BEFORE YOU BEGIN - GENERAL NOTES
Other plans exist.
These plans go farther than Gardner Martin’s book and sketches, or the other clone plans available on line, to describe the process, the salvage of parts, the measurements for a great bike, and the new hardware you need to make a great long wheelbase recumbent. The Recycled Recumbent draws it’s original inspiration from Warren Beauchamp's article on this construction - http://www.recumbents.com/home.asp I hope Recycled Recumbent takes the next step in detailing what to do for the new builder.
What Isn't Here?
These pages do not teach you how to weld or braze – you need a friend for this, or a course at your local community college. Les Sutch has an interesting plan for non-welders - a LWB bike that is put together with pop rivets and sheet metal gussets. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to buy a plan set for the “Apartment Dweller’s Recumbent.”
I do not touch deeply (yet) on the process of bicycle assembly – the mechanics of finding and fitting wheels and shifters and brakes. Far better and more articulate mechanics than I cover this. Sheldon Brown ( http://www.sheldonbrown.com/ ) has a wealth of mechanical advice online - you just need to figure out when he tells a joke, which he does often and well. I just found www.bikewebsite.com/ - which seems to have a wealth of maintenance information as well for the burgeoning mechanic in you. For the Recycled Recumbent, you need a few bike tools and a will to learn, or friends with the skills and generosity to help.
If your objective is a really great bike, and you don’t want the journey of frame building, you should shop at your local bike store – the one that features a variety of recumbent styles to try and to experiment with. A good bike can be had for $500 to $900. If price is not an obstacle, the really great bikes – vastly superior in finish and components than what is described here – can be had at roughly $1,700 – and up, of course – spend as much as you can. You should shop, look at, and try different recumbent bikes as many as you can get your hands on. A recumbent IS different - you may or may not experience your ' EUREKA!' moment - the joy of discovering the perfect mode of recreation/transportation. There are many different types of recumbent bikes – the Recycled Recumbent is of the type called the ‘Long Wheel Base’ (LWB) bike. There is a ‘short wheel base (SWB) style, where the front wheel is under your knees and the crankset is out in front, there are underseat steering models of both of these geometries, there are very sophisticated three wheeled trikes to play with. Even if you are going to build your own bike, trying different bikes at the store will offer you a preview of your preferences. I have gained insight and copied freely from my woolgathering done at our local Wheel and Sprocket, learning tips and techniques for bike building just by observation of those expensive marvels.
I sell these bikes.
Look in THE SHOWROOM for what is on hand now in used and finished bikes. Look at the Parts FOR SALE page for my pricing on the unique parts and pieces of this bike if you'd like to work with a 'kit' and be your own mechanic. Write and let's commission your frame or even your complete bike - in your size, your colors, with the gear YOU want on it. Let's get you rolling, on your terms.
ORGANIZATION OF THIS PROJECT
This ‘book’(website) is put together in two phases*. The first part is the straightforward process of creating the ‘original’ Recycled Recumbent. That bike in 10 drawings and my 'script' is called the “Mach 1.” This easy plan is strongly recommended for first time builders. Build this bike – maybe even build it twice and learn from your mistakes on the first one. Ride it, decide if you like it, upgrade it as your time, money and inclination allow. The Mach 1 is most similar to Warren Beauchamp’s project.
Then see if you want to tackle the more complex bike. The Mach 2 bike is sleeker, lower, and has more carefully considered and adjusted handling characteristics. Layout requires more thought and is less forgiving of your learning mistakes. Your choice of donor bikes may be more selective – based on what you learn from the earlier bikes. You will learn to add rake to the fork to improve handling - a finicky task at best.
Many people have asked me about the difference between the two bikes. The bottom line difference is subtle, hard to distinguish, and highly valued by the experienced rider, a matter of sure footed-ness for the bike and steering responsiveness to the rider (they go hand in hand). Again - start with the Mach 1 - you are far less likely to have a do-over level mistake. Until you have ridden 1,000 miles, the difference between the two styles is not apparent to the new rider.
* November, 2012 - I've added a third section to the instruction set. There is a Mach 3 now, a version of this bike that uses a 26" front wheel. This is yet another level for donor bike selection and careful layout geometry to achieve the dual 'big wheel' bike popular in recumbent circles.
What I have learned. So far. I have delighted in learning the hows and whys of making the Recycled Recumbent. I crawled into this doing what you are doing now, reading and researching on the internet. Only my obsessive love of the hobby, and the encouragement of my friends to put it out here for folks to see separates me from you... OK, and I've been practicing for a while. My hope is that these pages address your particular interests and abilities as a new home builder. If you are an experienced builder (or when you become an experienced builder), feel free to embellish and change – and let me know what works better!
I think that the Recycled Recumbent, well built by you, rivals the ride and performance of the $2,500 LWB bikes in the stores – for the exchange of your time instead of your cash.