Introduction: Build a Long-wheelbase Low Racer Recumbent Bicycle

Picture of Build a Long-wheelbase Low Racer Recumbent Bicycle
This instructable details how to construct a fast, inexpensive recumbent bike from one 1980's-era road bike plus some bits off a scrap bike. You should be able to build this for around $100 less paint. I plan to document how to build the kid's version shown in the video in the future.

***UPDATE July 23, 2008 - The kid's version is now available!

I tend to get numbness in my upper back and arms when riding a standard bike. I've found that I can ride all day on a recumbent without pain or numbness. Unfortunately, I don't have large amounts of cash to buy one, so after scrounging the net looking at other home-built bikes, I designed my own. I'm quite happy with the results and have built several other bikes as well. Now if I can just get off long enough to paint it ...



A few things to note before we get started:

  • I made this design with the intention of only needing one donor bike. While it is possible, I found that it is easier with one 1980's era 10-12 speed and any old piece of junk to donate its front steering components and fork. I bought my donor bike at the local Goodwill thrift store for $6 and found the crap bike rotting away in the Cuyahoga River in a national recreation area.
  • I assume that you will clean up bike parts as you take them off the donor bike (bearings, chrome, etc.). Do it now, you'll be too busy cruising around to do it later.
  • I assume that you will grind and file down all your welds as soon as you make them so they look pretty. Do it right after you finish the weld, you won't do it after everything is complete (you may not be able to get at them at that point, either).
  • I assume that you know how to assemble/disassemble a bike and know the names for the different tubes and hardware on a bike frame. Hopefully I have remembered them all correctly. Wikipedia has a quick reference.
  • This project will probably take a week of on and off work. After you are done welding for the day, hit the bare metal with some spray can primer. This will keep things from getting rusty, especially if something comes up and you have to set it aside for a while.
  • Wire wheel any zinc off electrical conduit before welding. Don't get metal sickness.
  • I was too busy building to take photos during construction (and didn't want to junk up my nice camera with workshop filth). I believe the photos will be clear enough to get you going.
  • I can't give you exact dimensions for cutting. Bikes and bodies vary, so I tried to give you instructions on how to measure for your situation.
  • This is my first instructable, so be nice :) ... I used to do a lot of technical documentation, so I hope things are clear and understandable - kind suggestions and corrections will be appreciated. Good luck and please post pics!

Step 1: Collect Your Parts and Tools

Picture of Collect Your Parts and Tools
The biggest expense here is going to be a welder. I bought mine from Home Depot on sale and with a coupon for around $480. For me, this was a really big tool purchase and I saved for two years for it (we're really frugal at our house). With all the materials and tools purchased, I cant imagine being out more than $800 for everything you need. Try buying a recumbent for that price. Make your own and you'll have the tools left over for more projects (I've built several bikes and have bits and pieces for a few more). Make and sell one or two more and it could pay for itself and the tools.

I spent right around $100 for materials. If you're good at scrounging and have access to the tools, you could reasonably build this for nothing. You also don't need an amazing workshop. See my craptacular shop below.

Raw materials:
  • 10 speed bike ($6 at thrift store)
  • another donor frame with steering components would be great (found mine in the river)
  • cables ($15ish from Loose Screws - see what's on sale)
  • skate wheels (garage sale/thrift store $2)
  • 3 - 10-speed chains. New is best, they should total around $30. The brand I picked up was Z-chain at $10 a length (thanks Ernie's)
  • 1" electrical conduit ($6-$7 for 10' at Lowe's or Home Depot)
  • 1/4" threaded rod ($4ish scrounged mine)
  • plywood (3/4" or 1/2") and padding (scrounged off a $2 car seat pad) for the seat
  • 1 1/2" square tubing ($20) - you could likely substitute 2" - 2 1/2" exhaust pipe if it is more readily available. You will need around 6'. If you buy from a metal supplier, check for cutting costs. I could have had 12' uncut for the price of 6' cut.
  • 1/8" x 2" x 8" and 3/32" x 1" x 3' mild steel - This is pretty flexible. Use what you can find that seems strong enough for the task ($5 or scrounge)
  • 1/4" and 5/16" bolts w/nuts, washers, & lock washers
  • 1/4" tie rod ends (2) ($7 at Wicks Aircraft Supply - you might also try Summit Racing)

Tools (probably incomplete):
  • flux core welder, welding gloves, tip dip, wire brush, chipping hammer
  • various clamps
  • angle grinder with cutoff/grit/wire wheels
  • bench grinder with cutoff/grit/wire wheels
  • hack saw
  • misc bike assembly tools
  • misc woodworking tools
  • files/rasps
  • an old screwdriver or similar piece of metal to fabricate a chisel for the skate wheels

Step 2: Slice Off the Rear Triangle

Picture of Slice Off the Rear Triangle

The idea here is to remove most of the rear triangle of the donor bike while leaving the bottom bracket shell attached to the front down tube. Before you cut, measure the distance of the bottom bracket to the ground when the bike is upright and the tires are inflated and save this measurement. You will need it when you weld the new frame together. It is important for getting the front wheel at the proper angle.

Use your hacksaw to remove the seat stays from the seat tube while keeping as much seat stay material as you can. Cut the chain stays as close as you can to the bottom bracket shell. Cut the seat tube from the bottom bracket shell leaving enough attached to the bottom bracket shell for the front derailler to mount plus about 2". Grind the remaining seat stay material from the bottom bracket shell - make it look nice.

Don't worry if you end up with big holes in the bottom bracket shell from the chain stays. Just try to keep all the metal straight so you will be able to re-thread the bottom bracket back in later.

Step 3: Bend the Seat Stays

Picture of Bend the Seat Stays

Make sure that the rear wheel is on and pushed in as far as it will go in the dropouts. You will use the wheel to tell you how far to bend the seat stays.

Bend the seat stays down with the rear wheel and brakes still on. Don't bend it so far that the brake bracket will rub on the wheel or that the brake pads can't be adjusted to hit the rim. It would be nice to cut some sort of form for this step so that everything is bent evenly. I didn't do that. Instead, I used small pieces of 2x4 lumber to set where I wanted the bend and tweaked it by hand - kind of an ad-hoc form I guess. It worked well enough, but if you look real close, the seat stays don't have exactly the same arc. Next time I'd make a form out of plywood to bend them over.

I tried to have the top of the seat stays be parallel to the ground when the recently cut chain stays are around 6" off the ground.

Step 4: Make Main Tube Bracket and Weld

Picture of Make Main Tube Bracket and Weld

Cut a 1/8" thick piece of mild steel to weld to the chain stays in place of the bottom bracket. It should be wide enough to reach the outer edge of the cut chain stays and at least as tall as the square main tube (1 1/2"). The metal I had was a little taller than the square tubing and I didn't bother to cut it down. Weld it up centered on the end of the 1 1/2" square main tube at a 90 degree angle.

Clamp this assembly upright about 6" parallel from the floor. Weld to the chain stays with the wheel installed and touching the ground. Try not to get sparks from the welder on the tire (or use and old tire you don't care about). Some damp drop cloth material would work.

The 6" measurement is pretty flexible, so do what seems to look right to you. Make sure that you grind the cut ends of the chain stays so they are flat on the bracket you fabricated and that this is a good strong weld. Also sight down the frame and main tube assembly to make sure the frame is straight. It is long enough that you should be able to eyeball it. If not, center up your 1" conduit along the main tube assembly and through the rear triangle (after measuring and clamping up the proper height and removing the rear wheel) and measure the rear dropouts to be equidistant from the conduit ... or just eyeball it.

Step 5: Weld Seat Stays to Seat Tube

Picture of Weld Seat Stays to Seat Tube

Now we need to attach a new seat tube. The seat tube will support the seat back, so it needs to be angled correctly. My research and experience shows 30 degrees to be pretty comfortable.

Your offcut piece of seat tube will probably be too short, so we will use 1" conduit. Measure up a piece that will allow for an angled cut at the bottom where the seat tube attaches to the main tube.
weld the new seat tube to the seat stays (that have been bent) and to the main tube at a 30 degree angle. Grind the tube to fit and weld. Try to keep everything centered up and straight.

The rear part of the frame is complete. Yipee!

Step 6: Measure the Main Tube and Cut

Picture of Measure the Main Tube and Cut

Sit your hind-end on this thing backed up against the seat tube (after it cools) and stretch out your legs. Clamp a 2x4 (or two) to the seat tube to simulate your seat and padding depth. Stretch your legs out flat-footed and have someone mark the main tube at that point with a sharpie.

Now either measure the distance from where your foot hits the pedal to the back of the bottom bracket (see photo), measure back and then trace the bottom bracket shell on the main tube or fuss the pedal to the line you just marked and then trace the bottom bracket shell this way.

The idea is to locate the bottom bracket in relation to where the pedal needs to be in order to fit your body. I didn't design this with an adjustable seat, so it needs to be right. Once you are sure that you have this measured correctly, cut the main tube and grind/cut it to fit around the bottom bracket shell. This is a pretty critical cut, so take your time, measure it up right and grind it to fit snugly and straight.

Step 7: Weld Up the Bottom Bracket and Front End

Picture of Weld Up the Bottom Bracket and Front End

This is one of two tricky welds. A jig would help tremendously here, but for a one-off bike, I personally wouldn't make one (I want to make bikes, not jigs). With careful clamping, you should be able to clamp a straight piece of metal (like the leftover 1 1/2" square tube or the 1" conduit) or a straight 2x4 across the down tube, the top tube and the new main tube to keep things straight while welding.

The proper angle is determined by the bottom bracket measurement you made at the beginning before you cut the bike apart. make sure the wheels are on the frame and inflated, make a straight line between them and adjust the angle so the bottom bracket will be the proper height from the ground. If you have feet larger than size 10, you might want to add 1-2" or your heels may scuff the ground when you pedal. You could measure your shoes and make sure you have a good 1" clearance. This is very dependent on the donor bike and can be adjusted later (but do it now - it's easier and less work).

Now, weld it up. Spot weld on one side and sight down the frame and make positive that everything is straight and that there are no twists. I was able to keep things straight easily, but I think I just got lucky. If it's off, you should be able to bend it and tweak it a little. If not, grind the weld away, re-adjust, and try again. With a long bike like this, it's pretty easy to eyeball when things are off. Once everything looks good, carefully finish your welds. Don't weld it too hot (and the bottom bracket should be removed from the shell already). Be careful not to get slag in the shell threads.

Step 8: Strengthen the Steering Tube

Picture of Strengthen the Steering Tube

Cut and grind the top tube from the donor bike. Cut a piece of 1" electrical conduit to fit from where the top tube was, across the old seat tube (now the front derailler tube), and then to the main tube. Grind a birdsmouth so it will fit the steering tube and the proper angle to fit the main tube. Grind a birdsmouth in the front derailler tube and weld in place - make sure it is straight and centered or it will look goofy and cause you to crash when you're staring at your goofy-ass support tube while careening down a hill. Really watch the heat with your welder - this metal is thin.

Congratulations! You have the basic frame completed. We now need to build the remote steering, the seat, and assemble!

Step 9: Remote Steering Front Fork

Picture of Remote Steering Front Fork

Fabricate a tab to weld to the front fork. It should be the width of the fork and around 2 1/2 "- 3" long. You can get an idea of scale from the photo. The metal should be 1/8" thick.

Grind it to fit whatever fork you are using and round off and smooth the other end. Drill a 1/4" hole and mount one of your tie rod ends.

Step 10: Remote Steering Handlebars

Picture of Remote Steering Handlebars

Here is where, with a little ingenuity, you could eliminate the need for a second donor bike. If you feel like fabricating a simple steering assembly, go for it and please post photos. I had a steering tube already cut out and ground from another project and decided to use it to save time. I will assume that you are using a donor steering tube.

This is one of those parts that will need to be adjusted to your body and preferences. I sat on the bike with the assembled steering tube with handlebars attached and held my arms in a comfy position. You will likely need someone to help you with this.

Once you figure out where you want the steering tube, measure and cut a length of 1" conduit, grind to fit the steering tube and main tube, and weld to the main tube. I have had this tube face both forward and back. I prefer forward, but whatever seems to work best should be fine. Weld the steering tube at approximately the same angle as the front steering tube. Get it as close as you can; it will help with the feel when you are turning to have everything at the same angle.

Cut the forks from your second donor bike and weld on a tab the same size as the front tab. It's easier to match everything up if the the forks are built similarly. The distance from the center point of the steering pivot to the pivot of the tie rod should be equal. Mount the other tie rod end here.

Re-install the bottom bracket, cranks, and pedals (if they aren't already there). Install your remote handle bars and fiddle with them so you don't hit your knees when you pedal. This will take some trial and error.

Step 11: Remote Steering Tie Rod

Picture of Remote Steering Tie Rod

Connect the two tie rods with 1/4" threaded rod. I used rod from a bed box spring and cut threads on each end. The rod will not be strong enough in compression and will bend (especially with spring steel from a bed - boingy!) I ended up cutting and gluing some wood around it for support.

With a little adjustment, you should be able to steer now!

Step 12: Seat and Brackets

Picture of Seat and Brackets

The seat and seat back are made from 3/4" cabinet grade plywood that I had leftover from some other projects. 1/2" would probably work fine. The seat bottom is 12" long and tapers from 12" in the front to 10" in the back. The seat back is 18" tall and tapers from 10" to 8". Adjust these sizes to fit your body. Round off the edges. I used cd-roms to trace a circle and borrowed a jigsaw, but a coping saw would work. Use your wood rasp to remove any sharp edges and smooth out your cuts.

There are several tutorials on the net on how to build a lightweight frame and wrap it with mesh material, but I was sick of welding at this point and wanted to ride. The wood seat was quick to build and ended up being good enough, so I covered it and left it. I plan to steam-bend some cherry for a seat at some point to match the fenders and other bits of the bike. I recommend you do something quick that works and upgrade later.

Now we need to attach the seat. Cut five pieces of your 1/8" steel to these approximate sizes:
1 - 1" x 2"
2 - 1" x 8"-10"
2 - 1" x 3"

These dimensions will vary depending on the tubing sizes you end up with. the two 1" x 10" pieces will need to be bent at a 30 degree angle to hold the seat bottom and seat back together. the other three pieces will need to be drilled on each end for carriage bolts. The smaller piece needs to be mounted 10" to 12" up the seat back. I used six 5/16" carriage bolts with washers and split lock washers. They have stayed put, but you might be more comfortable with nylon locking nuts. I also slid some vinyl tubing over the bolt threads to keep them from scratching the frame.

I screwed the 1"x10" brackets to the seat and seat back and had some problems with them pulling out if I wasn't careful. small bolts (maybe 1/4" carriage bolts) and washers would probably work much better.

See the three photos of the yellow bike for alternative bracket designs. Thee were created for a later project and seem to be stronger. I may retrofit.

After the first ride my lower spine was bruised a little; especially with the lack of padding. I cut out a bit of the lower seat back to relieve this. The seat was then fairly comfortable even without padding. However, padding was called for with rides lasting more than an hour or so.

Covering the seat was fairly simple. I found an automotive seat pad at our local overstock/closeout store for $2. I ripped all the seams and used its padding, foam and fabric. The idea is to staple foam to the seat and then stretch fabric around and staple it to the back. Its pretty easy. I've seen people glue wheelchair foam to the seat as well.

Step 13: Chain Management

Picture of Chain Management

You will need to make chain rollers from the skate wheels. The idea here is to get the chain under your seat without it rubbing. Drill 5/16" holes near the back and front of your seat (you may need to put the chain in place to figure out exactly where) and install 4" - 5" bolts. I used threaded rod and simply cut off the excess. Mount these with nylon locking nuts.

Remove the bearings from the skateboard wheels and chuck each one to your bench grinder one at a time. Use a sharpened screwdriver or piece of metal to carve a groove in the wheel. Wear gloves and safety glasses! The chain should fit in the rollers freely but not loosely and to a depth of about half the chain. Install these with nylon locking nuts.

Pick up something to use as a chain tube. Black 3/4" irrigation tubing works great. You will need between 2-3 feet. Feed the chain through the tubing before linking it together. The tubing will be mounted with zip ties just behind where the chain stays connect to the main tube. it should extend several inches past the front of your seat if possible. Make sure it's clean. Heat up the ends gingerly with a torch and flare each end out. A ball-peen hammer works good here. This will allow your chain to move through easily without getting snagged by the tube. Heat up the tube if it needs to be straightened. You want it to follow the natural curve of the chain to reduce friction.

Step 14: Finish Assembly

Picture of Finish Assembly

make sure that your crank is on tight and install the rear derailler. Splice your chains together (about 2-1/2 10-speed chains) and set up one brake. You may need tandem bike cables to reach the front brakes and rear derailler. Loose Screws Bicycle Parts is a good source for cheap cables and bits. I bought extra long cables for the entire project and cut them to size.

Only do one brake and just adjust the deraillers so you are in a fairly low gear as you may need to disassemble and adjust the frame. Ride in a parking lot and check for heel strikes. If you have heel strikes, you will have to remove material from the two front tubes, but not so much that your pedals hit the front tire. This is a pain. I had to remove 1.5" from my frame. Hopefully you measured correctly at the beginning. Cut it with a tube cutter to get nice straight cuts and try to find tubing scraps that will fit inside for support. You will have to bend the frame to make them line up as they are on an angle - this inner tubing helps hold things in place and will also help keep you from burning through the metal. Just be patient and try not to stomp around and cuss too much - you are almost there.

Step 15: Test Ride!

Picture of Test Ride!

Ok, re-assemble if you had to cut some of the frame and test ride again - hopefully everything feels right. Mount and adjust the brakes, set up the deraillers, and give all of the hardware a once over. If you haven't already, give all the bearings in the steering tubes and the bottom bracket a good dose of grease and reassemble.

Remember that you will have a pretty wide turning radius as this bike's a little over 9 feet long! You should find that the low center of gravity makes this bike easy to balance. I think you will also find that it's pretty fast. I can easily get to 34 mph on smooth flat pavement. Keep in mind that your brakes may not be up to the task of slowing you down quickly from those speeds - they may melt if you aren't careful. Also, cars will probably have a difficult time seeing you. I don't ride mine on the road anymore unless I am with a group. Toe clips or clipless pedals are very nice to have.

You will almost certainly want fenders as soon as you are done with your first ride. I made mine with these instructions.

Paint it as soon as you have all the bugs worked out, and please post pics - I love to see what people build! This is not a terribly difficult build and the results are well worth the time. This is my favorite bike out of the 15-20 I own. It's comfortable and fast and always attracts attention. I'll keep an eye on comments, so let me know if you need a photo or better explanation - enjoy!

Comments

recumbentbike1 made it! (author)2015-03-14

Recumbent bike is very good exercise system. I will buy a recumbent bike

for that I am taking information form this page. I have gotten many idea by this contents. Thanks for your writing page.

richwar50 (author)2015-02-15

WOW.I just got interested in recumbent bikes and the prices are way out of my price range,but thanks to you the future holds me owning one and its going to be fairly cheap..I have the welder so just need to find me the main bike and a donor a few other pieces and build it .Thanks a lot !!!!!!

robmock (author)2011-07-29


http://www.flickr.com/photos/robmock/5989318294/in/photostream/lightbox/


My bike originally had a small wheel in the front at a way too raked-out angle.  When I saw this instructable, I very quickly stuck the front half of an old 10 speed street bike onto it at a better angle.  VERY HAPPY with the ride now! 

My only suggestion:  The old version used a 3/8" solid round remote steering bar.... I switched to a half-inch hollow square tube which does not flex under compression when turning right (like the 3/8" stuff did).

With my old upright bike I used to have groin soreness and wobblyness in my legs after long rides, but with this bike I can go WAY farther at similar or faster speeds with no issues.  When other guys get off their bikes, they're waddling around like ducks and they're all hunched over... that used to be me!

Other Changes:
(1) Used only one bigger pulley (from McMaster Carr) under the seat
(2) Ran a tube directly to the rear handlebar tube instead of going down to the main square tube (the black tube in the picture)
(3) Cut off the large chain ring after a year because I never used it

Things I'll Change Next Time:
(1) A little steeper backrest next time... too hard to do head checks behind me with the current seat angle (I'm sure it'll still be comfortable and fast with backrest 10 degrees steeper)
(2) Front head tube will not be "long style".  I do not notice the tall front head tub in my field of vision, but all in all, I'd rather have it shorter.

commentnlookr (author)2010-08-16

lol it's hard to build man recumbents are expensive.

yes they are expensive, that is why people usually make their own. and they can save quite a bit of money just building it, and they also have a custom bike.

derfpa (author)2011-06-27

Started to build one if these today with this instructable as an huge inspiration! By far the best model I've seen. :D I probably will make it with only one bike and the saddle post as the second steering holder... We'll see how it works out! Thanks for a great instructable!

nowj (author)2011-03-24

Looked at a lot of homebuilts. Appear many FINE features here. Looks like the result is competitive w/ high factory jobs. You have smiled on us all and allow many frugal "want to be a lay down cycler" access. I wonder what next might come through your forge. Waayyy inspired. Thanks. Thanks.

Charlie 72 (author)2010-08-15

Not sure if your still following these comments but I was considering trying to build a bike by using ideas from both your instructables and I was just wondering what the view is like from the riders position, does the steering not obstruct your view. Great instructables Charlie

japanbiker (author)2010-03-28

Muy buenas sus dos bicicletas, construyo la mia, espero pronto compartir el resultado de mi trabajo. Saludos!!!.

banks412 (author)2010-03-19

This is one of the baddest recumbents I've ever seen!!! So COOL! I'm always looking for unique stuff like this, and I'd LOVE to try and make one. Unfortunately I don't own a welding rig and have no clue how to weld. If you're ever interested in selling/reproducing these, please let me know - I'd really like to have one...

Awesome bike - incredible. Just incredible...
-Tim

varneyrobert (author)2010-02-15

This bike looks like something i can build! I was going to buy one of these but after seeing your directions i'm going to save my money for a flux wielder!!!!

wisdom_sp2000 (author)2010-02-13

I really love this bike!!  From your instructable, this build sounds like something I can do!  
Judging by the distance between the front down tube and the front main tube, it looks like one of your donor bikes was a woman's bike. is that true?

Also, you mention having to cut material out of the center to keep your heals from dragging and your toes from hitting the front tire. Is there a way I can assure that my measurements are correct to avoid changing it after its done?

All I need now is a welding machine!!!

Happy Trails!

JerryMopar (author)2008-04-28

Im making one like yours right now, although im not following yours to a "t". Im using 1-1/2" tubing for the main frame rail, and using a Schwinn dual purpouse moutain bike. I will see if I can get the chain guidance system to be a little more refined that yours.

homba (author)JerryMopar2008-04-28

Excellent ... post photos of your progress. This summer's project is a tandem recumbent. It's still in design phase, though :) Good Luck!

JerryMopar (author)homba2008-04-28

Have you ever tried doing any top-speed runs with yours?? This was the main reason why I wanted to build one, for fast trips across town. its much lower than most recumbent designs, essentially meaning more aerodynamic. will post pics soon.. its not much right now, have to get a few more donor bikes to take parts off of...

homba (author)JerryMopar2008-04-29

On a flat-out run on I can get up to 36 mph (no hills). I run out of gears at that point, but I know I could get more out of it if I had a bigger chain ring. Down hill I get freaked out at around 45 and slow down. I don't have brakes that could safely stop me at those speeds. Normal riding, I tend to cruise around 18-20 which is a nice pace. I don't like to take it on the road where I am located as my head is at waist level. Cars just don't see me.

zmarlow (author)homba2009-03-02

Throw a flag on the back there. Its how I keep cars from running over my back carriage.

homba (author)zmarlow2009-03-02

Tried that - along with many bright blinkenlights ... almost got smeared - twice! In a 3 mile trip! I don't live in a bike/pedestrian/anything-other-than-a-giant-SUV friendly part of the world. It makes me crazy - I prefer to bike than drive.

chadeau (author)homba2009-12-28

Must be time to mount a rocket-launcher tube...lately we in Austin on human-pwered wheels have had legislation batted around to "combat" SUV attacks !

homba (author)2009-07-26

Hey thanks! I do mostly 26" stuff b/c that's what I can get a hold of around these parts (mostly 80's vintage 10-speeds). I checked out your site and I like your stuff - you're quite prolific! Where do you store it all? That's my biggest problem - no room for parts and finished bikes. I drilled through on my idlers - my drill press can get me a nice straight hole and I think it's stronger and easier to repair if needed.

sayoian99 (author)2009-06-25

the good thing is,(from my comments on the kid's recumbent) I HAVE an old 10 speed bike like that one there....would it work with a 26" women's bike for a FWD recumbent bike?(but the tires are crap...i don't have a large wallet,either...)where can I get a cheap replacement thin tire?

raepedrosa (author)2008-12-10

Man! That is gnarly! Really interesting build there. Hope you don't mind if I try it out on my BMX.

homba (author)raepedrosa2008-12-10

Do it and post pics! I'd like to see how it turns out - good luck!

Toulouse (author)2008-11-03

i have that exact same bike lock! awesome ride, i want to eventually build one

Amberwolf (author)2008-09-01

As I'm in the process of designing a recumbent to be built entirely from scrap bikes (partly for the express purpose of using *only* recycled parts to make it a challenge), this is an interesting article. I might use some of the ideas you have here in mine, but mostly the helpful hints on measuring and adjusting will be most useful to me. :)

If you're interested, the Electricle™ blog at http://electricle.blogspot.com has the posts about the project as I go along; I'll probably write it up (along with my motorization projects already done) as Instructables once I have a working process to build a bike that can be duplicated (since it's from scrap bikes, each one will by nature be different, but hopefully the process itself will still work!).

Thanks for posting your instructable!

mooseyjoe (author)2008-07-26

I am super pumped about attempting something like this. I just have a few questions first. How well have the skateboard wheels been holding up? Does the chain ever slip? How well do you think this would work using a full suspension donor bike? Were there any problems getting the gears to work? Does the rear wheel have to support much more weight than the back? Thanks for the awesome guide. I look forward to my new recumbent.

homba (author)mooseyjoe2008-07-26

Skate wheels are fine - this is the second riding season and I do 30-60 miles every other week or so. Because the chain angle on them is so shallow, they don't see a lot of pressure on them. Chain slipping hasn't been a problem once I got everything adjusted and run a few miles. You have to make sure the chain is on the skate wheels after pulling it off your bike rack or if you're moving/bouncing it around a lot. I think you'd have to be able to adjust and fiddle with the suspension b/c the weight distribution would probably be different than the donor, but It'd probably work pretty good. Gears worked surprisingly well. You need to make sure the skate wheels are lined up right and make sure you have a nice long chain tube for the return. The one I have on it now is a little short and the chain will start slapping around when I go over bumpy areas. I have a replacement that is a foot or so longer that I'll install if I ever get to painting it. The overall weight of the bike only increased maybe 10-15 lbs or so. The weight distribution is pretty even for both wheels. Good luck on your build! Post pics!!!

Oompa-Loompa (author)2008-07-23

lol this looks awesome.

steelmole (author)2008-06-10

Wow, I really like your design. I'm going to try and make one of these this summer. I'll probably start off with an old ladies bike because they're easy to come by for peanuts.

JerryMopar (author)2008-05-20

Im near done with my frame. I cut aprt my bad-condition 3 speed schwinn racer. Im useing the front of it for the front of the recumbent, and the 3-speed sturmey-archer is going in the back.

WoodWinds (author)2008-01-18

What an elaborate cycle. Quite a handsome design, homba. Did I read correctly that you used a flux-core wire-feed welder and it cost nearly $500 at Home Depot? Could you not have bought a nice one of those for about $150 that would have done the job, or is your machine actually a MIG welder, which of course uses your choice of either a shielding gas to protect the weld puddle from oxygen and/or flux (in the core of the wire) to produce vapor to evacuate oxygen? I was under the impression that MIG machines ran for about $300-1000+ whereas flux-core wire feed welders (not made for argon) ran about $75-200 In any event, this is probably the most aesthetically pleasing recumbent bike I have seen so far on instructables.com +1

homba (author)WoodWinds2008-01-18

Thanks for the compliment :) The welder I picked up is a lincoln electric weld pak 100hd. It retails for around $350. It can do mig if you pick up a couple of accessories. Supposedly it can do aluminum and I think copper. Now, once you pick up gloves, a 10 lb. spool of wire, tip dip, a good mask, etc. etc. the cost starts adding up. I tried to keep a balance between easy to use, expandability as my skills increase, and not super expensive. I tried to write this on the high side regarding costs as I hate to see a "super cheap widget" instructable and then, after reading, realize that 90% of the materials/tools were either gifts or borrowed or just items that I don't have access to.

IAmAwesome (author)homba2008-05-16

Grr! use Miller welders!

Geordiepom (author)2008-05-13

Thanks very much for this Homba. I can't believe I overlooked it! I had been concerned that something like this would be a bit "twitchy" to ride but you and your son look great riding round in the video clip. I hope to have mine built before the end of this (Australian) winter as this is the best time to ride. Cool sunny and dry.

pyrocop1 (author)2008-05-01

Are you still going to put up the small bike plans anytime soon?

homba (author)pyrocop12008-05-01

I have it halfway done, but we've had to move, change jobs, had a death in the family ... basically life has precluded any fun stuff lately. Since there is interest, I'll try to bubble it up on the priority list. I'll try to remember to mail you when I finish it.

gamer (author)2008-01-18

really ugly but so cool. good job! -gamer

xsmurf (author)gamer2008-01-19

It only really needs a paint job and new tires... The wood is absolutely beautiful! How much do these weight?

homba (author)xsmurf2008-01-19

I totally agree with the paint job - I wanted to work out he bugs before paint, but the weather turned cold early and hasn't let up. It needs some filing at a few welds and a little filler and a good sanding. I'm hoping to hit it in the spring before the trails dry up enough to ride - they are all crushed limestone and get soggy. The tires are new, but the limestone trails coats everything with white dust and gunk. Regarding weight - I haven't weighed them, but the cherry is fairly light. They are certainly heavier than plastic, but probably barely heavier than steel fenders. They are so cheap and easy to build and customize, though. I've started putting them on all my frequent rides. I always get lots of compliments.

out of id3a5 (author)2008-01-18

very cool!

ll.13 (author)2008-01-18

Wayy cool!!

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-01-17

Sweet ride man! I got to get myself a welder, so I can make one.

GorillazMiko (author)2008-01-17

WOW! 2 in a row awesome Instructables, this one, and another one (I forgot the name). I think somethings going on, these great Instructables keep popping up!

trebuchet03 (author)2008-01-17

Awesome :) I'm glad you posted :)

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