June 7 Atomic Zombie newsletter

Feature article by Rod McLaren: Sunshine Cruiser trike
 Tadpole trikes in USA
Warrior tadpole trike in Poland
Recumbent cargo bike in Slovakia
Fire rescue chopper from Canada
Voyager drift trike
Manufactured parts for your bike projects
 Bike builders community chat
Summer six-pack special
This and other AZ newsletters are here. Enjoy!

AZ newsletter May 2

Feature article by Brad Graham (Radical Brad):
Building a rebar greenhouse Part 2 
Terminator chopper stolen
New builders gallery: upload your photos
Estonia Warrior tadpole trike
Motorized bikes
Kids’ trike in Scotland
Oregon quadcycle
Spring bike building special extended
Manufactured parts for your bike projects
Bike builders chat
From our Facebook Fan Page

April 18 newsletter

Featured article by Radical Brad:

*** Painting Your Project ***

Choppers from around the world
UK tall bike
Warrior trikes
SpinCycle in England
Spirit SWB recumbent
Cargo bike in Sweden
Bike builders chat
Spring into bike building
Manufactured parts for your projects

And, more new stuff in the builders gallery.

How to build a phat ass chopper wheel – Part 1

AtomicZombie's OverKill chopper

Let’s face it, a chopper needs to have a wide rear wheel in order to stand out among the pack. In fact, the wider the better! I remember the days when a bicycle chopping involved hammering a cut off set of forks onto the ends of another set and then replacing the front wheel with a smaller diameter wheel.

Well, those days are history, and now a custom chop may involve a year of work and several hundred dollars of machined “bling” in the mix. Things changed about 10 years ago when department stores began mass producing these chopper bicycles with 4 inch wide tires, something that was not available before that time.

At first, I was thinking “cool, a new source of parts”, but then I started seeing these cookie-cutter factory jobs all over the place, and they all looked alike. In fact, the only difference between these so-called “customs” was the color and the eight digit serial number. Seeing this sacred ground infected by the big box stores made me take drastic action, and I set out to make a chopper that would mock these department store bikes both in look and in cost. I wanted to blast the chopper proportions way out there and do it for only a few bucks, so I designed OverKill.

To spew insult at these 4 inch wide rear wheel departments store chops, I would have to go way overboard on the rear wheel, so I started looking at ways to fit a motorcycle wheel to a bicycle hub. After a few prototypes I realized that I was only a slight bit larger, having tires of 5 or 6 inches in width. I scraped the motorcycle wheel idea and went to the auto wrecker to scrounge up something bigger, much bigger.

After a bit of digging, I found an old steel rim with a 15 inch wide drag slick, and that formed the basis for the OverKill Chopper. After that, many other creative chops started popping up based on the OverKill plan, each with some amazing custom twist. Am I laying claim to inventing the car wheel chopper? No sir, but I would like to think I had a hand in putting these department store chops back in their rightful place – well behind the real custom.

So, let’s have a look at how easy it is to whip up a phat rear wheel for a bicycle chopper. All you need is an old steel rim with a tire and some common bicycle parts. I didn’t have room in this release to show the creation of the wide hub, so we will just start with the process of lacing the wheel, which is much easier than you might think.

Figure 1 – Getting ready to lace a car rim

At this point, we have the custom wide hub which is made from an old steel BMX hub and a set of 72 matching spokes. Why 72 spokes? Because the original hubs had 36 spokes and I drilled a second set of holes on each flange to double the number of spoke holes. This allows the creation of what is really 2 laced rims on each side of the car rim to offer both strength and a thick look to the finished wheel.

Spoke length is not important here, just use common spokes made for a 20 inch rim when you are lacing a 15 inch car rim, and they will fit. If you know something about lacing a bicycle wheel, forget it now because the technique used to lace a car rim is completely different and much more simplified.

Figure 2 – Adding the first two spokes

Start by handing the hub by two spokes as shown in Figure 2. These are both “inside spokes”, meaning that you push them into the spoke holes on the hub towards the inside of the rim so that the round head is facing outwards. Spin the spoke nipple around two or three times to hold the spokes in place. Be careful when pushing the spokes around that you don’t scratch the paint on your rim. The spokes are sharp at the ends and will easily mark up your new paint job if you are not careful, especially when getting the last few to bend into position.

Figure 3 – Keep adding more spokes into every second hole

Keep adding more spokes to the rim, but only in every second hole so each spoke pair has a blank hole between them. These spokes will all be inside spokes, so they are pushed into the holes towards the inside of the rim. You will need to add 36 of these spokes to the rim.

Only turn the spoke nipple a few times, and try to turn them all about the same amount.

Figure 4 – Turn the hub to remove the slack

Once you have one side completely laced with spokes, you will notice how loose they all are. Did we use spokes that are too long? Nope, this is all part of the plan, and if you give the hub a spin, you will see that the slack is picked up as the spokes begin to exit the hub at an angle. This can be seen in Figure 4, as I have one side laced and have the hub twisted to take up the slack in the spokes. Continue adding spokes to the other side of the rim in the same manner.

More in the February 27, 2012 newsletter  >>


Fritz’s Warrior tadpole trike

“Just finished the fabrication of the Warrior.  We will be tearing it down after some more testing for finishing.  Many thanks to Radical Brad for putting these plans out for us to use!”

Fritz Schantz

OverKill chopper – archives

We’re working on a new AtomicZombie web site and have been digging through thousands of pictures of our bike projects, some that we completed, others that didn’t get finished for one reason or another. Here are some never before seen pictures of our OverKill chopper, 2005. Enjoy!

The young bikers love OverKill, even though they can’t ride it yet.


Radical Brad uses a tube bender to make the OverKill frame.


Maybe a few more years, buddy!


OverKill is cool!


KoolKat tames the wild beast.


Baby got back!


You can’t ignore an OverKill riding down the street.
5 DIY bike plans for only $25 until March 1.

AZ Newsletter February 13


Australia Tomahawk lowracer
Tandem ride report
Warrior trike in Greece
Builders Forum
Chopper in snowy England
Kenya Cruzbike
Newfoundland chopper
Chopper in Turkey

AZ newsletter February 7

West Virginia recumbent
Velo concepts
New Orleans cargo bike
Builders community
Pub style bike
Cargo bikes in Africa

Cargo bikes in Africa

“Howdy AZ folks!

Your website and newsletters have really gotten me excited about modifying some bikes.

Here are some pictures of a cargo bike that I made recently that has become a hit in our village and is used for transporting lots of stuff.


There is also a short video showing it being assembled:

Keep up the good work – we’re watching the progress from over here in West Africa (The Gambia)!

Erik Brohaugh”

Thanks for sharing, Erik, and please tell us more about your projects in Africa. 

Bike builders help make the world a better place.

New Orleans bike building bug

“New Orleans has the bike building bug! In February or March, we will be opening a full service bike shop including a powder coater and a fabrication shop in the rear for custom builds, cargos, and modifications to older bikes as well (like welding V-brake mounts on old cruisers in order to use modern hand brakes).

Here is my proto-type that I have already re-designed for the next build. Enjoy! Jason Marler.”

Great stuff, Jason. Keep us posted on your shop and send us some pictures once you’re set up so we can help spread the word.