Zip Line Racer




Have a zip line that needs riding? Then this is the project for you!

We take a small bicycle/trailer wheel and a couple pieces of hardware to make a fast, safe and weather resistant zip line rider.

Tools needed:
2 Crescent wrenches or a good wrench set
Large flat blade screwdriver (to remove the rubber tire from the wheel)
5/16" drill
3/8" drill (depends on the size of your tires hub ears)

Materials needed:
2 - bars of flat aluminum stock (1 1/2" wide or greater)
1 - 5/16" x 1 1/2" bolt
1 - 5/16" lock washer
2 - 5/16" nuts
1 - 1/4" x 3" eyebolt
1 - 1" -> 2" metal tube 12" or longer
1 - 1/4" fender washer
1 - Small quick release bicycle or trailer tire

The tire is the hardest item to procure. Mine came from a bicycle trailer for kids. It was to be used to turn the trailer into a stroller but that never worked well.

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Step 1: Cut and Drill the Hanger Arms

Use a saw to cut your aluminum bar stock into 2 equal lengths. To determine your length measure the radius of your tire and add 4-6". You can get a good idea of the length you will need by just eyeballing the bar stock next to the wheel.

Next stack the 2 pieces on top of each other and drill your holes. In one end you will want to drill a 3/8" hole. In the other end drill your 5/16" hole. You should end up with something that looks like this:

Step 2: Create Your Handle Bar

This step also depends on the materials you have. I happened to have an old mount for a Direct TV dish that was nicely powder coated and angled so I chopped it to length as a handle.

You then need to drill a 1/4" hole in the middle of it for your eye-bolt to pass through. Place your eyebolt through the hole, add the fender washer to help prevent a tear through and screw on both nuts. Use your wrenches to turn these nuts together and lock them. We want the eyebolt free to turn but we don't want to turn right off the bottom of it mid flight.

When you have completed this setup you should have something akin to this:

Step 3: Bending Your Stock

Now... since we need to have a wide wheel connected to a narrow eye-bolt head we need to bend our aluminum slightly to make them match. You can do this with the help of your hands and either a vise or just attaching it to the wheel and bending it from there. In my case I used a vise and ended up with bends that looked like this:

Step 4: Assembly Part 1

"Some assembly required" The words that strike fear into parents hearts. Don't worry though... this one is fairly easy.

Remove the skewer post from the center of the wheel hub. (images 1-3)
(If this had not been a quick release wheel then we would have just removed the nut from each side)

Insert the skewer through the 3/8" hole in the end of one bar and then through the hub of the wheel. Make sure that you have the bar oriented correctly so that it bends towards the wheel rim. (image 4)

On the other side place the 3/8" hole in the second bar over the hub post and screw the skewer end on. (images 5-6)

Make sure that the bars are parallel and then clip the quick release to closed. (images 7-8)

Step 5: Assembly Part 2

With the wheel and bars together you should have an assembly that looks like image 1.

We now need to put the handle on. Line up the eye-bolt with the 5/16" holes in the free ends of the aluminum bars. (image 2)

Place the 5/16" bolt through the hole, eyelet and other hole. Place the lock washer and both nuts on the end and tighten well. (image 3)

Step 6: We Need a Leash!

You can disassemble either part and put the wheel over your zip line. This is easier to do after you have "dry-fitted" it once. (image 1)

Attach a "leash" of rope to the line rider for easy retrieval and to help offset the top-heavy nature of the wheel so you can send it on a test run.

Double up the rope with a loop at the end and bend it around over itself. (image 2)

Poke the loop back through the hole created to make a nice little noose. (image 3)

Place that noose over one end of the pipe pull it to the eye-bolt and put the noose over the other end of the pipe. (images 4-5)

Work the knot in the noose up so it is tight enough you can no longer remove the rope over the end of the handle. (image 6)

Step 7: Ride It!

Nothing left to do but enjoy it... I'll try and add a video of an actual run.

Words of warning: If your pipe is slick add some grip tape or handle bar covers. The trailer I got this wheel of of was rated for 200lbs so the wheel should be rated for near that. Watch for any wear on the wheel during use. The way this is built as long as the bolt and the skewer are kept tight you will not fall from a catastrophic failure of the wheel but still keep an eye on it.

Most of all... HAVE FUN!

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    12 Discussions


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Would a rig made with two wheels work? I'm thinking that i wouldn't want to spin around and go backwards down something like this; and maybe it would be safer as it could handle more weight? If, of course, it was built well.


    11 years ago on Step 2

    Hmmm, this looks like the perfect place to make use of an old pair of handlebars from a children's bike!


    12 years ago on Introduction

    this seems to have bad idea written all over it. What weight and speed is the wheel rated for? how high is the zip line [tallest and lowest sections of the wire]? Backup safety features?

    1 reply

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    As per the instructable.... The tire was constructed for a bike trailer that holds 2 children. As such I would hope that it would be rated for at least the 25 mph I can do with it behind the bike. As for the height of the zipline... that isn't part of this instructable but my setup starts you with your feet at 8ft from the ground. However, due to the sag in the line you barely go 10 horizontal feet before you are within 4-5 feet of the ground. The ground naturally dips at about the same arc as the line itself. In reality my line has enough slack right now that we usually "ski" on our shoes during the middle of the run and barely leave the ground at the end. As for backup safety features... if you are scared of falling a couple feet then I doubt you are the type of person that would get on this "ride" to begin with. This is a thrill ride for the backyard and should be treated as such. For the kids that want to ride it we have attached a round sit-on swing below it which not only is easier for them to hold but keeps them closer to the ground and provides more control for us when we are guiding them on it. When designing stuff for my yard I always keep the policy of "Would I have been safe doing this when I was 8". The zipline is something that at 8 years of age I would expect my father/mother to help me with and show me how to safely do it the first couple times and then do it on my own. In reality I find it WAY safer than a large rope swing or such.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    My biggest concern would be the line slipping out of the wheel. You wouldn't necessarily fall, but the sudden acceleration could knock you off the handles..

    2 replies

    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    As crapflinger said it is actually quite hard to get it to jump. I have payed with it quite a bit from a ladder closer to the ground trying to twist it off and such. Between the grove being large, the amount of weight and the fact that I bent the aluminum bars to be VERY close to the wheel it handles it quite well. Also once again in the case of something like that happening the wire goes onto the hubs "ears" and although you get a very fast braking effect from the friction you are never in danger of the device leaving the line totally.


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    in a normal zipline situation...the groove in the wheel is larger than the diameter of the line...which cuts down on this possibility...also your weight pulling down on the wheel helps to hold the line in the groove of the wheel....some more complex zipline setups (like for more permanent usage such as the ziplines through the rain forest in south america)have more than one wheel placed in such a way that the line has less of a chance of slipping out... you'd be surprised at how much it takes to actually have it slide off the line like you're suggesting....but it can in fact happen


    Reply 12 years ago on Introduction

    I guess I didn't know it had a name. We have one at a nearby park that everyone refers to as the rope slide. It is right next to the rope swing (Tarzan type of thing). To make things more confusing, being that I was already confused, was the use of the term, noose, but I get it now. Thanks for the extra links.