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Sunday, September 02, 2007

HOW TO BUILD AN INEXPENSIVE SUSPENSION RECUMBENT BICYCLE AT HOME PART 1



WARNING! LONG POST BELOW.

Well it should be, how else can I explain all this. :) I have been building recumbent bikes myself for the last 12 years. I've built 7 or 8 of them, I stopped counting at some point. "Recumbent Bicycle" was the very first search I did when I got connected on the web and that's where that crazy quest started. My main goal was to build a reliable recumbent for not too much cash. It took me 7 (or 8) bikes to accomplish that and I had a blast in the process. Building your own bike provides even more pleasure in the "quest" itself of making your own ride work. Finding solutions for all the bugs and actually making it work is truly rewarding.

I loved building and riding these bikes until I built the last one that was actually a very reliable ride. Then many things came into play for me to lose interest, I had reached my goal, I moved to the city (Montreal streets are notoriously bad) and I started getting into cruisers. Until 2 weeks ago when something happened...

...I hurt my back! No way I could ride my cruiser in this condition. The timing was awful since I was planning to ride at critical mass and I was invited for a night cruise with the Hannan choppers afterward. So out came my pocket rocket recumbent from the mothballs and I rode for at least 8 hours and had a blast that evening. I was surprised that after at least 5 years of leaving that thing alone in storage, all I had to do was adjust the brakes, put some air in the tires and it ran solid the entire ride. Even did some pretty stupid stuff and came out of it with flying colors.

The other ingredient for that mechanical soup, that you are about to learn about, was a donation of a full suspension mountain bike from a friend. I started thinking"hmmm, I always wanted to build one with a rear suspension..." and the mad recumbent builder took over like Mr Hide.

So here we go, let's build a rear suspension recumbent bike from junk. :)

First thing I had to do was strip the old mountain goat to the bare frame. There was nothing left to use on this thing. It was one of those rare bikes that I find with no useful parts left and the damn thing made me sweat 2 hours to take it apart. I had to hacksaw my way to her guts! I will have to make sure that corrosion doesn't become an issue later on, it was bad.

I gathered the parts that I already have: 20 inch wheel and tire, matching fork( I can't keep the original fork because I want to lower the frame and be able to use brakes on the front wheel.), a spare rear shock(nothing fancy just a regular Chinese job) since the original one is dead and my faithful "Pocket Rocket" recumbent to donate the rest of the parts. I will have to make another seat since the suspension doesn't allow me to use the one from that bike, more R&D.

After stripping the mtb I installed the fork and 20 inch wheel to see how it will sit and give me some ideas for problems to come. One big issue in any recumbent build is chain management. This one won't be different. Expect a full post just for that. At this point it is time to decide how you will progress and think of solutions. Good exercise for your brain believe me.

The next ingredient that we will need for this build is a men's road bike frame for various parts, more on this in part 2. Now this post will have all the links to all the articles for this build. I will try to update the build at least once a week. This all depends on how things go and what kind of wall I hit.

Lastly, before you go out all crazy and build one of these, be warned! These bikes go real fast downhill and if you are not careful about how you build one, you can very simply kill yourself. I am not there to take you by the hand to build anything, so don't come crying to me if your are stupid enough to build a bike half assed and get hit by a truck. I have listed other recumbent sites in the sidebar and I have many recumbent sites in the Bicycle Search Engine, do your research. Finally, always respect the number one rule of all homebuilders: When in doubt, OVER BUILD.

Til next time, ride safe and Godspeed.

Gerry :)

Recumbent Build Part 2
Recumbent Build Part 3
Recumbent Build Part 4

4 comments:

Alissa said...

I love your site Gerry! I was a bit disappointed that you don't have any blogs about chain (gear) guards. I know they are very difficult to find in the USA (where I am from) but was wondering if you have a solution to my dirty trouser cuffs. Can I build one? Do they sell them in Canada?

Ron said...

I don't mean to sound sarcastic, but have you tried pants clips/wraps? They are inexpensive and a perfect solution to keep any chain off your pants;)

Gerry Lauzon said...

Sorry to respond so late Alyssa, but Ron is right. Chainguards are not found on derailleur equipped bikes because the chain moves and doesn't keep the same track. A chainguard would have to be able to move as well. That's why you find them on most single speed bikes and those equipped with internal gears that don't require the chain to move.

Gerry :)

alecw35 said...

some deraileur bikes do indeed have a proper chainguard that goes over the full top run of the chain, and round the chainrings. seen some even on bikes with front mechs. not sure if they come as an aftermarket accesory tho