(This next year I will be embarking on a 5,000 mile ride from the Pacific Ocean of California to the Atlantic in New York, for the benefit of victims of human trafficking. Please help me by donating to either my “GoFundMe” page, or via PayPal at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Any donation, no matter the size, will help. Thank you).
By popular request, a running history of the bike build. I will add text later, including insightful notes from the builders themselves and snippets from letters regarding the process of design, all of which will weave a fun tale of how this bike came to be created.
From the beginning…
First thought. Mountain biking the Great Divide Trail, with gear stowed in packs mounted to the bike.
Then I thought, “Wait. That’s normal. Riding a bike down the Great Divide Trail. What if the bike is made of something different…unique…odd…recycled Corn Flakes? No. Won’t work. What about…salvaged apple cores? Hmmm. Nope. It would attract the bears. What about….BAMBOO? Bingo. So I found this picture, and had the idea firmly planted. It would be made from bamboo.
At one key juncture, I realized I had to change my route plans to allow for a chance to engage with other people on the issue of human trafficking. I would instead ride across the country, not just down the isolated Great Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico. I would try to find places where I could share the story of people who needed our help. A cross country trip was necessary. Plans were changed. Then, as I was scouring the internet looking for bike related thingies and such, I came across this odd, whacky looking thing. I followed my nose…trying to figure out why this bike existed, when there were perfectly good “normal” bikes that already existed. The claims were intriguing. Words such as “faster,” “Comfortable,” “fun” caught my eye. Terms such as “easier on your hands and wrists,” “not as hard on your back and neck,” “able to look around without straining your neck,” “saddlesores? What saddlesores?” and “able to ride much farther each day, comfortably” had me hooked. I’d need to find out more. I researched, and realized this is the type of vehicle I would ride across the country. That much I knew. A bamboo bike was still on my mind though. But who in the world made recumbent style bicycles out of bamboo?
Who made bamboo recumbents? Well, of course…this guy!! Enter Klaus Volkmann. A musician from Brazil who, in his spare time, builds bamboo recumbents. Of course! I should have known!
This picture did it for me. I wasn’t sure a bamboo recumbent could be done in such a way that it would be able to be ridden 100 miles a day, every day, for 5,000 miles through all kinds of road conditions and weather, while loaded with gear. Klaus not only rides his own creations daily throughout his busy city in Brazil, he takes them on longer excursions through rougher road conditions (think dirt and wilderness). I was even contacted by someone who had purchased one of Klaus’ bamboo recumbents, and he raved on and on about it, saying it was the very best bike he had ever owned. I contacted Klaus, he loved my idea and told me he would love to sponsor me on this ride with one of his creations.
A few photos of Klaus and his creation from recent trips…
Loaded with gear….
Overlooking the mountains near his home in Brazil…
After some back and forth regarding what I would be doing, where I would be riding, how much equipment I would have and so forth, Klaus sent me this photo, and said that the bike he would make would be in this style. I was learning that there were many types of recumbents: long wheel base (LWB), short wheel base (SWB), high, mid and low racer styles, some were tweaked for performance and speed, others long distance touring mile-eaters, some heavier, some lighter weight…and on and on. I deferred to Klaus, and with what little I knew, I told him to go for it. The following photos are all from the actual bike build…
The first photo Klaus sent…he had actually found a curved section of bamboo while on a bamboo search for the bike. This was unique…he hadn’t ever used a section like this, and normal had to fashion this curve out of two pieces lashed together. In the background you can see one of his bikes, and he is actually holding the new piece up parallel to the bike behind him. This was an exciting photo to get, and part of that came from how excited he was at finding such a unique piece of bamboo to use!
Klaus (on left) and Thiago working on the early stages of the bike. Klaus brought Thiago in due to his experience with bamboo.
The main piece of the frame, fired and treated…
Thiago swears the mask wasn’t because Klaus hadn’t showered for a while…
Fashioning the handlebars….
Time out for some healthy snackage…
Thiago’s snack time…
And more concentration…with a smile…
After a long day of working on the bike (and their homemade bamboo goggles!) the gang kicks it at a McDonald’s with their own healthy food. Gotta love it!
Klaus and Thiago brought in a couple of experts in the bamboo business, and they offered their assessment of the bike, which is on the table in the background. The new experts didn’t seem very impressed with it, though.
Klaus & Thiago using actual sonic tones from homemade instruments to help the curing process of the bike! (Do not try this at home)
And this, the most recent photo, just a few small pieces missing but essentially ready…
Klaus checking the angle of the handle bar placement…
Thiago, back end, seat…
Thiago’s in there somewhere…
Workshop well used
Thiago & fuzzy friend
Thiago, the bike, and the bamboo “expert”
Bike, shop, pieces…
Right side angle #1
Right side angle #2
Right side of handlebars
Handlebars from the top. You can see the brakes, located just above the shifters
Right side angle #3
Thiago making some adjustments
Rear wheel / derailleur
Left side angle #1
Left side angle #2
Front wheel, crankset, mono fork, front derailleur
A close up of the chain guide
Chain guide (2)
Chain guide (3)
Some fine tuning at Rodociclio Bike Shop…
Klaus trying the bike out for fit
One toe on the ground…tall recumbent!
Thiago, testing the fit
If you haven’t been able to tell yet, these two guys are crazy — They love to have fun!
The next step will be for the bike to be road tested there in Brazil for a couple of weeks. Since they haven’t designed one quite like this before (with the naturally curved main frame stalk of bamboo), they will put it through a good road test. Then, it will be flown to California, where I will be able to get used to riding it, as well as figuring out the luggage setup & lighting arrangements, before the journey across the country begins! Currently looking into what, if any, restrictions there are in ‘importing’ a bike made of bamboo into the United States.
And again, if you are interested in donating to this ride that will be benefitting victims of human trafficking, please visit my “GoFundMe” page, as well as adding me on Twitter and Facebook. Thank you!