FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions – Bamboo Bike Supplies

Frequently Asked Questions


General Questions

    Why build a bamboo bike?

    Building is an art and a process of discovery. Just imagine how much you’ll learn about bikes. Not only will you earn that special title of "bamboo maestro" but you’ll have the Holy Grail of every cyclist, a bespoke frame. Imagine the exhilaration of riding your own handbuilt bicycle.

    How difficult is it to build?

    Our Starter Kit come with all the difficult work already done for you. All the machining, mitering, knurling and material sourcing has been completed. There’s no heavy-duty metals to cut, nor additional machinery. In addition to our Illustrated Manual we also offer a selection of video tutorials to ensure you are never stuck during the build. 

    Is it safe?

    We have been testing and riding bamboo bikes since 2009. We can confidently say that bamboo is as safe as any other bike. Wood & Fiber designs have a long history of craftsmanship in boat building, airplane and buildings. With proper design and understanding of the material, they are beautiful, safe and wonderful materials to work with. As a plant that naturally absorbs carbon from the air, bamboo really is nature's very own carbon fiber. 

    Is the bike weatherproof?

    Yes, like outdoor decks and boats – our bikes can be finished with a weather sealer to protect against extensive moisture and UV damage.

    How much does the bike weight?

    Though our building process puts less emphasis on weight-saving, and more on functionality and safety. The frames generally weigh between 4-5 lbs which is on par with aluminum.

    Have you tested the bike frame’s strength?

    We have been riding test frames for well over 6 years now, testing them in real-world city and off-road conditions. They have good torsional rigidity, react well over pot holes, and have great seat-of-the-pants road feel. They’re just about as tough as any metal frame, being crash resilient and offer unique vibration dampening qualities on par with carbon fiber. In fact, one of our original bamboo bikes is used by Ines Brunn, a world renowned trick bike “gymnast”, who performs acrobatic stunts on it.

    How does it compare to Carbon Fiber? Steel? Aluminum?

    Carbon Fiber: Bamboo isn’t as stiff as carbon fiber, but for the average urban rider it’s plenty stiff and rides like any other bike. Weight-wise it’s lighter than steel and comparable to aluminum. But what makes bamboo special is that it offers an exceptionally smooth ride because of better shock absorption from road vibration – comparable to the performance of carbon fiber.

    Steel: Comparing bamboo to metal would be like comparing a wooden baseball bat to a metal one. When hit with a ball or a pothole on the road, the ‘buzzzz’ from a bamboo’s wood-like fibers is dulled by the ingrained qualities of the fibers, creating more of a mute vibration than a sharp ding in your body. Also bamboo is more crash tolerant than most people think… we sure ain’t using gardens stakes here!

    Aluminum: Compared to aluminum bamboo is able to absorb impact without cracking at a microscopic level because of its ability to flex – as it does in nature, swaying with the wind. Furthermore, in the event that the bamboo itself does crack, it does not fail in the way carbon fiber would. Cracked carbon fiber has a low flex tolerance and when failure happens, it is catastrophic (shards of fiber will go flying everywhere). This is due to the inner-nodes running through the bamboo tubes and also to the bast fibers running through the frame. In fact, we have made and tested pre-cracked bamboo bike frames, with 1/2 a tube! They could still support weight and did not fail catastrophically.

    What do I do if I want a custom frame?

    Easy, you can build with our Custom Kit or select a set of Bamboo Tubes if you want to build with your own parts. We keep the bamboo lengths long on these products so you can customize cut to your own size. 

    Specific Questions

      What is the geometry for the kits?
      All of our bicycle kits (Road, Mountain, Cross, 29er, Track) are available in Custom Sizes. The geometry and design for these left in the builders hands -- we offer a dedicated section in our instruction manual for this process.
      Additionally our Road Kits come in 3 pre-cut sizes as shown below:

      SPECS

      SMALL

      MEDIUM

      LARGE

      ST Angle

      73

      73

      73

      HT Angle

      73.5

      73.5

      74

      HT Length (mm)

      120

      120

      120

      TT Length (mm)

      540

      560

      640

      ST Length (mm)

      460

      520

      580

      Hub Spacing (mm)

      130

      130

      130

       

      How do I choose my frame size?
      For road frames, follow the sizing specifications below.
      Small 5' 7" or below 171cm or below
      Medium 5’ 7” to 5’ 11”
      171cm to 181cm
      Large 5’ 11” or above
      181cm or above
      What size wheels will fit the kit?

      The maximum wheel size for the S, M, L Road Frame Kit is 700 x 32c. Keep in mind there is some adjustment possible through the horizontal dropouts on frame (3cm for bolt adjustment). 

      For Custom Kits, we keep the chainstay and sea stays long so wheels sizes in access of 700 x 32c are possible. We can modify the kits accommodate fat tires, if you're building with wheels wider 32c drop us an email and we can set this up for you in the kit.

      What type of epoxy do you recommend?

      We have been using Entropy’s Super Sap CLR since 2011, it's great stuff. Here's a more technical answer for why we use it.

      What kind of bottom bracket can I use?

      Any ISO / English threadless bottom brackets will work, these are easy to find a your local bike shop. The width for the bottom bracket is 68mm.

      What size seat post can I install?

      25.4mm seat post, pretty standard at most bike shops.

      How long is the head tube?

      120mm

      What is the rear hub spacing for the frame?

      127mm wide

      How do I track my order?

      A tracking code will be automatically generated and mailed to you when your order(s) ship. Please check your email and spam folder. 

      Can I pickup orders locally?

      We no longer provide local pickups in Oakland.

      What payment methods are accepted?

      We accept all major credit cards as well as Paypal.

      Does the bamboo need to be torched?

      Nope, the bamboo tubes are structurally ready to build upon arrival. Here our technical spiel on torching bamboo.

      How do I waterproof the frame?

      Seal the frame with 4-6 layers of exterior polyurethane. You can find our tutorial on the process here.

      Can the joints be Tinted or Colored?

      Yes this can be done in two ways. We prefer the first method.

      Post coating: This method offers the most flexibility and is reversible should you mess up. Finish your frame with a few clear coats, instructions here. Add 2-3 more tinted layers to finish up. If you mess up you can sand the coating and reapply. Here's a great visual example.

      Additives: If you go this route, keep in mind that additives will reduce the strength of your epoxy and thus your composite. For the most part this is not an issue if you keep the additives below 5% of volume.

      Customization

      Can I build a fat bike?

      Fat bike frames are compatible with our CX Frame Kits and Tubesets. We recommend an additional 400grams of hemp stiffen the wider rear triangle. Please visit Paragon Machine Works for oversized bottom brackets.

      Can I build a 29er?

      29er frames can be built with our CX Frame Kits and as well as our Tubesets. Please visit Paragon Machine Works for oversized bottom brackets.

      Can I build a mountain bike?

      Mountain bikes can be built with our existing CX Tubeset. You will need an additional 400grams of hemp to extend the wrap lines and stiffen the rear triangle, seat stays and chain stays.

      Do you provide custom frame kits?

      As of January 2015, we no longer provide custom frame kits. However, many custom frames can be built with modification from our existing tubeset and custom kits. Please read over the parts list for each of our kits and drop us an email with your idea. Do checkout Paragon Machine Works for any specific parts needed.

       

      Returns

      How do I return a product? 

      If you are not fully satisfied with your purchase you may return it within 30 days of delivery. Please follow the 5 step instructions below to initiate your return. Actual shipping & handling costs are non-refundable. 

      Authorized return instructions:

      1) Email us at info@bamboobikesupplies.com

      2) Send us the order number and item number(s) of what you want to return.

      3) Wait for us to email the return address and RMA number.

      4) Send back the item(s) through UPS, FedEx or USPS.

      5) Email us the tracking number.

      Once we confirm your return has been delivered we will initiate your refund within 10 days. Refunds are made directly to the credit card or paypal account used to make the purchase. Returns made without an RMA number or without adhering to the instructions above may incur a penalty or may not be refunded.