‘Tis the time of the year to find as many reasons as possible to shut off the smartphone and get yourself outside. [Rich Olson’s] newest excuse is a recumbent bicycle he built from at least three donor bikes. Of course we’ve seen any number of bike mods over the years (the tall bikes that integrate a ladder to climb up to the saddle have always held a special place in our hearts), but [Rich] left us a nice trail of bread crumbs on how to get into this yourself without breaking the bank.
He worked from a set of open source plans, with additional instructions laid out by [Brian in Ohio] in a bicycle hacking series on the Hacker Public Radio podcast. We learn in the first installment that you can get your hands on a torch that uses oxygen and MAP gas to braze the pipe joints — a quick Duck Duck Go search turns up kits that have the torch and both gases for about eighty bucks. Ask around your neighbourhood and you’re likely to find some bike frames from the disused and broken cycles lurking in dark garage corners. That first podcast page even has images that show you how to lay out fishmouth cuts where the tubes will meet.
But what really grabbed our attention is the tube bending for the recumbent seat. This is a speciality part that you’re not going to be able to salvage from traditional bikes. [Rich’s] project shows off this image of a bend template and the two main rails he used from the seat; but how did he make those bends? The third episode of [Brian in Ohio’s] series covers the one simple trick that electricians don’t want you to know. Those rails are made out of electrical conduit and you can easily buy/rent/borrow a commonplace conduit bending tool which has the handy advantage of including angle guides.
You’ll find [Rich’s] video after the break which begins with a slideshow and ends with a demo ride. That lets us see the lacing on the back side of the seat fabric that keeps it taught, yet comfy in a way a standard bike saddle just can’t be.
The bike is of a recumbent design, featuring a relaxed riding position well suited to the sophisticated nature of a steam-powered vehicle. Sporting a wooden frame, the build carries a strong steampunk aesthetic. The flash boiler packs 100 feet of copper pipe, and there’s an electric pump and controller to handle water delivery from the stylish brass tank. The setup is capable of producing steam within 30 seconds of startup. Motive power is courtesy of a 1.5 inch bore single-cylinder steam engine, connected to the rear wheel via a belt drive.
More and more electric bikes have been rolling out into the streets lately as people realize how inexpensive and easy they are to ride and use when compared to cars. They can also be pedaled like a normal bike, so it’s still possible to get some exercise with them too. Most have a range somewhere around 10-30 miles depending on battery size, weight, and aerodynamics, but with a few upgrades such as solar panels it’s possible to go much, much further on a charge.
[The Rambling Shepherd] had a tricycle (in the US, generally still considered a bicycle from a legal standpoint) that he had already converted to electric with a hub motor and battery, and was getting incredible range when using it to supplement his manual pedaling. He wanted to do better, though, and decided to add a few solar panels to his build. His first attempt didn’t fare so well as the 3D-printed mounts for the panel failed, but with a quick revision his second attempt survived a 50-mile trip. Even more impressive, he only had his battery half charged at the beginning of the journey but was still able to make it thanks to the added energy from the panels.
If you’re thinking that this looks familiar, we recently featured a tandem tricycle that was making a solar-powered trip from Europe to China with a similar design. It has the advantage of allowing the rider to pedal in the shade, and in a relatively comfortable riding position compared to a normal bike. Future planned upgrades include an MPPT charge controller to improve the efficiency of the panels.
‘Tis soon to be the season when resolutions falter and exercise equipment purchased with the best of intentions is cast aside in frustration. But with a little motivation, like making your exercise machine a game console controller, you can maximize your exercise gear investment and get in some guilt-free gaming to boot.
Honestly, there is no better motivation for keeping up with exercise than taking classes, but not many people have the discipline — or the pocketbook — to keep going to the gym for the long haul. With this in mind, [Jason] looked for a way to control PS4 games like Mario Karts or TrackMania with his recumbent bike. In an attempt to avoid modifying the bike, [Jason] decided on a wearable motion sensor for his ankle. Consisting of an Uno, an MPU9250 accelerometer, and a transmitter for the 433-MHz ISM band, the wearable sends signals to a receiver whenever the feet are moving. This simulates pressing the up arrow controller key to set the game into action. Steering and other game actions are handled by a regular controller; we’d love to see this expanded to include strain gauges on the recumbent bike’s handles to allow left-right control by shifting weight in the seat. Talk about immersive gameplay!
Over the past year, [Dave] has been hard at work on his human powered vehicle. One year and six hundred hours of build time later, the Radius T-T Velomobile is complete. This 80 lb. vehicle features a custom body, mirrors, and integrated lights.
The Radius T-T started out as a TerraTrike recumbent tricycle. [Dave] built the body by laying up fiber glass on a foam mold. To that he added a variety of 3D printed accessories such as lights and mirrors. Inside the cockpit, the driver can control turn signals and flashers.
[Dave]’s blog provides a massive amount of documentation on the build. Everything from 3D modelling of the vehicle in Blender to the rear view mirror design is discussed. This great looking build should move along quickly with its lightweight design, but we’re still waiting to hear how fast it goes. Either way, it should be a fun mode of transport which will definitely turn some heads.
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.
in 1983, [Steve Roberts] packed up a Tandy 100 laptop and a 5-watt solar panel, fleeing suburbia on his recumbentbicycle on what would become a 17,000 mile journey that forever cemented his place in the geek pantheon…not just as a technology hacker, but as one of the preeminent “life hackers,” pursuing his own dreams on his own terms and inspiring others to do the same.
In this 1989 video, recently unearthed by Hack a Day, [Roberts] reflects on the first 16,000 miles of his voyage, detailing some of the technology that went into his then-current ride, the Winnebiko II.