***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
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.
- 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)
- 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
- an old screwdriver or similar piece of metal to fabricate a chisel for the skate wheels