Bike Spotting: Handmade in Bamboo—by You?

19 Aug

The beauty and creative spirit of handmade bicycles draw thousands of bike geeks like me to the shows like the North American Handmade Bicycle Show in cities like Austin and Sacramento. But for some bike geeks, admiring the handcrafted work of others isn’t enough. They need to make one for themselves.

If you are one of these Makers, you should know that in one weekend you can build your own bicycle frame–out of bamboo. Like Brad did at the Bamboo Bike Studio in San Francisco last year. I met Brad on my evening commute on Caltrain where he gave me the quick run-down. In two days he built his single speed for about $800, which included everything: bamboo and resin for the frame plus a fork, drivetrain, handlebars and wheels.

I was impressed by Brad’s work. Being built in two days work by a novice, it’s not the finely-crafted precision machine of a Calfee or Boo Bicycles bike, but it looks sharp and feels solid. And most importantly, Brad’s handmade bamboo bike has served him well for over a year as a daily commuter to his job at the Tech Shop in San Jose, a place where Makers like him can build almost anything their minds can imagine.

Have you ever dreamed of making, or actually built, a bicycle? If not a bicycle, what would you make?

Location: Bicycle car on the Caltrain commuter railway, San Jose-Sunnyvale, California, USA


Posted by on August 19, 2012 in Bike Gallery, Bike Spotting


6 responses to “Bike Spotting: Handmade in Bamboo—by You?

  1. Rachel Unger

    August 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

    The headbadge is a pretty awesome idea. 🙂 I think overall it’s a pretty nifty idea – I wonder how they handle sizing? I mean, overnight gives time to sort it out. Maybe they measure you ahead of time and then give you the appropriate parts?
    Thanks for the reminder about the Tech Shop. I go by there from time to time, but haven’t yet managed to make it in to see about prices/logistics.

    • ladyfleur

      August 21, 2012 at 12:03 pm

      Brad said he’s planning a headbadge. I didn’t ask him how he would create it. Maybe there’s some equipment at the Tech Shop he can use to make a metal one.

      As for sizing the bike, I think they figure it out before you even show up. You give them your height, inseam, etc. I’m guessing that the first thing you do in the frame build is select and cut the bamboo.

  2. Leo Edwardsson

    August 22, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Bamboo bikes aren’t just for grownups anymore. Scooty Boo launched on Kickstarter yesterday 🙂

    • ladyfleur

      August 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm

      Oooh, little baby bamboo bikes are cute.

  3. djconnel

    February 11, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    I saw another one of these project bikes, this one with drop bars and relatively low-end road components, @ 22nd St Caltrain ridden by a relatively small woman who seemed an excellent candidate for custom. I was extremely impressed: I’d thought it was a Boo Bike until I asked her about it.

    • ladyfleur

      February 11, 2013 at 5:53 pm

      Kind of makes you want to build one, doesn’t it?


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