My BumbleBike!

One sunny summer day when I was a kid, maybe 4 or 5 years old, I was sitting on the front lawn of my childhood home on 41st Ave in Vancouver, waving goodbye to my uncle as he drove away in his blue car. As he often did, he had come to visit and bring us some hot cross buns, always quickly devoured by us four energetic kids. As I was sitting on the lawn, barefoot, a bumblebee landed on my big toe (my daddy toe, as I used to call it, and still do). My parents had told me that bumblebees don’t sting, but as I waved goodbye to my uncle and my toe wiggled a little bit, the little buzzing ball of fuzz stung my daddy toe. I was not impressed, and duly made this known by profuse crying, as was my reaction at that age to most things unpleasant.

Fast forward a couple decades, and shift the scene one city block southwest: I wanted to build up a bunch of bicycles while I was in Vancouver this past spring, but I had less spare time on my hands than I had planned, so in the end I was only able to complete two projects. The first was a custom red and white single speed freewheel built with my brother as a gift for my sister, which turned out really nicely.

For my second project, I decided to build a single speed freewheel bike for myself. After thinking about different colour schemes for a while, I decided on black and yellow. When I mentioned the idea to Ben at Our Community Bikes, he immediately replied “Oh cool, you’re building a bumblebike!” A great name if ever I heard one, the bike had been baptised before even being born!

I began by searching for used black rims to build the wheels. At Our Community Bikes I found one fully built 32 hole black rear wheel with black spokes and black hub, and a 24 hole front rim. Down at the Pedal Depot I found a black 24 hole front hub, and I bought the black front spokes and spoke nipples from Jett Grrl down on Union Street. It was really tough building the front wheel – working in my bedroom, I had to re-lace it about 5 times before I got it right!

Bumblebike 24 spoke front wheel in progress

Next, I took a secondhand frame and got out my angle grinder to remove the labels and most of the paint. Before:

Bumblebike frame before paint removal


Bumblebike frame after paint removal

I did the same to the front fork:

Bumblebike front fork

As with my sister’s bike, I spent a long time spraying thin coats of paint onto the frame and fork and waiting for it to dry:

Bumblebike frame with black paint

I also made a BumbleBike decal and bumblebee logo for the bike, and got a sign-making place to print them as decals. Unfortunately, despite several coats of ink, the yellow still came out relatively translucent, so the colour of the decals doesn’t quite match the yellow on the rest of the bike:

Custom bumblebike decal

Rather than think about packing, half of my last day in Canada was spent putting the BumbleBike together. It still needs brakes, different cranks, and I have to fix the rear wheel alignment, but it’s neeearly rideable now:

Almost complete bumblebike
Almost complete bumblebike