Intro: Atomic Zombie's AfterBurner Chopper Bicycle
Another easy and affordable project! Transform a standard bike into something cool and unique in just a day or two - seriously! This is a great garage or backyard project that doesn't require special tools or skills, although basic welding is required.
This classic 1970's style chop was named and built by Enzo and Nathan (father and son team) from an old mountain bike that was found laying in the mud at the city dump.
Instead of the extended front forks, this chopper is roughly styled after the classic Raleigh Chopper bicycle with the straight frame and tiny front wheel. This project requires no extra tubing in the frame, and except for a few small add-ons, only requires cutting and welding two frame tubes.
Any mountain bike with 26 or 24 inch wheels can be used for this project. Besides replacing the seat and handlebars, you will only need a front wheel of any size smaller than the original rear wheel. A 16-inch wheel was chosen for this build.
All welding processes produce fumes and gases to a greater or lesser extent. Galvanized steels produce added fumes from the vaporized zinc coating. Fumes from welding galvanized steel can contain zinc, iron and lead. Use precautions, including high-velocity circulating fans with filters, good ventilation, air respirators and fume-extraction systems.
More cool projects can be found at: http://www.chopzone.com and
Step 1: Find a Donor Bike
The donor bicycle is a typical variety steel framed mountain bike. This frame is described as "uni-sex", but looks kind of "girlie" to me. Don't worry about it, dude, when we are done, that won't be the case.
The overall condition of this bike was fairly good considering it sat in a mud hole at the local dump, and was probably run over a few times by the bulldozer guy. This is a good thing, since we will be using everything but the front wheel, seat and handlebars.
Step 2: Take the Bike Apart
All of the parts are stripped and checked for damage (Photo 2) before the building process. Everything looked good so far, minus a rusty chain which will be used in unique a way. More on this later on.
Step 3: Raise the Bottom Bracket
To install a small 16-inch front wheel yet keep the frame looking somewhat like the original, something has to be altered or the pedals will drag on the ground.
Longer front forks would do the trick, but since that isn't the focus of this project, the only other option is to raise the bottom bracket.
To get the bottom bracket up higher, cut the frame cut in half at the seat tube where both the main tube and down tube used to be connected (Photo 3).
Cut the tubing as close as possible to the seat tube, then grind any remaining metal from the seat tube.
Step 4: Modify and Invert the Frame
Modification of the frame simply involves turning the front half upside down as shown in Photo 4.
Because the down tube (which is now the top tube) is shorter than the top tube (now the down tube), this places the head tube farther down, or the bottom bracket higher, depending on how you look at it. Basically, now the pedals have enough ground clearance.
This frame modification also adds more rake because the head tube angle is pushed forward. This will add a nice look to the final design.
Step 5: Weld and Rejoin the Frame
Here is the newly rejoined frame, with the front half turned upside down and re-welded (Photo 5). If you didn't look closely, you may not even notice how different the new frame is compared to the original.
However, the new head tube position and angle would make an almost impossible bike if the larger front wheel is to be used. Also, the top tube is larger in diameter than the down tube - another thing you normally don't see on "non-freak" bikes.
Yes, the front forks are already painted! Since there were three of us working on this chopper together, things progressed at an alarming rate.
Step 6: Using a Traditional Part in a Non-traditional Way
Originally, the plan was to weld the screen from an old satellite dish into the frame triangles in order to give the bike a cool "filled in look", but unfortunately, the satellite mesh was aluminum.
Welding thin aluminum to mild steel is not something that a simple AC welder can do, although I gave it a shot anyhow - oops. The mesh quickly turned into toxic vapor as the welding arc blew it away.
Enzo, being the creative genius that he is, came up with the idea of welding the original rusty chain into the frame instead, since it would have to be replaced anyhow due to mega-rust (Photo 6). In the end, it looks pretty cool, almost military-like.
Step 7: Find a Phat Seat
Finding a decent banana seat in a few hours around here was impossible, so Enzo came back with this humungous seat from what was probably an exercise rowing machine (Photo 7).
Although the freaky dude at the pawn shop charged him $20 for the thing the rest of the bike was free. This thing was just plain sick. This seat is at least twice as wide as a regular bicycle seat and three times as long.
Step 8: Make a Seat Support
To accommodate the new mega seat, a pair of chain stays were cut from one of the many bent and twisted frames in my scrap pile (Photo 8).
The idea was to weld the stays to the metal bit under the fat seat and then weld the other end to the rear dropouts on the chopper frame. Just about any old tubing would have worked, but these were handy at the time.
Step 9: Bolt Seat to Support
This baby's got back! The mega seat is bolted in place (Photo 10), and it almost dwarfs the rest of the bike. Because of the massive overhang on the seat, the rider only needs to sit near the back to pull some great wheelies.
Step 10: Prime, Paint and Put It All Together
The completed AfterBurner chopper (Photo 11). We added the 16-inch front wheel, some ape hangers, and a nice chrome rear fender - borrowed permanently from a granny-style bike (see Granny's Nightmare instructable.
Because of the frame inversion, the pedals are at a perfect height from the ground, even with this tiny front wheel. If the inversion was not done, the bike would probably be resting on the front chain ring.
Step 11: Sweet Ride!
Both derailleurs were tossed, and a simple direct drive from the large front chain ring to the middle rear cluster was chosen. This low gear ration allows for quick acceleration, and good wheelies, not much top speed though. Notice the frosted look at the fork tips and rear end. I had some dark red paint left over (Photo 12).
Step 12: Proud Co-builder Shows Off His New Ride!
Considering the short time it took to build AfterBurner, it turned out pretty good (Photo 13). Not too bad for a few welds and a $20 seat!
Step 13: A Successful One-day Build Ready for the Road
Nathan bombs down the laneway, putting AfterBurner through a barrage of test rides (Photo 14).
The bike rode much like a standard bicycle, mainly due to the fact that the head tube angle and over frame size were not much different than a normal bicycle. The ultra wide seat made the ride quite comfortable as well.
Not too bad, considering that the entire building process took one day!
Check out more custom bike plans, Builder's Gallery and Builder's Support Forum at '''Atomic Zombie Extreme Machines'''. Make sure to send us pictures of your completed home built bike projects. See you there!
More cool projects can be found at: http://www.chopzone.com and