Frame-building has long been the remit of expert builders and craftsmen; building your own bike frame by hand is something you could dream about, but not a project you could take on without a big investment. A small company called Bamboo Bee is trying to change that, though, with their BIY 2 kit, which allows mere mortals to build a bike frame in around 5 hours, and for around $300.
How Does It Work?
According to the BIY 2 Kickstarter, all you need to do is order the building jig and the frame kit, and you’ll have everything you need (backers can get one of each for $249 before they go up to $299 for retail). Using the jig, tubes, “in-house fibre” (which I assume is the joint wrap), cable holders, dropouts, and headset and bottom bracket, you should be able to build up a full frame in 5 hours.
No epoxy is needed, and the jig is adjustable to accommodate a number of different frame designs; Bamboo Bee lists road, 26/29er mountain, “mixte woman,” minivelo, and kids’ designs that will be available when the kit launches. Instructions will be delivered via an app that walks you through the process.
You can check out this video that shows the entire 5-hour process in 2 minutes:
I have to say, it does looks pretty fun. You can also order custom tube lengths to get a specific fit for your bike—and the kit remains the same price.
Building Up a Complete Bike
Of course, just building up a frame isn’t going to let you ride anywhere; you’ll still need a fork, a set of wheels, a component set, and someone to install it. You can do all of this yourself (you can even order grouppos from Bamboo Bee), or you can have someone at the shop do it. Getting everything set up correctly requires a lot of tools, and unless you have all specialty tools you’ll need, you’ll probably want to let a mechanic at a shop take care of it.
I asked Bamboo Bee about what else you’d need to complete the bike, and they noted that you’ll also need some more tools if you want to put a professional finish on the bike, as it only comes with the necessary pieces to create a bike like the one in the video above. If you want a nicely finished frame, you’ll need a sander and your preferred finish.
Is It Worth It?
Not having built one up myself, I can’t speak to how easy or rewarding this process is, but it does look pretty cool. Building up your own frame—especially one with custom geometry—certainly looks like a lot of fun, and this is one of the very few ways you could do it without learning to weld, which sounds like a rather involved process.
So clearly not everyone is going to go this route, for a sure fire safe bet look at the Novara Gotham bike for crusing around the city.
Bamboo is reputed to ride very nicely as well; these won’t be the lightest bikes, but they may be very comfortable. Overall, it sounds like a fun weekend project, especially for people who want something a little more unique than a bike you can pick up down at the shop.
What do you think? Would you try building up your own frame like this? Will you be buying one of these kits? Share your thoughts in the comments below!