Chronicle of a bike build

“The best bike is the one that you build yourself.”
— Motto of the Bamboo Bike Studio in Brooklyn, N.Y.

It was “an amazing coincidence,” said the e-mail from John Vandevelde, a friend, cyclist and fellow traveler on our bicycle journey across the United States in the fall of 2009.
“You wrote about bamboo bikes on your blog, which I read with interest as I always do, and the same day my good friend in LA, Jane Matz, sent me an e-mail about her son, Jonathan Matz, an urban planning graduate student at Columbia [University], building a bamboo bike.”
Jane Matz sent to John a series of photos on the bike-building project. John passed them along to me with a note that Jane and Jonathan said I was welcome to use the material in this blog.
Jonathan built the bike, which required 30 hours of labor, at the Bamboo Bike Studio in Red Hook, Brooklyn. As I wrote in the Feb. 7 blog post, the Bamboo Bike Studio, where customers fabricate their own bikes with the help of experienced instructors, is providing expertise to help start a locally owned and operated bike-building factory in Kumasi, Ghana.
The Brooklyn studio is working with Columbia University’s Earth Institute and its Bamboo Bike Project. The project was established to provide “safe, reliable and multi-purpose transportation in rural communities of sub-Saharan Africa,” says a Columbia website.

Jonathan Matz and his self-built bamboo road bike

The bikes to be turned out at Kumasi will be priced at the equivalent of about $65. The do-it-yourself bikes at the Bamboo Bike Studio cost a bit more. Jonathan wrote in an e-mail that the outlay for his road bike — including materials, instruction and the SRAM Apex compenents — was $1,877. That’s a pretty good price for a custom-built bicycle.
As he was building the bike, Jonathan chronicled the project with 79 photos, which can be viewed as a slide show.


1 Comment

Filed under Cool stuff, Cycling across America, Products, Urban cycling

One response to “Chronicle of a bike build

  1. John Vandevelde

    I find the bamboo bike fascinating. And the project in Ghana is inspirational. It very much embodies the concept of teaching someone how to fish rather than to just give them a fish.
    My only concern now is that I may have erred by putting Jonathan at Columbia when it may be NYU? I should remember these things. Regardless, Jonathan is a brilliant and wonderful young man. Either school would be lucky to have him. Plus he builds a mean bamboo bike! I congratulate him on a great job.

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