DIY: Recumbent Bike

Written by rich bergeron
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DIY: Recumbent Bike
A recumbant bike follows the designs of a traditional bike with a few key modifications. (Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A recumbent bicycle can be assembled quickly if you have a solid bike to start with. Multiple gears and an elevated back wheel with a smaller front one make all the difference. Change the sprocket and pedal location and stabilise the bike enough to convert it from a vertical pedal angle to a horizontal one without sacrificing balance. Get new handlebars for the unique steering angle and you'll be riding in style in no time.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Solid 10-speed bike frame with comfortable, wide seat
  • Much smaller back tire substitute with sprocket
  • Bike wrenches and sockets
  • Sawzall with metal and wood blades
  • Thick gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Safety mask
  • Duct tape
  • Zip ties
  • 3-foot length of 2x4
  • U-bolts
  • Industrial shock springs
  • Replacement handlebars
  • Larger seat
  • Stabilising rods
  • Power drill and wood and metal drilling bits
  • Small length of 2x4 to go along back of riding seat
  • Lag bolts and screws
  • Weld-strength adhesive
  • Washers and nuts
  • Cushion

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  1. 1

    Find the right bike. It should have a wide seat, a tight, unbent frame, and thick wheels. Find a few extra, slightly smaller back tires that will fit it if you can. A mountain bike or fancy street bike could do if the frame is complete. Remove the back tire completely.

  2. 2

    Replace the back wheel on the bike with the front wheel after disconnecting the chain entirely. Make sure the wheel turns without interruption. Get a much smaller wheel with a sprocket that fits the chain or transfer the existing sprocket from the back wheel to a much smaller wheel. Attach the smaller wheel to the front wheel bracket.

  3. 3

    Take a 3-foot length of 2x4 cut from a longer length with the Sawzall and find a spot just rear of the centre point of the bottom of the frame to attach it to. This point should be much lower than the chain, should not interfere with the turning of the pedals, and should not prevent the back wheel from spinning freely.

  4. 4

    Use u-bolts to connect this 2x4 length with about a foot and a half jutting out to each side. U bolt the board directly to the frame and make it as tight and strong a bond as possible. Use the industrial strength shock springs on each side of the 2x4 using large u-bolts to secure them to each end of the 2x4. This will prevent the bike from turning too far to the side on turns.

  5. 5

    Cut the sprocket section right out of the existing location by using the Sawzall to cut the frame pipes a few inches out from the centre. Some creative reassembly will be required to place the pedals and gear assembly around where the handlebars are now.

  6. 6

    Use the power drill with a metal drilling bit and find a perfect place on the existing frame to attach the pedal unit. Drill through the pipes and the frame and use small bolts to affix the new pedal mechanism to the frame so it doesn't interfere with steering.

  7. 7

    Use the weld-strength adhesive where the new pipes meet the old ones in the frame. You will have to construct new handlebars that allow you to reach them from the altered angle.

  8. 8

    Drill two holes in the bottom of the larger seat and through to the actual existing seat. Bolt the larger seat to the smaller seat tipped at the appropriate angle. Use the wood bit and power drill to drill holes in the back of the seat.

  9. 9

    Attach long stabiliser bars with eyelets on each end of the 2x4 on the back of the seat with small lag bolts. Attach the other eyelet to the rear axle and bolt it into place.

  10. 10

    Test and tweak your new riding machine for stability and practicality. You'll have to have an easy gear system and be able to assemble the chain drive again so the new pedal angle will work efficiently. The steering and stabiliser should work in unison to keep you well balanced at all times.

  11. 11

    Throw a cushion on your larger seat once you're ready to bring it on a long ride and all the crucial points are put together correctly.

Tips and warnings

  • Try finding very high handlebars from an old girl's bike to go on your recumbent bike. You might have to bend them back a bit to make them work.
  • The bike should also be easy to mount, but you might add a stepping stool to help you get on or off.

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