Build Your Own Bamboo Bicycle With This Awesome DIY Kit

The Bamboo Bicycle Club helps people that are passionate about cycling to build and ride their own self-made bicycles.

(Courtesy of Bamboo Bicycle Club)

Bamboo isn't just panda food. Bamboo is the world's fastest growing plant and it is extremely strong. This makes it a perfect building material for a host of items including bicycles.

The Bamboo Bicycle Club located in the UK was founded in 2012 by James Marr and Ian McMillan, two engineers and bicycle lovers who wanted to give people the chance to build their own bikes from scratch.

They choose bamboo to build the bikes from because it is lightweight and shock absorbent. The composition of bamboo disperses road bumps rather than conducting them. It was the bumpy roads and rough rides that led Marr to first think about building a bike from bamboo.

"I was living in rural Wales and cycling 17 miles a day for work. By the end of my rides, I couldn’t feel my hands – all the vibrations had travelled up through the frame and numbed them," Marr told Treehugger.

While bamboo bicycles are not new, they were first patented in England in 1894, the idea never picked up steam commercially. Now, bamboo bikes are gaining popularity because they are made of sustainable materials and can be composted after many years of use.

What makes the bicycles from the club unique is that each one is handmade, built from scratch, by the owner. Absolutely no previous bicycle building experience is necessary. And there are two ways to do it.

The club offers two-day courses, over the weekend, where you (capped at six people per session) are guided through the building process with experienced bike builders. The club provides all the equipment, tools, and locally grown bamboo.

After the frame is completed, the joints are wrapped with Yorkshire hemp that was soaked in a plant-based eco-resin and then wrapped with electrical tape. So far, 826 people from 42 countries have built their bikes at the workshops.

The other method is to buy a kit and build your bike at home. The hybrid frame kit makes a great base for a commuter, city bike, or tourer. The bikes can be customized any way the owner wants, including fixed gear, single speed, disc brakes, and more. The kits come with a complete manual and how-to videos.

There are also home build kits for road riding and off-road bikes. So far, 980 kits have been sold to people ages 12 to 90. One kit was even shipped to Tokyo, Japan.

The partners have been asked and have refused to sell pre-built bikes. "When you buy a bike, you're so far removed from how it's manufactured," Marr told The Independent. "There's no connection with the frame. By the end of our workshops people become really connected, getting much more obsessive, lining up nodes on the wood… that's really nice to see."

All the profits are reinvested into research and development and the club works with universities to test prototype technology to improve on bicycle building.

So, if you are passionate about cycling, and care about the environment, give a Bamboo Bicycle a spin. If you are planning to be in London, register ahead, and you can join a workshop.

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