Cardboard Exercise Bike Laptop Stand




Introduction: Cardboard Exercise Bike Laptop Stand

Surf the interwebs and get your heart pumping. Position your laptop on your exercise bike.  You can purchase expensive plastic stands, thermoform and lasercut your own plastic model, use metal bar stock to build one, use pvc pipes to make one,  or cobble scraps of wood but what if you can make one with just cardboard and glue?

This was inspired by Eric Wilhelm'streadmill desk.  Not being Infantry, we don't walk using a desk, we ride, and thus...

This instructable is for the really cheap and frugal or maybe you just don't have cool power tools.  Whatever, recycle some box cardboard into something useful.

WARNING: No long term studies have been done on using a laptop on an exercise bike but benefits may outweigh the risks.  Consequences such as new forms of carpal tunnel syndrome or saddle sores and leg cramps from overuse may occur.   As always, consult your physician before you embark on any intense exercise regimen.  Your mileage may vary.

Step 1: Heavy Lifting...

Take a walk to the recycling bin to pick out a few large pieces of cardboard.  If you only have smaller corrugated boxes to salvage from, that is okay to piece together smaller pieces of cardboard.

You will need:

Cardboard - stiff corrugated cardboard, IKEA boxes will do but because they are minimalist, you will need to layer them about twice as much.

Regular school glue

Scissors or utility knife to cut the cardboard.

Pencil or marker to draw guidelines.

A straightedge if you cannot cut a straight line.

Corrugated box cardboard is actually quite strong.  We can make it even stronger by the way we use it.  If you laminate or glue together several layers and turning the direction that the grain or corrugation runs for each layer, you will make something that acts and feels like it was made of wood.  You can see my Giant Fn Computer Key Stool for other hints on using cardboard as a building material.

The paper facing from scrap pieces of cardboard is used to paper mache the exposed corrugations for a finished look.

Step 2: Figure It Out...

This cardboard exercise bike laptop stand is basically just a cantilevered shelf that is supported at the bottom by the small book shelf lip on the bike console.  It is held in place by the weight of the laptop pressing on the upright handlebars.

Since this laptop stand is specific for this exercise bike, you may need to alter your design slightly.

This is an upright riding exercise bike as opposed to a recumbent - sit down, lean back model.  Most control consoles have a little lip that is used as a book rest. 

You usually have a set of handlebars that are bent upwards in front of the control console.

With this in place, we can custom design a laptop shelf by using the idea of a cantilevered shelf that sticks out, held up by the console and held from tipping forward by the handlebars.

Step 3: Crossbar Support

No need to really measure.  Mock it up and size it right on the exercise bike.

Cut a strip of cardboard about 5 inches high. Make the length a couple of inches wider than the width of the handlebars to go beyond each side of the handlebar.

I cut it so that I could still see the display of the exercise bike when in use.   I don't play with the buttons much so I could cover them but would need to slide the shelf up if I wanted to change the settings on the exercise bike if it was not on autopilot program.

Slide it in between the console and handlebars.  It should rest on the book shelf of the exercise bike console.

If the geometry of your exercise bike does not allow this, you might need to figure out how to have it hang or suspending from something else, and possibly use tie-wraps or clamps to keep it in place.

Laminate about 4 layers of cardboard to your crossbar piece.  Since the fate of your laptop rests in this bar, use as many layers as you can to fit the gap between your console and handlebars.

When dry, put it back in place for a second fitting.

Mark the end stops by seeing where the handlebars line up with the cardboard.  They may angle inwards so trace a line to the cardboard.

Center your laptop in the middle of the crosspiece.

Mark the width of the laptop.  You will build the shelf around that dimension to create a shelf.

At each end, layer several pieces of cardboard to create stop blocks at the ends.  This will help keep the laptop shelf from shifting side to side.  Test to make sure you can remove the crosspiece without binding against anything.

Step 4: Build Shelf

I had a tray-like box that actually fit the dimensions of my laptop.  You can cut a large piece of cardboard and construct a similar tray to fit your laptop.

If you do not have a piece of cardboard large enough, just make a part that will be glued to the crosspiece support.  You can extend it later by splicing more cardboard.  Just use a piece of cardboard to bridge the joint.  Since we are laminating layers and paper mache'ing the final product, don't worry about any seams that appear.

Glue the a flap on the end to the crosspiece.  It should be positioned in the center.

From the side, look to see where the entire shelf will be level.  My handlebars and console are sloped toward the front so we have to make the shelf in a level position when it is used.

With one of the tabs on the side pieces,  bend and crease it so that the rest of the shelf is level when it is glued in place.

Bend and crease the other side tab and glue in place.

Step 5: Reinforcements

You can fold pieces into an L-shape angle iron and build up the sides of your shelf. 

Glue the sides to the crosspiece and layer on more cardboard. 

Use thinner width pieces as strapping to go over across the top the back corners.  Lay those pieces diagonally and have it overhang the inside corner so you end up with a wing like structure or "web".  This helps resist the pulling of the shelf off the crosspiece.

The excess length in the front of the shelf was just folded over and glued.  It was fitted to the dimensions of the laptop.  It is about 2 inches high but could have been about 1 inch.  The sides could taper down to the front.  As you can see, you can also taper the number of layers with less in the front portion. 

Step 6: Bottom Detail

Since the book shelf lip of the exercise bike console sticks up an an angle, I wanted to customize the fit of our cardboard shelf over it.

From the bottom, trace out where you need to make a pocket to fit the exercise bike shelf protrusion. Layer cardboard around it.  This also helps to keep our cardboard shelf in position.

Similarly like the top, add the diagonal strapping webs across the shelf corners on the bottom.

Layer up the bottom of the shelf to give it more strength.

With the cardboard shelf mounted on the bike, give it a little test to see where you may need to add more cardboard reinforcements.  If you can squeeze another layer of cardboard behind the handlebar, it would help support the weight as the shelf is pulled.  It will still flex a little without its layer of paper mache to tie everything together.

Paper mache every exposed joint and corrugation.  I just peeled the paper facing from leftover cardboard to use as the material.  I used straight unthinned glue to layer on the pieces.

Wait overnight for everything to dry.

Step 7: Let It Breathe...

I guess I could have just drilled a couple of holes to help in ventilating the bottom of the laptop as it sits in the shelf tray.   I was using this Macbook so I had to make this a matching accessory.

Draw the logo or use a printed logo to trace from.  I put the image backwards since I was working from the back to see where the thickest reinforcement plates were.

Use a utility knife to start slicing away and pick out the scrapple.  When the logo is cut out, paper mache the raw edges.

Step 8: Burn a Few Calories...

So take it for a test run...ride.

I left my cardboard exercise bike laptop stand in its natural rustic brown finish.  You can prime and paint or maybe put a clearcoat on.  Maybe even decoupage it further.

You can substitute a portable DVD player or coffee table book for you laptop.

The shelf is strong enough for reasonable typing and flaming.   I have not really put my body weight on it yet. 

May not be suitable for spinning classes but it is well out of the way of moving knees.  You cannot really ride standing up but the normal sitting position and viewing is quite comfortable.

Just do it.

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    5 years ago

    Fun and games till it breaks. Hahaha joking. Cool!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    I thought this was a great topic, that it spurred me to do something similar with my old chirping treadmill. All you need is software, a laptop and a ifit chirp technology compatible treadmill. Also a usb numeric keyboard would be handy for steering but you could also use a cordless mouse or the laptop keyboard. First I created a route in google maps and took note of the overall distance. (1.6miles) I then took note of the distance which google makes each time the up key is pressed or the left mouse button is double clicked. This is around 50ft. From there I created a spreadsheet that would tell me how many seconds will pass to travel 50ft at a set speed. First convert miles to feet- Inputted value 1.6 miles *5280 = 8448 (total route in feet) 1 click = 50 feet, therefore 8448/50 = 168.96 (This is how many clicks are needed to complete the course) Now we need the time of the journey in seconds but we also need minutes later on. Time to complete the course = distance/speed - 1.6miles /3mph =.0.5333 hours. Convert to minutes 0.5333*60=32 minutes and then to seconds 32*60 = 1920 seconds Seconds per click = seconds/clicks - 1920/168.96 = 11.36 seconds per click So to complete the route in 1920 seconds, I need to hit the forward button or double click the left mouse button every 11.36 seconds Now I have the data, I now need the software to run it. I downloaded two programs, both are freeware. 1 . I2 workout 2. Marxio timer 1. I2 workout will control your old chirper treadmill by sending chirp sounds from your laptop soundcard. Link your soundcard up to your ifit chirp technology treadmill with a standard mini phono cable. You can then design your own workout, by setting different segments to control time, speed and incline. I followed my Google route and made notes of inclines at different distances. Google will tell you the distances if you use their pointers.(A-B-C-D etc) Then simply convert the distances to times. The easiest way is to input each distance and into your spread sheet as the total journey length, this will then convert the distance into minutes. Add the minutes and incline into each segment in your I2 workout program. Onceall the segments are added, the I2 workout program will show you your total distance, which if inputted correctly should be the same as the total Google map route. 2. Marxio timer is great little program which allows you to assign keys at set time intervals. It will also continuously repeat at set times. So all you do is assign the forward key to be pressed every 11 seconds continuously. This will then move your map 50ft every 11 seconds. This should complete the Google route at the same time as finishing your treadmill workout. Now the problems: Steering- I would use the USB numeric pad to steer the treadmill; I’m still waiting for this in the mail. With marxio timer I couldn’t get the forward button to move the map forward every time, so I assigned the mouse L button double click, rather than the forward key. Which works but the forward key would be better. However if anyone figures this out please post. Tips When connecting the phono cable to the tread mill, set your soundcard volume high. Happy treadmilling…


    12 years ago on Introduction

     These exercise while on a laptop products are very effective.  I have been using one that I saw at a Nashville Tn marathon for 2 weeks.  Now I am finding all kinds of interesting forums and blogs.
    Exercising and Surfing will be a popular thing as more people start to make them and use them.  It just works.  Who wouldn't want to read all these interesting blogs without the guilt of just sitting on the couch?
    Does anyone know of a diy for exercise bikes?  I bought the SpinDesk for $200 on amazon.  It is light and easy to put away when done surfing.
    Now they need to make it so that it will move the video games.  But as is the exercise bike with a resting area works great for gaming.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    "Surf the interwebs and get your heart pumping."

    I thought you were talking about porn :)


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Good use of the materials - it looks very solid, yet lightweight.



    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    It will take a lot of weight before the crosspiece torques and tears.  They don't make pinatas this way.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    No, you'd need to take a shot-gun to them (King of the hill - Bobby's birthday...)



    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    It was actually easier and quicker to build this than to try to describe the steps in an instructable.