Instructables
Picture of How to Build a Bamboo Bicycle
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I saw a picture of a bamboo bike and decided I had to have one. I found out that professionally built bamboo frames cost a few thousand dollars so I decided to build one myself.

I had a lot of fun and I hope that you can make one too by following these instructions.

The bike I made is a track bike for commuting to work. The bicycle was inspired by Craig Calfee who makes much nicer bamboo bikes. I really wanted something with a minimum of fancy technology and carbon fiber (although I sprang for the carbon fork). I used epoxy and hemp fibers on all the joints (no pun intended). The track bike also makes it easy in that it is a very simple bike - no gears, cable routings, rear brake or derailers.

Disclaimer: Death or serious injury can result from a bicycle frame failure. Using new and untested techniques is risky. Be smart.

Some links to check out before you get started:
Brano's instructable on carbon and bamboo bike building
Craig Calfee's bamboo bike project
Calfee bamboo bikes
Bike Forest BikeCAD
The forum for info on bamboo and heat treating it

The basic steps:
1. Figure out what type of bicycle you want
2. Get all of the parts and bamboo
3. Heat treat the bamboo
4. Tack it all together
6. Epoxy it all together
7. Build up bike
8. Ride off into sunset
 
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CobyUnger made it!7 months ago

Fun project. Thanks for the help.

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Here is my finished bike, with a step by step writeup
http://www.cameronbrown.ca/blog/2013/09/bamboo-bike-build-part-3-final-touches/
Kelly021 year ago
It must be lighter than usual bikes. Nice work.
dlu1 year ago
Hi~
I've a little Q:
How's ur bike now~?
ayasbek (author)  dlu1 year ago
I have stopped riding this one. My other bamboo bike has been sitting outside under a tarp for over a year now and still rides and feels great.
rjpeterson1 year ago
In response to:
"ayasbek (author) says: Jan 6, 2009. 4:10 PMReply
Wow! Looks good except for that one thing! I am so glad you got this far. Here is an idea - try get a different fork. Do you have a local frame builder you can speak to who could make you something? There are many old steel forks that have a good amount of rake/drag or whatever the offset from the headset is called. Another idea is to get a 650 wheel (sometimes called triathlon wheel). It is smaller and may allow you to ride your bike. It would also give you a super track star look but will lower your bottom bracket a bit. Either way be careful. If you really want to remove the hemp epoxy I think I would try a hacksaw or grinder. Chemicals seem like a bad idea."

Getting another fork with more rake is not a good idea. It may solve the problem of your wheel hitting the downtube, however the bike will have terrible steering characteristics. Bikes have a property called "trail". Trail is the distance behind the steering axis that the front wheel contacts the ground. Modern bikes with comfortable steering generally have a trail around 2-3 inches. In your picture above, the bike has close to zero trail. If you put a fork with more rake on that bike, you would end up with a non-existant or a negative trail. This would result in a bike that does not want to ride straight. In fact the fork will try to flip 180 degrees before it will go straight. Using a smaller front wheel would result in the same problem
Dandie4 years ago
I think It is not a very good idea to build a bike frame of bamboo because It’s impossible to assure strong and safe joint sticks, especially in the headset, one of the most stressed pieces. I have seen more than once headset breakages and I can assure that the consequences for the drivers have been horribly serious, they hit the pavement with their faces,……. noses, jawbones, teeth smashed. I think this is not a matter to play with.
syphek Dandie1 year ago
properly treated bamboo has a tensile strength equal to or greater than mild steel.
snotty3 years ago

Yeah, bamboo bikes are awesome. Make sure to build your lugs strong and use Tonkin or Iron bamboo or you may have problems.
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chuck190 snotty2 years ago
I plan to substitute top tube top tube of my steel bike with some bamboo of about 1" diameter (I could make it 1.25" if necessary). If I use iron bamboo of about 1"diameter, does anyone know if drilling out the center with, say, a 3/8" drill would weaken it too much? That would leave walls of about 5/16" or 8 to 9mm. I have read that walls of hollow bamboo should be a minimum of 3mm.
snotty chuck1902 years ago
Of course the only sure way to know is to test it.

But I've used bamboo with ~4mm sidewalls and it's been fine. Be gentle when you drill, if you push too hard it might splay the bamboo apart and crack. I've had trouble with this before.

Also be careful to let the drill find its own way down the hollow or you might drift too far to one side.
chuck190 snotty2 years ago
snotty - Your last sentence - drilling down the hollow - makes me think that maybe you don't know that iron bamboo is not hollow - it's the only species that's solid. I have already drilled hollow bamboo without a problem. Actually, when it split, I simply wrapped it with carbon tape. I used a pair in place of the steel chain stays. It has taken quite a pounding on some very rough roads without a problem.

But I would like to experiment with iron bamboo because I can make them into any diameter I need with a wood lathe. I'm thinking it would be OK to drill them to take weight off, but I was just wondering if anyone has had experience with this.
snotty chuck1902 years ago
Ah yes. For some reason I thought iron bamboo had a little hollow area. I must be thinking of some other type.
snotty snotty3 years ago
Yes, that's a bamboo wind turbine in behind me there: http://www.instructables.com/id/Wind-Turbine-Blades-from-Bamboo/
Where have you bougth your hemps? And whats important to look at when I buy them?
Ebay! After some research, i believe you want the "bast" as it is the strongest part of the plant, i.e. search "hemp bast fiber" and you should get a few hits. I have had trouble sourcing hemp in its non twine form.
Uh.. Where did you get the hemp? Untangling hemp ropes? Cough cough.
davmaldo3 years ago
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snotty davmaldo2 years ago
Any frame builders' supply has all sorts of head tubes. I chop mine out of dead bikes sometimes though.
foxes761332 years ago
Hey Ayasbek, I have some questions I'd like to ask about this project about "Heat Treating Bamboo".
I was wondering what tools you used for the project, and how you used them. I would like to experiment, but due to my finances, my experiments would also have to be useful, because I don't have enough money to buy bamboo in bulk amounts, and use some of it only to ruin it because of experimentation.
I've been trying to work on a project of my own as well, but not making a bamboo bike, it's actually to make shafts for Arrows for my bow. So I'd like to know more. Otherwise, I have to do a search and destroy all over Goggle just to find a dealer in my local area just for Heat Tempered Bamboo.
sephiroth672 years ago
Hope it's not TOO late, but B2 sounds like a fine name...fits your description of a stealth bomber, and you can just say it stands for bamboo =D
mykall2 years ago
hey there,
amazing job you did there, you have my greatest respect.
We were thinking of trying to build one in our bicycle cooperative, but the fella we are getting hemp from needs to know what kind of hemp fibre we need, how thin, and how clean, and also of course how much.
I was wondering if you could possibly help me with some advice?
how much did you use on one bicycle and what sort of hemp were you using?
look forward to your help
fgunnar3 years ago
Out of curiosity, how much does it weigh?
geekonabike3 years ago
The Woody
So if you were to build something out of either green or heated bamboo, which would be the easier to work with? mainly with flexibility and hardness.
mad doctor3 years ago
How did you get your bottom bracket shell out of the bike? Most of the bikes I have looked at have their bottom bracket shells welded on.
can this be used to make a hardtail mountain bike?
Calc for blog cred...:P

Cool idea, but I'd be very afraid to ride it, myself. Even if a professional built it :P
Fear is scary stuff eh. Seriously though; I made a bamboo bike really badly and it broke in lots of places but it never fell apart. It just got wiggly.
NetReaper3 years ago
Could you use a second metal piece under the seat that you put at the bottom? It seems like it's the same angles and it would be sturdier.
The Bambicycle or The Bambike. Yeah...
a918bmxr4 years ago
i have seen a frame break and the rider got a huge gash across his stomach from where the top and bottom tubes attached to the head tube... it wasn't pretty D-8
Oxzane684 years ago
No offesnse, but I built one, and it shattered.
http://www.ridepanda.comYou should also check out what some guys from Colorado are doing at http://www.ridepanda.com. Their company, Panda Bicycles, looks like it's making some sweet bamboo bikes with steel lugs.
Neat! I live in Colorado Springs! I may be up for a field trip. I wonder if there is any way to do the spokes in smaller bamboo?
Never mind! If you look at the calfeedesign.com website, you see that very thing done in Africa. It makes for a stronger back wheel that can carry larger loads than the standard wire spokes. 8>)
jentran4 years ago
For the headset, perhaps you could cut one so that there are nodes at either end to increase stiffness. There are more nodes located at the bottom of a bamboo culm than at the top. I'm not sure how thick the walls of the headset you tried was, that could help too. Some other people sprayed expanding form successfully to increase stiffness to the seat tube.
mmann11234 years ago
Hey everyone I have found the large majority of 'how to' sites lacking in specificity. I am putting together a blog with a lot more detail and experiments together come check it out at http://bamboobike.wordpress.com/.

There are a lot of pictures and good details on how to choose materials, how to miter better, even how to make a hemp fiber head tube etc. Hope it is helpful.
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Nkevin905 years ago
Okay, hopefully the last question; I really messed up on my headtube angle (but I couldn't help but laugh at it), so how would one go about taking all that crap off? I read up about sodium hydroxide or soaking stuff in acetone, but I'm not sure how great that either'd be for the bamboo itself. Oh right, and I used a steel tube by the way.
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very nice, its a handy craftman's work.
I've been working with bamboo for last 5 years.  You may try this bamboo species, its very "rugged", you can bend and shape it as you like.
http://www.axelhandicraft.com
snotty Nkevin904 years ago
Maybe try carefully chopping off the lashing with an angle grinder.
that DOES look good. should have extended the seatstays to the top tube for the old GT Triple Triangle effect :D
ayasbek (author)  Nkevin905 years ago
Wow! Looks good except for that one thing! I am so glad you got this far. Here is an idea - try get a different fork. Do you have a local frame builder you can speak to who could make you something? There are many old steel forks that have a good amount of rake/drag or whatever the offset from the headset is called. Another idea is to get a 650 wheel (sometimes called triathlon wheel). It is smaller and may allow you to ride your bike. It would also give you a super track star look but will lower your bottom bracket a bit. Either way be careful. If you really want to remove the hemp epoxy I think I would try a hacksaw or grinder. Chemicals seem like a bad idea.
 Damn, that is a nice looking bike
zakiuz4 years ago
 Do cut the parts before heat treat or do you heat treat everything and then you cut ?
urwatuis4 years ago
This is an awsome project! Before I found this one I was scanning other bike projects and saw Instrucables for building a recumbent bike and bike trailers and my first thought after seeing the bamboo bike is why didn't anyone build a bamboo recumbent bike?!?!?! with a trailer??? Seems like such a natural progression, no? Maybe I'll give that a try when warmer weather rolls in. BTW I like the idea of using hemp to bind everything together. Great idea!
sessica4 years ago
 me and my boyfriend made one this past summer, you can click the link to my facebook album of pictures, we did some steps differently, and ran into different problems, we plan on building a couple more now that we know what we're dealing with.
www.facebook.com/album.php



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jesus jelly4 years ago
 BAMBOO BOMBER>>>> great idea for a name....
jerandemma5 years ago
This project looks awesome! I just signed up because of this bike. Has anyone thought of using lugs to join the bamboo? It would look good if you could epoxy the bamboo to the lugs, and it would be strong. All quality vintage bikes are lugged for good reason. Any thoughts?
i'm curious about this too-- i'm gonna see if i can track down some carbon lugs like they use for ti/carbon frames. i'll let you know if i can find anything :D
Sounds Great!
i am toying with the idea of lugs as well. i think it would work well and have a cleaner look. this is a project of mine for the winter. i am thinking about useing kevlar or carbonfiber at the joints as well. here is a bunch of good links

http://www.bikelugs.com/

http://www.cycle-frames.com/bicycle-frame-tubing/home.php

http://www.framebuilding.com/index.htm

http://www.gaerlan.com/bikeparts/bike.html

Have fun
cool well life is busy so if you beat me to to the punch, make sure to post some pix!
is that a brooks saddle
CrawdadMan5 years ago
In overall costs how much did this cost you? Bamboo, Bike parts, Etc.
zoltzerino5 years ago
What make + model of cassette is that, it looks pretty sweet, and your crankset the Ultegra, how does that compare with Deore / XT?
thats actually not his bike. its one he took pictures of to inspire us. his bike is a fixie and has no cassette at all. just one cog.
hey - what is the diameter of your bamboo tubing - main tubes, seat stays and chain stays? THANKS
ayasbek (author)  cooper.rogers6 years ago
seat stays - 25mm chain stays - 25 mm top tube - 32 mm seat tube - 36 mm down tube - 38 mm Keep in mind that the bamboo shrinks a bit when you heat treat it. I think my top tube is too thin and accounts for some of the flex and wobble. I would use a top tube that is at least as thick as the down tube, if not thicker.
what are both I.D.'s and O.D.'s?
john difool5 years ago
nice job man.
npmaier5 years ago
Did you keep it track geometry? Very curious. -Nate
Thanks so much for such a useful instructable! I used your advice to make a bike that's still a work in progress, but coming along nicely, chronicled, here: http://jamesjessup.com/blog/category/bamboobikeblog/

Thanks again for the very helpful tips!
Hello and once again thanks a lot for your instructable...

What's happen when you mix good ideas ? Take this instructable + cruzbike concept (recumbent bike) + a french touch ?? Lets go to this little video !!

Have a good day !

santimo5 years ago
first, I´m sorry for my English. Did you pick the bamboo pieces in order to match with the size of the short bottom bracket lugs(is that the word for the small tubes that come out from the bottom bracket, those that are connected with down and seat tubes and stays?) or did you fit them by other means, maybe its explained and i´m lost in translation thans from argentina
Like the idea and am on the way to building one. But I was thrown when you mentioned trigonometry. Since I was a Political Science Major (I know stop laughing, I dropped out anyway lol). Is the some way of figuring this stuff out other then trigonometry. Great and informative Instructable.
You can use a CAD program to do the math for you :P
royaydel5 years ago
on the Calfee they are titanium. the BB shell is probably steel unless they matched it with Ti for the dropouts. but that frame is a carbon fiber - bamboo mix. I have ridden several and it makes for a unique ride that can't really be described. not in a negative way, just a "what's that noise? I'm not used to that strange sound and feel" kind of way
swimmer3215 years ago
so after you wrap the joints of the bike in the hemp, can you sand it down to make it look nicer? the calfee bamboo bike joints are really really nice and clean-looking. How can i get that look?
Thats what Im wondering. It is almost as if the hemp and stuff was melted into a single material. But you are right- it is a much more appealing look.
After further analysis it seems calfee probably did hemp and then fiberglass on top of it. The fiber glass could be sanded and I think that couldve made that look.
I would be careful with sanding through any of the hemp fibres, that is where the tensile strength of the joint comes from. The epoxy provides a matrix that helps to evenly distribute the forces throughout the joint but the fibres need to remain intact to provide any tensile strength. Chris's idea of a layer of fibreglass on top for cosmetics and some protection is often how fibreglass is applied. This is why carbon fibre must not be scratched, its structural integrity is severely compromised if any fibres are broken. This is a great project, I'm excited to try it with carbon.
I think the author intentionally had the joints look fibrous. If you soak the hemp cord in epoxy, once you put it all on the frame it should fit a lot smoother than in these pictures. And you will definitely be able to sand it down, it just won't be easy. Once the epoxy has cured the hemp/epoxy matrix acts like any laminate in that it is a relatively homogeneous material. It should be solid throughout.
did you have to notch the bamboo at all to allow the hemp fiber to grab onto the bamboo when attatching it to the various metal parts?
dderekk5 years ago
how much did this bike cost you and how many ours of work did it take ?
12bowenand5 years ago
any idea what the bottom bracket shell and all of the joints on this bike are made of ?
peligro5 years ago
So I haven't built mine yet, just done a lot of materials gathering and information finding. Once it's done I'll make an Instructable. Here are some key points. Heat treating the bamboo with an open flame is not a good idea (damn, I already bought a propane torch), I found a scientific paper published about different ways to heat treat bamboo (to make a fly rod) and what it recommended was low heat for a longer time, something like 210 deg F (absolutely under 250, it said) until the color changes. For the construction, I'm using this species of bamboo that grows locally, I forget the name but it's huge and has pretty thick walls. For the stays I'm using green-stripe bamboo, it has a smaller diameter, but has thick walls for its size. I'm gonna Frankenstein the seat cluster, bottom bracket shell and headset from this pretty nice Giant road bike I found in the trash with a cracked downtube (what a shame, it was gorgeous, but at least now I get an integrated headset). I cut the dropouts out of some POS BMX bike I found. I'm going to join the tubes to the joints first with a paste made from epoxy resin, chopped strand glass fibers, and Cab-o-Sil (all obtained from fiberglasssupply.com at the recommendation of the very helpful salesperson). I'll use that stuff to build up a fillet so the angles in the joints won't be so acute. By the way, that alone should be strong enough to hold the bike together for good. Nevertheless, I'm going to wrap the joints - overlapping onto the bamboo however I deem fit - with carbon fiber tape that's been soaked in epoxy. After that's all done, I'm going to wrap the whole frame, joints and long pieces in 6oz fiberglass cloth (which I have left over from a surfboard) to further hold everything together, add some strength and to protect the bamboo more. This will be clear so the bamboo and the carbon will still be visible. Let me know if you have any questions or if anything I'm doing seems dramatically wrong.
BOGOBikes5 years ago
If someone could, please price out your bike (or the average Bamboo bike) in terms of frame, wheels, gears, etc. Thank you so much.
I haven't finished building mine, but here's what I've got price-wise: Bamboo - Free! Locally obtained Carbon, epoxy and fillers - $120 from fiberglasssupply.com (those people are incredibily helpful and willing to assist with any questions for your home project) Wheelset (for a fixie) - $150 on ebay (craiglist has them as well) Fork - $60 on ebay Stem - $5 on craigslist Bars - $20 on craigslist Crankset and pedals- free, taken off an old bike Front Brake - Shimano sora, purchased online for $12 or so Brake Lever - $5 from a friend Cable, chain and bar tape - totalled probably $30 or so from various sources Seatpost - free, from a friend Saddle - I've got a cheap one that I had laying around, but I'd like to use a Brooks one of these days, although they're on the order of $100 or $120. I think that's it.
mpenn5 years ago
I saw his finishing technique in a tv program. all he did is us a dremel to get a smoother shape. then he did a crap load of filing and sanding.
Hello, I wonder how many hemp (Kg ?) and epoxy (Kg ?) you've used for these 5 jonctions ? Thanks !
mkc1hno5 years ago
I used your instructions to help build my bamboo bike..
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franalpo6 years ago
pure tranquil dopeness!, ya know i will def. do this i the near future. the one thing im gonna do different is instead of using twine in all the joints, i think ill try using some fiber glass instead. but by far one of the best ideas ive seen.
Do you think that is how the calfee bikes are binded at the joints?
No, they are not bound that way. They use prefabbed Bottom bracket, lugs and head tube. Lookup www.BambooBikeMaker.com. You could wrap those pieces in something to give it the look with the added strength of the prefabbed pieces. I am trying to source them now, if anyone knows where I can get them, please leave a response. Thanks
This is cool–this place will help you make the bicycle step by step in a weekend: http://bamboobikestudio.com/
activescout5 years ago
will it break easily?
Don't let any pandas around your bike!
slice_rulz5 years ago
i absolutely love this project and cant wait to try it out for myself. thanks.
philwebb3335 years ago
I've finished my first bike, here in northern Thailand. I need to improve my frame jig for better wheel alignment, and the chain stays need to be e bit beefier... but other than that, the bike is awesome.

video of project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iRbX2uPgGsw
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beautiful!! any tips on building the jig??
ayasbek (author)  philwebb3335 years ago
Holy cow! Fantastic. I like the neat look of the carbon fiber cloth. Looks like you coated the bamboo in clear epoxy? Nice touch.
smarino6 years ago
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I don't know. Bamboo is incredibly strong, and I don't think that it would fail catastrophically the way that metal does. I think you'd see failures coming. The big risk is in the joints, I think. It would be hard to inspect these and see if they were failing.
i would agree the focus would have to be in making the joints strong
Most metal frames won't fail "catastrophically" as they have some amount of ductility. However, titanium and magnesium alloys are more brittle and aluminum frames are more prone to break from fatigue. Still is best in ductility, strength and fatigue resistance, but is heavy. Nagutron is right about Bamboo being incredibly strong - it's a natural composite, and if treated correctly, should hold up for quite a while.
Bamboo is pretty strong. People in China have built bridges that cars go over out of it.
i think it is the way the structure is put together that makes it strong
Not to mention the nicest fishing rods in the world are made of the stuff. Not quite as big, but every bit as important............maybe
WTHAI smarino6 years ago
All synthetics will be weaker than organics. Bamboo is a lot stronger for a lot longer than steel.
a couple of universitys are now studying spider webs to see what they are made out of. they believe they can be mimiced and used in kevlar vest to protect police officers and soliders much better. organic structure is amazing.
ubercop smarino5 years ago
i'm not sure if you grasped the idea of a bamboo bike. it isn't for gilligan's island cool. it is for third world countries where they have a large supply of frame material and not much else. it is easy to make and more importantly, cheap.
smarino ubercop5 years ago
What I grasp is that a seriously dumb and unsafe idea is a seriously dumb and unsafe idea no matter where you live. Unless you live on the moon and don't have to worry about much gravity when the thing breaks a top tube when you are going downhill at 25 mph. Bamboo is a really good material for building lots of things. Bikes aren't one of them. And it doesn't take a structural engineer to know that. Cheap and abundant do not make it as qualities for an appropriate frame material. Please, feel free to ride one of the idiotic things yourself. It's your life. But don't talk anyone else into it because you could be legally liable for their injuries or death.
Hang on a minute. I think that its a fantastic idea and use of bamboo. Sounds like you may have something to do with the bike industry. Bammboos is and has been used for thousands of years. they still use this for scaffoldinng in many countries. And thats not just for ground floor work but high buildings etc stories. If its sealed then its sealed. Uv cant weaken it if its a uv safe sealing. Anyway i can't begin to tell you of how many structural falures i have had in my 'bought' bikes. So i believe this is a great idea.
What do you know about what's safe? On what basis are you saying that bamboo is not a good choice for a bike frame? Please tell me what it is that you are an expert in.
Osquar smarino5 years ago
There are american professionals that are building bikes out of bamboo. A professional female cyclist used a bamboo bike from calfee designcalfee design in a cross-something competition. The bamboo is as strong as regular carbon-based frames and more absorbing when it comes to taking hits.
Just a bit of info for you
ayasbek (author)  smarino5 years ago
I would argue that a bamboo bike is safer than a carbon bike - but that is just a guess. Keep in mind that people have built some pretty burly bamboo mountain bikes. My bamboo bike is still going strong after six months of almost daily riding. I don't think bamboo bikes are going to help the third world - the majority of parts on a bike are steel or aluminum even if you build the frame out of bamboo. The wheels, bearings, cranks, gears, brakes etc all need to be manufactured with industrial techniques. A frame alone is not going to get you very far.
PESSIMIST! (spelling?lol)
uhh have you read to be NICE policy? its really NICE to read
smarino you just got NICELY served. WHAT NOW! sorry. thats nice right?
idk but it was funny and true
Oh stop it, Grandma. You can cure bamboo to be tougher than steel. Besides, I've broken at least two steel frames. And finally, who in their right mind would be hauling ass without a helmet on a bike they made out of bamboo?
liny OhWheelie6 years ago
steel is stronger than bamboo under certain stress, then, it reaches its limit and turns britle. To break a steel frame, you have to put it under great stress. Bamboo cannot resist so much stress but it will break slower making its limits be better than steel's. If you see it this way, both are almost same in streangth depending on the acitivity: mountain bike, or just biking across the beach. See the difference between activities?
lil jon1685 years ago
nice i want to build 1 but i dont have any were to get bamboo
[http://yucatanbamboo.com/index2.php?page=iron ]You can also google bamboo pole suppliers and may come up with some local hits. This email used to be good for iron bamboo, I haven't emailed them in awhile yucabambu@aol.com
woodfinery5 years ago
Very nice post. I've been looking for info on building bikes with bamboo. Have you looked into iron bamboo from yucatan?http://yucatanbamboo.com/index2.php?page=iron
chriscook425 years ago
How did you manage to keep the rear fork parts at the same angle and in line with eachother, and, did you recess the rear fork or any other parts into any other tubes?
Hello, please help! It seems i really screwed up picking my bamboo. Almost all the nodes have little branches sticking out. Is there any way you know i could get rid of them without ruining the looks of the whole thing?
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try taking a sander to it- it could work.
ayasbek (author)  algodecolores5 years ago
I really don't know. Experiment - you will figure this one out. Trust yourself.
cletero5 years ago
Remember, you can make a frame (or any structure) out of any material you want, as long as you use enough material to withstand the stress (ie: thicker tubes) and the resulting structure is stiff enough (normally, in a bike, a stiff enough frame will also be strong enough). Fatigue must also be considered. So no material is "stronger than other", what you obtain at the end is a lighter or heavier bike.
tricky dick5 years ago
I have a serious question for you. i am wanting to make a... "redneck" pocket bike so to speak. it involves a relatively small size in bike, a riding mower tire for the back wheel, front wheel unchanged, a handle bar break routed to the throttle, all running with a chainsaw motor (for torque). would you think bamboo, in the right amount, would make a sturdy enough body for me?
banksos5 years ago
How much of the tubes coming out of the bottom bracket shell actually went inside of the bamboo (like reverse lug style)? Or did you just butt the bamboo and the remaining tubes and hemp the heck out of it? I'm stuck trying to figure out how much metal tubing from the steer tube/bottom bracket/dropouts, if any, need to extend into the bamboo tubes. Your thoughts would be extremely helpful! Thanks! Sakeus
hecka nice bike holmes
Chornbeak5 years ago
Im just starting a build on a bike, and I was wondering if using gorilla glue might work better than epoxy
Nkevin905 years ago
ha haa, I'm sorry to have bothered you so much, but I rode to and from school yesterday with the bike (12 miles round trip), no problems at all! I re-did the headtube and all is fine and dandy. just wanted to thank you so much for everything. greattt instructable!I hope to make more!

http://miami.craigslist.org/brw/bik/986869529.html
ayasbek (author) 5 years ago
Hi Everybody! So the bamboo bike has been shelved for the time being. Rode it for a little over 6 months - the joints are all great and everything looks good. The reason I stopped riding it is that the wobble from the top tube is just enough for me to be worried. I am convinced it is the top tube that is just too thin - this allows the seat tube to go one direction (left) and the head tube to go the other (right). I don't think this is going to kill me but I would like to fix this issue. So the bike has been taken apart and I plan on reinforcing the top tube (wrapping it with hemp and epoxy) before rebuilding it. I will keep you posted and I also hope to post the awesome pictures of one of Calfee's bikes... My next project is a bamboo trailer - I hope to have that done before the summer. -Alex
Nkevin905 years ago
ha haa; finally got to this step. it's been a while, but I told you I was doing this for sure. perfect directions so far, by the way. when you file the bindings down, what happens to the fibers? is there any special way to do this?
ayasbek (author)  Nkevin905 years ago
No, mine filed down very neatly - no fibers sticking out or anything like that. I also only removed a small amount - maybe a 1/8th of an inch. I figure that you don't actually need that much for structural integrity. The joints have all been fine.
qon duixote5 years ago
beautiful piece of machinery. way to keep up the DIY spirit
cletero5 years ago
Excellent! What pattern did you use to wrap the hem around the different tubes? How much material did you use (ej, how many turns?)
trecho5 years ago
Hey ayasbek, I am thinking about starting a project like this, and I'm just thinking about your very long seat tube-- is this to hold the seat post more securely? Also, did you ream out the bamboo to accept the seat post you have? I read the comment about your belief that the wobble in your bike is from a top tube that is too narrow-- I was under the impression that the most heavily stressed tubes on the bike are the chain stays and down tube. Is it perhaps these that are too narrow? Or perhaps that the joint from the down tube to the head tube is bamboo-to-bamboo without a metal reinforcement through the joint like there is at the bottom bracket? Thanks!
trecho trecho5 years ago
Ah! I forgot-- also, is there any reason not to cure bamboo in an oven?
f13tch5 years ago
What a great idea, I'm a youth worker and I repair old bikes as part of my project. We also have a farm on site and i'm plaining on planting a load of bamboo and getting the kids to grow and build their own bikes. Ive started to build one and i'm butchering an old frame and just replacing the old bars. If anybody lives in Yorkshire (Uk) and would be able to offer any advice or support it would be apricated. Cheers
screemrhed95 years ago
how did you manage to heat the sections up without them popping? were they all drilled out or something?
ayasbek (author)  screemrhed95 years ago
poke holes in the nodes inside the poles! Sorry, that should be in there. Quite exciting when you don't do that....
ayasbek (author)  ayasbek5 years ago
I used a long, thin, steel rod - the nodes are actually really soft and easy to break.
cool, thanks man.
Nkevin905 years ago
do you by any chance know what type of bamboo they helped you pick out?
Nkevin905 years ago
hey, I'm definatelyyyy building one, if not more of these things this year (I go to an environmental science themed high school and I'm sure they'll eat the idea up), so don't be surprised if these aren't the last questions I've got for you. the rear dropouts I see here; what kind of bike did you get them off of? I can sort of see that where the seat stay would normally weld on doesn't match your frame geometry. what did you do about that? also, was it difficult to fasten them on, considering there isn't any tubing sticking out of them? lastly, the bottom bracket shell. it seems you went with a euro bb, or whatever they're calling them nowadays; the ones that are standard for square/ taper bottom brackets and three piece cranks. did you out of curiosity, get yours off a lugged steel frame from the seventies or eighties or so? did you also choose to go with the smaller bottom bracket size, as opposed to an american shell with an adapter, so you could get more hemp around the thing? sorry for all the inquires, but I promise you pictures and the whole ten yards for everything I do to build mine ; ) thanks, Kevin
ayasbek (author)  Nkevin905 years ago
The rear dropouts were in fact from a children's bmx bike - they are a lot like track bike dropouts. There was enough metal left on them to wrap epoxy/hemp even though the angles did not match. If you are not building a fixie or single speed then you can get much nicer dropouts. The other option is to buy brand new dropouts. Either way just be careful in how you attach them. I filed little grooves in them to give the hemp something to bite onto. The bottom bracket is straight up off of a 80's steel road bike. I think it is called an english style - 1.37 in x 24 TPI - 68 mm width. It takes the most normal bottom bracket you can buy with square taper ends. Good luck. I will try and find the pictures I took of one of Calfees bikes so you can get some ideas of how else it can be done.
cletero6 years ago
Nice instructable! Just one question: what pattern did you use to wrap the hem around the different tubes?
Llewellyn6 years ago
what type of epoxy did you use? and how well has it held up? my friend and I are currently in the process of sticking everything together.
ayasbek (author)  Llewellyn6 years ago
I put the type of epoxy in step 5. Check it out.
oh. ha, i'm blind
ci857s76 years ago
I was trying to straighten some bamboo frame I carved out (about 5mm wide and 1.5mm thick) for kite-making with a torch. The frames, after it was cooled, actually turned out more flexible and it stayed bent when I bent it (slightly, without breaking them), like a metal wire. It did not have the stiffness it originally had, and did not return to original shape when flexed. So I did some search read a research article showing that heat treating a bamboo reduces its shock resistance. Here's the link: http://www.irg-wp.com/Documents/IRG_01-40216.pdf Just my thought. Maybe it might gain its strength back after few days? Time will tell. Well, this kite wont fly now, but will make a nice ornamental piece~
it sounds like you steamed it. bamboo has a high water content.
ayasbek (author)  ci857s76 years ago
Thanks for the article. I am not sure if I am recalling this correctly: Shock resistance is similar to elasticity - a rubber band has a very high shock resistance whereas a china plate has very little. The heat treating I did made the bamboo harder and stiffer. I did not submerse the bamboo in 200 C oil like they did in the article. I have no idea what happened with your kite frame. Maybe too much heat treating?
tonychrenka6 years ago
wow first of all this is great. I am working on collecting all the materials and i am stumped where to buy the bamboo and where to find such a large amount. If you could help me out finding an online sight that would be great.
skunkbait6 years ago
Great instructable! I think I'll build one for my sister. She's one of those New York City bicycle nuts. I'll stick to my motorcycles as they feel safer (and help keep me fat). Maybe I'll make a bamboo Harley!? Bamboo is amazing stuff. Strong, light and razor sharp when split. When I lived in the South Pacific, some of the islanders used to make shotgun barrels out of the stuff! They were usually good for at least 5 or 6 shots.
Rectifier6 years ago
So, how much did this bike wind up weighing in the end? Is it lighter than aluminum? This looks like a great idea, yet another thing in the pile of "to build someday"
ayasbek (author)  Rectifier6 years ago
Just over 19 lbs - about a lb lighter than the steel frame with the same components! I think my joints are very heavy, the tubes are light...
arboles6 years ago
ayasbek, eres un crack, tio. Esta es una de las cosas mas impresionantes que he visto. Enhorabuena!!! ayasbek, you are great, man. This is one of the coolest things i ever saw. Congratulations!!
KrasH446 years ago
http://www.calfeedesign.com/Ghana2008.htm
http://www.calfeedesign.com/bamboo.htm

Not a new idea, but still a good one, as you all argue over everything about this idea, you should drop by the above links and do a little reading.
eklang6 years ago
What frame geometry did you go with? Did you end up copying an existing frame, or did you tailor the geometry to your personal measurements?
ayasbek (author)  eklang6 years ago
I copied my steel bike but added a little length to the top tube and gave the head tube a little more rake (my steel bike has some toe overlap issues).
c6h12o66 years ago
HELP! - Would fiberglass be an option instead of hemp? As I became over-zealous and started building with fibreglass on the joints. i.e. is it doomed to failure or is it ok to proceed?
ayasbek (author)  c6h12o66 years ago
Awesome! I am really stoked that your doing it. I think fiberglass is fine. It is a very strong material and is used in similar applications (kayaks, yachts, paddles, etc) Are you using cloth or strands? Both are probably ok, although with cloth you will probably end up with a lot of short fibers which is not so great. Make a few test pieces, if they seems good then keep going. Once you are done and your bike works make an instructable and share your experience with the rest of us. Good luck.
rc jedi6 years ago
even if i don't make a bike, I love the use of bamboo, I'm not an earth freak, I just think it's beautiful and an interesting challenge to use it in other projects. I use bamboo skewers on r/c planes as pushrods in the lightweight foamy planes. Light and cheap easy to get and use. Thanks for the inspiration.
johnpr6 years ago
awesome!! just a thought about the seatpost - have you seen the newer race bikes (both road and mountain) that have the seatpost as part of the frame, cuts down on weight and does not compromise structure. i just thought i would throw that out there for pondering. again, great instructable! john
Amadeos6 years ago
I love the idea. For those of you who worries about it breaking, just get some bamboo and cut it to fit around your current frame. Simple solution. If you cry about it being too much work, then you shouldn't be on this site. +1 Great!
gizmo196 years ago
am i the only one that noticed the strong bad pun?
benhudson6 years ago
An extremely good Instructable, with everything that should be there. Plus a great idea that may well come to fruition when I need a new bike. Good work :) +1
octochan6 years ago
this is awfully kewl, but I want a cruiser bike, and I don't know if bamboo can be made into the kind of curves you need for one of those and still be structurally sound. the link in the comments on grafting trees into three legged stools is great, too.
I like the brooks saddle, it adds a touch of class.
DrSimons6 years ago
Ah, excellent instructable. Makes the whole deal seem totally doable despite my utter lack of bike knowledge! I've been wanting to build 1 of these ever since that carbon fiber bike frame instructable, but it wasn't nearly as clear about it as you are. A thought: I also know nothing about grafting....but imagine how awesome it would be to graft together a frame out of live bamboo, partially or totally eliminating the need for joints?
it's drafting or graphing
I don't know if you're kidding or just honestly don't know what a "graft" is.

A graft is effectively taking a piece of material and connecting it to another (not necessarily similar material) and securing them together. I've heard it mostly for biological practices, such as grafting skin on a burn victim, or grafting a tree-branch from a donor tree to a surrogate one.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grafting

I don't know if a grafted frame would be more or less strong that one that was epoxied, my biggest concern would be the knots formed by the graft.

I guess he could also incorporate the immobile metal parts that needed to be in the bike, dropout, etc...

You must not have looked deep enough on wikipedia... some ridiculous grafts have been accomplished with big trees such as the Basket Tree, the Cube Tree, etc. If bamboo can be grafted, then the only question is how strong the joints would be. If they are strong enough, then it's perfectly reasonable to grow your own bicycle. This guy grows his own 3-legged stools!
doesn't bamboo take like a really long time to grow? I mean don't people keep single bamboo shoots for years in little pots?
Bamboo is one of, if not the fastest growing plants in the world....either they have special varieties, or they bonsai them in the little pots. I used to have bamboo in my yard and it grew crazy fast...
Hello if I'm not wrong bamboo is the slowest growing woods!!!!!!!
No, it's pretty fast growing... and it's not wood, it's a variety of grass.

Here's all you need to know...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bamboo
Well thanks for the info I actually thought it was wood and thanks for not being a jerk about it.
A testament to how quickly bamboo grows...
http://www.google.com/search?q=bamboo+torture&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

Now, the "bonsai bamboo" that you're talking about is actually NOT related to bamboo at all.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucky_bamboo
yeah, those look like bamboo, but they grow much slower... when mature, bamboo can supposedly grow 4ft in 24 hrs I've heard.
lbaran6 years ago
Why not name it Panda's Delight? That is a great idea and Bamboo is such a great material. How much did it weigh in the end?
leebryuk lbaran6 years ago
I like that name a lot. How about Panda Express? We had a restaurant named that in the area. Nasty cheap food but it was great while I was in college.
lbaran leebryuk6 years ago
As long as it isn't trademarked, I think you have a winner. You just need one of those cute japanese-style stickers of a panda to stick on it... ok or maybe not.
I'm with the panda name people - although Panda Expresse is a lame chain franchise dealie, the name rocks.
Dude, Panda Express! that's classic... If not that, then the Orient Express and get some Agatha Christie imagery there...
Panda Petals (pedals)!!
why does drilling a hole stop a crack from spreading? p.s. I am going to try building first bike this summer before I go to school, so I'm reading up on it. I probably won't start with a bamboo bike since I already have a different frame found at the dump, but if you know of any good resources I can use, let me know. thanks
Cracks propagate until something stops them (a defect in the material such as an inclusion or a material grain boundary). These areas have a lot of stress built up around the end of the crack. The larger the angle at the end of the crack, the less stress there is. A hole has no specific angle in it, reducing the internal stresses. If more force is placed on the crack, it can still spread past the hole.
Golem1006 years ago
Vintage Campy components add class to any bike. Great job.
reedz6 years ago
This is a great instructable. A suggestion if you were to do it again...I would burn the slot into the seat post, that way it doesn't crack while you are cutting it, just be sure to keep the surrounding area wet. Anways, great job. +1
dpocius reedz6 years ago
Or, drill a small hole where the end of the slot will be, then cut down to the hole. Maybe use a Dremel with a saw blade.
dplus6 years ago
this is sick. you really make me want to make one now...but i only have enough room in my apt for my current fixie. hopefully i can figure out someway to make one eventually. but has the riding been sturdy? have you been using this bike on a regular basis and have you noticed anything that might be of concern?
chrisayad6 years ago
"I used epoxy and hemp fibers on all the joints (no pun intended)." HAHAHAH even though I know ill probably never make most of the things I view, i always click on them hoping to gain some knowledge, and this time, a laugh. thanks from someone who used to crack those jokes all the time. next stop is the bamboo CAR hahahahaha keep it up
arni02026 years ago
Very Cool bike!!! I just bought a new mountain bike, but I would've loved to make my own bike. How much did it cost you to build it?
brzmaniac6 years ago
how about the bamboo badass
Q-bit6 years ago
name??

mr. bamboo???
=)

btw: niiiceee
that's so hot.
mpap896 years ago
when you were tempering the bamboo rods, did you need to drill out the barriers that separate the segments in the bamboo rods? or did you just go straight to heating it?
muddybikes6 years ago
Kudos on your accomplishment. What a fascinating machine. My girlfriend thought you should call it "Bamboocycle" with the "cycle" part being pronounced as in "icicle". Good work man.
Doctor What6 years ago
I like it! Question: How much did all the parts and bamboo cost you? And is it better to get previously dried bamboo? Or fresh cut bamboo and heat treat it yourself? I like the color you achieved.
ayasbek (author)  Doctor What6 years ago
I don't know if previously dried bamboo is better, but it is certainly lighter. Make sure that there are no cracks. I preferred using the green bamboo - fewer of the pieces split when I heat treated them. The approximate cost: bamboo: $15 epoxy: $40 hemp: $25 headset: $7 bottom bracket: $18 steel head tube: $5 fork: $100 seat binder and seat post: $15 sand paper, tape, gloves, tools: $50 The seat, bars, brake, cranks, chain, wheels and pedals all came off of my old bike. The bottom bracket shell and dropouts were free. I am fortunate in that I live in a town with a bicycle tool coop which made everything really easy and inexpensive. It also made it easy to find wrecked bikes to cut parts off of (bottom bracket shell and dropouts). The volunteer mechanics there also made life easy with constant good advice.
Thanx! I've been needing a bike for a while, so I'm thinking that this'll be wayyy better than a metal paint colored one. I think I have a bike shop in my area too, so it'll be easy. I'll have to find bamboo however...
CreedX6 years ago
Wow!Cool Instructable. I saw a couple of these in San Fransisco and I was wonder how they did it. Now I know.xD
This is pretty cool. I've recently been thinking of buying/salvaging parts to make my own bike...perhaps I'll try making a bamboo bike? Awesome instructable.
hooloovoo336 years ago
Cool man. I was actually thinking of doing this when i saw Craig Calfee's bikes. But i had no idea how strong bamboo was and how thick i needed to be to be safe. I like how you just went for it. Seems a little sketchy though....
mpap896 years ago
this is awesome. my one suggestion is that maybe you could try to add some pressure to the joints while they are hardening. i was thinking cover the wrapped parts in something like wax paper, then use a wide webbing or maybe some cloth to add some pressure to the joints. this would make them look cleaner and probably sturdier. and for individual frame part paragonmachineworks.com makes everything you need.
comander016 years ago
Wonder if it would be possible to use thicker bamboo and itegrate some shocks and decent forks into it.
ayasbek (author)  comander016 years ago
There is no limit to the size of the pieces you use. Just make sure that there is clearance for the cranks and sprockets. I know Calfee makes a full bamboo mountain bike. There is also a rugged, offroad, utility bike for people in Ghana that is made in a very similar way.
lol thats oddly awesome... umm.. umm.. hey u should make a BMX version, and take it off some mad jumps, see how long it takes b4 it goes snap :-P
LinuxH4x0r6 years ago
Awesome! Is it strong enough for off roading?
Just awesome.
Great job!
+1 rating.