Velo project update & newsletter


Progress has been a bit slow due to extreme cold weather and a very untidy basement that’s limited our velo project workspace. But, rest assured fellow bike builders – an update on the velo project will be unveiled very soon, maybe even today.

And, a new issue of the AZ bike builders newsletter will be online in the next couple of days. We have an exciting announcement coming soon, so stay tuned!

Most cost-effective currently available lithium battery source and/or configuration

From the AtomicZombie bike building forum:

“Well, another spell in the repair dock gave me more time to think about possible add-ons (or more correctly build-ins) to the Timberwolf languishing in what I laughingly call my workshop. I’ve been giving a lot of thought to various possible additions to Brad’s basic design, including a geared mid-drive, but mostly about how best to incorporate electric assist right from the get-go.

The logical first idea is to use an electric hub motor on the front. This has the advantage of simplicity, but on the other hand, it puts the motor at the part of the trike where ground contact weight is lightest. I don’t know how much of an issue this will be, but its fair to say that the majority of the weight in any of the Deltas is carried at the rear, and so traction at the front wheel is a question mark.

The second idea is to use one, or two, Currie-style external motors either directly driving one or both rear wheels, or else connected into the chain/derailleur drive train at some point between the pedals and the rear axle.

However, the biggest single consideration is batteries. I have the wreck of an e-scooter that will, I hope, become a tadpole recumbent trike at some point; its all-up weight without passenger is over 200 lbs, and of this probably 2/3 is lead-acid batteries. I just can’t see building a Timberwolf, which with rider will mass somewhere between 135 and 150 kg., and then adding a great whacking load of lead-acid batteries. Even if the tires would stand up to the load, it would be a tremendously heavy vehicle.

So, we then come to the lightest currently available battery technology, the various lithium-based types. These have an astonishing power-to-weight ratio, but they are new technology, and as such there’s a lot of mis-information floating around. There’s also the question of cost: what form of lithium cell offers the best “bang for the buck” in terms of watt-hours stored vs. dollars (not forgetting overall weight).

It’s a basic truism that for a given power rating, using a higher voltage means a lower current draw. Since with most types of batteries the rate of current draw or discharge is a big factor, using a higher voltage would allow the use of cells with less amp draw capability.

The brick wall that I keep coming up to, and banging my head against is this: What form of lithium pack is the lowest cost for a given current draw, and what form of lithium battery is the most flexible in terms of series-connecting the packs to achieve higher output voltages. I have read various “opinions” and “reports” until I’m drowning in hyperbole, and I’m no closer to the answer: what’s the best available form or configuration of lithium battery to start with.

For example, there are a wide variety of lithium cells used in RC model aircraft, robots, etc. There are any number of different lithium cells available for commercial-grade power tools. There are lithium batteries available in various ratings for laptop computers – and the list goes on. The common denominator is that they’re all expensive, and so if one is going to bit the bullet and invest in a lithium battery system as an integral part of the build, it would make sense to try and maximize the power storage capacity and ease of recharging for a given dollar expenditure.

Once upon a time, I had a shingle that said I knew something about electrical engineering, and I suppose I still do know some parts of it. But I’m having tremendous difficulty in separating fact from hype in discussions about lithium technologies, and even more difficulty in finding out how best, and from whom, to source the batteries for the least cost without buying junk.

I’ve considered other options, from lead-acid, NiMH, Nickel Cadmium, etc. – and all are expensive if purchased new. So although lithium technology is expensive, any discussion of cost vs. weight vs. energy storage capacity has to take into account that, unless you stumble across a free or very cheap source, the battery pack is going to be the largest single expense in an electric drive system for a bigg-ish delta trike. Even if motors are purchased new, controllors likewise, the battery is going to be the big expense, according to all the research I’ve done so far.”


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 >>

Bike builders news October 26

Feature article by RadicalBrad of

New Tutorial:  Using a chain link tool to modify chain length
Table of Contents
Opening the chain
Joining the chain
Opening on a bike
Around the derailleur
Stiff link problem
Stiff link repair
Optimal chain length

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.

Bike builders news for October 1

In this issue:

NEW DIY plan – Short and tall unicycle
Hub flanges and axle adapters for your bike projects
Bike builders community chat
Bike builders gallery – new additions
AtomicZombie family mourns
The Deacons of Deadwoods Chopper – Houston’s Chopper Shop
This and archived newsletters are here.

May 24 newsletter



Feature article by Brad Graham (Radical Brad):
*** Building a rebar greenhouse – Part 4 ***


In the Atomic Zombie builders gallery
Coming soon – manufactured parts for your bike projects
Head tubes and bottom brackets
Bike builders chat
Spring into bike building – offer ends May 31
This and other AZ newsletters are here.

AZ newsletter May 16

The May 16 newsletter is now online. In this week’s issue:

Feature article by Radical Brad: “Poor man’s lathe”

Bike builders gallery – see what’s in the new gallery
Bike builders chat – from the AZ community

Spring into bike building – DIY bike plans special extended

We’re selling bike parts to help you with your DIY projects:
* Manufactured parts for your bike projects
* Head tubes & bottom brackets 4 sale

This and other newsletters are on the main AtomicZombie web site under AZ News:


Head tubes & bottom brackets 4 sale

We’re working with a manufacturer to also make head tube shells and bottom bracket shells weldable-ready. They will have slightly thicker walls so they won’t distort during welding.

Since our plans call for head tubes and bottom brackets and some people are having problems salvaging useable bike parts for their projects, we think that offering these two parts for sale makes sense.

More >>

Trikes, trikes and more trikes!

Besides choppers, we’re getting a whack of gallery submissions for trikes. Here are some recent additions of these three wheeled wonders to the Atomic Zombie family of home built bikes:

Soon to be completed! WOLF of Mich.


David Cole
Suffolk, England


Dewey Johnson


Hey, my name is Francis Labbe, I’m from Sherbrooke City, Quebec, Canada.
This is my project named FL500. Thanks!


Fritz Schantz: Artie’s warrior is complete!
Did headtube steering to keep cable mess to a minimum.
The seat is hinged off of the wheel booms and sprung at the back mount.
Thanks for the awesome plans!


This is my version of the Warrior trike.
P.S. It rides great.
Deltona, Florida

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.