Instructables

Building a Carbon Fibre Bamboo Bicycle From Scratch

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Picture of Building a Carbon Fibre Bamboo Bicycle From Scratch

Look no further for a free-range, organic, and gluten-free mode of transportation! Bamboo bicycles not only look resplendent, but they also provide fantastic road vibration absorption, higher strength to weight ratio than steel, and similar stiffness to aluminum. With a bit of time and sweat, you can be riding out into the sunset all thanks to your wonderful craftsmanship.




Acknowledgements
Thanks to all the bamboo bicycle builders below! Definitely couldn't have done this without the help of your instructables!
Build a Bamboo Bicycle (And Light it up!) by ben_k
How I built a carbon bike frame at home (and a bamboo frame too) by Brano
Bamboo Bike #2 by BAMBOOBIKER
Building a Recumbent Bamboo Trike Frame by kentdvm

Other Helpful References
Building a Bamboo Bike - Wordpress Blog
Bamboo Bike Build by Cameron Brown
Technical White Paper by Calfee Design

 
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Step 1: Materials List and Cost Breakdown

Before we begin, let's get a few housekeeping items out of the way. Below is a rough list of materials and equipment recommended for this project. The corresponding costs are an estimate if you need to buy all parts brand new. You can definitely cut down on costs by purchasing used bicycle components, or using a donor frame for the lugs instead of buying new ones.

Bamboo Poles (from Bamboo World)
• 3 = 1" by 8' poles (for 2 seat stays, 2 chain stays) @ $1.19 ea
• 4 = 1.5" by 8' poles (for top, down, and seat tube) @ $4.27 ea

Total: $20.65

Approximate Pole Diameters
• Down tube - 46 mm
• Top and seat tube - 35 mm
• Seat stays - 24 mm
• Chain stays - 27 mm

Carbon Fibre Lugs (from eBay & Coast Fibretek)
• 12k carbon fibre tow (I used 1-2 lbs of my 4 lb spool) @ $62.35
• West Systems 105A Resin qt @ $44.35
• West Systems 205A Fast Hardener .44 pt @ $22.65
• West Systems Mini Pumps 300ABC @ $18.95
• West Systems 404 High Density Filler 15.2 oz @ $16.70
• 4 rolls of electrical tape @ $0.63 ea

Total (all materials): $167.52
Total (cost of materials used for frame*): $94.50


*I only used about half of the carbon fibre and epoxy, so I have enough for at least another bike.

Bicycle Frame Parts (from Nova Cycles)
• Head tube OS chromo 36.0SM x 200 @ $7.87
• Bottom bracket lugless shell 69mm @ $4.25
• Rear track dropouts @ $17.29
• Seat tube 28.6 x 9/6 x 650 @ $15.95

Total: $45.36

Frame Jig (from Home Depot)
• 2 = construction wood 2x4x96 @ $2.95 ea
• 1 = 1/4-20 x 36" threaded rod @ $6.99
• 12 = 1/4" washers @ $0.11 ea
• 16 = 1/4-20 nuts @ $0.29 ea
• 1 1/2" wood screws @ ~$4
• Various ABS PVC pipe fittings (to hold frame parts and keep epoxy out) @ ~$10

Total: ~$32.85

Bicycle Components (from various sources)
• FSA Hammer Heavy Duty Headset - 1 1/8" threadless @ $15.00
• Vuelta aluminum headset spacers - 1 1/8" x 10 mm @ 2.00 ea
• Kalloy 28.6 x 350 mm seatpost @ $23.00
• KMC Z410 1spd chain @ $8.00
• Pake Track crankset - 130 mm x 46t x 165 mm 1/8" @ $61.00
• MEC mountain pedals @ $21.00
• Kalloy SC-201 bolt-on seatpost clamp - 28.6 mm @ $7.00
• Jagwire basics lined brake set @ $3.00
• Tektro R540 caliper brake front @ $25.00
• Tektro RL721 CX brake levers @ $15.50
• Pake Straight fork 1 1/8" threadless @ $63.00
• Fyxation rodeo bullhorn bar 25.4 mm x 40 cm @ $25.95
• Ora road stem 80 mm x 84 deg 25.4 mm @ $19.38
• Vuelta ZeroLite track wheelset 700c @ $92.25
• 700 x 23 tires and tubes @ ~$40.00

Total: $423.08

Tools
• Plumber's torch
• Flint spark lighter
• Kitchen oven
• Jigsaw (or chop saw)
• Power drill (or drill press)
• Dremel tool
• Hand saw
• Round and half-round rasps
• 60, 80, 120, 220, 400 grit sandpaper

Safety Precautions
• Organic respirator and a well-ventilated area - Epoxy fumes and carbon fibre dust are not good for you or your lungs
• Safety goggles - Carbon fibre dust and eyes don't bode well together
• Full body coveralls - Carbon fibre dust is extremely itchy and may cause rashes

TOTAL COST OF BICYCLE FRAME: $150

TOTAL COST OF PROJECT (not including tools): $700

truokpooria1 month ago

congratulation(:

koko330991 month ago

Love the bike. Thinking about doing it my self!!

Love the finished Project!

Looks good, think you could do a mountain (X/C) the same way?

I have an old frame currently wieghing in at about 30lbs which is a lot for an xc bike.

Justin Lam (author)  Zaphod Beetlebrox2 months ago

It's been done before, so I don't see why not! Definitely possible if it's a hardtail; a little trickier if it's a full suspension...

I would build up the head tube more if you're using it on the mountain since that lug will be absorbing a large portion of the rough terrain. Mountain bikes often fail where the down tube meets the head tube.

Cool, one day I'll hopefully have enough time. Full sus would be tricky and a lot more expensive.
Garhat2 months ago

Something I've never considered before,but this is one of the coolest projects I've seen in a while,great work..:-)

Justin Lam (author)  Garhat2 months ago

Thanks for looking!

Justin Lam (author)  User12 months ago

That'd look pretty slick. I've heard black bamboo (phyllostachys nigra) is more prone to splitting, but as long as you test it before using it I think it should be fine!

stumitch2 months ago

At the risk of spamming... I was looking through your excellent tutorial and I have a thought about Jigs. I am a shop teacher in Langley (my UN on instructables is stumitch) and I could build a jig with steel or aluminum if you want to meet up and share expertise! The only catch is I won't be home until mid July... check out my userpage and email me if you're interested.

Justin Lam (author)  stumitch2 months ago

Having a proper jig would be fantastic! I'll shoot you an email, thanks!

cameronbrown made it!2 months ago

Great work mate. I'm glad I could help :)

Bamboo-Bike-9.jpg
tridrles2 months ago

In wrapping/making the lugs you mentioned that you talked with a lot of experienced builders but didn't say what you decided on as far as the number of wraps. Suggestions, max/min?

Thanks!

Justin Lam (author)  tridrles2 months ago

I cut my carbon fibre into ~1m long strips for the main lugs (shorter for the dropouts) and wrapped it around 5-10 times, depending on the type of wrap pattern I'm doing. I uploaded a document on the wrapping patterns, courtesy of Zach from Stalk Bicycles.

If you want to be rigorous and determine the minimum amount of material required for the frame, you can take a look at ASTM F2711.1220124-1, which is the North American standard for testing bicycle frames. It tests different stresses for the entire frame, so you can scale the test down for a particular joint.

Thank you very much for your prompt reply Justin. I've been thinking of a bamboo/carbon bike for quite some time now.
Justin Lam (author)  Justin Lam2 months ago

Might not be as helpful, but you can use your intuition and build up the joints until it looks "good enough". I'm sure you'll get a feel for what this is after looking at different bamboo bicycle projects (both DIY and commercial) and getting a feel for what a solid bicycle looks like.

stumitch2 months ago

Well done! I am a Vancouverite (actually... White Rock) teaching in Rwanda. I will build one of these on my return in July! BTW Seeing the pic made me feel a bit homesick :-)

Laser282 months ago

Nice work, did you weigh the frame on completion.

glora2 months ago
cool,very cool
Justin Lam (author)  glora2 months ago

Thanks, many thanks.

TheParacorder2 months ago

an absolutely gorgeous bike!

Justin Lam (author)  TheParacorder2 months ago

Thanks for looking!

twindad2 months ago
look you live in portland, or. no?

That's definitely a Vancouver backdrop to his photo. I know that skyline well. I love coming across locals via scene photos that I recognize.

Justin Lam (author)  jjamieson22 months ago

Vancouverites unite!

JakeJ142 months ago
Great thanks

Great build. I am amazed this was only 6 steps, I was expecting this to be a much more complex build and was pleasantly surprised how easy you made it look.

Justin Lam (author)  John Culbertson2 months ago

Thanks! I outlined the basic steps and discussed the details as text, so hopefully that covers everything. Unfortunately I don't have more pictures of the lug building process, but it was a messy procedure! I'd be happy to go over anything that needs clarification.

kenbob2 months ago

Beautiful!

Justin Lam (author)  kenbob2 months ago

Thanks!

twindad2 months ago
never just read bc. so Canada?
Justin Lam (author)  twindad2 months ago

Yes, British Columbia!

JakeJ142 months ago
How much did it cost to build
Justin Lam (author)  JakeJ142 months ago

Around $200-250 for the frame (I added a cost breakdown of the project). It will cost less if you use an old donor frame instead of buying new frame parts. My listed price also includes the total cost of bamboo, epoxy, and carbon fibre, but I have enough to make at least another bike.