Tag Archives: VeloBamboo

Sustainable Living Fair Hampton Roads, 2012

Thanks to all of our friends who came out to the Sustainable Living Fair at Webb Center on a wet weekend.


Firebending Bamboo Demonstration


We stayed warm with a propane torch, firebending bamboo both indoors and out. We sold out of bamboo pan scrapers, and did a decent trade in t shirts, too.

Now, back to work on “Mary Jane”…

Sustainable Living Fair 2012

VeloBamboo will be back for the 2012 Sustainable Living Fair at Old Dominion University. We’ll be giving two workshops this year, demonstrating DIY stencil- and screen-printing, fire-bending bamboo, and more. We’re offering FREE installation on any bamboo handlebar grips or fenders purchased at the fair, as well as bamboo bicycle test rides. Intrepid urban homesteaders can even try pulling one of our three different cargo trailers.

Come on out!

Bamboo Bike Trailers

Big thanks to Nick over at Simple-City for sending us plans to a tensioned bamboo bike trailer…we’ve got to clear three more frames off the build list before we can get started, but it looks like it’ll be a fun project.

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!

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.

Bamboo Fenders and Bandsaws

After installing a new blade on the bandsaw, I’ve been slicing up a new batch of bamboo fenders. That old Craftsman bandsaw is the best thing since sliced bread! Quick, smooth cuts with almost no splintering.

If you’d like to order a pair of fenders or handlebar grips, check out the VeloBamboo store on Etsy.

I’ve learned that it’s far easier to bend bamboo when it’s green, as opposed to dry, and thinner bamboo bends easier than bamboo of the same diameter, but a thicker wall. This is, by far, my best looking batch fenders.