Bamboo in Tucson
When I met Anton a few months ago, I didn’t know what to think of the bamboo bike project he’d started on. It looked like an experiment in materials use, and a fun way to end up with a unique ride for pub crawls. He let me ride his first creation, which was quite a thrill. Here’s what happened to that bike late one night. When he asked if Matt & I would like to join him in Tucson for a building session, I jumped on the opportunity; it sounded like a nice break from a week of intensive bike-building at the Siren shop (ironic, isn’t it?). Mary was coming through town with her new Karmann Ghia, and since Matt is off the bike for a while it was a great opportunity for some serious tinkering.
I wanted a bike that could be ridden hard, and settled on a “hybrid” design of sorts. Being an aluminum guy, it made sense to start with a metal down tube & chainstays. Kinda like the Toyota Prius of bicycles. This metal “backbone” design is in use on carbon fiber bikes, so it seemed a good fit for the BAMbike.
Thursday PM- obsessed & geeky, stayed up late obsessing about the bike design. Intentionally did not visit Calfee’s site– for better or for worse, I wanted to go into it without too many preconceived ideas of how to build it.
Friday AM- Overslept. I arrived at the shop ready for action with espresso, Odwalla bars, and a banana. I jigged up for neutral-handling full 29er singlespeed. Some time later I ended up with this:
I was trying to kill four birds with one stone using the twin top tube design: If done right it would be pretty, provide good tire clearance without the need for bends, more points for lashing, and should be stiffer by virtue of the smaller triangles & shorter segments. I welded the seatstays very long with the intent of cutting them short to lug into the bamboo. I loaded up the Subaru with my sidekick.
Friday PM- late night arrival in Tucson, whiskey time with Matt.
Saturday AM- we all meet at the odditorium of design & structures. Anton shows his bamboo stash. I show my aluminum stash. All parties involved are excited. I get a brief rundown of mitering bamboo (low surface fpm!). I give a brief rundown of how to set up the jig, and calculate miter geometry. Oh yeah, and you’d better use a respirator when cutting that stuff; silicosis is bad news.
Saturday late AM- Sisal hemp soaking in resin, wrapping the joints. Dirty job, but kinda fun in a therapeutic way. I can see how, after some practice, we could get good at this. We go to lunch at Wilko, and I saw the next gotta-have cell phone handset. It’s starting to look like a bike.
Saturday early PM- determined to make these bikes come together, I crack the whip, while simultaneously cracking a brew… sometimes a Pale Ale can be just the right thing for the push to the finish line. Helps with the resin headaches too.
Saturday late PM- clean up (whoa). The Bag o’ Hammers is born, and set out of the way to dry overnight. Whiskey time. Late night desert exploration, on foot of course. Or in Matt’s case, on hobbly-wobbly knee.
Sunday early, early (stupid-early!) AM- Mary arrives at SonoraSiren, about 2:30am, driving the newly-rebuilt Karmann Ghia. She & her dad had put in some serious hours making this thing roadworthy. Props to pops on that one.
Sunday early AM- breakfast at a greasy spoon. Bad coffee, good livin’
Sunday AM- check on the Bag o’ Hammers. Resin is dry, everything’s remarkably stiff!
Sunday late AM- we change oil in the Ghia & prepare for the drive home. We embark on the long drive home, Subaru becomes the mothership while the Ghia gets her engine break-in at 60mph. Yep, 60mph: all. the. way. home. Mary will be quick to remind you that it can go faster. I’ll leave that story for Mary to tell.
So there it is. A whirlwind weekend of work that isn’t. I’ll be building the Bag O’ Hammers & riding it soon. Stay tuned for the report!