Introduction: Car Wheel Bicycle - the Learn to Weld Project

Picture of Car Wheel Bicycle - the Learn to Weld Project

This whole thing started off with me finding rusty holes in my car and I figured for the cost of paying someone to fix it I could buy a welder and do it myself, seems logical, right?

I was speaking to a friend about needing to learn how to weld and he said why not build a bike (we originally met while I was working in a bike shop and he came in looking for parts for a chopper he was building) he lent me a couple of books by Atomic Zombie, who you should check out, that dude builds some cool stuff.

His website and forum can be found at

After toying with the idea for a while it seemed like a good one but I was concerned that it wouldn't come out right so it was decided that I would build something a little silly, so, hence the car wheel bicycle was born.

Step 1: Tools and Meterials

Picture of Tools and Meterials

So you're going to need some stuff,

Very few raw materials went into this but the few that did are...

  • Car wheels, obviously!
  • Some mild steel tubing, 1 1/4" and 3/4" about 4 meters of both
  • A donor bike

The donor bike was used because it was an easy way of getting all the bicycle parts that were needed, after all it is a bike! also there are some bits of the frame that have very precise dimensions, the inside of the head tube and bottom bracket shell where the bearings go have what is called an interference fit meaning the bearing cups are pressed in and won't fall out, the tolerance of an interference fit is a tiny amount something in the hundreds of a millimetre, I would never be able to create these dimension with the tools I have so it was easier to cut these parts from an old frame, you can see in the third picture all the parts that I used from the BMX.


Again I didn't use that many tools to build the bike but here's a little list.

  • A welder, any welder will do as long as it sticks metal together, I have a MIG welder
  • An angle grinder with cutting and sanding disc's, I found a flap disc work best for sanding
  • Measurement devices, tape measure, vernier gauge
  • A drill and a couple of bits
  • Spanners and Allen key's for the bicycle parts
  • And a hammer, bigger ones are more fun but smaller ones still do the job

I also used a bench grinder and belt sander but you can do it all with the angle grinder if needs be.

And of course there's some safety stuff, goggles, ear defenders, welding mask and gloves, and a fire extinguisher.

I didn't start out with the extinguisher that was a later addition after my shirt caught fire while cutting with the grinder,

I have figured out that all these tools want to do is hurt you, please be sensible, concentrate on what you're doing, wear eye and ear protection, ask someone for help if you're not confident and don't weld while wearing shorts, those hot bits of metal will find their way into your shoes, trust me.

Step 2: Preparing the Wheels

Picture of Preparing the Wheels

All you needed from these wheels are the rims and tyres so the centre can to go.

Grab the grinder and a cutting disc (the thin ones are better) and get cutting, oh, let the air out of the tyre first.

I started by trying to grind the welds but I didn't get very far, it's much easier to cut around them and smooth them off later with a flap disc.

You can see in the fourth picture that I cut into the rim so these scars had to be fixed, I used a small piece of angle iron so the earth clamp had somewhere to attach to because I didn't remove the tyre, I don't have the tools but I'm sure a local garage would have done this for me.

Once the scars were welded up I smoothed them off with the flap disc.

Step 3: Making the Hubs

Picture of Making the Hubs

Using the hubs from the BMX was going to be a problem because they aren't wide enough but there's a simple solution, make them wider.

Start by cutting the axle in half, then you need to widen it, I used another axle you could use some rebar or some other suitable metal.

The reason I cut it in half instead of joining the two end to end is because they have different thread sizes and I wanted to use the cones and nuts that came with the hubs so I know they will go back together afterwards.

The hub body Is done in the exact same way, cut them in half and weld the half's to each end of a tube.

The tube I used is 1 1/4" because its the same size as the hubs so once the welds were ground down you can't tell how they were made.

Make sure the hubs are wide enough, the way I did this was by measuring the width of the tyre and used that measurement as the distance between the hub flanges.

I found it best to only weld 10 - 15 mm at a time and then rotate the hub and repeat until you get back to where you started.

Step 4: Spoking the Wheels

Picture of Spoking the Wheels

Now you have the main components of the wheel it's time join them together.

This was a tricky part because the rim needed to be centred (dished), round and true on the hub, this is done in three stages.

Getting it centred..

To get the centre lines of the hub and rim on the same plane I measured the overall width of the hub, subtracted the width of the tyre and divided that number by two, that gave me the height the tyre had to raised off the bench so the hub stuck out evenly on each side.You can see in the first image the tyre is on some pieces of wood and the hub has some sheet metal under to get the measurements correct.

Making it round..

I started this by measuring the inside diameter of the rim, subtract the diameter of the hub, and divided by two, this was the (temporary) spoke length, these needed to be exactly the right length otherwise the wheel would have ended up being egg shaped, I made four of these temporary spoke and used welding magnets to make sure they were at right angles to the hub, once I was happy I tacked them in place.

Making it true..

I refitted the axle and put it on some stands to spin it up, It was fairly straight but needed some tweaking, there was one spot that was out but luckily it was next to a spoke so I cut the tack, held the rim where it needed to be and tacked it back on, any other adjustments was done by bashing the spokes with a hammer, a crude but effective method.

So now you need to decide what spoke pattern you want for our wheels I was originally going to have 5 spokes all down the centre line but after talking this through with a friend he was concerned about the hub not being strong enough to take the weight in the centre with out some serious gusseting and also the forces exerted when cornering or bumping into stuff, he suggested the 6 spoke design with triangulation towards the centre of the rim, I'm glad I listened to him because I really like how the wheels turned out.

I started making the final spokes by marking a line on the hub and on the rim so they were all attached on roughly the same line, measured, cut and notched the spokes so they sat in place properly and then welded them in. I did one side while the temporary spokes were still in place, when I had one side of the final spokes welded solid I cut out the temporary ones and finished the other side.

Step 5: The Forks

Picture of The Forks

I thought I'd ease myself into this frame building malarkey by starting with something simple like the forks.

The BMX forks I had were a little too short and nowhere near wide enough.

I started by cutting the legs roughly in half and then removed the upper section from the steering tube,

You can then add in any extra tubing you need to get the forks to the length and width you want.

Once the two legs were finished I bolted them to the wheel and clamped some box section to them to keep them straight while I added the steering tube back on.

Step 6: The Frame

Picture of The Frame

If you are not familiar with the names of the tubes that go into a bike frame check out the first picture as that will explain it more simply than I can.

Once I the front end was done I put it on the workbench with the rear wheel and started with the frame,

First off I cut and welded the down tube to the head tube then I taped another piece of tube to a box that looked like it was about the right height for ground clearance and clamped the together as best I could to keep them straight while welding.

Then chain stays were a little confusing at first because they needed some triangulation in them,

I ended up cutting a slice about 3/4 through the tube, bending it slightly, and welding it back up.

This gave a subtle kink to the tube which was just enough, then it was just a case of making a copy for the other side and attaching the between the dropouts and down tube.

I couldn't do the seat stays until they had somewhere to go, so I balanced the seat tube on some random bits of box section to get the height right and tapped it to another cardboard box to get it the right distance away from the rear tyre then measured and fitted the lower top tube to hold the seat tube in place while I did the seat stays.

I didn't take any pictures of the seat stays but they're basically just a copy of the chain stays.

Once the rear end was complete it was onto the upper top tube.

I wanted this to have a bend rather than an angle where it goes under the saddle and to the seat tube, not having a tube bender handy, or at all, it took a bit of thinking but I decided to do a similar thing as the stays but with more slices (see pic 6 & 7) when the radius looked nice I welded up the slices, ground it smooth and fitted the upper top tube to the rest of the frame.

Step 7: Brakes and Gears

Picture of Brakes and Gears

By complete luck the Sturmey Archer sprockets I had fitted on to the hub as if they were meant to be together,

The rear disc brake rotor is mounted onto the hub by drilling and tapping holes and then it's spaced away from the sprocket so the chain doesn't come in contact with the disc, the spacers were welded to the sprocket and then the sprocket was welded to the hub.

The front disc is mounted the same way but without the spacers.

The caliper mounting brackets are made from the same bits of angle iron that was used for earth clamp when welding the wheels,

To get the measurements right I put the caliper on the rotor, placed a zip tie around the lever so the caliper didn't move then held the angle iron in place and marked it where the holes need to be and also a rough shape to cut out. The angle iron I used is 3 millimeters thick, in hindsight 5-6 millimeters would be more appropriate.

When you have a nice looking bracket bolt it to the caliper and weld on the frame.

In all the excitement I forgot to take pictures of the rear brake but it's done in the same way as the front.

Because the bicycle cranks aren't wide enough for the chain to reach the rear wheel there had to be some kind of shaft to move the drive over far enough, and because it's a heavy bike I wanted some gears so I came up with the Sturmey-Archer 3 speed trans-axle (photo's 6, 7 & 8).

Using a front hub from a mountain bike I added the axle the left hand side of the Sturmey axle, Cut the MTB hub in half and added a small section of tubing the welded that to the Sturmey hub, then welded another sprocket to the end of that.

Because the sprockets on the left hand side of the trans-axle and rear wheel are welded on to their respective parts it keeps the Sturmey-Archer hub shell spinning as if it were built in a wheel as it's intended to be, meaning that I have full functionality of the gears and ratchets in the hub so I can coast if needed.

Some dropouts were made to fit the trans-axle out of angle iron and then attach to some 3/4" tubing and mounted to the frame with some extra bits for bracing to prevent twisting of the trans-axle.

Before it was striped down for painting I had to go for a quick test ride.

Step 8: Paint and Admire

Picture of Paint and Admire

To prepare for paint I stripped everything down, smoothed off the crappy looking welds with a flap disc, re-welded some bit, smoothed them off again and roughed the surface with some sand paper so the paint would stick.

Because I never removed the tyres from the wheels they needed to be masked up with some tape.

Everything was coated with a few layers of zinc primer, the zinc in the primer helps protect the steel from rusting.

Then it had a thick coat of yellow filler primer to hide all the unevenness and ding's I had created.

Then there was sanding, lots and lots of sanding to get a nice smooth finish, when I was happy I gave it another coat of zinc primer so the colour was even for the final paint job.

And there you have it, The car wheel bicycle aka The learn to weld project.

Before starting this I didn't know how to weld, I didn't know how to notch a tube and I didn't know anything about bicycle frame design but with some determination, a few mistakes, a few burn hole in my shirts and my skin I made it, and if I can do it so can you.

A big thanks to my friend Jocke for the advice, the help and awesome photos, without him this probably wouldn't have happened.


Mr-Mash (author)2016-08-03

Hey people, Thanks for all the kind words, I never expected this kind of reaction for it.

To answer a few questions that keep coming up...

The gearing is now low enough to get going from a standing start and it isn't anymore work than riding a bike with soft tyres.

It corners much better than I ever thought it would, you need to put your weight into it but once it's on the edge of the tyre it can turn very tight.

When you're on the flat part of the tyre it wants to follow the camber of the road, so you need to keep an eye on whats coming up to counteract it, otherwise it rides just fine.

I need to find some scales and check but I guess it weighs somewhere around 35 kg.

Again thank you all for the kind words.


AlexC574 (author)Mr-Mash2017-11-02

I saw this on hiconsumption and its totally dope. I have been thinking of trying to build something like it but cant figure out the right dimensions for the frame. What where the dimensions that you had because it looks like you got it down.



Mr-Mash (author)AlexC5742017-11-07

I never had any dimensions for the frame it was never going to be comfortable or efficient so I never bothered about getting it 'just right' it was all done by what looked good in proportion to the wheels, the only measurements you really need to worry about is how far the pedals and handle bars are from the seat.

Suboptimus (author)Mr-Mash2016-08-06

First of all, awesome project. Regarding your comment on cornering and getting on the edge of the tire, it seems like motorcycle wheels and tires would be a natural choice for a Version 2. A bit of a different look and maybe not so fat, although there are some beefy motorcycle tires, but it would give you more natural single-track vehicle dynamics and still be fatter than the fattest fat bikes.

Mr-Mash (author)Suboptimus2016-08-10

You've basically describe what I was thinking for my next project, but you missed out the electric motor...

Mr-Mash (author)Mr-Mash2016-08-03

I've added a video to step 7, I will update the 'ibble with a better one as soon as I can.

TamásB17 (author)2017-08-11

Awesome bike, you inspired me to build this black monster :D

Mr-Mash (author)TamásB172017-11-07

That thing looks super cool, I really like the square tubing I'll have to remember that if I build another.

Bazinga02 (author)2017-10-18

I love the car tires, motorcycle would still be cool but I love how it looks. I plan to make one myself very soon.

3967 (author)2017-01-02

cool project , just use 2 big (rear) Motorcross wheel istead

justiniano (author)2017-01-01

tremendous work.

justiniano (author)2017-01-01

I admire you is not and easy proyec God bless.

CarlinC1 (author)2017-01-01

Best Build EVER :)
Congrats on the fine build, and learning to weld in the process!
Very Cool!

Technoaussie (author)2016-08-06

When I put larger (bicycle) tires on my training bike I found the extra rolling resistance of fat tires slowed me down considerably. I hesitate to think how you get off the massive flat area of these tires to enable corning but I guess if learning to weld was the principal reason for doing this, that's fine. Even motorcycle tires will impede peddling because of the amount of rubber on the road. They don;t use narrow tires on 50cc motorcycles for no reason.

Mr-Mash (author)Technoaussie2016-08-10

They do have a fair bit of resistance but the wheels also carry a lot of momentum so once its over 5~6 MPH its not too bad. A bit of a weave combined with the weight of my belly and it leans into corners OK. and yeah I never intended for it to be practical it's only for fun.

DavidP634 (author)Mr-Mash2016-10-23

Very cool project! I have one suggestion that may not be as cool looking, but will improve handling greatly. Yours is a single track vehicle, but the tires are designed for a dual track vehicle. Why is this important? Single track vehicles turn by leaning, so the tires must have rounded-treads. Automobiles stay flat in turns, hence flat-treaded tires.

Here is an excellent article that explains it:

MichaelM968 (author)2016-09-25

Neat-o Bike! And a great FUN ( After All! ) Project-o! Simple, & easy, (I can see the whole thing at once, few projects like that!). I see some Responders doin' some Over-Thinking & fussing with non-essentials to the point that your idea becomes another kind of animal. Maybe ya have one of those quotes in yer place; K.I.S.S= 'Keep It Simple Stupid' , I do, it's called a Reality Check! Thanks for this, it's refreshing!

Tecwyn Twmffat (author)2016-09-19

Nice work dude!

PS. You may want to remind the 'ibles team that you need a 240 volt welder, not 110 :)

ralovell (author)2016-08-04

I love it. I have only one suggestion, and that is to replace the tyres with some nice new ones, preferably from the hot ridding/drag racing scene with raised lettering. Beyond that it's a marvel, I have the tools and patience just not the time. Or the beard.

rwolkens (author)ralovell2016-09-17

Check out . They sell white letter stickers for car tires that are permanent, and you can even choose the size of the letters, or order custom lettering!

Mr-Mash (author)ralovell2016-08-06

They're not very common here in the UK but I have been looking.

In total it didn't take all that many hours to build it was just spread out over a couple of months, certainly less time than it takes to grow a beard.

zmackins (author)Mr-Mash2016-08-06

Hey man, for the time being you could use white paint marker to colour in lettering for that race wheel look! Whereabouts in UK are you? I'm down in South East and would love to cruise on that thing haha!

ralovell (author)ralovell2016-08-04

Rodding not ridding. iOS grrr.

NebulaFusion (author)2016-09-06

That's one mean looking bike!

wjf213. (author)2016-08-06

Very cool project.

While I haven't read the whole article yet or the comments, watching the games right now, I will read all this, but for now I was just wondering the following...

Have you thought about adding a 1,000 watt or larger mid frame electric motor and make it an electric bike?

How hard would it be to replace a tire?

Mr-Mash (author)wjf213.2016-08-10

Here in the UK the laws for electric bikes say that the motor can't be over 200 watts so anything bigger would have to be registered as a motorcycle and because I've built the frame myself it would be a pain getting it done.

For me it's quite difficult to replace a tyre but I could take the wheel to a garage and they could have it done in minuets.

AdrianS24 (author)Mr-Mash2016-08-23

wjf213. (author)Mr-Mash2016-08-10

Thanks for the reply.

I agree, 200 watts on tires this big is all but pointless really, heck in my, not so important opinion, 200 watts is not that much even with a regular bike tire, but what do I know.

Can't you even put a large motor in for offroad use only?

I live in Louisiana, and I'm thinking these wide tires with very low ground pressure would be the ticket in the swamps, but way to hard to power any distance, without some sort of electric motor or gas engine to help it out. I prefer electric because it's quiet.

Thanks again for answering me and keep up the great work.

gmnorris (author)2016-08-17

This thing is still better looking than the average Miata.and

JpsManCave (author)2016-08-17

Verry nice instructable I may have to do a spinoff using alittle 6.5hp engine I have sitting around

dackermans84 (author)2016-08-06

Super Awesome project!

You did a very fine job! I wish i could weld like you do.

Mr-Mash (author)dackermans842016-08-10

When I started the bike I'd only practiced welding for a couple of hours.

andrefierens (author)2016-08-06

Great Job !

Is it aluminium wheels ?

Mr-Mash (author)andrefierens2016-08-10

It's all steel.

MayB2 (author)2016-08-08

This is one of the coolest DIYs I have ever seen the light at the front, the color of the bike and the graffiti background is so on point I can't imagine a cooler combination!

Awesome job!

I'm already planning my attempt

20rmendoza (author)2016-08-07

dis looks FUN

johnb559 (author)2016-08-02

this is excellent, yes tere are some dodgy bits, thats the whole point, would it be possible to put tubes over the center section of the axles and weld it to the outside sections to make them stronger?

The other thing is, be extra cautious when welding rims with tyres on because frequently the welding causes a small fire, which obviously goes out once the oxygen is used, but can and has done damage to the top of the tyre, but the real danger is re inflating the tyre BEFORE the fire goes out, that bit has killed people!

On a me important note, did it help you gain the skills required to fix your car?

spark master (author)johnb5592016-08-02

car tires are 50 pounds, the one that kill are usually the size of 5 of these, but it is a good thought and precausion

johnb559 (author)spark master2016-08-06

yeah, usually, usually aircraft don't fall out of the sky.

Mr-Mash (author)johnb5592016-08-03

And I've now got the skills to fix the car but I haven't done it yet, been too busy riding the bike.

johnb559 (author)Mr-Mash2016-08-06

If I'm honest, that's al that metters.

Mr-Mash (author)johnb5592016-08-03

I did consider adding a sleeve over the the weld in the axles but there isn't much stress on them in the centre, most of it is a compression force from taking the play out of the bearings. The weight of the bike is goes about 40 mm along the axle, through the bearings and into the hub body. I will strip them down at some point to check but they're still straight and the bearings haven't come loose.

I didn't even think about a fire on the inside, I'll be more careful next time, Thanks for the warning.

vardon_grip (author)2016-08-06

This is really awesome! If the Batmobile in the Dark Knight had a bike rack...THIS bike would be be strapped to the back! Wayne Industries should be calling anytime now.

testrabbit (author)2016-08-06

I've never seen it, but it can and does happen...Bridgestone has a couple videos on pyrolysis as well. Be careful, kids!! Nice bike though, thanks for the idea. On my short list!

twyeth (author)2016-08-06

Just awesome, I do have to agree with a couple of the comments. Myself I would be adding a motor for pedal assist at the least, not necessary but I would. ☺

pskvorc (author)2016-08-06

Excellent! On several levels!

fredrick.miller.9 (author)2016-08-06

I bow to thee. This is a really cool bike. Add a Harley motor. :)

pauldash29 (author)2016-08-06

Hey this bike is inspiring. It seems like it has applucation right for soft ground and or heavy load.

RonGarza (author)2016-08-06

Where's the "Like" button! I Like, Like, Like. (It needs brakes? LOL) I would have never thought that it would lean on a curved top road. Makes sense. So many things -- including shop techniques -- are only discovered upon building something. Nice word.

cgm1488 (author)2016-08-04

Awesome job! About how long are the straight top tube and down tubes?

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