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jwxr7 04-14-2008 12:35 PM

jwxr7's bent build thread
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I finally got motivated enough to start building the recumbent that I've talked about making for years. I'm following an EZ-clone design from here The bike started life as a black colored tall frame schwinn road bike and a white colored Belgium made Trak (not Trek) road bike that used knit style tires. I've pretty much finished fabbing the frame at this point. The bare frame weighs in at around 8lbs 8 oz. The schwinn was a pretty heavy frame. I still have a long ways to go before I can test ride it. The seat will be my biggest challenge. Here are some pics of the frame as I was finishing the rear triangle alignment and then adding the 2 bottom rails. All that's left for major frame work is to finish closing the joints for the bottom rails to rear triangle and bottom rails to crank mounts then weld em up.

Edit: I'm not a bike expert and I don't know all the proper nomenclature for bikes and thier parts so bear with me.

trebuchet03 04-14-2008 01:26 PM

Cool :D

Have ridden 'bents before?

jwxr7 04-14-2008 01:41 PM

Years ago I rode around on a home brew delta style trike recumbent that i owned for a while. It was very very heavy and only had one speed but was fun for around town cruising. It definitely takes different muscles to move around on but the riding position is nice. My neck and wrists don't agree with long traditional road bike rides anymore and I'm hoping this will keep me riding more.

jwxr7 04-14-2008 01:59 PM

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I'm finishing the welding on the bottom rails today. I strayed from the plan a little on the rails. They call for two 3/4" emt rails and there is a slight bend near the rear, but I only owned a 1/2" emt bender so I used 1/2". I hope it's strong enough. Over the weekend I went to a local barn sale and found 3 different types of 3/4" pipe and emt benders (shown in pic to the left of the 1/2" one) for $5 each so I bought all of them :D. Now I can redo it with 3/4" if i have to :).

johnpr 04-14-2008 02:06 PM

looks like a great project, im working on designing and building a recumbent trike.
have fun with your project and have many safe miles of riding

jwxr7 04-14-2008 04:54 PM

thanks john,

I finished welding the frame, now onto all the parts that go on it.

I know I should try working on the seat but I don't want to get bogged down this early on something hard.

Next day I plan to weld a brake bridge to the front fork since I'm using a 20" wheel. Then clean up the old head tube bearings and install it.
Then clean up the crank bearings and install bottom bracket and crank arms. I've got my eye on a 3 ring "biopace" crank a friend has on an old specialized mountain bike, but I just want to get it road worthy first then upgrade components if it's worth the effort. Maybe put the rear wheel on and a kick stand so it looks like it could roll :).

MetroMPG 04-14-2008 08:45 PM

Subscribed. Looks good so far. Nice find - all those EMT benders!

And... whose MG is that?

jwxr7 04-15-2008 08:05 AM


That's my boss' MG. I decided to build the frame at work since I dont have a large flat work space in my barn at the moment.

jwxr7 04-15-2008 03:23 PM

got the head tube bearings cleaned, regreased and installed. Also did the same with the crank bearings.

Ran into a little problem with the bottom bracket though. I am using the crank and bottom bracket off a different schwinn because the original that was on the Trak was the old heavy pinned style. The tube that houses the bottom bracket must be a bit wider than the one on the schwinn because by the time I snug up the bearings properly there are only like a thread or two sticking out on the left bearing cup to allow the jam nut to thread on. Not sure what i will do about that. I could mill the face of either side to narrow the tube, but that would be a mess to try setting up properly with the long frame and all.

jwxr7 04-16-2008 12:03 PM

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I think I'll get by with the little amount of threads for the bottom bracket bearing cup jamnut for now.

I put the wheels, crank, and kickstand on and weighed it. It was 23.74lbs as shown in the pic below. Over 6lbs of it is from the steel rear wheel/tire assembly :eek:. I can upgrade to lighter stuff after I prove out the design, my goal is to be around 35lbs when done.

MetroMPG 04-16-2008 12:27 PM

Looking good!

Are you going to go with a hard/padded seat, or the mesh design?

EDIT - also, it looks like you went with less rake in your steerer tube than some of the other examples in the link you posted up at the top of the thread. (Or maybe it's just the photo angle)

trebuchet03 04-16-2008 01:23 PM

Looks good :)

And don't worry, chain will add a bunch of weight :( :p 35 pounds is a good goal though :)

jwxr7 04-16-2008 01:24 PM


I think I am going to try the mesh seat type, unless I see an easier way for another design.

The steer tube angle does look funny due to the photo angle. I didn't try to change it on purpose anyway :). I just went out and checked it to the drawing and it seems to be about the same.

Yeah 2.5 normal chains will be heavy.

jwxr7 04-18-2008 10:25 AM

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just thought I'd post an old picture I found of the Trak that gave it's life for the recumbent build.

Heynow999 04-19-2008 11:25 AM

Looks nice. I have been planning on doing something like that myself. I am going to start with a mini one for my six year old. I have a three year old as well so we should get several years out of it.

Maybe someone can help me. I saw a trike on some website that was really simple, with two steering wheels in the back, and the pedal part just flipped around. It was kind of homebuilt looking. But I can't find it anymore? I want to build a copy. If anyone knows what I am talking about, please post a link



jwxr7 04-19-2008 12:52 PM

Thanks peter,

I can't help you with that trike, I don't believe I've seen that one. Sounds
interesting though.

As far as bent building progress...
I just bought some brake cables and a new tube for the front wheel. i also found my old chain breaker tool so i can start putting a long chain together this weekend. Looks like I need to start fabricating the seat. Seems I can't do too much more without a seating position. The brake cables need a finished handlebar assembly and the handlebars need a seat to select the proper lengths. I'm thinking about mounting the shifters to the top tube in front of the seat somewhere instead of on the handlebars. That will keep the cable mess to a minimum.

jwxr7 04-20-2008 02:40 PM

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I had a chance to bend up the 1/2" emt frame rails for the seat and the 3/4" cross braces today. The benders worked great :thumbup:. Just need to weld them together now.

johnpr 04-20-2008 09:18 PM

looks great!!

jwxr7 04-24-2008 04:05 PM

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I finished welding the seat frame and the cross shaped brace that clamps the seat to the top rail. I also pieced a chain together and installed deraillers. I bought a tube for the front tire and installed it. I hope to pick up shifter cables tonight.

johnpr 04-24-2008 04:52 PM

wow, thats looking realy nice!

jwxr7 04-29-2008 08:40 AM

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I've been slowed down with the small details. I figured out that I need to get some pet screen material for the seat and I bought fish line and needles so I can attempt to sew it together. I just bought some used aluminum crutches for $1 to part them out for the adjustable rear seat support struts. While I was at the store I had to buy the 2 Raleigh pursuit 12 speeds that were there. I'm not sure why I bought them, but they were in great shape and only $10 each. One is my size and one is my wife's size (in case the recumbent doesn't work out :)). I could always use them for the next newer more improved recumbent that is probably going to be made.

MetroMPG 04-29-2008 08:50 AM

Doesn't it always seem more exiting to watch the pace of the macro stuff vs. the micro stuff?

That seat frame looks fancy. And I love the idea of reusing the crutches as adjustable struts - clever.

jwxr7 04-29-2008 09:25 AM

Yeah, I figured the aluminum tubes would be lighter, stronger, and more elegant than threaded rod.

I may end up hiring my mom for the sewing part too so it doesn't turn out all wierd looking :o.

I'm having trouble with the handle bar end of the tiller for the steering. Supposedly the 3/4" emt should fit over most 1" steering head set things (that part that originally fits into the top of the fork and expands). The emt is .040" or so too small so I will have to do some work to fit that.

jwxr7 05-01-2008 02:42 PM

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It's rideable :). I put some cardboard on the seat and road it in the parking lot. I found out the chain needed a few more links removed and the steering needs adjusted some. It is a nice riding position, very relaxing. The low speed balance is tricky at first.

Now I can put brake levers, shifters, and cables on. After that all it really needs is to have the material sewn on the seat and the front brake bridge put on.

MetroMPG 05-01-2008 02:44 PM

And a bigger car to carry it home. ;)

Just joshin. CONGRATS on the test ride. Looks awesome! I'm impressed (particularly by the crutches).

johnpr 05-01-2008 10:55 PM

looks like you did a great job!!

jwxr7 05-02-2008 03:22 PM

I was thinking about trying to haul it home in my metro :D. I will be in town cutting a load of firewood this weekend, so I might throw it on top.

I put the cables on late yesterday and took it for a 1/2 mile test ride. I found out how out of shape I am and how nice a ride it has. Can't wait to try it with the real seat configuration.

I bought the seat fabric today and will attempt sewing soon.

I weighed the bike after the last ride and it is 36.8 lbs. I had to use heavier components in certain areas due to compatibility issues with the lighter ones. I figure it still has a pound or two of stuff left to go on, but I plan on using an aluminum rear wheel off the small raleigh I bought monday. That could shave a couple pounds off, so I'm not gonna be too far off my goal weight.

johnpr 05-03-2008 12:32 PM

sounds like you are coming along really well, keep up the good work

MetroMPG 05-03-2008 11:06 PM

36.8 lbs isn't horrible - it's 1 lb lighter than my stock 20 year old beater mountain bike!

trebuchet03 05-04-2008 01:08 AM

^^ I agree with metro....

My SWB 'bent is in the same region when fully loaded (mid/rear rack, lights, bottle cages, computer, etc. etc.) - and that's with aluminum wheels and shimano deore components! (not the lightest, but far from heaviest). I do have a silent clutch hub which allegedly is a little heavy though....

The important thing with weight is.... Don't try to save a few ounces on components if the bare frame is the bulk of the weight. as long as you're focused on a)easiest/cheapest to lighten and b)what's heaviest to begin with - you're doing well :D "b" typically is the engine :D

jwxr7 05-05-2008 10:07 AM

I am overall pretty happy with the weight so far. If I can save a little here or there with parts I already have on hand that's great. The rear wheel swap will only save me 1/2 lb but the tire, freewheel, and bearings are 99% better than the old wheel.
The seat cover is slow going. I started pinning it in place but my 2yr old daughter wanted to "help":) so I didn't get very far.


The important thing with weight is.... Don't try to save a few ounces on components if the bare frame is the bulk of the weight. as long as you're focused on a)easiest/cheapest to lighten and b)what's heaviest to begin with - you're doing well "b" typically is the engine
That's a very good point. My engine will probably drop a few pounds trying to get efficient at riding again :turtle:.

johnpr 05-05-2008 12:08 PM

saving all the weight you can really does help, and with it being a wheel its less rotational mass. its great that your daughter wanted to help, thats the stuff that you look back on as fond memories :)

jwxr7 05-06-2008 07:52 AM

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so true johnpr.

I have pinned most of the material in place. This is hard work for me :o. Ran out of pins so will hopefully find some more today to finish pinning things in place. Then I get to try stitching.

jwxr7 05-08-2008 09:52 AM

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finally finished stitching up the seat. I'm not sure I trust the job I did so I left larger than normal flaps in case I have to redo something. I haven't mounted it yet so I don't know how it feels yet.

I think I forgot to mention that I finished the front brake bridge and mounted a center pull caliper up there. All the cables are done too. I decided to upgrade the crank and pedals with the set off a tall old schwinn voyaguer 11.8 (the set on the right in the pic). It will save me close to a pound and the pedal bearings are like new.

After I mount the seat, this bike is ready to ride :thumbup:. Still need to come up with a bottle holder, a mirror, and maybe some reflectors.

jwxr7 05-08-2008 12:39 PM

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here's a fully assembled shot of it. Btw it ended up at 36.5 lbs as shown below. I rode it around the parking lot a little and like the seat alote :thumbup:. Have to put a few miles on it and see how it feels.

johnpr 05-08-2008 01:49 PM

everything looks great!! sounds like you came in at a good weight also

jwxr7 05-09-2008 09:08 AM

I road a couple miles last evening. It's a real nice ride, the seat is great.

I may have to reinforce the seat bottom though. It seems I didn't pull it tight enough or something. After a mile or so of riding, my boney rear was almost touching the frame underneath :o. My co-worker with about 60 lbs more weight and a not so boney rear doesn't have that problem on this seat. If it stretches anymore I might start touching. I have some scrap strips of the material still that I could stitch in to pull it tighter and make it less stretchy.

MetroMPG 05-09-2008 09:56 AM

Congratulations on the build. It looks comfy.

jwxr7 05-09-2008 03:19 PM


Congratulations on the build. It looks comfy.

I found out today that it fits nicely in the metro too (remember I don't have a front passenger seat installed). It took very little effort to make it fit. I had to remove the bike's seat by loosening 2 hose clamps on the lower seat mount and adjusting the struts till they came apart. I also had to lower the steering tiller by loosening the front clamp. I had help loading it but it could be done solo. Still have room for lots of other stuff too (but no passengers:D). It'll fit upright in the car but would need somethings to hold it there so it won't move around while driving.

tzietz 05-21-2008 08:45 AM

Greetings from a new member of this blog. You guys are inspiring me to make a bike for commuting to work!

Question about welding... Are you TIG welding, MIG welding? On the original plans, I think the guy did brazing. To a newb, what's your advice? I have a relative up the street who has a gas arc set-up, and he'd probably teach me. Or, should I buy some brazing equipment?

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