Introduction: Office Chair Bike

Picture of Office Chair Bike

A recumbent bike with a very comfy seat.
It's a 35 pound leather executive office chair connected to a 16" (little girl's) Princess bike re-welded into a recumbent (recliner bike) and using a piece of another donor bike frame.
I built it in honor of "Bike to Work Day".

If you like fun/unusual home built bikes... check out my hobby site

Step 1: Design Your Bike Using a CAD System (Cardboard Aided Design)

Picture of Design Your Bike Using a CAD System (Cardboard Aided Design)

Make a cardboard cutout of your lower leg (with foot and pedal), thigh, torso, and straight arm (to a distance 2" back from your wrist). Use it to look for good riding position and clearances for knees to bars, heels to wheels etc. Use the CAD system to layout the riding position, cranks, wheels etc with attention for locating your hands, shoulder, seatback angle, butt, knees and feet. Also look for ways to arrange a straight chain line (at least for the tight side) by raising the Bottom Bracket (BB)(main crank bearing).
For detailed instruction on designing a sweet handling recumbent visit

Step 2: Cut and Miter the Bike Tubes for Joints

Picture of Cut and Miter the Bike Tubes for Joints

Use a hole saw (toothed cylindrical drill bit) to simultaneously cut and miter the donor bike's former downtube to become a boom tube out to the Donor bike's BB. Carefully eyeball the angle but always wear eye protection when eyeballing.

Step 3: Clamp or Strap Tubes Together for Welding

Picture of Clamp or Strap Tubes Together for Welding

During and after filing the donor tube's mitered end, the joint is assembled and checked for correct angle, centeredness (meditation could help here) and plumbness (allignment by eyeball). When it all looks straightish, it is clamped or straped together to be tack welded.

Tack welds are small to avoid melting too much of the nylon strap.

Step 4: Weld It Together

Picture of Weld It Together

I use a little 110 volt MIG* welder. It is the red box. The weld is finished in this picture.

*MIG = Metal, Inert Gas sheilded welding. however I use a cheaper flux cored feed wire instead of gas sheilding. It helps keep my weld quality low so I won't obsess as much.

Step 5: Reinforce the Seatpost

Picture of Reinforce the Seatpost

It looks so much more business-like after painting over the "Little Princess" motif.
I added internal steel tubing reinforcement to strengthen the seat post since I weigh more than most little princesses and the office chair lets me put lots of leverage (bending moment) on the seat post.

I split the office chair's own seat post and inserted the bike's reinfored post into the chair's seat post. I welded the split back together.

Step 6: Install Chain Roller

Picture of Install Chain Roller

After assembling enough chain in the length needed, hold a jockey wheel from a derailuer up to the frame with the chain on the jokey to see where you can position the jockey to take up slack and lift the chain over the front wheel. Mark that spot and drill a hole for a hardened bolt that will act as an axel for the jockey wheel to spin on. Assemble and lubricate jockey wheel and bolt passing through hole in frame boom. Use a large washer or a n orange juice can lid to guide chain and prevent it from falling off jockey wheel. I added an instructable all about using a chain tool to make long chain :

Step 7: Reposition the Chair

Picture of Reposition the Chair

I had to reposition the chair lower and further forward so my toes could reach the ground.
The plywood board has holes for mounting to the chair and to the chair post platform.
The old brake cable wire in front is holding the front of the chair down and to keep it from rotating around the seat post since there is a lot of twisting leverage from the wide butt in the wide chair.

Step 8: Riding the Office Chair (AKA Loose Nut Behind the Handle Bars)

Picture of Riding the Office Chair (AKA Loose Nut Behind the Handle Bars)

Here it is on its maiden voyage. I still need to lower the seat further so my feet can securely reach the ground given the chair's long seat pan extending forward under rider's knees and holding them up.

That little tail sticking out in back is a side view of a 3 foot long 1x10 wooden board between the chair and chair mounting bracket on the seat post. It allowed the chair to be offset from the post about 5 inches forward leaving a back shelf for storage. disclaimer: None of my 15 home built bikes (to date) are made from 100% wood. Wood is not my religion. Wood is a conveneint and entertaining construction material for some parts of my bikes. Your Apple computer may not be made of 100% apples either. Open it up if you don't believe me.

Step 9: Where Do We Get the Supplies?

Picture of Where Do We Get the Supplies?

"Sustainable shopping" is my new hobby.
Dumpster Dipping (no diving allowed, you could hurt yourself) is the way to go.
Sometimes I feel like "Dumpstermiah Johnson" while I'm "trolling the suburban trap-line". That's where I found the 35 pound leather executive chair, and the Princess bike, donor bike and paint and extra bike chains joined together to reach everything.


OogieMustBoogie (author)2014-09-21

what is lmfao?

DRH1469 (author)2012-04-23

Cardboard Aided Design = CAD hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahoooohaaohoohohahahahahahahahoooohahahhhhaaaamwhhahahahahahahahahahhaaghahahahhaahhahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahahhahaha,COUGHHHHHhahahahahhahahahahhahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahbwhahahahahhahhahahahahhahahahhahahhahahhahahahhahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahhlmfaolmfaohahahahahahahhahahahhahahahrotfolhahahahhahaarotfolrotflalmaohahahahhahahahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahhahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahhahahahahhahahahhahhhhhhaaaahhhhahhhahahahah>>>CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE CHOKE DIED DIED DIED

(This is what happens when you LMFAO)

Well Done none the less

HanzieO (author)2011-04-24

Hi, I stole some of your ideas, from this site and your own, and made this bike from a bit of Origan I found, some plywood and a junk yard 20" kids bike. Great work keep it up. You inspired me to re-use and recycle.The seat is foam padded and uphulstered with yellow vinyl. I also adde a lightning bolt and a scull sincce the foto.

Woodenbikes (author)HanzieO2011-04-25

Pretty cool looking ride you have there! I'm glad you got inspired to build one.
Can you post an instructable on your build? I wonder if the headset would benefit from another block of wood under the frame beam to help distribute the torque of braking or bumping a curb etc. Maybe it's supported in another way we can't see.

HanzieO (author)Woodenbikes2011-04-26

Thanks. You are right about the weak headset connection. Its the bit that worries my the most(structually).

I drilled the hole a bit oversize and filled it up with Epoxy resin. But I can see about 10mm movment on the front wheel axle if I brake hard. Today I got a big tube of 2part epoxy putty and built it up above and below. seems to help. I will keep an eye on it and if that fail I will weld a piece of plate on underneath and screw it to my beam.

I am halfway with the next one. Its a bent plywood one like the one seen here on this site. Instructable soon!

HanzieO (author)HanzieO2011-04-28

mikesty (author)2007-07-20

I am exceptionally jealous of your coolitude. Stuff like this only comes in my dreams. You can make it a reality. I can't. That's cool. I would probably buy that if I wasn't so poor.

Woodenbikes (author)mikesty2007-07-21

Thanks for the encouragement. I also used to think I couldn't do it. I had a long gap of 20 years between seeing a similar home built bike and building my own. I started with very simple wood bikes that required no welding. I will post one in a few weeks but you can see them now at I discovered you could drill one hole for the cranks and bearings and one for the headset and just put the fork and cranks right through an old post. Nail on a couple pieces of plywood to hold the rear wheel and you have a bike.

mikesty (author)Woodenbikes2007-07-21

How much engineering experience do you have? I just turned 18. I'm going to college next year to study engineering. I've done robotics for the past two years but I never really worked with machinery and I am not always a hands-on guy. I'm a bit of a late bloomer, but I think that some day I'll be able to make one :) Currently I've got this old Panasonic Villager III bike I'd like to repair and take with me to college.

Woodenbikes (author)mikesty2007-07-22

The hands-on stuff is only intimidating until you start. Then you see its actually pretty straight forward. You are probably ahead of where I was at 18 so you are going to have a fun future. I earned a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from Cal Poly, SLO and a PE license in mechanical. The engineering class to remember will be statics. No numerical calculations occured while making this or any of my other 15 bikes to date. Pencils are used but only to mark where to drill, or cut. I bet if you took the parts off that Panasonic frame and built a different frame from plywood and short piece of 4x4 you would meet a lot of fun and interesting folks at college. I'm reminded of a Robert Frost poem about taking the bike less common, and that has made all the difference.

You don't hafta be an engineer to enjoy making stuff. I'm a biologist and my engineer boyfriend (biomedical engineer, they mostly do electronic stuff) says I probably have more mechanical aptitude than him _ Bikes are great, they should be on the list of the 100 best inventions ever.

I agree on both points. To enjoy making things, all you need is some curiosity and courage. Curiosity to ask "what would it be like if I modified a ... and applied it to a...? Courage to be ready to invest materials and effort (and maybe ego) into the experiment with the possibility of having it not work the first time. I'd even put bikes in the top 20 inventions.

jesusfreek (author)Woodenbikes2009-08-10

I would have to disagree, they are the best. I like this design though it could use a smaller seat but its good.

jridley (author)mikesty2007-07-26

The most important thing anyone can learn is to embrace failure. Half the stuff I build doesn't work at all or not very well, but even so it's fun, and the stuff that does work, doubly so! Many times I'll build something knowing full well that it won't work; I'm doing it so that I can learn what the pitfalls are, what areas need special attention, etc, so that my next attempt will work better.

ElvenChild (author)2009-07-30

You claim that your fashion sense is bad believe me mine is 3 times worse it involves a long sleeve green shirt and fuzzy number 18 soccer pants

Dzwiedziu (author)2007-07-20

How did you mounted the chain? The instructable lacks in explaining this. I'm not a fan of horizontal bikes l but you still deserve a + for the Carboard Aided Design and pointing out the ecological issue.

Woodenbikes (author)Dzwiedziu2007-07-29

I added a couple of steps showing the chain routing and made a new instrucable about how to use a chain tool to make long chain:

Glad you liked the CAD system. (A Trogolodyte's Tribute To Tech) It is really quite useful.

srhadaham (author)Woodenbikes2008-04-21

my drafting teacher must not know the real meaning of CAD cause for some odd reason he refers to it as computer aided drafting, wonder where he came up with that incorrect acronym

ElvenChild (author)srhadaham2009-07-30

He's probably thinking of the cademia program cad for short. And by what do you mean acronym.

ReCreate (author)2009-05-03

Have you ever fallen down? How bad is it when you fall down?(it looks to me that your hit the ground either from the side(a tipover) Or you fall forwards(Hit something))

Woodenbikes (author)ReCreate2009-05-03

I have not crashed any feet forward bikes yet. I guy who had crashed a recumbent told me it is generally a not much scraping, no broken bones kind of thing. Recumbent seats and bars give some impact and scrape protection. Probably best to hang onto the bars to avoid hurting your arms / collar bones etc.

ReCreate (author)Woodenbikes2009-05-04


rimar2000 (author)2007-07-20

Excellent design. I envy you. The only objection is that the fork of the front wheel seems something weak to support the weight of a mature person (and quite robust).

Woodenbikes (author)rimar20002007-07-29

The fork and I have a little competition going to see who is robuster. I already know it's more mature. For safety, I ride carefully, on flat smooth roads, under 15 MPH while wearing a helmet and clean underwear.

ReCreate (author)Woodenbikes2009-05-03

Um...what?(the last 2 words)

Bryan Smith (author)2009-05-03

Pocket Protector! My Dad is an engineer and uses pocket protectors too!

DuctTapeRules! (author)2009-01-07

I've used CAD before, pretty useful and much more easy than the other CAD (computer aided design). There's also my favourite method of, "stacking up random crap from around your work area/little part of the dining room until to simulates the height parts need to be" :P.
Cool bike, too

coolguy (author)2008-10-23

You should get one of those mini chain link steering wheels (like the ones that latinos use on custom bikes and are just small enough to allow you to steer it with handcuffs on) to use for steering. It would solve the turning radius issue and make it that much more awesome.

Like This

AngusNotSoYoung (author)2008-05-01

That's pretty cool. I can tell you're an engineer by the way you layed everything out in cardboard ahead of time (Step 1-2). Judging by the picture in step 8 it doesn't look like you have a very tight turning radius. Good Instructable.

Yerboogieman (author)2008-04-19

i thought about this a couple days ago when i rode into town on my bike, cause it was 5 miles, all i could think about was the padding on this bike, that could have let me sit down with out anything hurting

greenjedi (author)2007-12-07

HAHAHA! i actualy had this idea awhile ago, and now its here on instructables, thats crazy!

pyroman50 (author)greenjedi2008-03-23

that would be awsome if you made a office chair scooter

bedbugg2 (author)2007-12-16

oh man...if you fall of that youre screwed

Office Chair UK (author)2007-11-15

I am very impressed with your office chair bike. It has the most comfortable seat I have ever seen on two wheels although I am concerned about its stability and the pressure on your legs. But you say you're able to ride 15mph on flat surfaces, so that's cool.

I like the idea of encouraging the local dumps to set up exchanges - I don't think that any such exchanges are available in the UK at the moment. Keep up the good work!!

Office Chair UK.

IdahoDavid (author)2007-07-21

Sweet. But is it ergonomically correct for using your keyboard? It really needs a place to bungee-cord a laptop and printer, a coffee cup holder, a phone/answering machine and perhaps a two-drawer filing cabinet. Think of the advantage of attending meetings. Your workspace would be right there with you and all you would need is the donuts.

Woodenbikes (author)IdahoDavid2007-07-22

Good ideas! It could be just the thing for those sprawling corporate campuses (campi?).

You may enjoy this site about an earlier pedal office.

naught101 (author)Woodenbikes2007-08-30

dude, that WOULD be cool - forget the paniers, strap on some filing cabinets!

dkfa (author)2007-08-24

What if you fell? You cant get off fast.........but I understand the office chair theme

quadleader (author)2007-07-27

where i live we have this place called the exchange, its where all of the stuff that may still be usable by others goes, bikes cameras computers all kinds of stuff its really cool i actually got my bike there and a digital camera a macintosh (power mac g4) so then you dont have to go dumster dipping.

Woodenbikes (author)quadleader2007-07-27

Sounds like a great system. My local dump does not allow that, but I went to one in frugal area that was very well organized with different outdoor tents and tables for different goods like excercize equipment (largest volume) and small appliances, big appliances etc. Folks should ask their local dump authorities to start the exchange to help preserve the climate.

TheBikemaniac (author)2007-07-27

I built a similar project last week with a kids bike and a really grotty old 70's chair I found in the garbage and I managed to get the huge orange and brown chair right over the wheel by instaling sissy bars so I could manage to pedal on the original pedals. Just yearsterday I installed a ten speed bike fork and I installed a weed eater motor to the back wheel under my seat. It's one funky ride! Sorry for my spelling I'm french, oh and I really like your bike, looks much more cumftabale then my'n, one question, do you have a weelie problem (the bike keeps falling one It's back) couz I do?

Sounds like a fun machine you are making. Mine does not wheelie or fall backward. In the bike riding position a rider's center of gravity (CG) is about where their navel is located. In the CAD system picture (step 1) you can see the CG is almost midway between the tire/road contact points. Typical good handling bikes have the CG about 2/3 of the way back from the front wheel towards the rear wheel to put 0nly 33% of the weight on the front wheel. Other wheelie contributors are: a high CG, applying a lot of thrust to the rear wheel, and going up hill.

rjnerd (author)2007-07-27

The Buscycle used office chairs for most of its seating (to my great dismay, at least I talked them out of the minivan seat track adjusters). One problem is that any chair that provides enough thigh support for comfortable sitting, interferes with your legs when trying to pedal. You need to cut the seat pan much shorter. Your photo alludes to this, showing you perched on the lip, well away from the actual back.

For the buscycle I designed them a simple and light open frame seat made from conduit and the fabric for "directors" chairs. The narrow strip of the directors "back" formed the seat, and what was the seat bottom, was used in the back of the thing. Took under one man hour to cut/bend/miter/weld the frame. Took more than 3 hours to adapt the office chairs (including shortening the seat pan).

Otherwise its a good example of the "10 cent bent" style, and a great thing for bike-to-work week.

gannon (author)2007-07-26

Hi--Is this functional, or does your father-in-law have to push you everywhere?

Woodenbikes (author)gannon2007-07-26

It's a working, functional bike. It puts the "func" in functional. I had a very comfy ride on it yesterday. For another funny bike see the couch-bike at:

houba (author)2007-07-23

Back in the 70's, Gaston Lagaffe, a famous european comic book character created by the genius Andre Franquin invented a similar bike/chair (

Matin (author)2007-07-20

Way Cool! Nice to think that so much making fun can be had from my local dumpster. I look forward to seeing what you pull out next. Your site is inspiring.

Woodenbikes (author)Matin2007-07-21

Thanks I owe it all to my buddy who convinced me to show these projects to help others see how easy it is to make stuff. It's kind of cosmic payback I owe since I have been inspired by many other folk's prior project sharing.

gyromild (author)2007-07-20

The design is great, but a snapshot of the chain setup would be helpful..

Woodenbikes (author)gyromild2007-07-21

I will try to post a pic in a few days. The upper length of chain runs straight from the top of chainwheel to the top of the rear cog just like the stick in the CAD pic. The lower length of chain passes over a jockey wheel (from an old derailuer) that spins on a bolt that is mounted through a hole drillrd in the boom near the head tube. The jockey wheel "lifts" the chain out of the way of the front wheel for turns.

About This Instructable




Bio: Long time bicyclist, bike commuter, bike tourer, recent bike builder/experimenter. I'm an energy consultant for hydro electric, solar and other renewable energy generation.
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