Our crewmember Justin got hold of the first Uganda frame equiped bamboo bike. Here is what he thought of it:
Bambooride ordered two sample frames from “Booganda” of Kampala, Uganda, Eastern Africa. When I saw them sat side by side in our workshop in Purkersdorf, Austria, I immediately asked if I could use one (the 56 cm, as it was my size), in order to put it through an on going urban test. Unfortunately I was told the 56 frame was destined for our test machine, however if it survived then yes why not the frame was mine to use.
Alex (our technical guy) got to work bolted the frame into the machine, which has been designed to simulate the stress caused by peddling hard, but of course at a much higher level. The poor frame had to endure three days and nights of being pushed and pulled from side to side, before I got to release it.
The frame was inspected and we were impressed, it had survived completely unscaved. Alex’s initial thoughts before testing were that this frame was reasonably slight and light in weight compared to others we had seen and he had some doubts to it’s overall durability and strength. These doubts have now of course been laid to rest.
Anyway with the machine testing behind us I was ready to make a start building the bicycle. I had the choice of whether to build a bike with gears or a no nonsense cityflyer or flitzer as they call them here in Austria. I decided to keep it simple and choose the single speed option as Vienna in reasonably flat and most of my riding would take place within the city, plus keeping maintenance to a minimum and being able to use the bike at a moments notice is always handy. My next decision was, which colour scheme. At Bambooride we offer a green with red version and a gold with beige. I was feeling bold and have never been shy at riding a brightly coloured machine so went down the green and red route. Once all the components were fitted, my test ride would actually be my ride home from Purkersdorf to the centre of Vienna (18kms). Needless to say I enjoyed the ride, but also impressed that nothing creaked or rubbed and not once did I have to get off and make some adjustments.
In the first week I rode the bike to work and back and covered in the region of 100kms of problem free riding. After this I had to love and leave the bicycle outside for a week on my covered balcony because I was off to Uganda to visit Booganda with Matthias our Sales and Marketing man.
In Uganda I got to meet my frames maker “Julius Kagwa” a young, but talented mountain biker and craftsman. I watched with interest over three days every process required to put together a bamboo frame. Luckily too I visited the village and saw the large clump of bamboo from which my bamboo sticks started it’s life from. All very interesting and if you want to know more about this please take a closer look at our website, you can find pictures and videos from our trip.
So back to Vienna. I arrived back and found we were in for a cold week with lots of snow. The weather report proved right and that is exactly what we got. Anyone who knows me will tell you I travel around Vienna by bicycle throughout the year whatever the weather is like, so for me I wasn't phased. However I wasn’t sure how the bamboobike would handle it. Over the week and another 100 or so kms covered I found the bike to be fine, well as good as a bike can be in such conditions. I thought maybe not having a metal frame would also be an advantage due to all that salt they put down and as as far as I know bamboo doesn’t suffer from rust like metal does.
Regarding the components, the bright green Schwalbe Durangos seem to offer plenty of grip and the Brooks imperial saddle with the top cutout is really comfortable, far more so from the off than my other Brooks saddle which took me quite some time to break in. The Brooks grips are bedding in nicely too and being leather the colour has changed for the better in my opinion to a darker brown and gaining a protective waxy sheen. My bell occasionally likes to ring when riding over cobblestones, but this I don’t mind as it makes me smile.
I am enjoying the ride, it is smooth and comfortable and flows nicely over bumps and uneven surfaces and a lot easier to live with on a daily basis than my other aluminium framed bikes. The bike also receives it’s fair share of attention. I have been approached on many occasions by inquisitive passers by, but from a marketing point of view all attention is welcome.
This weekend the bike will get a good spring clean and then lets only hope this winter will have an end some day.