Mutant Ninja Flowers and a Turtle

The AZ Yard Muncher

I know, it’s a bizarre name for a blog title, but when I started doing these morning musings, I decided to just write about the day before and try to keep it fun! As I had mentioned previously, this place has been like a rain forest lately, with rain almost every day for weeks on end. This onslaught of cloud juice has made bike building a real chore since I work outdoors mainly and have a completed bike that I need to take final photos and videos. Yesterday, the rain turned into more of a drizzle so I took this rare opportunity to get the mower out and get some of the yard cut. Now, this may not seem like much of a big deal, but we have to mow a three acre section of the yard. OK, that may also seem like no big deal but get this…I hand mow the thing!

No doubt you think I am insane for mowing three acres with a hand mower, but we have no place to store a ride mower, and this twice monthly mowing sure keeps my legs in good shape. Of course, a true garage hacker would NEVER EVER use an unmodified appliance, so of course I turned this otherwise tame mower into a beast of fury by modding the deck.

As you can see, the safety guard thingy that once held the bag has been replaced by a steel horn like thing that looks more like a snow thrower output horn. This little mower can now shred 3 foot grass, leaves, even small trees into mulch, tossing the shavings in the air a good 10 feet. Before I made this scary mod, the mower could barely cope with knee high grass and would jam up once every half hour. When I mow this yard, it takes me seven to eight hours if I walk non-stop, only stopping to refill the tank.

Mutant mow-proof wild flower

Since we have been having rain forest like rain lately, I have not been able to mow for more than two weeks, and these tall yellow glowers have taken up most of the yard. I don’t know what these things are, but I don’t think they are from this planet, and probably came here on an asteroid or some alien probe. In two weeks, these things grew over 2 feet tall and they can actually survive being run over by the mower. Yeah, no kidding, I mow them over two or three times and they just pop back up! I pulled one out by hand for inspection and they seem to have a stem made of green carbon fibre. At less than a quarter inch thick, the stem is so durable that it cannot be snapped by hand, and is as strong as wire. Anyone know what these things are? I wonder if dynamite will get rid of them?

Half-way through my mowing, a turtle decided to crawl up the hill through the tall grass for a visit. This little guy/gal was a bit annoyed by being picked up at first, but then relaxed and seemed to enjoy the free ride to the other side of the yard, away from the Yard Muncher. There are several creeks and ponds way back in the yard, but these are almost a mile away, so it must have really wanted to explore to make that kind of journey.

This cool dude came for a visit

With the way the weather is changing around here, I wouldn’t doubt that the next thing that comes wandering our of the pond will be a big ol’ gator.

~ Brad

Building bikes in my “spare time”

Now that I am having my morning coffee in front of the computer in order to do these daily blogs, I find it difficult to talk about anything except for bikes and trikes. After 10 years of keeping to the subject on the AZ forum, it is almost strange to sit here and simply spill my thoughts out to the blank document on my screen. Ok then, let’s talk about the term “spare time”.

As many of you know, AtomicZombie is a spare time venture for us and I have a day job that had required a lot of attention lately. Yes indeed, I only build bikes when I have the chance and most of my days are spent in front of an oscilloscope in my basement lab where I cook up all kinds of “MacGyver-ish” solutions to my clients’ technical problems. Add to this the “To Do” list of house and yard chores and spare time is almost like gold these days.

We moved out (way out) to the country a couple of years ago and have been learning the ins and outs of being mostly off the grid and maintaining a large yard, greenhouse and garden.  We also intend to move to mainly wood heat, so there has been a lot do to in regards to cutting wood, making a woodshed, insulating the basement and getting ready for another harsh winter. So, it seems that bike building has taken a back seat lately. Am I complaining? No way! But I do miss having two or three days in a row to complete a new bike project.

So, I figured it would be interesting to show some of the other things I have been doing that require the same type of “build it and see” attitude that bike building requires. The last few weekends and non-rainy evenings have been spent digging 3 foot deep post holes in our yard in order to make an arbor and a woodshed.

We needed the arbor because we have no shade in our yard and need a space to grow grapes, so this structure will come in handy. Digging post holes in this soil was an interesting task indeed since it is hard red clay littered with baseball sized stones. This hydraulic auger really worked hard for 12 straight hours, and it was a monumental chore to dig the 20 holes we needed for both buildings.

Some online videos showed this “one man auger” effortlessly drilling into the dirt, making a hole in about 10 minutes, but here it took both of us anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours to dig a single hole due to the sticky clay and rocks that jammed up the machine. To make this thing dig, I actually had to hang off the handle while Kat attempted to keep the auger level at all times. Every 30 seconds, I then had to lift the machine out of the hole and use a screwdriver to chisel out the sticky clay. Yes indeed, we were both sore the next day!

Oh well, we eventually had the posts all set in and finished the arbor, but this two weekend job took up almost a month of evenings and weekends, so I saw no garage time last month. The end result was certainly worth the effort though, and considering this was our first attempt at putting in post or building anything like this, it turned out very well. The arbor is 32 feet long, 14 feet wide, and had a lattice roof so that we finally have a place to hang out and get some shade. I intend to write the next AZ plan on a laptop, and enjoy the country air rather than sitting inside for two straight days.

We planted eight grape plants in the bed behind the arbor and hope they will grow up the entire side of the structure and take over the roof as well. Kat cut dozens of small willow trees from the ditch and wove them between the wall boards to help the grape vines climb the wall, so this should work well as they grow.

Building something like this isn’t really much different than building a bike or trike prototype, you just have to dig in and give it your best shot. Measure three times, cut once, and hope Murphy’s Law won’t work against you that day. So, now I have to build a similar structure to hold our firewood for the year. Oh yeah, I have to actually cut and split it as well, so that should eat up a good chunk of spare time!

I did manage to get three evenings in the bike shack though, and managed to finish the Transporter Cargo Bike, which is now half assembled.

I was just about to put the wheels and chain on and the rain came in heavy, so this is as far as I managed to get on the bike. I am hoping to have the cargo bike ready for the weekend so I can start writing up the plan (under the new arbor), but that will depend on how my day job goes.

This week, I have to complete a circuit board layout, design a software program, build a new graphics processor prototype, and somewhere in there find time to complete the woodshed, so I better keep this blog entry short and get busy so I can show off the new cargo bike soon. So, I shall talk at ya later, and hope you find some of your own spare time to enjoy fun hobbies like bike building!

~ Brad

Bike builders news – May 3

bike builders news

Feature article by RadicalBrad of

Build the HighLander Chopper – Part 2

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
Spring Special – Save 10% on all bike parts
Washington students strut their stuff 
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.


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

Evolution of the StreetFox Tadpole Trike

From the Builders Gallery:  “This started out as a StreetFox. Every time I rode her I went home and started modifying. Here’s where it is today.”

Another great handmade tadpole trike built from our own AtomicZombie do-it-yourself plan!

The StreetFox Recumbent Trike is a fast and comfortable version of the classic “tadpole” style trike (two wheels in the front), which includes rear suspension, three wheel braking, and 26 inch rear wheel for optimal gear range. The StreetFox looks and handles as good as any commercially produced trike, and can be completely made using commonly available and inexpensive bicycle components and some square tubing. Not one single machined part is needed. The StreetFox has an adjustable bottom bracket so it can fit riders of most heights, from 5 feet to well over 6 feet tall. Due to the rugged construction and use of sturdy 14 mm axle, 48 spoke front wheels, the StreetFox can easily accommodate riders over 250 pounds.

Because this project only requires a basic welder, an angle grinder and a hand drill, the StreetFox can be built by anyone with the desire to put a little effort into this rewarding hobby. Because of the simple mono tube main frame, the StreetFox is highly customizable, allowing the builder to alter the plan to suit his or her own needs, or simply to try new ideas.

The most complex part of the trike is obviously the steering, but the StreetFox uses commonly available and “bullet proof” BMX wheels and hubs, so you don’t need to source hard-to-find, expensive front wheel parts. All three wheels have standard bicycle brakes and cables as well, so you can find most of your parts by salvaging old bicycles or at most bicycle stores.

Every step of the build is detailed in high resolution photos, with clear instructions on how to calculate critical angles and lengths based on the parts you have on hand. The final product is a very sleek looking tadpole style trike that looks professionally built and rides like a dream. Enjoying the scenery on a comfortable recumbent trike is like sitting in your favorite chair, but you can always put your ankle to the pedals and get the wind in your hair because the StreetFox is as fast as it is comfortable.

Take a look at our Builder’s Gallery to see other StreetFox examples, including many creative modifications to the plan. Our international builders community ranges from students to retired engineers, but they all have one thing in common – the desire to build their own stuff!

All of Atomic Zombie Extreme Machines plans are downloadable PDF format. Multiple plan discounts, free tutorials, videos, gallery, newsletters, blog and more.

July 3 AtomicZombie newsletter

Feature article by Brad Graham (Radical Brad):
“Build a simple mountain bike tandem” Part 1
From the Builders Gallery
Atomic Zombie parts for your projects:
trike adapters (coming soon)
head tubes
bottom brackets
Bike builders community chat
Zombie bike builders feedback
From our Facebook group

This and archived Atomic Zombie 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.

Costa Rica choppers by Tintasangre

Hola Atomic Zombie!

I want to present Tintasangre’s 2012 new bike projects and recycled bicycles public activities, and invite you to check Tintasangre5 YouTube channel handmade bike videos.

This summer has been very hot and sunny and perfect for bicycle outdoor fun:

These are my new projects and bike experiments.


This is recycled bicycle, very fast to build. Combined a BMX frame with a MTB frame and Chopper Handlebar and tires (20″ front w-24″ rear w). My first attempt of this front transmission system. Built with garage materials for the test ride, but have to say this system is very stable (especially when compared with long fork choppers). The bike is very easy to ride. Most people of different sizes could drive it. This machine is a cross between a recumbent and a cruiser chopper bike.


This is a 2 week project, the fourth version upgrade of the former Clownbike.

The objective was to create a long, but still very comfortable sporty chopper. I tried to be very careful with the design line, composition, and color. This has become one of the favorites because of the feeling you get while you riding it.


This Machine is totally inspired in the original ATOMIC ZOMBIE OVERKILL PHAT CHOPPER. A long time ago, I was dreaming to create this bike. This is my first experiment of the oversize car wheel drive system. I didn’t put bicycle spokes on it; just used the normal wheel, hacked the hub and centered with iron bars (this part took some time).

I made a 3 spoked front wheel, comfortable seat and handlebars, and cruiser-chopper angles combination. A very special thanks to Atomic Zombie for their web tips and motivation to go through this project!

It’s very nice to be in contact with you and all bike builders. Best Regards!

Erik Kaskant

Thank you, Erik, for sending us pictures of your new choppers. Amazing workmanship, as usual! Muchas gracias, amigo!

Basic Fishmouth Cutting Tutorial

This basic tutorial will cover cutting a simple 90 degree fishmouth into round and square tubing. A fishmouth is a semi circular cut taken at the end of a tube so that it can be joined to another round tube. In bicycle frame building, it is often necessary to cut several fishmouths into the ends of the steel tubing where the head tube or bottom bracket will be installed.

More on this and other AZTV tutorials are here.

Holger’s recumbent tadpole trike – Germany

Hello, here is my second Project. Holger Wagner, Germany.”


our own AtomicZombie tadpole trike

Mark’s handmade bike chopper – AtomicZombie builders gallery

Check out this bad boy made from four different bikes:  Mark’s handmade bike chopper – AtomicZombie builders gallery.