Introduction: What Not to Build: Drunk Bike

About: I'm a top-hatted, kilted, former-bike mechanic, sysadmin, and author with a fondness for silly things and delicious food. Holler at my Philly folks!

I go to a little work college somewhere near nowhere.  Everyone there works for the college at least fifteen hours a week, in addition to keeping up with their academic obligations.  It's great.  I work in the Community Bike Shop, fixing bikes, helping students build bikes, and teaching bike repair skills.

Lately, it's been cold here in the mountains, and fewer people have been out riding their bikes, which means that fewer people are out breaking their bikes, too.  One morning, I had a long, long shift, but nothing to do.  All my ongoing projects were stalled, and the only bikes in the shop were either waiting on ordered parts or done and waiting for their owners to come pick them up.  So what to do?  Well, a few days earlier, the recycling crew had dropped off a big pile of rusty parts bikes, among them a little kiddie bike with sixteen inch wheels.  I made it my mission, that shift, to do something dumb with it.  The result: the Drunk Bike, AKA The Carnivore.

I'm entering this Instructable in the Epilog Laser Contest because I love power tools, and because a laser (or a welder for that matter) would help me fill the world with more silly things and lighten the mood around here a little more.

Step 1: What You Will Need

Should you actually choose to build your own dumb/drunk bike, it is unlikely that you will have exactly the same frame and other parts available to you, so this is a bit general.

Things you will need:
A kiddie bike frame with cranks and back wheel
A set of flat mountainbike handlebars
A seat and mounting hardware
A 24" fork and wheel
A compatible stem
Some totally rad handlebars, ape-hangers if possible (I didn't have any lying around)
Various wrenches and hex keys

Things you may need:
Metal shims
A hacksaw
A lock-ring wrench

Things that are quite useful:
A bicycle repair stand
Bins full of parts
An assistant
A healthy sense of the absurdity of the project you're undertaking

Step 2: Getting Started: Disassembly

Well, I guess if you've come this far, there's no stopping you; first you need to disassemble the front half of your main donor frame.  The process is pretty basic, consisting mostly of unscrewing things and hitting them with hammers.

If the frame has a fork, stem, and handlebars on it already, begin by removing these.  The stem can be removed by first loosening the headset bolt, which is found at the top of the stem, and then loosening the stem wedge inside by striking the loosened bolt with a blunt instrument.  Most modern stems for threaded headsets have a bolt that needs a 6mm allen wrench to loosen them, but some older stems may have a bolt that needs a regular 12mm wrench (but don't quote me on that size).

Once the stem is out, unscrew the headset locknut from the top of the steerer tube.  This is usually done with a 30, 32, 36, or 40mm wrench.  Next, remove any washers.  In the unlikely even that there is a lock-ring, remove that, too, using a lock-ring wrench.  If you do not have a lock-ring wrench, either find someone who does or improvise.  I find that a stout screwdriver, a mallet, a vise, and some patience and swearing usually do the trick in a pinch, and I've heard reports that a pipe wrench has worked well for other people.

Finally, unscrew the headset cone.  Hold onto the fork while doing so, to keep it from dropping and possibly falling on your toes.

Save the hardware and bearings that you remove from the headset for use later.

Next, if your donor bike has a seat, remove the seat and the seatpost.  The seat-mounting hardware should have 14mm nuts holding it onto the seatpost.  Your mileage, however, may vary.  If the seat is any good, save it, too, preferably with the mounting hardware still attached.

Step 3: The Seatpost

For big people, trying to ride little-people bikes is awkward, if not impossible.  This is due, at least in part, to seat height.  To solve this problem, I looked around the shop for a sufficiently long seatpost, but everything I could find was far too short.  Then, I just about tripped over an idea in the form of a set of handlebars that had been left lying on the floor of the shop.  "Aha!" I says, says I, "This is totally long enough."  So I pulled out the calipers and checked the outside diameter of the handlebars against the inside diameter of my frame's seat tube and against the inside diameter of my seat-mounting hardware.  On the seat end of things, it was a perfect fit, but the handlebars were too small to be clamped into the seat tube securely.  Undeterred, I set out to make a shim to solve this problem.

Step 4: I'll Shim Ya'

Using my trusty calipers once again, I found that the inside diameter of the bike's original seatpost just about matched the outside diameter of what was to be its new seatpost, so I did what any reasonable person would do and crafted a shim for the new seatpost out of the old one.  To do this, I first hacked off a length of seatpost and then slit it down one side so that it could compress around the new seatpost.  This just takes a bit of patience and a few test-fittings to get it all right.  Once everything was satisfactory, I fitted the bike with its new seatpost.

Step 5: Short Bikes for Short People

The next problem with the bike was that, with the old fork, the handlebars were far too low.  In addition to lacking any absurdly tall seatposts, our shop also lacks any absurdly tall stems, so it was improvisation to the rescue again.  Before I could pick a stem, though, I had to put a new fork on the bike.  With calipers in hand, I searched through all the forks in the back room, trying to find ones with a steerer tube (yes, that's what it's actually called) of equivalent outer diameter.  This process mean that I wouldn't have to drum up all new matching hardware to go along with my new fork.  To save you the trouble, I'll skip the parts where I tried various fork and wheel combinations in the quest to keep the bike from just popping a wheelie whenever I tried to ride it.  Since I doubt anyone will have the same exact parts as I used, I will say that you're probably going to have to do some experimentation yourself.  Anyhow, I finally settled on a 24-inch fork and wheel.

While the steerer tube I selected was the right diameter, I found that it was quite a bit too long.  No matter, though.  I simply installed the new fork with the hardware salvaged from the original fork, adding a lock-ring to secure the headset cone in place.  It's not exactly pretty, but I don't really care.

With the fork selected, I could then look through our bins to find the stem with the greatest rise.  With the front of the bike jacked up like it is, most of the height problem was solved, but the bike couldn't be steered yet, so it was time for some handlebars.

Step 6: I Can't Ride This Bike With No Handlebars

Tall handlebars were the answer which would make this bike both ridable and rad enough to be ridden.  Much to my chagrin, we didn't have any sweet ape-hanger handlebars lying around in the back, but we did have some suitable bars.  They even bore a tag saying "Rad!"  Needless to say, I had just what I needed, and so did the bike.  Handlebars bolted on, the bike was done and basically ridable.

Step 7: Final Thoughts

Because of the geometry of the bike's frame and the position of the seat just a few inches forward of the rear axle, The Carnivore isn't really suitable for riding uphill.  Also, thanks to the increased rake of the front fork, steering is quite tippy.  Despite or because of all this, it's a riot to ride, and I get as much joy from watching other people ride it as I do from riding the thing myself.

I never intended this to be my main bike, or even my bike at all; two of my co-workers dibsed the bike on sight, and I was happy to have it in their care.  Sometimes people ride The Carnivore to class, but mostly it comes out on weekends after people have had a few adult beverages and are feeling brave or silly enough to ride the beast.  I haven't been around for this, but apparently the thing is a hit, and that's enough for me.

Disclaimer: I do not endorse drinking in excess, or at all if you're below the legal age, nor do I endorse operating any vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  I always wear a helmet, and you should, too.  That said, what you do with your time is your business; this was just a project for a boring four-hour work shift where I had nothing else to do.

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