DIY always gets attention

I’ve always had a passion for radical bike designs.

If you have been hacking things together for any length of time, then you probably know that your unique creations draw attention wherever you are. When I was in my early teens, I would string four or five scrap bikes together and my buddies and I would wobble down the street on my contraptions that often resembled bikes from Doctor Seuss books. Making it back home in one piece was a 50/50 chance because I usually only brazed my early bike hacks, but the one thing that was guaranteed was a lot of attention.  My intent was never to make something to draw a crowd, but I often found myself talking to a group of interested onlookers or even speaking into the camera on the evening news.

I took a long break from bike hacking after getting my first motorcycle (and job), but found myself back out in the garage in the year 2000 to rekindle my DIY roots and get my mind off the daily grind of living in the real world. I started collecting junk bikes and old power chair parts and concocted some cool bikes and robots out in the small garage just to have fun on the weekend. Oddly enough, I never took any photos or intended to publish these works. One day Kat suggested that I put some of the bikes up on my website AtomicZombie.com, which at the time was a home for electronics hacking stuff I was doing.

Getting youth interested in technology.

 

Well, within months I started connecting with some amazing people and realized I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed making art from metal, sometimes for fun, sometimes to be practical. It didn’t take long before the word spread locally, and we were dragging my creations to all kinds of events. The large video guided robots were always popular. I enjoyed inspiring young hackers to consider this great hobby. The robots were a natural crowd magnet since I controlled them from miles away via video link and could communicate to people by typing words into a speech synthesis station at the base, making the robot seem intelligent. Soon my remote robots’ main purpose was to draw in a crowd and baffle them with technology.

Photo op with some visiting teens from the USA after my World Record ride.

At one point, I decided to aim for a Guinness World Record, making the tallest rideable bicycle, and figure it would be fun and possible draw a bit of attention to the website which was now mostly dedicated to bike building. Well, I was certainly not ready for the storm that this thing generated once the word got out! I must have done a dozen live radio interviews, news casts and even a live spot on a a national broadcast of Canada AM . Tall bikes sure draw the crowds!

When the tallbike called “SkyCycle” made it to a full color page in the Guinness Book (along with my mug), I was shocked. I knew these crazy contraptions could draw interest, but I had no idea how far it could go. Even a simple recumbent bike like the Marauder would spend half the time parked as I explained the bike to interested people along a ride. No doubt, all you DIY enthusiast out there know what I am talking about.

When I think back to me pre-DIY days, I guess my inspiration did come from seeing others’ creations, although it was mostly in the form of photos from old Popular Mechanics books or the odd newspaper article. Now, with the internet jacked into our heads like The Matrix, it’s so easy to connect with other DIY folks and share advice, so the community is stronger than it’s even been. Back in the early 1980s I would have never thought that one day I would be saying, “Hey!” to a cargo bike builder in Africa and then a trike builder in Australia within a 15 minute span.

So, if you are a new builder just getting ready to roll open that garage door and head out on your new DIY creation, get prepared for the attention your work will draw.  You will now become the source of inspiration for a young generation of future DIYers, so make sure you pass along that attitude that drives us all, “Yeah, you can do this, too”!

~ Brad

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Choke cherries and motion sickness

 

 

The scenery surrounding my old workshop.

 

That’s an odd title for a blog entry, isn’t it? Well, this is supposed to be a random spilling of thoughts and this morning I was thinking about another prototype that I never got the chance to test and the ripening orchard full of berries in front of my bike building shack.

The small field in front of my dilapidated construction trailer is a 6 acre patch completely riddled with apple trees, Saskatoon bushes, choke cherries and wild flowers. It’s quite a scene to behold in midsummer. You can literally fill an ice cream tub up in five minutes just standing under one of the bushes. Oh, how I love my Saskatoon pies and choke cherry jams! Of course, I have to do battle with this strange (dumb) bear that has been coming around when it’s pickin’ time.

I call this bear dumb because it likes to rip open our composter multiple times to lick the mold out of the same rotten coconut shell, and prefers to break a berry bush in half to eat the unripe berries at the top rather than simply eating the good ones well within reach. Last year, dumb bear tore up a dozen Saskatoon bushes, leaving the best berries sitting on broken branches and only eating the green ones (along with the leaves) at the top. I honestly think this bear ate someone’s distillery and remains drunk to this day. Yeah, something’s wrong with that furry beast!

Read more>> AtomicZombie Bikes, Recumbents, Trikes, Choppers, Ebikes, Velomobiles, and the Great Outdoors: Choke cherries and motion sickness.

Bike builders news – May 3

bike builders news

Feature article by RadicalBrad of AtomicZombie.com:

Build the HighLander Chopper – Part 2

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Head tubes and bottom brackets for your bike projects – now on sale
Hub flanges and axle adapters for your bike projects – shipping worldwide   
Chains and brake cables – we want your input
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Spring Special – Save 10% on all bike parts
Washington students strut their stuff 
 
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Bike builders community chat – hot topics of conversation
Bike builders gallery new additions – recumbents, trikes, motorized bikes, choppers & more
Builders Feedback – we love to hear from you.

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Free DIY tutorials – most available in PDF format
AZTV webisode – There and Back Again: A Zombie’s Tale
 
This and archived newsletters are here.

Bike builders news April 16

thumb-april16

Feature article by RadicalBrad of AtomicZombie.com:
Build the HighLander Chopper

 
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Head tubes and bottom brackets for your bike projects – pre-order now 
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Spring Special – Save 10% on all bike parts
***
Bike builders community chat – hot topics of conversation
Bike builders gallery new additions – recumbents, trikes, motorized bikes, choppers & more
Builders Feedback – we love to hear from you.
***
Hub flanges and axle adapters for your bike projects – shipping worldwide 
Free DIY tutorials – most available in PDF format
AZTV webisode – There and Back Again: A Zombie’s Tale
 
This and archived newsletters are here.

Bike builders news Dec.10: Build a velo, Part 3

 

Feature article by RadicalBrad of AtomicZombie.com: Building a Velomobile – Part 3
In this week’s issue, choosing a material to make the skin. Coroplast vs. luan. Decisions, decisions.
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Hub flanges and axle adapters for your trike and quad bike projects
Bike builders community chat – stimulating conversations
Builders Feedback you tell us what’s on your mind
Bike builders gallery – new additions: recumbents, trikes, choppers, cargo bikes & more

This and archived newsletters are here.

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Thanks for your feedback, and keep those suggestions coming.

See you in the Builders Forum.

Bike builders news November 23

Feature article by RadicalBrad of AtomicZombie.com: Building a Velomobile – Part 2
In this week’s issue, Brad makes a scale model of the velo body shape and design considerations.
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Hub flanges and axle adapters for your bike projects
Bike builders community chat
Bike builders gallery – new additions: recumbents, trikes, choppers, tall bikes, kids’ bikes, cargo bikes & more

This and archived newsletters are here.

***

Thanks for your feedback, and keep those suggestions coming.

See you in the Builders Forum.

Show us your workshop!

Take a look at one bike builder’s workshop. “My son Jesse’s black and yellow powder coated 20” bike frame, orange buckets, work bench, air compressor, Clarke 110 wire feed welder.”
Share pictures of your workshop in the AZ builders gallery. More >>