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Alt Bike Culture Chopped, dropped, stretched, lifted, and otherwise cut up and put back together. The art and science of choppers, cruisers, lowriders and the vast world of mutant bicycles.

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Old 07-30-05, 05:44 PM   #1
cranky
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My First Attempt

I picked up a welder, made some practice runs on scrap metal, and then up and went for my first alt bike project.

I wanted to keep this project small and easy so I chose a basic chopper kid's bike. But I still mucked it up! The head tube angle is WAY too extreme. I think it's only salvageable by extending the forks and the handlebars, and putting on a banana seat. I dont know if I want to go through that much trouble, or start over on a bigger bike. But it was fun to do, and certainly a learning experience.

I've never ridden a chopper, and this thing is super squirrely. Does extending the forks stabilize it more?
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Old 07-30-05, 08:39 PM   #2
duane041
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HOLY S#!%!!!!!!!

That thing is nuts!!!
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Old 07-31-05, 10:53 AM   #3
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That's awesome! What kind of welder did you use? I've been looking at welders but don't know much about them. I want to do some project bikes like that.

Cool.
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Old 07-31-05, 12:01 PM   #4
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I used a cheapie arc welder(Clarke 95E). I've always wanted to do it too, but I thought welding was too intensive. Turns out it's actually quite accessible, as I learned in the Bicycle Builder's Bonanza book. You dont have to take a class to use it or have dangerous gas tanks in your garage, nothing like that. The unit is about the size of a toolbox, costs only a 120 bucks, and you can buy them at the hardware store. You need a safe place to do it though, like a garage, because the sparks go flying.

I'm hooked now, it's too fun.
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Old 07-31-05, 12:51 PM   #5
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Welding is amazingly fun, and like you said, easier than most people think. Like wheelbuilding, which is something else people tend to think is a black art, all you need are a few good tools, a book or buddy to give you some tips, and practice!

I like your chopper, though I can see why its squirrely! That head tube angle is KRAZY. You could try extending the forks, but that is going to make the effective head tube angle even more slack, and it might get even more squirrely.. I suppose its worth a try.

But don't worry, half the fun of mutant bikes is testing your ability to ride things that really shouldn't be ridable, like a tall bike with a perfectly vertical head tube containing a pogo stick as a fork with a roller blade wheel on the front. It shouldn't work, but you can do it if you really work at it. Chunk666 has a springy bike where the bike's top tube and down tube have both been cut, and reconnected with two big heavy springs. Apparently almost no one can ride it, but it is possible to ride.

So have fun, make another, learn from your experience, and keep posting pics.

peace,
sam
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Old 07-31-05, 08:32 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by phidauex
So have fun, make another, learn from your experience, and keep posting pics.
I worked on another today. Extended forks only this time, a more modest geometry and it's actually rideable.

I'd certainly like to getting into wheel-building someday. This is more fun for the time bein'.
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Old 08-01-05, 08:29 AM   #7
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There's an arc welder collecting dust in my Mom's garage. Time to drag it out and start looking for bikes to Frankenstein.

Way to go Cranky.
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Old 08-01-05, 08:47 AM   #8
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Man! I made the mistake of asking a couple of people around here about welders. You can only guess what they said. "Buy a Lincoln or equivelent. Don't buy a cheap welder. You need to spend $400 or more".

Geeeze. All I wanted to do is hack a few bikes! I'm sure the nice expensive welders are worth the money. But I don't want to be a professional welder. Just a hacker and tinkerer.

Time to look at welders again! That looks like a blast!
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Old 08-01-05, 11:19 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by jharte
Man! I made the mistake of asking a couple of people around here about welders. You can only guess what they said. "Buy a Lincoln or equivelent. Don't buy a cheap welder. You need to spend $400 or more".
There's a welding supplies shop near my workplace. I went in there and got the exact same response: "Oh, you want to weld bikes. No, you cant use the basic arc welder, you need one of these <insert really expensive doodads>".

I think they have good intentions. If you REALLY want to weld, you get the good gear. But like you say, I just want to hack man. I dont care if the joint looks ugly. I dont care if I have to take time to grind down the ugly welds. Or that it's more difficult.

And besides, how do you know if you really will enjoy the hobby? Why go out and buy good gear that ends up being a dust collector?

My experience so far has been pretty good. It is "difficult" to join two perpendicular tubes together. One of the ends needs to be filed down concave-like to fit the side of the other. And that makes for an awkward angle to weld all the way around. Welding two tubes end-to-end, like extending the forks, is pretty easy. The other thing is, and the pro shop told me this too, the arc welder is too hot. You can only weld about half an inch at a time before the tube starts to melt and you burn a giant hole. So you have to do little tack welds, giving it time to cool between each weld. It is time consuming, but hey, you bought a cheap welder right? I can live with it.

So they're right. If you want to weld bikes in any kind of quantity with decent quality, get a good welder. But if you want to hack some great art bikes for yourself and have a good time doing it, get the cheap model. Maybe you'll end up liking it so much that you'll go out and get the high-end machine, who knows? Either way, a $120 is no great loss.

I hope you get into it as I have, I can't wait to see the creations we can all come up with in this forum.
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Old 08-01-05, 11:44 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Hickabod
There's an arc welder collecting dust in my Mom's garage. Time to drag it out and start looking for bikes to Frankenstein.
I amassed quite a collection of clunker bikes rather quickly. I found one on the side of the road, about five I got for free answering online ads. And a few from thrift stores.

The cool thing is, you're really only using the head tube, bottom bracket, and dropouts since you build out the frame with conduit tubing from the hardware store. So if you're willing to ride a single speed, you can buy little kids' bikes at thrift stores. They are the cheapest and most abundant.
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Old 08-06-05, 11:31 AM   #11
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Chalk up another unrideable creation by me. The combination crank arm length, gear ratio, and wheel diameter make this unicycle super squirrley. But then, I'm still an amateur unicyclist so maybe it'll be good someday, though I'll probably recycle the drive train for some other hack by then.
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