Bike Design and Build Workshop
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Wooden Bikes Workshop

Using some of my unusual home built bicycles, I can show you design techniques and easy construction techniques that can help you make a unique bike.  

If you are going to build your own bike, make it unique in one or more ways: Design, Configuration, Riding Position, Materials, Appearance, Theme

Consider a design strategy like one or more of the 8 listed below

1) Solve a "problem" that regular bikes have:

     A) Ergonomics, Riding Position,

          Choose from (Crouched, Upright, Feet slightly forward, semi-recumbent, full recumbent, etc)

      B) Portability: Choose from (Full Size, Compact, Collapsible, Foldable)

            C) Theft,   Make a bike so unique no sane thief would dare steal it.

            D) Affordability

2) Go for a style

            A) Tall bike, chopper, low rider, recumbent, upright,

3) Go for a purpose: Fun Bike, Cruiser, Hauler, Experimental, Entertaining, Adjustable

4) Minimize a dimension or simplify something, push it to a limit

5) Maximize a dimension or complicate something, push it to a limit

6) Try using unusual materials (sub-optimal is ok) found objects, wood, driftwood, furniture, various tubes, skis, plywood, etc

7) Build around other devices, scooters, skate boards, skates, saw-horses, chairs

8) Think of some implausible mismatched ideas. Combine them and enjoy them.

I'll show you how to make a CAD system (Cardboard Aided Design) as a full scale bike and rider template for laying out your design.  

Use the CAD system to check:

•  ergonomics,
•  steering geometry: Trail, Head Angle, Fork Offset (rake)
•  weight distribution (67% in the back)
•  chain line path management for efficiency
•  clearances: foot to wheel, knee to hand, foot to ground

Consider some practical ideas to make your bike work well:

Steering Geometry : Design about an inch of trail from the steering axis to the tire/road contact patch.   Let desired Trail and Head Angle lead you to a required fork Offset (rake).  

Chain Line: The Straighter and simpler, the better, especially on the tension side.

Parts and fasteners:

Rear Coaster brake wheels ease the dilemma of how to attach rear brake.
Self tapping screws, lag bolts, and bolts are removable and therefore allow adjustment.
Glue is more permanent, useful when you've got the design dialed in and road tested.   I would probably use glue more often were it not for my commitment issues.  
U Bolts and hose-clamps for ease of temporary connection  

Where to find resources:

Dumpsters (especially around the dorms and apartments as college lets out at the end of the quarter . )   Construction dumpsters for wood, plywood, steel conduit tubing

Along the road, At the dump, Free List, Garage Sales, (wait till its at the curb after the sale)   Thrift shop and its Dumpster, Bike Shop's dumpster (lots of chain and old seats)

Search Web for low rider bike parts, i.e.

Craigslist, (Free Section and Bike section)


Safety goggles, gloves, ear protection (helps tune out nay-sayers)
Drill , Bits including Hole-Saw, Long bits for eyeballing straight holes.
Saw, Chisel, Wrench, Screw Driver, Vice etc
Bike Tools: Chain Breaker, Allen Wrenches                                                          


Can Do,
Thick Skin (also helpful if you crash) ,
Thick Skull (also helpful if you crash) But always wear a helmet to protect your hair
Adventurousness, Macguyverism
Keep perspective, Treat it like a prototype not a precise piece of rocket science.
Don't Over-Analyze it (avoid "paralysis by analysis") ponder it a little then move forward anyway.
Treat it like you are building a sketch, not a masterpiece. You can always redo the sketch or learn from it to build the good one next time.

I don't put much time into making my bikes look difficult to build.   I like them to look easy to build and to expose (not hide) the construction techniques.

You may find insight into the trials and triumphs the early bike inventors faced.   Enjoy that.   Pursue some dead ends and backwaters of the bike's evolution.  

There is not much reason to build your own "normal" bike.   You can get a normal bike anywhere.

Plus, you meet fun interesting folks when you ride a fun interesting bike.

Check out these info resources:

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