Bamboo Bike

About: I am a fourth year Architecture student who is interested in art, design and engineering. I am always looking for new projects and new ways to build things, and always enjoy Instructables because it is a gr...

***Just to start, I want to apologize for the quality of the images. I will try and replace them when I have the opportunity to take better ones outside when the weather warms up.***

This project was built, about a year ago, as the main piece in the portfolio I used for applying to post-secondary schools. It's inspiration came about from all of the other Instructables on the topic, particularly this one by BAMBOOBIKER. Many things at the time were big factors in making me decide to take on the project, I was working at a bike shop, I wanted experience working with metal, carbon fiber and bamboo together, and I needed a key piece for my portfolio.

There were three main components to this project. The first was creating the jig so that I could make sure that the frame of the bike would be true. The second was actually building the frame. The third and final stage was ordering and assembling all of the components to turn it into a functional bicycle.

There were a few issues that I ran into during this project. The main one was sourcing all of the materials. The difficult components for me to get were the 80-20 aluminum extrusions, the carbon fiber tow, the bamboo and the steel components that have to be built into the frame. I got both the 80-20 and carbon fiber from suppliers that were only a 40 minute drive away. The bamboo was an issue, because there isn't much of a market for it up here in Canada, and there are very few suppliers in general when it comes to getting the internal components for bike frames. Both the bamboo and the components came from the USA, the bamboo from Frank's and the components from NOVA. The bamboo is a special variety, nearly solid, so it is strong enough, but I would not choose to work with it again. More about that later.

Because all of the materials came from so many different places, the whole build time got pushed back. By the end of this project I had to skip some of my high school classes to stay home to get it finished for interviews. The seatpost was the last part to go in, and it finished drying about an hour before I stepped into the interview room.

The second issue that I ran into was that the carbon tow I bought was only 3k, [3000 fibers thick] instead of what I asked the supplier for, which was 12k [12000 fibers thick]. This meant that it took about four times longer to build up the carbon joints than it should have. Looking back at it now, I would have used woven carbon fiber strips at least an inch thick so that the joints would be faster to build and stronger when finished.

The third issue was realized after I finished the build, and after the interview when I got home and took the bike out for a ride. The bamboo is strong enough to support my weight, however the thin diameter still causes problems. Because the bamboo is thinner, the joints have less material to hold onto. The diameter also makes it easier for the bamboo to bend. All of this resulted in a bike that is way more flexy than any carbon bike I have ever ridden, and it makes it a little worrying to ride. When I hopefully get the chance to try this again, I will use hollow, wider diameter bamboo to try and avoid this.

Overall, this project was a huge learning process and, although it was extremely frustrating at times, was extremely rewarding. I learned to work with and combine materials that I hadn't previously used, and I got to learn a little bit more about dealing with various suppliers.

Thanks for reading!

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    6 Discussions


    4 years ago

    This is great. Do you think this would work for a recumbent trike? My dad is building me one using stainless steel but I think it will be too heavy. If bamboo is strong enough it would be perfect.

    2 replies

    There is a full instructable here on building a full recumbent trike frame out of bamboo, the same techniques should work on a regular recumbent bike.


    4 years ago

    You're hard work paid off! This is a really nice piece, and I'm sure you'll use the skills you picked up in the process while your at school and beyond. Good job

    1 reply