I've always been fascinated by bamboo and when I decided to build a recumbent trike it seemed like the obvious material choice for me. Bamboo is beautiful, light, stronger than mild steel and renewable. It does present some challenges however, as culms or poles are not perfectly round, taper from end to end and remain flexible even when cured. So building a 3 dimensional trike frame required a lot of planning, trial & error, and some techniques to account for the variable size of the bamboo. This instructable will focus on the design and construction of the recumbent trike frame.
Before building this trike, I had never built anything that moved or worked on bikes. I had also never constructed anything using bamboo, carbon fiber or epoxy. Needless to say, I needed a lot of help and resources to get this project done. My primary source of information on trike building was www.atomiczombie.com. Brad and Kat at Atomic Zombie sell plans for building recumbent trikes from old bikes. Brad has put together an entire library of picture and video tutorials on bike building and maintenance. The AZ online forum is filled with DIY builders ready to give advice on every aspect of recumbent trike building. Without these folks, I'd still be doodling. I purchased a set of plans from AZ (Warrior trike) to learn how to build the steering, front axles, hubs, and disc brakes. Since these specific details belong to Atomic Zombie, I’m not going to divulge their plans, but I highly recommend purchasing a set for building out the rest of the trike. They are very easy to follow, well illustrated, and reasonably priced.
Other good bike websites I use:
Bamboo resources I found invaluable:
Step 1: Safety First
Don't forget to be safe. It's easier to put on a gloves than skin. Wear gloves, safety glasses, earplugs and masks where appropriate.
I also want to warn you that I'm not an engineer, a bike professional or certified in any way to do what I've done here. I'm completely self-taught by reading as much as I can and I certainly don't know it all or have much experience. My goal is to build a safe trike which will provide safe enjoyment for years to come. Read and educate yourself as much as you can and I look forward to getting your comments on how to improve my techniques. Let's stay safe out there!