Build a Retro-Recumbent Bicycle

Learn how to build a retro-recumbent bicycle out of old bike parts and thrift store and garage sale finds.
By Jeff Setaro
December 2000/January 2001
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Any old bike can easily be turned into a hot new recumbent.

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How you can build a retro-recumbent bicycle from old bike parts. 

I thought I'd write and give your readers an update on a new Retro-Recumbent I've put together.

This rear-wheel version was made from an 18-speed, dual shock Huffy mountain bike ($129). A set-back seat and backrest enable the rider to sit in a semireclining position. The ride is balanced and comfortable because the seat is a little forward of the rear axle, which prevents the bike from doing spontaneous wheelies, and the arm position on the handlebars is very relaxed.

The seat frame and backrest came from a pair of aluminum crutches, which can be easily found in thrift stores or garage sales. Most of the holes I needed were already predrilled, and the hand-hold supports are fully adjustable.

I connected the front of the crutch to the existing seat post with the hardware from the original seat, and bolted the large seat from an old exercise bike to the frame through the seat bracket. The front can be adjusted by repositioning the seat post and the rear can be adjusted by repositioning the bolts. Cutting back the horizontal crutch forms a built-in bike rack (covered for mud protection).

I flattened, drilled and attached the seat post ends to the existing bike rack mounts, covered the backrest with a seat belt cover pad and slipped a piece of foam on the top for the headrest. The handlebars were from the same exercise bike; I inserted and clamped them in the cut-off handlebar stem (cut a 3/4 inch notch out of the stem for clamping). All the cables had to be replaced with longer ones.

The Retro-Recumbent costs more than my original $18 recumbent showcased in MOTHER EARTH NEW's March 1999 issue, but you can build a retro-recumbent bicycle from any old bike and turn it into a hot new recumbent. And if you have an accident, there's a set of crutches built in!

Jeff Setaro
Ithaca, New York

Post a comment below.


Dirk Jan Luiting_1
7/4/2008 7:47:30 AM
Hi Jeff, could you please post some pictures? you made us very curious! on my website i am putting together some information about selfbuilt recumbents

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