Several Views of a
Homebuilt Recumbent Trike
On a previous page, I showed pictures of the three recumbent bikes I welded this summer. This page is devoted to a more detailed look at the recumbent tadpole trike I built over the last weekend in July.
I had fallen in love with the Wind Cheetah as soon as I saw it on the internet. I even bought a copy of Richard Ballantine's Ultimate Bicycle Book just to get the exploded view of the Cheetah. Exploring the Net, I also found a great site on Rick's Thunderbolt trike. What a treasure trove of detail that was!
Unfortunately, Rick's bike and the Cheetah are both aluminum bikes - and as a beginning welder, I have no experience welding aluminum and no access to a TIG welder. I was going to be stuck with steel and weight and J low expense.
I bought a digital camera at the end of the summer, once the building of the bikes was complete. So no pictures exist of the welding process. If I build a second trike like my wife wants, I will take some pictures as it goes together. But for now, you will have to settle for several views of the trike. If you want to copy it, I would recommend reading Rick's Thunderbolt plans and take a look at the way I used them in a less expensive way.
What do I mean by less expensive? Well, the whole project cost me something under a hundred dollars in materials and used bike pieces. Whittman's Bike shop in Beavercreek, OH gave me some great deals on used parts! I also used pieces of several bikes I found by the curbside on garbage day and one that I bought for $15 after following a lead in the classifieds.
The project also cost me a full weekend of welding time in the garage. As a newbie to the art of welding, this meant about 12 hours a day for two days. Since I value my time at about $100 an hour (why not?) I figure the bike cost about $2500 which is close to the price listed on the internet for bottom end trikes. Of course I discounted the $2400 of labor to myself (since I was having fun) and brought the price down to $100 - a deal which even my veteran shopper wife thought was a great discount and an incredible deal.
I think a lot when the weather is 97 degrees in the shade of the garage and I am waving a 5700 degree torch around. I just don't think real well when my brain is slowly cooking!
Materials for the bike included old bike parts, a brand-new V brake, an eight foot stick of 2 inch muffler pipe, 2 feet of 2 1/4 muffler with 2 1/4 muffler clamps, and about 14 feet of 1 inch tubing. When I build my next one, it will use 16 gauge 5/8 inch tubing so all the bike parts that usually clamp to handlebars will clamp to the tubes. It will also be a little lighter.
Carrying the trike to a bike trail would not be very easy if you have a compact car. Fortunately, pick-up trucks make a great way of transporting trikes!
I even found a space to mount a ham radio 1/4 wave antenna for 2 meters on the frame as far from my head as possible.
If you are looking for a neat little welding project and you can stay safe, you might want to try your hand at something like this little tadpole.