Building A Recumbent Trike From Old Parts

This recumbent trike was built using parts from three salvaged bikes and without welding. These bikes are a bit easier on the back and neck than the traditional riding position. This one also allows for a shorter pedal crank which was a concern for the creator, [Barry Millman]. Not only did he do a fantastic job of making the thing, but he shared the project in verbose detail.

It’s a good build. It won’t win a prize for light-weight design as it includes a big chunk of plywood. But it is worth the weight hit if welding is not an option. For your viewing pleasure you’ll find a short parking lot test-drive of the finished recumbent after the break.

Oh, and if you want a more dangerous cycling build, try this over-under tandem.


24 thoughts on “Building A Recumbent Trike From Old Parts

  1. Just a note. He says in his build that he only drove one wheel because otherwise he would need a differential

    THAT IS WRONG. With a free-wheel clutch on each wheel the faster moving wheel would remain un-powered through a turn.

  2. Nice job. I ride a recumbant trike myself (Burrows Windcheetah)

    From that I have to say that having a single Drive wheel at the rear of the trike makes more sense to me.

    On this build, I would suggest a much higher gear ratio if it is intended to be used on the road. With a ‘back’ to the seat, you can put in a tremendous amount of power into the pedals. This means wheel spinning and awesome acceleration for a pedal powered vehicle.

  3. @Whatnot
    Even if you drive well, you have to take into account that there are other people on the road too that can drive over you. Besides, it’s always a good idea to wear a helmet anyway, better safe than sorry.

  4. “Just a note. He says in his build that he only drove one wheel because otherwise he would need a differential

    THAT IS WRONG. With a free-wheel clutch on each wheel the faster moving wheel would remain un-powered through a turn.”

    HERP DERP you retard. The outside (faster) wheel is the one you want to get power.

  5. i only wear my helmet when it’s too cold for biking. practically every time i’ve worn it i’ve had an accident, whether it be supporting the weight of an electric bike on my head or getting hit by a car. pretty sure it obstructs my vision, maybe it’s just the fog.
    moving along, I remember when Mr. Garrison built a rectumbent bike on south park, even if IT only had one wheel, it was still rectumbent, or at least the driver was. i will now go google the word ‘recumbent’

  6. hmm.. according to google, you need to tilt your seat back a bit for it to qualify as ‘recumbent’
    but idgaf about that shit.
    i have always wanted to build a 3 or 4 wheel vehicle out of bikes. the plans always involved at least one chain saw motor, though.. if i ever do build one though, thanks to technological advancement, the design will contain at least 2 hub motors, if not all wheel drive. and lights, and if i dont figure out the mini-reactor first, then it will just have to run on lithium batteries

  7. that’s a decent turning radius for the steering design. i’m not trying to criticize your work or anything..i’m definitely no einstein.. i was looking at the picture and wondering how you were going to pull off more than a ~30 degree tilt with that distance. then i was thinking, i would solve the problem like:
    |_._| handlebars which you pull, pivoting at the “.”, most of the arm coming off those bars____, then a hinge/pivot/bi-directional-elbow joint, and the rest of the _connecting to the front fork. man i suck at descriptiveness. anyway, piloting such a design would be counter-intuitive, pulling left to turn right, would probably kill some people in traffic, but if you did it right, you could make much sharper turns, improved even more-so by adding a hub-motor to the front wheel, allowing front wheel drive to pull you in the direction of the turn. of course, then your recumbent trike wouldn’t be so cheap or light, or green even, unless moving a human with electrical power is more carbon neutral than the human exerting.. (note to self: STFU!!)

  8. Being someone who rides his bike to work, I just can’t see myself using one of these. I think it would be great for comfort (of course) and would make lugging my laptop/backpack around easier. The only problem I see with these is the fact that your so low to the ground that it makes you an easy target for idiot hillbilly drivers. I know, I know he has the goofy red/orange flags sticking up…but I just couldn’t bring myself to tool around with pee-wee flags on my bike. Well done though.

  9. Being 65 he probably doesn’t have to worry about riding to work.

    I have major back problems when cycling to work (yes my bike is fitted correctly) but I couldn’t ride one of these as I’d have to park it somewhere.

  10. Just a question or two:
    Were these bike already jacked…or did he mutilate a perfectly good bike some less fortunate person would’ve loved to had as transportation?

    Any thoughts of a servo and a wiimote for steering?

    If both rear wheels, each had their own chain, would you have more flexibility in the event of a chain or derailer problem?

  11. lol servo and wiimote. i wouldn’t trust my life to a servo and wiimote. i can think of a way to properly steer but it takes a bit more metal and is impossible to draw with ASCII characters. thats what i’m gonna invent- a chalkboard beside the text entry box where you can share diagrams/schematics, things not so easily put into words. somebody will beat me to it before i accomplish getting up to eat breakfast. i don’t mind though, it’s for the good of humanity and the shortening of extralongcomments.
    _click to view graphic comment_

  12. @itwork4me said:
    “Were these bike already jacked…or did he mutilate a perfectly good bike some less fortunate person would’ve loved to had as transportation?”

    Good catch! These were perfectly good bikes. Brand-new. In fact, they were actually earmarked for donation to some less fortunate person, but he intercepted them and then purposefully hacked them into a DIY trike for no reason but to deny a less fortunate guy a chance at cheap transportation.

    As you know, this is all part of a larger plan to crush and subvert the weak and helpless. Didn’t you see the Legion of Doom logo on the seat?

  13. A few replies to these posts:
    1. The bikes were in a bicycle dungeon at Recyclore (along with many others). They were unrideable as offered to me. Not repaired. They may have been scheduled to be repaired and sold, but I got them before any other work had been done on them. Thus I did not take them away from anyone. I made them into the only bike (trike) I could ride.
    2. Drive one rear wheel (tadpole style trike) then you get to work out (WITH welding)how to turn the two front wheels. I fantasize building a folding tadpole recumbent trike.
    3. Recumbent. In some of the bike world, it refers to the placement of the feet, generally, in relation to the body. Feet in front is a recumbent. We can split hairs here if desired.
    4. Thanks for all the comments.

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