On the Bike Move

Thank you, BC, for embedding yourself in Team VeloBamboo. You looked mighty dashing in your black spandex!

Read the full report from your man on the street at AltDaily.


Bike Move!

It’s a bike move!

Saturday, January 7th, we will be moving into our new business location: Studio VeloBamboo at East Coast Bicycles in Ocean View, 9605 Granby Street.

It’s appropriate that we’ll be moving our equipment by bike: lugs, stock and barrels, it’ll be carried by bike in a beautiful convoy up Granby Street.


We’ll start with fresh-brewed Chemex Coffee and stovetop espresso in Riverview, and finish with fresh, homemade bagels in Ocean View.

Be there, or be square.


And a Bamboo Bicycle under the Christmas Tree

Almost two hundred years ago, Baron Karl von Drais saw the European grain harvest crash as the dust of Krakatoa blocked out the sun. Horses and cattle were starving. Baron von Drais figured there had to be a quicker way to move down the road, and voila, the velocipede was born.

Baron Karl von Drais on the original hobby horse.

It would take a few more decades before pedals and a chain drive would be added, but the basic building blocks of a bicycle were there: two wheels, steering, and brakes.

And now our daughter is learning to balance a bike by herself on an updated, bamboo “draisine.”

Abby and her hobby horse.

Go, Abby, go!


Bamboo Bike Studio Expanding

Awesome story from MAKE Magazine about BBS expanding.

Go make a bike!


How to install a pair of VeloBamboo Handlebar Grips

Tools & Materials Needed: Flathead screwdriver, WD-40 (optional), Soap, Water, Electrical Tape, Gorilla Glue, rubber gloves (optional), isopropyl alcohol, disposable rag.

Legalistic Disclaimer:If you’re really clumsy, you could poke an eye out, gouge your hand, ingest hazardous materials, glue your fingers together, or do any number of stupid things that end with a trip to the Emergency Room. Read all of the instructions at least once, and preferably twice. If you don’t understand what you’re doing, don’t start. Please wear all  safety gear that is appropriate to your skill level, including, but not limited to: gloves, glasses, and/or an apron.

1. Remove the current grips (if any).  If the grips are in decent shape, and worth re-using, they can be loosened up with a flathead screwdriver and some WD-40: work the screwdriver between the grip and the handlebar, inserting it about an inch or two. Squirt some WD-40 into the gap (the red straw will keep things neat). Then twist & pull the grip off. Really stubborn grips might need a second squirt of WD-40 on the opposite side.

Alternately, slice the grips with a utility knife, and peel them off the bars.

2. Clean the bars with soap and water: the goal is to remove any residual grip material or grease.

3. Dry off the handlebar with a rag.

4. Slide the bamboo grip onto the handlebar, and take note of  how large the gap is between the grip and the bar.

5. Remove the grip and wrap a ring of electrical tape around the handlebar at the very end until the grip fits onto the handlebar snugly. If the grip will not slide over the electrical tape freely do not force it! Bamboo will only stretch so much before it splits. Remove a layer or two of tape in order to reach the proper diameter.

6. Slide the grip onto the handlebar until it bottoms out. Note how far the grip reaches, pull it out approximately one inch (the width of 2 fingers), and wrap a second ring of electrical tape to the same thickness as the first, outer ring. Again, do not force the bamboo grip over the ring of electrical tape.

7. Remove the handlebar grip and fill it with  just enough water to dampen the interior walls. You can pour the water over the handlebars between the tape rings, but it is not strictly necessary.

If you like peeling glue off your fingers, then you may choose not to wear gloves (preferably rubber/latex/nitrile/disposable). Gorilla Glue is a fantastic, water-activated foaming glue. It will stick to just about anything, particularly skin and your favorite jeans. If it drips somewhere unwanted, immediately wipe it up with a rag dampened in isopropyl alcohol. Do NOT try to wash Gorilla Glue off with soap and water until after you have cleaned up with alcohol: you will only make the mess worse.

8. Lay a bead of Gorilla Glue from one tape ring to the other. Immediately slide the dampened grip onto the handlebar. If some of the Gorilla Glue squeezes out, immediately clean it up with an alcohol-dampened rag.

9. Twist the grip until it is in the desired position.

10. Wrap a thin ring of electrical tape around the inside end of the grip, covering the gap between the grip and the handlebar. This will keep the grip in place as the Gorilla Glue expands, and keep the glue from foaming out of the grip.

11. Repeat steps 1-10 for the other grip.

12. Let the glue dry for at least an hour, and preferably overnight.

13. Remove the rings of electrical tape installed in step #10.

14. Get on your bike and ride!

If, in the future, you wish to remove the grips in order to install new components or handlebar accessories, the grips can be gently tapped off with a rubber mallet and a wooden/bamboo dowel, and then reinstalled using the same steps.

The grips have been smoothed with a sanding sponge, and given several coats of polyurethane. If the grips get too dull or dirty, they can be restored with a scouring pad or sanding sponge, followed by a thin coat of poly or tung oil. Just like any other piece of wooden or bamboo furniture, your bamboo grips will benefit from an occasional treatment of furniture polish.


New Grips and Fenders

Golden Grips & Black Fenders on BBS Fixie

We finished up a batch of black bamboo (phyllostachys nigra) fenders and mostly golden bamboo (phyllostachys aurea) handlebar grips. Our fender mounts have gotten much cleaner and more robust: smaller pop rivets exert less pressure on the bamboo, and a thin strip of fiberglass distributes the pressure more broadly.

Black Bamboo Fender

As always, the “inside” of the fenders is coated in epoxy, to seal and strengthen it. The “outside” is polished with several coats of wipe-on polyurethane.

Fat & Skinny Fenders

Fenders come in two sizes: Minimalist and Utilitarian. Minimalist fenders are barely wider than a road bike tire (25-30mm), while the Utilitarian fenders are about twice as wide (50-60mm), and will catch most of the slop  from wider, knobby tires.

Black Bamboo Handlebar Grips

As on the fenders, all edges on the handlbear grips have been beveled, because we don’t like splinters. The grips come in two styles: symmetrical and asymmetrical. Symmetrical grips are cut from lower down on the bamboo culm (stalk), where the bamboo still is formed in a uniform, radially symmetrical cylinder. Farther up the bamboo culm, where the leafy branches grow, the bamboo becomes radially asymmetrical. The asymmetry can have a nice feel in the hand. Looking at the bikes in our shop, we realized that our favorite bar grips are similarly asymmetrical, whereas the less comfortable grips tend to be merely symmetrical. However, not all persons have the same tastes, so we offer both styles.

Bar-End Compatible Bamboo Grips

Finally, for those who like to ride with bar ends, we offer “uncapped,” tubular bamboo grips: no need to cut the end off of the grip before installing it. bamboo has a tight, cellular structure, which naturally absorbs vibration. Try a pair of VeloBamboo grips, and you may say “goodbye” to numb hands.

More pictures with better details can be seen on Flickr.


How to install a set of VeloBamboo Fenders

Congratulations on your purchase of a set of handcrafted bamboo fenders from VeloBamboo! Please follow the installation instructions below:

Legalistic Disclaimer:If you’re really clumsy, you could poke an eye out, gouge your hand, mis-align rim brakes, or do any number of stupid things that end with a trip to the Emergency Room. Read all of the instructions at least once, and preferably twice. If you don’t understand what you’re doing, don’t start. If you’re not confident in adjusting bicycle rim brakes, please ask for help at your Local Bike Shop. Please wear all  safety gear that is appropriate to your skill level, including, but not limited to: gloves, glasses, and/or an apron.

Tools Needed: Hex wrenches (varies according to bike, but probably 5 or 6mm), vice grips and/or needle-nosed pliers (optional). Adjustable wrench and/or metric “cone” wrenches (probably 8, 9 or 10mm). Bike Stand (optional).

Materials Needed: Blue Thread Lock. Towel or sheet. If your bike does not have dual/side-pull brakes then you will most likely need to purchase the appropriate nuts, bolts and washers. Your Local Bike Shop will have them in stock, or you can scrounge around in the metric section of a hardware store (and pay at least twice as much).

1. Identify the front and rear fenders. The front fender mounts via a short, right-angle metal tab, while the rear fender installs with a longer, curved metal arm. Set them aside for now.

2. In order to catch and see any small nuts bolts or washers which might fall off the bike, spread a towel or sheet out on the ground, and then place your bike on top of it.

3. Remove the retaining nut on the rear of the front brake.

4. Slide the retaining nut through the hole on the mounting tab of the front fender.

5. Replace the retaining nut, and tighten it until it is snug, but not tight.

6. Rotate the handlebars left and right, and note if the fender strikes the bike frame.

7. Lift the front of the bike, spin the front wheel, and note if the tire rubs on the fender. If your wheel is out of true, it may only intermittently rub on the fender. You will need to “true” your wheel before your fenders can be properly aligned.

8. If the fender strikes the bike frame, or rubs on a true wheel, then it will be necessary to adjust the angle of the mounting tab. Do not bend the metal tab by torquing the bamboo fender: the bamboo will break before the metal does. Depending upon the thickness of the tires, it may be easier to remove the wheel in order to make more room for hands and tools.

9. Grasp the metal tab with a pair of vise grips or pliers, and gently bend the tab at the existing angle. Check for clearance, and repeat as necessary.

10. It may  be necessary to add a second bend to the metal tab, directly in front of the mounting rivets. If so, grasp the tab and rivets with vise grips, and with a second set of pliers, grasp the metal tab. Gently bend the metal tab. Check for clearance, and repeat as necessary.

11. After adjusting the fenders to the proper position, apply a single drop of blue thread lock to the brake bolt threads, and then tighten the mounting nut for the front brake, taking care to align the brake pads properly. Test the brakes by spinning the wheels and pulling the brake levers.

12. Take your bike for a test ride, and check the clearance between your toes and the front fender, particularly during turns. It may be necessary to adjust the fender alignment again.

13. Repeat steps 9-11 for the installation of the rear fender. If you run into any clearance issues, send me pictures and a general description of the problem: bikesmith_at_velobamboo_dot_com.

The fenders have been smoothed with a sanding sponge, and given several coats of polyurethane. If the fenders get too dull or dirty, they can be restored with a scouring pad or sanding sponge, followed by a thin coat of poly or tung oil. Just like any other piece of wooden or bamboo furniture, your bamboo fenders will benefit from occasional tender loving care.