2016-02-18 (Th) Simple Recumbent Bike Without Welding

I hate wasting things so who better to build a cheap recumbent bike than me? A bicycle engineer, that’s who. Sorry, no more trick questions.

When I started thinking about building a recumbent bike I was torn between two methodologies. The first was to build an awesome bike with expandability for an electric motor, all the components for 21 speeds, and compatibility with new recumbent bike parts. On the opposite end of the spectrum is this version which has no extras. This is simply a bike which allows you to take the recumbent position and moves when you pedal. Perhaps when it’s finished I’ll add the proverbial bells and whistles and maybe a literal bell.

If this goes very well I will consider making a deluxe model after I’ve learned from my mistakes on this version. In the meantime maybe this build will inspire some people to build their own recumbent bikes from parts which may be collecting dust in a garage right now.

"Free reverse unicycle" Scraps from today's bike salvage efforts

Enough background.

The bike chosen to be used for parts was virtually unrideable. It was an old three speed with rusted cables, cobbled together repairs and a seat flattened by age. The parts loosened by years of riding could be heard rattling when the bike was wheeled up the shop steps.

Bike slated for salvage

Important parts on the bike were all connected to the bottom bracket. Wheels, brakes, handlebars, fenders and the seat were all removed from the frame and set aside. The desired parts were the tubes touching the bottom bracket.

Bike in pieces near each other

Bike tubes connected to bottom bracket

Some of the components may be reused if they prove easy to install on the finished bike. Brakes and brake levers may be useful and it would be simple if new ones did not have to be purchased. Since the bike already has coaster brakes they won’t be necessary but anyone copying this build may want to see the brakes being reused.

Small pieces salvaged from bike

To do:
  • Buy hangers
    • 3 Large 1" IPS
    • 4 Small 3/4" IPS
  • Remove youth bike cranks and pedals
  • Position clamps as necessary
  • Align and connect bike parts
  • Build chain. Buy? Order?
  • Add idler sprocket if necessary
  • Build new seat. Buy?
  • Build handlebars

The rest of the posts for this project have been arranged by date.

First time here?

Completed projects from year 1.
Completed projects from year 2

This disclaimer must be intact and whole. This disclaimer must be included if a project is distributed.

All information in this blog, or linked by this blog, are not to be taken as advice or solicitation. Anyone attempting to replicate, in whole or in part, is responsible for the outcome and procedure. Any loss of functionality, money, property or similar, is the responsibility of those involved in the replication.

All digital communication regarding the email address 24hourengineer@gmail.com becomes the intellectual property of Brian McEvoy. Any information contained within these messages may be distributed or retained at the discretion of Brian McEvoy. Any email sent to this address, or any email account owned by Brian McEvoy, cannot be used to claim property or assets.

Comments to the blog may be utilized or erased at the discretion of the owner. No one posting may claim claim property or assets based on their post.

This blog, including pictures and text, is copyright to Brian McEvoy.

2015-12-07 (M)


  1. Very excellent Brian! Congratulations at the commencement of this enviro-friendly & economical-yet-time-intensive endeavor. Did you use a reciprocating saw to dissect this classic specimen? Will welding be part of this, hardware sockets, (see weld less folding bike using scaffolding joints on instructables.com) or possibly the quick-release joints showcased on www.comfortrider.com? I believe you reviewed this essential question from the opening shot! Solid welds & durability vs multi-functionality... extra attachment gear will raise the weight to some degree, but the process may enable adaptive design freedom that may surpass novelty and move to actual appreciation! A vote for novelty then, as you are a thorough engineering technician & I believe you are defined by possibilities, as paradoxical as this may seem!

    1. The older bike was cut up with an angle grinder but a reciprocating saw would have worked even better. Of course it was a steel frame so the sparks flew but if you happened to cut up a frame that wasn't steel the saw work work regardless. Welding won't be used at all, if I'm lucky. The goal is to build this with as few tools as possible and preferably tools that anyone get get. If someone were very diligent she or he could make these cuts with a hand held hack saw. Hopefully this will be a fun project people can copy during a weekend.

    2. Nice... as we previously discussed (sans grinder though that's a very useful multi tool!) -Isn't it great to begin the project? Do you have the 'prohibitive' weather keeping you indoors? We've a balmy 60°F + which is a bit peculiar for CT in Feb!

    3. The weather is sloppy here so hopefully the streets will be dry when the bike is rideable.


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