Introduction: How to Recycle an Old Bicycle Into a Christmas Reindeer
Instead of throwing that old 10-speed in the trash or taking it to the dump, give it new life and festively decorate your yard at Christmas. In about an hour you can make a reindeer (or other types of animals) just from an old bicycle.
They make a unique recycled statement in the spirit of Tim Burton's "Nightmare before Christmas". You can also use the parts to make a catchy head mount for the shed or gate. If the old bike is one that has served you well over the years... why not immortalize it?
Step 1: Find an Old or Damaged Bike to Salvage
Find an old or damaged bike to salvage. The before and after images are for a beauty that I pulled out of the Yukon River last Spring. Remember that you have the option to keep it as a reindeer permanently if the parts are too far gone, or to re-use it as a bike in the Spring if you keep the spare parts and reassemble them later.
Disassemble the bike and strip off excess parts such as reflectors, pedals, shifters, brakes, derailleurs, cables & wheels.
Remove and keep the seat, and the handlebars/stem unit.
Step 2: Remove the Crank Arms
Remove both the crank arms, or at least the one with the chain ring attached so that the frame can sit level on the bottom bracket. If you keep the crank in place you can keep the other crank arm on if you tie it off to the frame. If you don't have a crank arm puller, you can get a bike shop to pull the one with the chain ring off for a small charge.
Step 3: Make a Support for the Front Forks
Make a support base for the front forks. This can be done fairly quick and easy by attaching them to some old lumber such as a 2x4 and 2x6 piece as shown using some screws. This will allow you to keep your bike animal steady while you work on it. Once completed and sitting in the yard, kids will sometimes try to climb on your bike reindeer so best to make it stable.
Step 4: Reattach the Handle Bars & Seat:
While the handle bars are off the bike, rotate the seat clamp so that it is aligned parallel to the seat top and slide it on to the handlebar stem shaft as shown in the image. Slide the handlebar, seat and stem assembly back in to the head tube of the bike, align the handlebars with the forks and then tighten the stem bolt.
Loosen the handle bar nut so that your can rotate the handle bars up or forwards to create the best antler-like effect. The amount of rotation will depend on the type of handlebars you have and the effect that you want to create. Slide and angle the seat up or down for the best head-like appearance and then tighten the seat clamp as well.
Options: Old 10 speed style bars with the secondary brake levers give the best look for reindeer - either as just a head mount or with the full body. Mountain bikes with the extra bar ends can make a decent moose. Old single or 3-speed roadster or cruiser style handlebars make a fair deer or steer look. Three examples (reindeer, moose, deer) are show in the images.
Step 5: Add the Tail
Tail: If you keep the seat post in the frame you might be lucky enough to have the pedal threads fit into it for a novel tail look. Otherwise find an old bike part such as another old stem for the tail.
Step 6: Give Rudolph a Red Nose
Red nose: If you want a Rudolph in your herd, attach a round red bicycle reflector to the nose of the seat tip. It will catch car headlights and light up when people drive by or pull into your driveway. You can also add a Christmas light onto the nose for the full Rudolph effect.
Step 7: Let Your Bike-animals Roam Freely, or Hook 'em Up to Santa's Sleigh.
Once you have several reindeer/moose/deer you can line them up, add on an old tobaggan, a Santa figure, and a string of Christmas lights. Voila, you have now recreated a scene from the night before Christmas... but with a Burton-esque twist. Presents are optional. Ho Ho Ho.