Making Trike and Quadcycle Hub Flanges Without a Lathe




First of all, I would like to thank all of those who visit our forum and help others with advice and offer their great tips and tricks. There have been two alternative ideas posted in regards to creating the hub flanges that I use on trikes and quads such as the DeltaWolf, Kyoto Cruiser, Street Fighter, Gladiator, and Lode Runner. One alternative to the machined disc is to cut the required flatbar or plate using the appropriate sized hole saw. The other alternative is to source out precision made washers of the appropriate size. Often these washers are called "fender washers", "dock washers", or "aircraft washers".

I would like to present another alternative to the machined discs that only requires the use of an angle grinder, and hand drill. This procedure takes about 2 hours for all four discs, and is very effective if you don't mind spending a little quality time with your angle grinder. Since the hub flanges required in the plans vary in size, I will not be posting measurements here, but the same procedure will work on all trikes that use the hub-axle system I have developed.

To see some of the trike and quadcycle projects that these hubs are used on, please visit .

Step 1: Marking the Flatbar to Make the Discs

The flatbar needs to be at least as wide as the discs you plan to make, and the required thickness. This flatbar is very easy to acquire, and can often be found in the welding isle in many hardware stores. You will need enough material for 4 discs, which is the number of discs needed for a delta trike or quad. In Photo 1, I have traced two of the discs using a paper template that was made in Photoshop and then cut out. The traced circles are the same diameter of the flanges on the hub in Photo 1 because I am using the rim and spokes from a complete wheel that had this hub.

The center of the disc must be marked and punched before any cutting, as you do not want to loose this center position. The punched center will later be drilled for the axles. Also, use a marker that can hold up to a little abuse as you will be grinding and handling the discs with gloves.

Step 2: Cut Out the Discs

Photo 2 shows the discs being cut from the flatbar using a few straight cuts around the circumference with a zip disc. 8 or more cuts are made just outside the marker line so that final grinding does not take much time.

Step 3: Rough Cuts

After a few minutes of cutting with the zip disc, the part is liberated from the flatbar as shown in Photo 3. Notice how none of the cuts are inside the marked line.

Step 4: "Poor Man's Lathe"

My "poor man's lathe" is of course, my angle grinder! If you take your time and work around the discs, it does not take long at all to get them almost perfectly round. I think the angle grinder is like an artist's paint brush - learn to master it, and it can do a lot more than you might think. Since the discs get quite hot while doing this part, I work around half the disc, then switch it for another one until they are all rounded.

Step 5: Rounding the Discs

The disc on the right of Photo 5 has been rounded, and is so close to round that it looks like it was machined. Hey, if a person can carve out a beautiful sculpture from a block of wood using a chainsaw, a skilled garage hacker should be able to make precision parts using an angle grinder!

Step 6: Touching Up the Discs

Once all 4 discs are rounded and checked to be the same, the edges and mill scale is cleaned up using a flap disc, which is a grinder disc with sandpaper strips attached to it. The discs are now smooth, clean, and perfectly round. The punched centers have also been drilled using a 1/8 drill bit.

Step 7: Drill the Center Holes

Like I said earlier, I love to work with minimal tools, and do not own a lathe, chop saw, or even a drill press, so I do my drilling in a vice using a hand held drill. To ensure that all 4 discs have the hole in the same place, I placed them in a vice as shown in Photo 7 so they could all be drilled at the same time. Doing this saves time, and keeps errors to a minimum.

Step 8: Hand File the Center Holes

Using a hand drill limits your drill bit size to about 1/2 inch diameter, so the 3/4 inch hole needed for each disc will have to be done using a hand file. This actually works out well since the holes are not perfectly centered as can be seen in the comparison with the hub adapter in Photo 8. Using the paper template and a round file, the 3/4 holes will be hand filed. This procedure only takes a few minutes per disc but is extremely accurate.

Step 9: Discs Are Ready to Be Hand Filed

Photo 9 shows the 4 discs ready to have the centers hand filed to 3/4 inch diameters. The discs are very accurate considering they were carved from a 3 dollar piece of hardware store flatbar using only a hand held angle grinder!

Step 10: Punch the Spoke Holes

Using a paper template generated in Photoshop or a 3D program, the spoke holes are punched onto the discs for drilling. The axle hole is also traced using a marker so that it can be hand filed to the correct size in the dead center. Notice how off center the hand drilled 1/2 inch hole is (left of Photo 10) as compared to the traced axle hole.

Step 11: Adjust for Proper Axle Size

A bit of square tubing in the vice makes it easy to use the file to open up the hole to the required axle size. By holding the disc over the tubing, the file can be used up and down on the part, a process which takes about 15 minutes to go from 1/2 inch to the required 3/4 inch size.

Step 12: Final Test Fitting

An hour later, all 4 discs fit snugly on the 3/4 axle as shown in Photo 12. The hand filed holes are actually tighter than the last set I had made at the machine shop. Nothing beats old fashioned hard work!

Step 13: Drill the Spoke Holes

Drilling the spoke holes is another process that is not very difficult to do, but may seem like a lot of work. In reality, the entire process of drilling all 96 holes in the 4 flanges takes only an hour and can be made a lot easier by bolting down the flanges as shown in Photo 13. if you are lucky, you may not break any drill bits, but best to have a few on hand.

Step 14: Drill the Spoke Holes - Tip

The flanges are bolted to a piece of lumber which is then bolted to the side of my workbench as shown in Photo 14 so that the drill can be held horizontally rather then trying to push down on it.

This position is much easier as you can just lean into the drill rather than needing to put constant downward pressure on it. Remember, that drill bit is not very strong, so only a little pressure is used to avoid snapping the bit. I only broke 1 bit during this build!

Step 15: Bevel the Spoke Holes

If you take a close look at a bicycle hub flange, you will notice the spoke holes are beveled slightly. This increases the hole diameter at its opening, reducing the stress on the spoke as it leaves the hole. This is especially important on these drilled steel hub flanges, which would have a very sharp edge on the hole.

Spoke damage or the inability to get the spoke into the hole would occur if the beveling was not done. A drill bit at least twice the size of the spoke hole bit is simply pushed into the hole with slight pressure as shown in Photo 15. This process just bevels the hole opening slightly.

Step 16: Completed Beveled Spoke Holes

Photo 16 shows the completed beveling of the spoke holes (left side) as compared to the freshly drilled holes (right side). Notice the sharp edges and burs left over from drilling on the unbeveled flange.

Step 17: Test the Spoke Holes

Without the beveling of the spoke holes, chances are the spoke would not even fit around the bend as shown in Photo 17. Beveling is done on both sides of all 4 discs. The process only takes a few minutes.

Step 18: Discs Ready for Welding

Photo 18 shows the completed hub flanges ready to be welded to the axles. Hard to believe that these hand made disc were once nothing but a single length of hardware store flatbar. Who needs a machine shop?!

Step 19: Completed Axles

Since this small segment is about a hub flange alternative, not any particular vehicle, many steps have been passed to get to what is shown in Photo 19 - the completed hub-axle assemblies. These two parts are ready to have the spokes installed, creating the ultra durable trike or quad rear wheels. Notice how clean the hub-axles look after the face has been cleaned up. Wheel building is a very relaxing and enjoyable task, including useful skills that are easily learned by anyone with a little patience.

Step 20: Prime and Paint the Hubs

Before the wheel building process begins, the hubs must be painted, as you will not be able to paint them with the spokes installed. Photo 20 shows the end result of about 6 hours of work starting with only a chunk of flatbar. When completed, these trike wheels will be much stronger than all conventional "hub over axle" style trike hubs, and will have cost you much less than custom machined hubs. These hubs also look very professional, as there is no ugly bolt or cotter pin sticking out past the hub face, since the unit is all once piece.

Thanks again for visiting, and hope you will share your ideas and photos with the rest of us garage hackers!

See you in the forum:
See trike and quadcycle projects that use these custom hubs:



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    27 Discussions

    Bob Gray

    5 years ago on Step 20

    There's a much easier way to make your discs perfectly round and ensure the center hole is truly centered. Simply drill your center hole first before you clean up your disc. Then put a tight fitting bolt through the center hole tighten it down with a nut and chuck the bolt up in your drill. Then with the drill spinning, apply the edge of the disc to the grinder and grind away until the disc is perfectly round and correctly sized.


    6 years ago on Step 15

    Spend a little extra money and get a countersink bit made for steel, which will give you the required bevel much more cleanly than an oversize bit.


    6 years ago on Step 13

    Again, connect all four flanges with a bolt through the center hole, and then drill four holes at a time. Not four times as fast, but at least twice as fast, and all the flanges except the bottom flange will have very clean holes. Also, with this method, you need only pre-punch one flange.


    6 years ago on Step 6

    To make this step easier, drill the center hole on all four pieces after the first rough cuts, then bolt the pieces together. Then you can grind all four discs at the same time, spreading out the heat somewhat, and helping to ensure all discs are the same.


    7 years ago on Step 19

    Very nice work.I recently finished a motorized trike using a 3/4 live ONE PC AXEL.The major problem that occurred was "how to mount the stock factory 20in bike wheels.Problem was solved by machining a steel hub and flange which was then press fit into the stock factory wheel.Naturally i had to remove the guts first.The hub was bored to 3/4 before leaving my lathe.The flange I made was drilled to bolt to the factory flange.Result was a removable wheel with NO WeLDING nor any spoke holes to drill .Anyone familiar with trikes knows you can't have a live axel (both wheels under power) cuz' it won't steer.I solved this by letting one wheel freespin.Nice work but I still prefer to use my well equipped machine shop.

    Alex Pop

    8 years ago on Introduction

    Very nice and brilliant job!
    But I have some questions about it,
    I think it's a bit complicated because,don't you think it was easier to take 2 wheels and weld them together with an axe ?
    I thought about it but i never tried then I think it might exist a problem I can't imagine.

    And the other question is : How did you put the gear on the axe ?
    Because i'm really intersting about making a tricycle but I don't know how to make the rear transmission.

    Thanks a lot and congratulations again for your job'


    8 years ago on Step 19

    But, What about ball bearings?-

    I mean, Its a great work, and I'm new on this Trikes on Quadcycle matters.
    And I dont know, This long bar is welded to hub and then this same flange is welded to the other hub, Or What did you connect both to the frame??.

    1 reply

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    First, the bearings. You use "pillow bearings" bolted to the frame to hold the axle. You'll need 2 bearings per axle segment, which brings us to your second question. The axle is cut into 2 parts. One will be the drive wheel, the other wheel will be free spinning so as to act as a differential. This is how most commercial trikes work. You'll have to figure how to attach the rear sprocket and fabricate a brake system. I'm not associated with them (other than being a fan and customer) so I don't feel bad saying you should check out the website on the author's page.



    8 years ago on Step 20

    Did you know a way to make at home the tip ends of the spokes??.

    I mean, I make my own spokes, I buy the Stainless rods, and I made the threading with a threading die. And I make bend the other side, for put on the Hub.

    But I like the way the commercial spokes looks, the circular shape of that spokes ends is beautiful.

    Or exist a machine similar to the Spoke Theading machine?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    This is exactly the instructable I was looking for.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    Liked the idea of using photo software as a template for the holes in making your own flange. I'll likely use this approach for an Ordinary Bike. Thanks.


    8 years ago on Step 13

    Nice work! - As others have said, I couldn't figure out how to drive the rears of a trike (not without LOADS of chain & stuff, anyway!). Just one question - what size bit do you use for the spoke holes?


    8 years ago on Introduction

    any chance someone could pm me the plans for the quadracycle for a in need did I spell that right


    9 years ago on Introduction

    hi I realy wan to make a tricycle but i can´t weld cause i don´t have the stuff so i am realy sad right now


    9 years ago on Step 20

    hi i think this idea is great i couldnt get my head round the drive of 2 wheels from one crank using push bike wheels its great but how would you mount it to the back end , i mean the whole axle is gonna spin so i guess you'd need to get a brace complete with bearings to keep it rolling...... any ideas ?

    Dark Solar

    9 years ago on Introduction

    how did you accomodate the turn differential between the drive wheels?


    10 years ago on Step 20

    Dropping those flanges in a good rock tumbler would create a really professional finish. Also there are some very short drill bits that have heavy walls just above the cutting area of the drill bits that produce greater accuracy than typical drill bits. They also are much less prone to breaking.