Max handmade electric velomobile, made in the USA


A true green powered vehicle that looks great with mint performance.

AtomicZombie forum member, Canvasman, is crazy about trikes and velos. Check out his latest velomobile. It’s a beauty!

Congratulations on a job well done! See more of Canvasman’s bike creations in the AtomicZombie builders gallery. There are more than 4,000 photos of recumbents, trikes, tandems, tall bikes, ebikes, cargo bicycles, trailers, velomobiles, kids’ bikes, fun bicycles and more.

Bike builders newsletter online – Oct 30

bike builders news

Feature article by David Monk: Building the AtomicZombie Warrior Trike

Parts for your bike projects: axle adapters, disc brake adapters, hub flanges, head tubes and bottom brackets

Bike builders community: Hot topics and intriguing conversations.
Bike builders gallery: New additions. Upload your own photos.
Bike builders feedback: We love to hear from you.

Free DIY tutorials: Many in PDF format
AZTV webisode: There and Back Again: A Zombie’s Tale

This and archived newsletters are here:


diy bike plans

No summer this year!

More rain – what a surprise!


Well, it’s official – this has now been the worst summer I have ever experienced in all my time on this planet! I have a total of five days of bike building time in since the snow melted and will be officially throwing in the towel this year. Normally, I can get three to five bikes out in a year, but this year will leave us with only one new bike plan, the Transporter Cargo Bike. Now, it may sound like I am giving up too soon, but with the fact that it rains almost 90% of the time here lately and the fact that I have oodles of yard work to get done mixed in there with a 10 hour work day, it’s not lookin’ too good, eh.

There have been some cool lightning storms this year which is pretty typical, but the rest of the time has been spitting rain every hour or so. I would rather have a massive downpour for hours and then some clear skies for a few days, but this year it has ALWAYS, ALWYAYS, ALWAYS been raining just a little. This makes it like a swamp down the hill in front of my bike building shack, and since I have to work and photograph projects outdoors, it is impossible. It’s just enough rain to stop me. And, I have given up falling for that stupid “20% chance of rain” lie they tell on the weather network because what that really means is spitting rain every three hours so you can’t work outside, Suckah!, bwa ha ha ha ha!

The line snapper after a good wind


Another thing that is happening around here is intense bursts of wind. Now, I’m not talking about a nice summer breeze, I mean tree-snapping, furniture-flinging, tent-collapsing wind. This unnatural weather amplification downed this old +80 foot tall tree at the corner of our yard and it snapped the hydro line with such force that it broke a hydro pole in half down at the bottom of the hill. The good news is that I wanted to clean up this part of the yard and we now have a woodstove, so free firewood!

Being a noob at cutting wood, I took my brand new chainsaw and worked on this monster tree for three days, getting what seems to be at least a cord of wood out of it. But after a week of use my chain seems dull. Is this normal for a chainsaw? Hmmm…at that rate I might as well look for a huge bow saw and spare the hassle of fiddling around with mixing oil, bar oil, dull blades and all that noise.

This will be my view for the rest of the year


So, instead of fooling myself into believing that I may actually get to build anything this year, I have decided to work on adding some useful stuff to the AZ site. We will be starting the new welding, grinding, and bike hacking tutorials /DVD production soon and I am dedicated to adding all kinds of bike tech calculators to the main site. I want to hear from our community and get a list of suggestions for making online calculators.

I am working on the following calculators and converters: tubing weight, metric/imperial, spoke length, Ackermann steering, chain length, rake & trail, and gear ratio.

If you have an idea for an online calculator, please suggest it in the forum:
That’s all that’s new here. I am looking out the window and guess what, it’s gonna rain again soon!

~ Brad

New Plan Online – The Transporter Cargo Bike

The Transporter Upright Cargo Bike


Well, it’s finally online! The Transporter Upright Cargo Bike is the latest addition to the AZ plans page and is ready for download. It has been a real battle trying to find a few hours between the rain to get the bike photographed, but the weekend played nice for an entire day. I had fun moving some cargo around the yard and down our windy, hilly dirt roads and everything worked perfectly.

This plan takes a typical department store mountain bike or road bike and converts it into a rear loading cargo bike, leaving the front section of the bike in its original form. By keeping the part bike mostly unmodified at the front, the ride and stance is much the same as any bicycle, so you can head out into traffic and maintain eye level with those gas guzzlers.

A typical yard sale mountain bike


This plan is highly adaptable to your needs, and includes a rugged frame that can carry many different types of cargo carrying systems. The Transporter can be made to practically any wheelbase and the entire plan only requires standard bicycle components and a few lengths of round or square tubing, so it will be an inexpensive and straightforward build. I opted for a flatbed cargo top since I intend to move some large items around such as firewood and potted plants.

Testing the brakes down our hill


I loaded some heavy cargo and drove the bike down the steep hill up to our driveway for a brake test. Even using only the front disc brake seemed to offer adequate stopping power, and the handling was good. The only learning curve was getting used to the wide turning circle of a bike with an 8 foot wheel base. I did manage to get it turned around in the width of our narrow dirt road, but did use the entire road to do so. For typical navigation, the bike handles just like a regular cycle.

Blending in with the wildflowers


Our field is just bursting with color these days thanks to the rainforest-like climate over the last few months. Normally, the wildflowers bloom in shifts of yellow, white and then purple, but this year they are all here at the same time. I rolled the Transporter over to the edge of the yard and got some great shots of the bike contrasting against the rolling blue and white sky and the matching yellow in the field. I think photographing a bike is almost as fun as riding it, and I enjoy trying out different backgrounds to set the mood of the shot.

Well, there you have it, another plan completed. We are now turning our focus towards a set of highly detailed welding, grinding and bike hacking tutorials which will be part of our tutorials page and offered for sale as a complete DVD as well. I should be able to do most of the filming under the non-leaky section of the old trailer, so the rain will not get in the way this time.

~ Brad

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, 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

My TimberWolf Delta Trike Project

By Dennis Martin

Two years ago while on vacation in Iowa after mentioning RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa) my wife said to me, “Why don’t you do that again?”

I hadn’t ridden the ride since RAGBRAI XVI (1988), but after thinking about it for a while I thought it might be fun to do it again. The first thing I decided was that I wasn’t going to do it on a regular bike!  I’ve got too many memories of aching back, shoulders and wrists from riding a regular road bike. I wanted a recumbent! Wow, I couldn’t believe how expensive they were, and I didn’t really see one I liked that well. That’s when I ran across Atomic Zombie and their TimberWolf Delta Trike.

Photo 1: Chain guard on tension pulley.

I watched the video and thought to myself, “What a cool trike!” I ordered the plans and spent several days reading through the plans to get ideas on where to get the parts and various items I would need. I immediately started browsing Craigslist for cheap parts. In that way, I got fairly lucky.

I found a mountain bike for cheap and was able to scavenge the bottom bracket, derailleurs, shock and frame pivot. I also used the pedals and the brake levers.  I managed to get the whole front end on a 20″ bike from Goodwill for $5! I found an estate sale on Craigslist from a bike shop owner and managed to get brand new chain (a carton of 10), complete crank and bearings and the disk brake. All were new in the box and at a significant saving over retail.

Thanks to AZ for selling the hubs and I was ready to start assembly. Assembly is pretty straightforward per the plans, but I found as I went along that there were a few changes I’d recommend to others if they want to try this (or similar) construction project.

The first thing I found was that the tension pulley really needs a chain guard. I found that if back-pedaling, the chain would drop off the pulley wheel and then get caught between the pulley and the frame when forward pressure was applied. A very simple piece of strap steel bent into a long “U” shape and attached to the pulley bolt will keep the chain in place.  Nice, simple (and inexpensive) fix (see photo 1).

Next, on the advice of my local bicycle shop, I went with a two-bolt mount for the handlebars.  The kind shown is the plans is hard to find and in reality it is much easier to mount the handlebars if you use the two-bolt assembly. That way, you don’t have to pass the entire handlebar assembly through the mount if you need to attach/detach the handlebars (see photo 2).

Photo 2: Two-bolt handlebar mount.

I discovered while assembling the seat that a better way to mount the wooden seat to the frame is to use T-Nuts and bolts rather than using wood screws. This offers a much easier way to attach the seat and won’t strip out if you have to remove the seat very many times (as I found you will do) during construction.

The plans call for a rear cargo area which is actually a Coleman cooler.  AZ told me they got theirs from Canadian Tire; I was able to order one online from Target. I chose the red one and that decided the color for the rest of the trike. I wasn’t happy with the plans where they actually have you drill holes in the cooler, so I devised a mount that wouldn’t require you to ruin a perfectly good cooler by drilling holes in it.

Instead of 3/4” tubing, I used some left over 1/2” tubing that I had left from a gate project and made a rectangular frame that just fits around the cooler. I attached a 1/2” tube on the back with some angle braces and it now attaches to the 3/4” tube that comes down from the back of the seat rest using a bolt to hold it in place. The 1/2” tubing fits perfectly inside the 3/4” tubing, and as you can see in Photo 3 the bolt is held by a wing nut to make for easy removal. I also made another carrier for the back with I will use on RAGBRAI to hold my camel back pack rather than transport the weight of the cooler on the whole trip.

Photo 3: Rear cargo carrier mount.

In Arizona, bicycles are required to have tail lights. I had difficulty finding something that would fit and be bright enough to be seen even in bright sunlight. Problem solved thanks to a couple of LED flashlights available from Home Depot (they come in a two-pack for about $9). Some inexpensive tool brackets and they are ready to go. These flashlights have a four-way light system: white, red, green and flashing red.

I mounted two of them on the rear frame and turn them both on to flashing red. They don’t blink at exactly the same rate, which works well in giving a random flashing pattern which is very visible (see photo 4).  In order to mount these evenly, I used the short stub on the right side of the rear frame for one light, and welded a bracket to support the other light. The bracket is made from a scrap piece of frame tubing. These clamp on really tight, and the flashlights are weatherproof, so I shouldn’t have to worry if I get rained on. The flashlights run on 3 AAA sized batteries each and should run for a long time in flashing mode.

Photo 4: Rear light mounts (one on each side).

The last modification was to add a bicycle flag. Sitting low to the road as this trike does, I wanted all of the added visibility of a bike flag. Unfortunately, bike flags normally mount to the axle nut on a regular bike. No rear axle nuts on this trike! Problem solved by making a bracket from some 1/8” angle iron and welding some gussets to make a sturdy frame.

Photo 5: Bike flag holder.

Next, I took another scrap of frame tubing and cut it out as seen in photo 5. An end cap is welded on to make a base for the frame to provide a way to mount to the bracket. I used a piece of 16 Ga. steel to make the clamp. By heating and striking it with a chisel while setting on top of a vise with the jaws open slightly, I was able to get a “V” shape and get the shape you see in the photo. Three 1/4” bolts with wing nuts hold the clamp in place. This makes it easy to remove the flag when transporting the trike so that the flag won’t get damaged or get in the way.

Photo 6: The finished product.

I’m looking forward to riding this on RAGBRAI XLI this year (July 21 – July 27). Maybe I’ll see some other AZ bikes on the ride. Happy pedaling!

Dennis Martin, Sun City, Arizona

Thanks for this excellent article and pictures, Dennis. Great building tips, too. Have a good time.

Bike builders news April 16


Feature article by RadicalBrad of
Build the HighLander Chopper

Head tubes and bottom brackets for your bike projects – pre-order now 
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.