, so keep that in mind! It also heats up in the cup and will melt plastic cups if that is what you use, and you mix too much at a time. I used batches of about 20grams resin to 4grams hardner as it mixes at a 5/1 ratio. With heat, it takes a very short time to set, it would take as little as 15-20 minutes. If it's cold you have ample working time with the fast hardner, but, if it's above about 60* out, you may want to go with one of the slower hardners. Heat will make all of them cure quickly, even the slow hardner.<br><br>Good luck on your future projects. Are you building road frames or mountain? I've abused my mountain frames to great extent, big drops, falling in rivers, bashing it off rocks (I fall down alot), and they just keep on going! Oh, and I'm 6' tall and weigh around 200lbs. It really is amazing how good bamboo is as a bike frame <br>material! And the carbon 'lugs' save the scratches and such, are solid, after 2+ years on my main 29er Mtn bike, and a year and a half on my back-up. My road bikes have many many many thousands of miles on them, and are also doing just fine. Amazing what you can pull off with a little common sense and the right materials!
I have another question for you. Where do you recommend I look for Campy or Ultegra groupsets? I really want to build up my roadbike with good components. Any help sourcing the groupsets at a reasonable price would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your fast reply. My first frame has been built up into a beach cruiser as I live at the beach. I will be building my next frame into a road bike. I will post some pics soon. I think I will go with the slower hardener because even though it is winter here, we have been getting plenty of 60-70 degree days. It's amazing how much you can learn from your first build. I learned which tools and techniques work for me. Have you moved onto using a jig yet? Is your business under the radar or are you trying to go legit? I ask these questions because I'm interested in the business side of things as well. I figured going legit would pose some issues, insurance being the biggest. Thanks for your help and your detailed answers. I love to build stuff and this has been really fun and rewarding.
AWESOME BIKE! Why did you leave the original chain stays though? Does it help with the strength?
A couple of reasons actually... First is yes, I felt like it would give me a stronger platform to put power to the rear wheel. The plan was/is to ride many many miles. In fact I've put between six and seven thousand miles now on this frame. While bamboo is plenty strong and durable, on my first bike I really wanted this area to hold up. That said, I found that I really like the look, and have continued to build this way, although it's structurally no more durable than if I'd built bamboo chainstays as well. I like that I can add color.<br><br>Now, more practically, for the home builder, without a jig, this type of construction method makes a lot of sense as well. It is very important to make sure your bottom bracket and rear drop outs line up totally squarely. This can be very difficult without some sort of jig assembly. As some one pointed out, in an earlier message, often times, if you're tearing apart an old frame, some of the tubes you remove may be under a bit of stress, and if you cut it, the frame geometry may <br>distort a degree or two. This degree or two, while not terrible elsewhere, in the chainstay area, this can wreak havoc on your chainline and make for major problems when building up the bike for actually use. And, if you're building s fixie, chainline is very important!! <br><br>So basically, it gives the sense of being stronger, I think it adds to the look by giving me more area to paint, but most importantly, it was insurance for the final build, that the rear end would line up properly.
Thanks for the reply! You have been really helpful and I agree with you that it does make the bike look very nice. Thanks for the help.
Hi, I have a donor bike that has a tapered seat tube and a down tube that is significantly butted at the head tube for strength. I'm not too concerned about the down tube, my thought was to cut the frame a half inch below the butted area and build as directed. So as far as the seat tube is concerned, do I build up a carbon wrap on the narrow end(seat end) of the existing tube to accept a larger diameter of bamboo, or do I taper the inside of the bamboo on the bottom bracket side?
I think I understand the question. You are asking about slipping the bamboo into the existing tubes, or the existing tubes into the bamboo to form almost a dowel type joint rather than a simple butt joint. I've found that you can at the head tube as well as at the bottom bracket grind the existing down tube and top tube all the way away. This leaves you to form a fish mouth with the ends of your bamboo and slip it into place directly up against the raw bottom bracket and head tube. You can 'glue' the bamboo in place with a bit of resin and a couple of strands of carbon to hold it firmly and move on to the next piece. So you don't need the butted section at the head tube unless you absolutely want to keep it. If you do, and you certainly can, you'll want to go with as small-a-tubes as you feel comfortable with (weight savings here). If tubes are large and you can slip the bamboo inside, then do so. Or you can dremel out the inside a bit and slip the bamboo over the tube. Either way will work and I've done both, although I feel it's unnecessary. As for the seat tube - you want your seat post to fit down deeply I to the seat tube, so it's best to have the diameter of the seat tube larger than the post, so it can fit inside. The way I've always done it is by tying the aluminum seat tube into the top tube and seat stays. The bamboo seat tube comes after and thus does not require it to be firmly attached to the aluminum tubing. The aluminum seat tube top actually floats a bit inside of the bamboo seat tube itself. Now it's best to have it tight, because the seat post puts quite a bit of torque on that joint, so if you can and want to, either pick a bamboo pole that will fit snugly around the aluminum seat post, or dremel one out a bit, or yes you can build it up with carbon to make it fit snugly. I hope this all makes sense? You can message me and I'll give you my number if you want call and discuss?
What is the difference in 3k, 5k, and 12k tow? I've even seen 48k. Is one preferable?
This designation tells you how many fibers per strand of tow. The 1k is 1000 fibers and the 12k is 12,000 fibers. 1k is about 2-3mm wide and 12k is almost a cm and thicker. Yes, 6k is preferable, if you can get your hands on it? I say this because it is thick enough to work easily with, but thin enough to wet out easily and not twist up on you so it lays flat while You're working with it...
so when I'm cutting I'm having some splitting about 1/4th of the way through the bamboo and about 1-2 inches long. <br><br>Can I still use the bamboo and just wrap more carbon around this split or will it eventually go all the way through and start creeping down?
My guess, without seeing what you are describing as splitting, is yes, if its a true split, you could see that split continue down the entire tube over time, even if you add extra carbon. While cutting, often times though, you will see what amount to splinters in the skin that will come away from the outside of the stalk. Don't worry too much about these, just take a utility knife and cut them away. These won't usually become cracks. I've had success with wrapping and stopping cracks with carbon as well as filling the crack with resin. But, I don't think it to be a permanent solution...
Hello, Tanks for your instructable. <br>But I have two questions left:<br>Some of my bamboo rods have a few very little cracks. <br>Do you think that I can build a bamboo bike no matter if I use these rods with very little cracks in it?<br><br>Which way of preparing the bamboo is the most strongest? -<br>Hardening it with a propane torch and leave the walls, that comes after each bamboo segment intact - or hardening the bamboo with a propane torch and make a hole into the segment walls and fill everything up with polyurethane foam?<br>Can you say what option is better?<br>Thanks for your answer. <br>Greeting MoritzB
you bike is outstanding! what diameter bamboo did you use ? what carbon tow did you use 12K , 6K ..? <br><br>thanks for the help
So do you not compress you joints after freshly applying epoxy and stuff?
No, no compression needed. You can really pull quite tightly with the carbon tow. If you are building using hemp, or flax, or bamboo fiber, etc... Then yes, you will need to compress the fibers and resin at the joint. Black electrical tape seems to be the way to go to get this accomplished! If you pull too tightly with the hemp fiber, it will tear.
I was looking for resin on that link and I saw that there were different types of resins, you suggested the Max CLR, but would other resins work just as well? I ask because you can buy more for less of some of that other stuff, my suspicion (pardon the spelling) is that the other products aren't as well suited for a bike joint.
Having now tried several types of resin now, my current suggestion, for it's properties and ease of access, plus a solid company and reputation, is West System 105 resin and hardners. Available online and in many boat stores. The stuff is just amazing to work with. Using a heat source I am now able to cut my bike building time considerably, as the West System epoxy cures quickly and fully with heat within half an hour. I can sand, and begin to wrap again with little down time! The max clr takes forever, about 2 days at 75 degrees, before you can sand it without it gumming up your paper, or file! I finished a bike in 1 day with the Weat System system, granted, it was a 12 hour+ day! : )
Thanks! I'll check it out.
Did you notice any change in the bamboo's diameter before vs. after heat treating, or did it pretty much stay the same?<br><br>p.s. Beautiful work these frames, excellent photos/explanations. I cant wait to get started
Very little change at all. Earlier I estimated it as a much greater change than it is. It appears to shrink up visually, but I think it's more of a visual effect as the color is changing. Putting calipers on before and after, we're talking a fraction of a mm. The wall thickness about the same.<br><br>And thank you! If you have any questions along the way, feel free to ask!
Thanks for getting back to me so quick. I have couple more silly questions before I dive headfirst into this beast of a project.<br><br>And they are; were you measuring inner or outer diameter of the bamboo? And if I have a close (but too small) fit, is it safe to shave off a bit (less than 1/8 in.) of the inner core to make a better joint, or does that compromise the bamboo?<br><br>To be honest, I haven't even picked any supplies up yet, but I love summer projects and this right up my alley. Can't wait!
After further studies I have realized you answered all my questions in this instructable. Once again, quite a good instructable.
Hey! Great instructable, I just read through it the other day and now I'm inspired, but I also have a few quetions: <br> <br>About how much total Carbon Fiber Tow did you use? And why did you choose Carbon over hemp? <br> <br>I'm just looking to start small, so could I build a single-speed bike and have the option to make it into a multi-speed later? <br> <br>And what kind of bamboo did you use? <br> <br>
Hi, i just turned Pro of this just an hour ago just to make a bamboo bike for me. i have a question, i don't know all characteristic of resin but are they all have a strong smell?<br>thanks
No, the resin I use in this instructable is almost scentless. I've used it in the house, without my wife's objection. That said, it's probably not a good idea. All resins give off fumes, whether or not they smell. And while I'm not sure, I'm guessing these fumes are toxic. Just saying...
Whats the total weight of the finnished frame? Not the whole bike - that will be pretty light anyway due to your Campa Chorus etc.<br><br>Did you save weight from the aluminium-incarnation of your frame to the bamboo-reincarnation?
My road bike frames are running in the 1600 gram range, and the 29er mountain bike frames are running around 2400 grams. The 29ers save about 200 grams over their original, the road bike is about 150 grams heavier than the original...
Thanks for the info, thats good to know! The only Bamboo-Frame I could lay hands on up until now is pretty badly built, and heavy as f* (seems like something around 2700g - its a road frame). I guess the guy who built it took the next bamboo he could lay hands on. Also he used an excessive amount of epoxy and fabric. Propably because he was afraid and wanted to make it last.<br><br>I'll try my own in the next months based on your instructable and post the results.

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