In the beginning, there was bamboo…

Just choose the bamboo that feels right?  Seriously?!

A few short minutes after introductions at the Bamboo Bicycle Club, there we were; handling and choosing the bamboo for our bicycle frames.  Obviously, we were given guidance on the desired circumference and internode measurements.

Step 1: choose the bamboo that ‘feels right’…

This was no casual meander into the world of bamboo.  ‘With great power comes great responsibility’ popped into my head.  The power of choice.  The responsibility of knowing that what I picked will have to carry my belongings and me on lengthy voyages.  Oh, the pressure..

We were snapped out of our wide-eyed reveries and hand-held through what can only be described as one of the most satisfying days I can recall.  It was like being in Santa’s workshop.  Measuring, marking, drilling, filing, sanding, taping… and by the end of day 1, my bamboo was starting to look like a bicycle frame.

End of day 1: time for a bamboo beer

Day 2, in simple summary, consisted of sticking all the bits together with bandage-like strips of hemp soaked in resin.  Wrapping our frame joins, lovingly securing our handcrafted stems; it was creatively cathartic.

Day 2: hemp and resin joins

Days 3 and 4 consisted of hours and hours and hours of sanding.  First with a machine, which already felt intuitive and pleasing.  But then came the numerous hours of finer sanding, blemish-filling and more sanding by hand.  By this point I was getting to know every nook and cranny of my frame.  This is not a feeling you can get from buying a bike off the shelf.  This is an intimate, loving relationship between maker and materials with a wonderfully slow, manual process.

Days 3 & 4: sanding, sanding, more sanding

Although I like the theory of being able to see the raw, natural joins, I wanted the lines of the frame to remain fluid and seamless.  So I had the idea of painting the lugs (the joins) a nice, light shade of yellow, which I might then subtly decorate.

Sanding and ideas of natural decoration

Cue James opening the pot of yellow that he had in stock.  This was the visual equivalent of emptying a bag of sour sweets into your mouth all at once.  WOW… not quite what I had in mind.  After talking around the pros and cons of subtly vs boldly making a statement (and also slightly influenced by impatience and wanting to spray my frame immediately!), I decided to go for the ‘melonengelb’.  Go boldly…

Day 5: wow, that is YELLOW!

Days 6, 7 and 8 were spent pimping my ride.  The plain bikes look fine and all, magnificent even, but I have a bit of an arty heart.  And if this bike is going to be my home, my adventure companion and a huge part of my world, then I want something just a little bit different that reflects what’s important to me.  (And I want some words of encouragement for when the hills are tough…)

Sun, seeds, plants, plankton, magnificent marine creatures, the oceans, mountainous lands, towering trees…
Don’t stop until you’re proud – the top tube
Today is going to be super duper
I want to see what happens if I don’t give up
Ready for parts!

So for now, I’m eagerly awaiting the call to tell me that all the parts have arrived and I can once again delve into the magical world of the Bamboo Bicycle Club workshop.  Until then I have to busy myself with destination research and route planning…

8 thoughts on “In the beginning, there was bamboo…

  1. Man! You are awesome, I love that you bought this domain name back in borneo yonks ago and that you are so committed. I love your bike and I love everything you stand for!

    1. Oooh, thank you so much for your kind words. I am just finding my way around, and only just saw your comment. Thank you, looking forward to catching up soon in NZ. x

    1. Hello Lily, thank you so much for having a read. I promise I will write more soon. I just arrived in Sydney and I am staying with friends and having meetings with environmentally awesome people before going to New Zealand. Stay awesome. It was super lovely to see you all last week. Lots of love, Miss B. Xx

    1. Well, how kind of you. Thank you. I have got Sunny as far as Sydney in one piece. It was quite stressful wrapping her up for the journey, but I can’t wait to get out riding on her and doing some kiwi beach cleans once I get to New Zealand in a couple of weeks.

    1. Thank you! So glad you can see it! It is great to ride. Really smooth. I am looking forward to unpacking it and rebuilding it next week when I get to New Zealand. So much love to you both, see you next time I am home. X

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