What I Learned From Building Three Kick-Bikes




Introduction: What I Learned From Building Three Kick-Bikes

A kick-bike is sometimes called an adult scooter. It usually has bicycle wheels, a kickboard-like platform to stand on and bicycle handlebars. Kick-bikes are low to the ground and quite stable to ride.

The three kick-bikes described in this IBL are my first attempts to find the optimum design for me. I have learned quite a bit about what I want in my "ultimate kick-bike" which has not yet been built.

This is a welding project. I have a MIG wirefeed welder and use .025 wire for all my bike projects.

Please remember to ride responsibly. Use a helmet, add reflectors before you go out into the world and be sure you have lights if you ride at dusk.

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Step 1: Tools and Parts


MIG welder
Cut off saw
Bench grinder

Harvest these from scrap bikes:

Front forks
Top and bottom tubes
Rear forks? (Now I use all front forks)

Step 2: Version One - a Testbed for Ideas

My first kick-bike was a testbed for some ideas I dreamed up before I started this project. The kick-bike ended up way too heavy (about 30 pounds) but actually rode pretty well. here are the specs on it and some notes.

- Vertical (almost) front fork with a 24" front wheel (Pic 1)

- Three-tube platform was nice and long (Pic 2)

- 16" rear wheel in a salvaged rear triangle

- Foot brake (Pic 3)

The foot brake or heel brake was OK but not great. When you pushed down on the lever with your heel it pressed a plastic pad against the tread of the rear wheel. It was better than nothing but heavy for what it did.

- Anti-reverse ("hill stopper") chain (Pic 4)

The hill stopper kept the kick-bike from rolling backwards. It was just a piece of chain fixed at each end to one of the stays. The idea was that you wouldn't lose ground kicking up a hill. It was not worth the trouble to build.

Overall I liked the large front wheel and the easy steering with the vertical front fork. The platform was about the right size and the ground clearance was OK. It was great excercise because it was so heavy.

Step 3: Version Two - a Good Ride

- Weighs 19.5 pounds

- Two front forks used for the 26" front wheel and 16" rear wheel (Pic 1)

Using salvaged front forks for both the front and the back wheel significantly reduces the weight.

- Chopper style (sharp angle) front fork angle

Chopper steering takes some getting used to. The sharp angle of the wheel amplifies all your turning actions. The bike tends to oversteer and you have to stay alert to keep from losing control.

- Front brake

As with a bicycle this tends to roll you up and over the front wheel as you brake.

- Smaller platform made from 1" X 3" tubular steel (Pic 2)

Some riders complained about inadequate foot room especially when shifting sides for kicking. I got used to it and didn't find it to be a problem.

- Rear fork angled up to give a lower platform (Pic 3)

This proved to be significant. I like the platform to be as low as possible to make kicking easier. This platform clears the ground by about 2".

Step 4: Version Three - Too High

- Weighs 20 pounds

- Two front forks with a 26" front wheel and a 16" rear wheel (Pic 1)

The same as version 2.

- Chopper style front fork angle

The same as version 2.

- High-lift handlebars (Pic 2)

I like the feel of a higher handlebar. This one with the upward extension was nice and easy to ride with.

- Larger platform on a single tube

There was some added weight in the wood platform, but probably is worth it for the riding comfort.

- Rear brake

This is a big improvement and makes the ride much safer. I would not add a second brake on the front.

- Rear fork in line with platform tubes forced a higher platform (Pic 3)

The higher platform made this kick-bike surprisingly uncomfortable to ride. The ground clearance is equal to the rear wheel radius (8"). Stepping up and down as you kick is very tiring.

Step 5: My Ideal Design Will Include

- 18-19# riding weight

- 20" front and rear wheels

- A front fork with a small forward slant like a bicycle

- A high-lift handlebar

- A 6" X 24" platform on a single bottom tube

- 2" ground clearance

- A rear brake

And then there is this idea.

- And (maybe) an electric assist motor!

This would add about 5-10# to the total weight and require using a rear fork for the rear wheel.

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    13 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 5

    Hey Fred, just say your post and I think that this is great. I have been trying to get people interested in kickbiking for quite a while. I built my first one about 5 years ago and I still use it almost every day, except winter months, on the college campus where I work. I used a very simple design and have had to repair it a couple of times but it is fun and quick. I have another started but no chance to finish it yet.
    I found that the best height for my platform was 4" which gives enough clearance and it is not so hard for kicking. I have a picture on the following site and it is the red one shown on page 4. Good luck with your next project and keep posting.


    camping crazy

    I like the first one the most although they all look very sturdy and comfortable. Very nice work!!!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I made one of these a few years ago in school.
    We made them using 45 mm tube as our frame, and we made out own rear forks.
    The advantage of using custom bent tube is that you can get the correct geometry, and you don't have to worry about the restrictions of using existing bikes.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    For Ver. 2 and 3, the angle of the steering looks really uncomfortable. I assume it was a limitation of having to use the existing bike tubes? I guess I'd suggest extending the connecting tube to make the fork more vertical.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Agreed - the follow geometry is all cocked up because the angle of the head tube.

    Google for bicycle fork trail or bicycle fork rake
    or read this one

    I wish I could invest the time in learning to weld.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I suggest finding a local community college, High school with a "shop class" still, or a hackerspace/techshop and take a class. It would be the most efficient way to learn and avoid developing bad habits.
    It would also let you build connections and give you access to some equipment.

    My suggestion would be to use a larger fork and a smaller wheel, though this would keep you from using the front brake. (unless it were disk... in which case I doubt you'd be hacking it)


    7 years ago on Introduction

    They are called Amish Harlys here in Lancaster county PA.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Double points for sharing your protos...I always learn more from my 'failures'


    7 years ago on Step 5

    Nice to see the prototyping and the break-down of good & bad points - I wish I had the time and materials to do the same.

    One question - what does the 'hash' sign mean, weight-wise? I've a feeling it means pounds, but a part of me is refusing to believe that.

    Something to consider, if you do go for an electric assist motor, is to try using 24" front forks back there. If you do, you can 'sprag' them apart enough to accept the wider hub. Admittedly, it'll make your kick-bike slightly longer, but will help preserve the aesthetics as well as reducing weight.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hi karlpinturr,

    Thanks for the suggestion on the 24" front fork for the rear. I like the idea of keeping it light. The motor I am considering is not a hub mount so I would have to add some sort of support frame which adds back some weight. I'll have to "weigh "the option of using a rear fork.

    Yes. I meant the hash to be a pound sign. Not a good use in a forum like this. I will go edit those out right now.



    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    You're welcome - I look forward to versions 4 (without) and 5 (WITH the motor).

    I wonder if your motor could sit in front of the rear wheel, ON the frame, at all?

    Depends on your battery (-pack), I suppose. If you're using a traditional SLA battery, then IT needs to be low, so your motor would have to go higher - on a support frame.

    IF, however, you have access to smaller, slimmer and lighter Lithium-Polymer batteries, they could go either side of (or inside?) your bottom tube, allowing the motor to mount onto the frame, and keeping the weight both down AND low for stability.

    Cornering might be a little risky if your batteries are either side of your bottom tube though, so you might need to raise your platform a little.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Now there is an interesting thought. Put the battery cells in the platform tubes. They would be low to keep the center-of-gravity low and they would be protected. Nice idea...