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texanbent 09-14-07 12:13 PM

Building a Custom Recumbent Bike - photos
Just for those who are interested, I'm building a super-long recumbent bike out of a 1999 Giant Rincon frame. I'm getting close to finishing and am getting the frame powder coated today. If anyone is interested in how I built it, let me know. This is my first custom build, I had the frame chopped and re-welded at a local aluminum fabrication shop for about $145. I bought the recumbent seat off ebay. The rest of the parts are purchased at various bike shops around the US. I've been biking on and off for several years, definitely not a pro, but this is going to be my bike to re-enter the sport.

I'll post more photos as progress continues...

bkaapcke 09-14-07 05:47 PM

I hope the turning radius isn't too big. bk

texanbent 09-14-07 06:36 PM

oh it will be ;)

aikigreg 09-14-07 09:21 PM

where in texzs are you? Cool looking frame so far!

atombikes 09-15-07 01:13 PM

Wheel flop
Unfortunately, it looks like the headtube is at such an extreme angle that you may experience "wheel flop". It's just like it sounds, the front wheel will tend to flop to one side or the other instead of tracking a straight line. There appears to be a HUGE amount of positive trail, which will affect handling negatively.

texanbent 09-15-07 04:15 PM

I was in South Texas but now I'm in Vegas; lot's of great places to bike here. I know that some of my geometry on this bike is a little extreme, and the whole 'wheel flop' problem was apparent, but I once rode another custom bike with a headtube at about the same angle and unless I decided to ride with no hands, it wasn't too much of an issue. BTW, nice bikes on, kudos.

I just got my wheels and front fork. I decided to go with a chopper fork as it appears to be the best choice for this setup, and it looks killer. Just waiting for the frame to come back from powder coating.

geebee 09-16-07 03:18 AM

I will watch this thread with interest as I have a design with an extreme front geometery but I keep talking myself out of building it.
Previous experience with choppers would suggest superb high speed handling, and a real handful at walking pace.

texanbent 09-18-07 06:08 PM

Well, I'm still waiting for the bike to come back from powder coating, I guess it's taking a little longer than usual because of the jobs ahead of mine. Should be done here in the next day or so though. The paint job is going to be pretty different, it's not a smooth, glossy finish, it's a slightly textured black which will give the bike a kind of matte finish that I was wanting.

atombikes 09-19-07 01:36 PM


Congrats on your design thus far. It looks like you are going to have something radically different than most recumbents, that's great. I really like the chopper forks, recently saw a pic of a set of chopper forks on a Easyracers Tour Easy, it looked fantastic. Are you going to keep them the same length as they are currently, or cut them down some? Longer forks will make the head tube angle even slacker, but at some point maybe it all evens out?

Please let us know how things turn out once you are finished.

texanbent 09-19-07 02:35 PM

Alright, got the bike back from powder coating today and am taking to a shop tomorrow to get the headset, bottom brackets and other crap thrown on there. Got a crazy texture going on, but I think it's rad.

texanbent 09-19-07 02:36 PM


I really like the chopper forks, recently saw a pic of a set of chopper forks on a Easyracers Tour Easy, it looked fantastic. Are you going to keep them the same length as they are currently, or cut them down some?
I don't know if I'll cut them down yet...I'll have to see.

texanbent 09-22-07 01:57 PM

Ok, it's all starting to come together. I've got the steering assembly on the way and I already have the handlebars. The rest of the bike is looking pretty good. Here are the photos of it mostly assembled.

This is how the seat attaches to the frame. That is a vinyl car mat that works perfectly as a buffer.

Here's the fork. I got a piece of tube cut to 6" to use as a spacer.

Here's the back of the bike, I'm connecting a chain from the front sprocket to the smallest cog on the bottom bracket assembly.

So there's a good look of what it's shaping up to be. I'll have to put up a video or photos of me riding it after it's done.

markw 09-22-07 03:53 PM

Hope that tube survives. Muffler clamps crimp metal and the length of that bottom tube makes me think that it will bend. After seeing your muffler clamp, I'm thinking you might want to keep an eye on that area. You might want to look at some current production bents and see how they attach the seat, or look at the bentech site for ideas. Good luck.

texanbent 09-22-07 05:57 PM

Yea I thought about that. The muffler clamps do not do any damage on the top, because of the long half-piece of aluminum pipe on the top that spreads the pressure out. As I put the seat on, I had a thought about another half piece of aluminum to run across the bottom part to spread the pressure out as well. I've looked at other frames and because of the long base that sits on the frame there's less pressure in one small area like the other recumbent frames I've seen. That bottom aluminum tube the seat is attached to is about 1/8" thick. It was created at a place where they make boat trailers so it's pretty tough.

Some other frames have tracks on them and I didn't want to drill any holes in my frame. right now it's not too pretty but with almost a quarter inch of vinyl padding, that seat sticks to that frame. I haven't tightened the bolts all of the way either; they're about snugged and that seat doesn't budge, the vinyl keeps it from slipping one way or another.

This whole thing is very unconventional, I'm trying to build it strong and not necessarily light. I do appreciate your comments though, it makes me think that I need to see if I can find other ways of attaching the seat and keeping the strength. I do NOT want the frame to bend! I don't want a bent 'bent'! So if anyone else has some ideas, bring 'em on!

BlazingPedals 09-22-07 09:38 PM

A couple of inches of trail is normal, that design looks like it has almost 2 FEET of trail. I'm not even sure it will turn at all; it might just fall over without turning.

Rather than a muffler clamp and vinyl mat for padding/friction, you should fabricate a seat clamp along the lines of the one on the WISIL site.

How are you getting power from the pedals to the mid drive?

squirl 09-23-07 07:15 PM

Wether it turns well or not your rad for building your own and doing quite a nice job as well.
Cheers and I cant wait to see the finished product.

PaPa 09-23-07 08:55 PM

TB, What is the diameter and wall thickness of your main tube? I assume it's aluminum, is that correct?

texanbent 09-24-07 12:00 AM

Blazingpedals, I appreciate your skepticism of my bike. You have good reason to be, I'm pretty skeptical about it too. But I've sat down on the seat and rolled it and balanced with no handlebars, so I know that I can at least ride it in a straight line. In fact, I might only be able to just ride it straight and make slight turns to correct myself. But I've seen bikes with a bigger trail than this turn (although they are wide turns). I'll have to admit though, that if I do try and turn and just fall over, my wife will bust out laughing at me. But I am confident it will work. I did my research on this thing and would not have done such a steep angle if I knew that I couldn't turn. I may need half a block to make a complete circle, but I should be able to take corners on a street with no problem. You're tube clamp idea is a pretty good suggestion and actually gave me an idea on how I can improve my current set up. Instead of wrapping a floor mat around the frame, I've cut and doubled up pieces to form a pad on the upper part of the seat. I'm thinking of getting a similar half piece of steel welded to the bottom clamps and have cut out doubled up vinyl for them as well. With my current trials, I would not have to clamp the seat very hard to the frame to get it to hold firm. The vinyl absorbs a lot of the pressure and does a great job at preventing slippage. So I'll try it. At least it won't damage the frame for now. I noticed in the current configuration, the clamps were cutting through the vinyl, so setting the bottom up like the top is should fix the problem. As for the drive train, I'm running a chain from the front pedals to the smallest cog on the mid drive. I've got a chain for it that I've already tested and it works great. I placed it after this photo. I'm waiting for a tensioner to arrive in the mail that I'm going to use to keep it from rubbing on the seat.

Squirl, thanks for the encouragement.

PaPa, the outside diameter of the tube is 2". The thickness, according to my tape measure is about 1/8" thick. It IS aluminum.

atombikes 09-24-07 10:15 AM

You don't need that 6" spacer tube below the head tube. Undo the cap head screws and slide the bottom part up. Then cut the steering tube.

BlazingPedals 09-24-07 10:41 AM

I have to admit, it looks pretty cool, so I'm hoping it's ridable when you're done. I just noticed you don't have a crank arm on the mid drive. Did you grind it off or did it come that way? If you used a tandem setup you could put the front chain on the left and all 3 mid drive rings would be selectable. As is, the middle ring is nothing but a spacer to keep the front and rear chains from hitting each other. Atom's right, the spacer isn't strictly necessary, or is it just there for style?

texanbent 09-24-07 10:58 AM

Well, as for the spacer, I wanted to avoid cutting the steering tube wrong and having to buy a new one! IAs for the mid drive, I had the crank arm cut off and painted the cut end black. I'm aware of the tandem setup and that is probably the way that I will go in the future. I was wanting to keep all the chains on the same side, but I see how having it set up with the chain on the left gives me access to three more speeds. Great advice, thanks guys!

texanbent 09-24-07 10:59 AM

Also, because of the comments in this thread, I changed the saying below my name from "Ridin' low, riding fast" to "Ridin' low, turnin' wide". Thought someone would get a kick out of that.

texanbent 09-27-07 12:16 PM

Found a better solution for the bike seat and how to attach it to the frame and it's cheap and should be more effective. I'll post photos if it works (which I really think it will).

texanbent 10-03-07 11:16 AM

Got some more updated photos. Still not TOO happy with the seat, I thought I had a cool way to do it that would still probably work better; and I think it would. I also have even ANOTHER idea that I am sure will work this time. I have installed the rear disc brake with an A2Z disc brake adapter and it works like a charm. This disc brake adapter would probably work on pretty much any non-disc frame. It attaches very solidly to the frame, and I suppose we'll see when I actually brake how strong it really is. I was a little skeptical about how it sandwiches to the frame, but when it's on there, it's like a rock.

texanbent 10-10-07 03:23 PM

Ok, here's an update on the seat, my OTHER idea from the last post WORKED! Markw had me continually freaked out by mentioning that the clamps on the tube could be detrimental to the frame, causing it to bend in half in an instant. Don't want a bent 'bent. I'm using another type of pipe clamp that holds the seat snug but not too tight. Pressure on the frame was eliminated but now the seat will slide left to right, but it's tight enough that it cannot slide back or forward. I solved the seat sliding left or right by visiting Lowes and rigging a brace that will hold the top of the seat firm by attaching it to the frame. Check out the bike hack below:

In the photos, it hasn't been tightened all the way, but even they way it is, you can tell this sucker is going to hold firm. This way undue stress is not on the frame and the bottom brackets just keep the seat from sliding back or forward; works perfectly. The handlebar stem is in the mail and so are my brake/shifter combo. I've got the cables (had to get tandem bike cables for the length) so this puppy should be 'ridable' in about a week. Wish me luck! Your comments have really REALLY helped, so I appreciate everyone's comments thus far.

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