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Old 02-17-12, 05:41 PM   #1
Fred Smedley
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Bamboo choices/ sources.

I have began researching Bamboo to make a 29R and a road frame. Finding good information on Bamboo species suitable for bicycles seems to be absent with most notable builders sitting on their preferred choices and sources. One notable builder seems to be using "Iron Bamboo" (Dendrocalamus strictus). I saw Calfee as being repoted to be using Black Bamboo (Phyllostachys Nigra) but I can not confirm.
Rodbuilders seem to like Tonkin, (Arundinaria amabilis) and my local grower/retailer says RUBROMARGINATA (Phyllostachys rubro-marginata) is strong and resistant to strong winds.
I hope like minded Bambooers could share their thoughts here.

Last edited by Fred Smedley; 02-17-12 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 02-17-12, 06:06 PM   #2
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I've seen Calfee use both Tonkin and Black.
I've made a few frames now and have used both Tonkin and Black and except for the color I can't really tell much of a difference between them. Black may have slightly thinner walls and Tonkin seems to have more "power fiber" and less pith.

I've bought from both Bamboo Hardwoods and Frank's Cane and Rush.
Both were a pleasure to deal with and picked out good wood for me.
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Old 02-17-12, 07:36 PM   #3
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There is no bamboo quite like Tonkin. When the material is actually tested as slats Tonkin comes out far ahead of pretty much everything out there.
If Dendro is "Iron", Tonkin is tempered steel.
Having said that Bamboo is in tube form quickly gains an advantage from larger diameter tubes being similar to oversized Aluminum where the diameter increase makes up for a relative weakness of material.
If you don't mind larger sized tubing then any of the Phylo types will work fine.
You can make a Tonkin bike with steel dimensions. In fact I'm working on an old style pursuit frame (just because they look cool) in Tonkin which I will post pics of soon.
Remember a lot of dealers will throw the Tonkin name around pretty freely and many pics listed as Tonkin are almost certainly not that type.
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Old 02-18-12, 01:50 PM   #4
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Alan, thanks for your sources. It appears that that the Calcutta Franks sells might be "Iron Bamboo" Dendrocalamus strictus. His pricing for the Black and Calcuta seem quite good. Where you happy with the product he sent you? Did you need to dry or season it farther?
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Old 02-18-12, 01:54 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Canaboo View Post
There is no bamboo quite like Tonkin. When the material is actually tested as slats Tonkin comes out far ahead of pretty much everything out there.
If Dendro is "Iron", Tonkin is tempered steel.
Having said that Bamboo is in tube form quickly gains an advantage from larger diameter tubes being similar to oversized Aluminum where the diameter increase makes up for a relative weakness of material.
If you don't mind larger sized tubing then any of the Phylo types will work fine.
You can make a Tonkin bike with steel dimensions. In fact I'm working on an old style pursuit frame (just because they look cool) in Tonkin which I will post pics of soon.
Remember a lot of dealers will throw the Tonkin name around pretty freely and many pics listed as Tonkin are almost certainly not that type.
Canaboo, good information, do you have a source for TonKin?
I have no aversion to large tubing , except for stays and perhaps the seat mast to allow for a FD and for driver train clearance issues.
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Old 02-18-12, 04:01 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Fred Smedley View Post
Alan, thanks for your sources. It appears that that the Calcutta Franks sells might be "Iron Bamboo" Dendrocalamus strictus. His pricing for the Black and Calcuta seem quite good. Where you happy with the product he sent you? Did you need to dry or season it farther?
I was quite happy with it. I did not need to dry it any further, however I did have some splitting--it happens. Order more than you need. Also order longer poles than you need. If you have some splits you can cut out the section below the split and use it.

Oh, and I highly recommend West Systems epoxy for wetting out your lugs. Very easy to use and no offensive odor.
You may also with to research impregnating wood. It will make the bamboo harder and reduce splitting. There are a million different ways to do it; knife making sites will have a lot of good information about how to go about it.

Last edited by Allen; 02-18-12 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 02-18-12, 10:00 PM   #7
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I dont really have a Tonkin source. I was just able to salvage some from a leftover shipment that a specialty wood store brought in for flyrod builders.
I can second what Allen said about West Epoxy and their G Flex or 610 is very good for tacking and bonding in the metal parts.
I've also used MAS and System Three and they seem just as good and none of the three struck me as being very vapor offensive.
I always coat the inside and punch the nodes out. It seems a lot of the cracking of bamboo is because the disc of material in the node pries the culm open as it shrinks around it.
Get your culms cleaned out and interior coated and cracking seems to be eliminated.
I haven't tried them yet but I imagine System Three Rot Fix or CPS would be an even better choice for soaking Epoxy into the softer inner part of the bamboo.
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Old 02-18-12, 11:30 PM   #8
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http://www.bamboorodmaking.com/html/...regnation.html
^^^
That is an interesting read on impregnation.
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Old 02-19-12, 08:50 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by AllenG View Post
http://www.bamboorodmaking.com/html/...regnation.html
^^^
That is an interesting read on impregnation.
I also found this which has some information on injecting under pressure; http://www.inbar.int/publication/txt/tr18/default.htm

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