Bamboo Bicycle Club – I Want to Ride My Bicycle



Bamboo Bicycle Club

 

“It’s not really all about us, but you guys who love your bikes!”

 

I’m not much of a cyclist. I never was. From an early age, I recall trips to the local bicycle shop with my parents in search of the coolest, flashiest looking bicycle available in my size, with every intention of riding the thing… once. Bright red in colour, names like ‘Apollo’, or ‘Comet’, it was destined to rust in our garage for years to come.

When vising the houses of friends, if the idea of ‘going for a bike ride’ presented itself, I’d attempt to avoid it at every opportunity. I’d play it cool; ‘I’ll walk, you ride’, if they’d broken through the defense of my hope of them not owning a spare bicycle. But one day, the inevitability came, almost like a rite of passage, in the form of being put through a gruelling ‘Cycling Proficiency’ course at school. No stabilisers allowed. To this day, I’ve vivid memories of being padded head to toe through an irrational fear of falling off, cycling gingerly almost in circles at sunset on the street outside my house. Luckily at this age, a sense of embarrassment and self-consciousness had not set in yet. Needless to say, I passed the test, driven by a desire for it to be over and done with, and I never touched a bicycle again. I still haven’t. Fast forward to adulthood. Growing up in a circle of friends who enjoyed the fixie bike, and upon visits to London, witnessing the rising popularity of ‘Boris bikes’, it’s hard to deny a sense of regret about my stubborn nature. Cycling, it would seem, has never been more popular, with enthusiasts finding new and innovative ways to keep the sport alive.

 

Introducing, The Bamboo Bicycle Club. Founded by bike riding engineers James Marr and Ian McMillan in 2012, the brand, based in Hackney Wick, London, came to the idea after a plethora of enthusiastic experiments in building bamboo bikes, seeking to build a community with a shared appreciation for building their own environmentally friendlier bamboo bicycle frames from scratch.

 

The concept of a bamboo bicycle is not a new idea – the idea steps back to the late 19th century, first unveiled in England by the Bamboo Cycle Company in April 1894. However, it’s hard to deny there are nagging concerns in the back of the mind when one imagines riding a wooden bicycle. Is it going to be strong enough? And would splinters be a problem?

 

Bamboo Bicycle Club

Bamboo Bicycle Club


Bamboo Bicycle Club

 

Put all worries to rest – bamboo actually has the ideal properties, making it the perfect material for bicycle construction, a statement which has been reinforced by research carried out by a number of academic facilities, including the Universities of Princeton, Zurich and Oxford Brookes, to name three. James, Ian and the team spent four years investigating their craft from every angle, researching and experimenting with bamboo frames. The nature of the material dictates its flawless vibration dampening effects which effortlessly absorbs any and all bumps in the road, ensuring the smoothest ride possible on the roughest of terrains. Bamboo boasts a higher in-tension than steel, and is reportedly six times more dampening than carbon. Embodying resilience, Bamboo Bicycle Club’s bespoke ‘build it yourself’ bikes have travelled all over the world, participating in the European amateur scene, speeding down mountains and executing the most exciting BMX stunts, proving that these bamboo bicycles are capable of just as much as a regular bicycle.

 

The Bamboo Bicycle Club began as a weekend workshop from their warehouse in Hackney Wick, which as its popularity grew, inevitably metamorphosed into home build kits, with more and more people across the country becoming interested in the bespoke craft. And with these ‘flat pack’ kits, self-assembly has never been easier. There’s no welding, heat treatment or heavy machinery involved. The kits are created with people of all ages and abilities in mind, and the Bamboo Bicycle Club’s team are on hand to provide as much assistance as necessary. The London brand are passionate believers in the fight against mass consumption, opting for a more custom and creative future, where people will strive to create the ideal product to suit them.

 

Lightweight and durable, bamboo as a material is lighter than both a steel or aluminium frame, meaning the rare occasions where one would need to carry a bicycle have never been easier. The frames are held together using a hemp webbing, which is soaked in an epoxy resin and carefully wrapped around the joints. This can be easily applied, and for that authentic wooden look, can be finished to an immaculate standard.

 

Bamboo Bicycle Club

Bamboo Bicycle Club

Bamboo Bicycle Club

 

With the right care and attention, Bamboo Bicycle Club’s ‘build it yourself’ bicycles can easily provide the owner with anywhere between 10 and 15 years of smooth rides and comfort. To this end, the London brand choose bamboo species that are naturally resistant to degradation.

 

For the most part, the Bamboo Bicycle Club offer a quarter of frame sizes – small, medium, large and extra large, with a frame size available calculator available to download from the website to help customers choose the size right for them. Additionally, for something truly unique, the Bamboo Bicycle Club offer a custom frame option. These frames are designed specifically with the rider in mind, and if riders have a frame they particularly love but wish it to be replicated in bamboo, this can be arranged. This custom creativity is something the brand revel in – they’ve spent five years building their dream bikes, and want to encourage riders to do the same; in their words, “if you’ve got a crazy concept, we’re interested!”, meaning the possibilities are truly endless.

 

Remaining true to their British roots, the brand source their chromoly, aluminium and titanium tubing from British cycling specialist company, Reynolds, and go to every measure to ensure delamination does not occur. The bamboo utilized by the Bamboo Bicycle Club is sourced in the UK from an importer, where each piece is hand selected using James and Ian’s cycling experience. This insight gave the two a keen eye for maturity and consistency, both of which are important. Bamboo is then held in stock for up to four months before being utilized to ensure it naturally acclimatises.

 

Bamboo Bicycle Club

Bamboo Bicycle Club

Bamboo Bicycle Club

 

But how long does building a bicycle take?

 

Not as long as you’d probably think. To build a complete bike frame, with wheels at al., riders are looking at around 3 days, or 6 evenings. Putting the frames together couldn’t be easier; the Bamboo Bicycle Club’s manual is based on the teaching of countless first time builders at the brand’s Hackney Wick workshop. Going the extra mile, help is available via email, telephone and Skype.

 

 

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