A Cut-Rate DIY Recumbent Bike

Our mechanically innovative researchers have done it again; this time they've come up with a DIY recumbent bike for cycling enthusiasts who can't afford a manufactured unit.

  • diy recumbent bike - woman rider seated in bike
    Pedaling from a seated position enables a cyclist to develop more power.
  • diy recumbent bike - the bike assembly
    The recombent bike is lightweight and streamlined for easy construction and use.
  • diy recumbent bike - woman rider on the road pedaling bike
    Lay back and enjoy the ride on your DIY recumbent bike.
    Photo by MOTHER EARTH NEWS Staff

  • diy recumbent bike - woman rider seated in bike
  • diy recumbent bike - the bike assembly
  • diy recumbent bike - woman rider on the road pedaling bike

Although the common bicycle is an efficient form of transportation, it's not above improvement. In fact, over the course of its history, enthusiasts have often altered the typical two-wheeler to suit their varied needs. The results have run the gamut from rider-supine speedsters to environmentally sound service carts.

Of these, the reclining-seat or "recumbent" bike, as they're referred to in cycling circles, is considered the most exciting of the lot; because the design allows riders to rest in a seated position (thus supporting the lumbar and pelvic regions), they have something to push against and can develop more pedal pressure than is possible sitting on a conventional saddle relying on body weight alone. In addition, the low seating position lessens wind resistance (increasing the vehicle's top speed) and furnishes a comfortable platform upon which cyclists can relax and breathe fully, without the restriction that results from being bent at the torso.

Understandably enough, the cost of such specialty vehicles is high ($1,000 and up), simply because they're individually built and usually contain light, strong (and expensive) materials. Nonetheless, the concept is such a good one MOTHER EARTH NEWS’ research staff decided to design an affordable DIY recumbent bike that could be put together using a combination of standard bicycle parts and commonly available electrical metallic tubing (E.M.T.).

We're certainly not claiming that our chariot can compare with the exotic chromemoly-and-aluminum units now on the market. But we do feel that anyone who's willing to spend a weekend's worth of time, and perhaps $65 or so, will be rewarded with a sturdy little sport trike that'll do anything most ordinary bicycles will do, and may even be a heck of a lot more fun, besides.

Consider, too, that we put a good deal of thought into the design of this pedal recliner, and it's got some features worth keeping in mind. For example, the seat is not only light in weight (by virtue of its lawn-chair webbing), but also happens to be sprung front and rear to enhance rider comfort. Equally important, that sling is positioned in such a way that it distributes loads just about equally on all the trike's wheels, and the track-to-wheelbase relationship enables the machine to maneuver tightly at speed yet still remain quite stable.

And that's not all: We've also engineered steering geometry so that the front wheels self-center; utilized a three-speed hub to improve hill climbing and acceleration; and added a set of caliper brakes to stop the wheel. (The wheels, by the way, are made from discarded 20" rims spoked with sections of E.M.T., and should be able to take greater side loads than ordinary spoked wheels would probably be capable of handling.)

2/20/2020 9:28:28 AM

Please provide prices you paid for materials as listed. There is no way you can buy all the material for $65 - even if you have free 'junk' bike parts. Please show your prices paid.

6/2/2016 3:12:53 PM

EMT is a type of electrical conduit (tubing that encloses electrical wires). EMT is metallic, usually steel or aluminum, with exterior coating to resist rust, for example zinc-coating. It is mass produced, cheap and widely available in hardware stores. A conduit bender is necessary to bend it (at all or without kinking). Different size benders are used for different diameter conduit. Electricians, tool rental places and rural people who work on their own buildings have conduit benders.

6/2/2016 3:33:24 AM

You refer to e.m.t. something or other. What does EMT stand for?

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