How to Make Human-Powered Tools: Bike-Frame Cultivator

Become more self-sufficient and save the environment by learning to build a human-powered cultivator from a bike frame.


  • Bike Frame Cultivator
    The [hand-pushed] cultivator makes no noise, always starts and never breaks down.
    Photo by Pixabay/free-photos
  • Bike Frame Cultivator
    Figure 1: Bike-Frame Cultivator
    Illustration Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • Dismantled Frame
    Figure 3: Dismantled Frame
    Illustration Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • Fork Handle Attachment
    Figure 4: Fork Handle Attachment
    Illustration Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • Long Handled Cultivator
    Figure 2: Antique, Long-Handled Cultivator
    Illustration Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • Modified Cultivator Head
    Figure 5: Modified Cultivator Head
    Illustration Courtesy New Society Publishers
  • Human Powered Home Cover
    "The Human-Powered Home," by Tamara Dean, is your complete guide to modern pedal-powered, treadled and hand-cranked devices for the home. 
    Cover Courtesy New Society Publishers

  • Bike Frame Cultivator
  • Bike Frame Cultivator
  • Dismantled Frame
  • Fork Handle Attachment
  • Long Handled Cultivator
  • Modified Cultivator Head
  • Human Powered Home Cover

The joy of working outdoors lies in appreciating nature. But birdsong and blossom-scented breezes are too often extinguished by the racket and smell of gasoline engines. Peace is the reason, many have told me, that they opt for human-powered lawn and garden tools. Others add that many human-powered tools work just as well, if not better, and as quickly as their motorized counterparts. Watch how long it takes someone to blow leaves off a sidewalk. Could sweeping them really take longer? Not only that, but human-powered tools are often more durable. In his book Homesteading: How to Find New Independence on the Land Gene Logsdon writes, “The [hand-pushed] cultivator makes no noise, always starts, never breaks down..., needs no gasoline, can be controlled easily to avoid plowing out vegetables — and mine is at least fifty years old.”

Home gardeners might be familiar with the twisted back and cramped hands that result from hours of loosening dirt with a handheld cultivator. A cultivator attached to a modified bike frame, however, affords the gardener greater power and a more comfortable, ergonomic position. It also covers more ground in less time.

This plan is inspired by a bicycle cultivator mentioned in a 1981 issue of MOTHER EARTH NEWS magazine, though I’ve created a modified version that’s more durable in some ways and simpler to construct. The plan doesn’t call for welding skills or supplies, but if you have them, you could make your cultivator sturdier.

At the time this was written, commercially available versions of similar wheeled cultivators sold for $85 to $130.



Ease of construction: Fairly easy; it involves minimal knowledge of (or willingness to learn) basic bike mechanics. For some steps, it’s helpful to have two sets of hands. Depending on the bike, it might require special bike repair tools.

Time to make: 4 to 6 hours






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