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

New bikes – Atomic Zombie gallery

Chase Warrior Trike, built by Larry Butterfield
Spinner’s Warrior Trike, built by Spinner
Built by whiteGIANTCheck out these and other bike pictures:


Time is running out on this special offer.

AtomicZombie forum feedback

 “Brad & Kat: thank you so much, truly couldn’t do it without you. Thanks to all the people, no zombies, for taking the time to post your bikes, trikes comments and help. You all really help make it easier.

I love to look at all the bikes and trikes from all over the world.

Now, if we could just find a deserving person and help him with a really cool trike. Wait we are doing that. This is the best web site.

It is cool to be a little part of all this. Thanks from Arkansas, Mad7.”

Thanks, Mad. We’re pleased that you are a part of our special community.


AtomicZombie newsletter March 5

*** Feature article by Brad Graham (Radical Brad): DIY chopper rims ***
Spring into bike building
UK trike
Newbie builder feedback
Electric Warrior tadpole trike
Bike builders community chat
California recumbent trikes

New zombie bike builder

“Howdy – I just recently downloaded my trike designs and wanted to thank you for incredibly well written and documented plans. They downloaded without a hitch, and I was able to back them up with a CD in case we have (another!) computer crash. I am so STOKED!

I can’t wait for garage sales so I can start collecting my parts and get going on a trike build. I especially liked the heavy duty home-made hubs and how you do some really cool fabricating with limited tools.

I have been handicapped for nearly 35 years and wanting to build a trike so I could ride again (since most store-bought recumbent trikes won’t work for me), and this will be my ticket to do so. I’ll be sure to send photos as I get it done.

I’m an airbrush artist by trade and plan to do some unusual things with paint and the powdercoating equipment I just invested in. This was by far the best $25 I’ve ever spent! Thanks again! – Phil C.”

Thanks for your kind words, Phil. Glad to hear you’ve taken up the bike building hobby. Once you start, you can’t stop! Stop by the Builders Forum and introduce yourself. It’s a great international community of bike builders.

Bike chopper in snowy England

“Hi, my name is Rob, from Colchester, Essex, England.

I made the bike to learn welding. My welding is still really bad.

The bike is made from a kids bike front welded to a BMX back half. I extended the forks using old gas pipe. The handlebars were found in my nan’s garage.

The whole bike has cost me nothing at all as it is all made from bits lying around.

Any more info wanted please let me know. Kind regards, Rob.”

Five bike plans for 25 bucks. Time is running out.

West Virginia Recumbent by Flatblack

“I’m Bill Jones from Morgantown, WV.  I have been a krew member (Flatblack) for a couple of years. I don’t contribute a lot, only when I think I can help.  I follow the welding discussions the closest and that’s where I occasionally weigh in.  I have built a modified Delta Wolf and a number of other bikes that are basically of my own design with heavy influence from you, the zombie extended family, and others.

The bike in question went through some changes.  Originally the top tube was parallel to the ground and it had direct steering.  I never warmed up to it so I changed the frame geometry to get a lower seat position, altered the steering system and made a few other changes.  I like it now.

The lower riding position is just more fun and the steering more civilized.  This riding position is especially amusing and reasonably safe in snow and ice since you are low to begin with and your feet are always at the ready to serve as outriggers when you slide.

The seat and back rest move forward or backward to accommodate different sized riders. The backrest angle can also be adjusted.  For chain management all I have is a small plastic skid plate to keep the drive chain off the chainstay. The bike was welded with gas and TIG with some brazed joinery. The camo color scheme was an accident.

I basically paint every bike I make flat black. So, when I finished welding the modified frame, I hit just the bare metal spots with a flat drab green/grey self etching primer and the result gave me the vapors. Who could have imagined that one could improve on flat black?

Thanks so much for your bike plans, maintenance of the forum, the tutorials, the gallery and all the rest. I especially like the way you are so gracious in giving credit to those that came before when describing your designs.

Cheers, Bill

A great looking recumbent, Bill. Thanks for sharing.

UK custom bike chopper

“28 gears, front and rear suspension. Perhaps you’d like to show my pics?”

Gerard Walker, Swansea, in the UK.


Great job, Gerrard!


Bike builders rock!

UK upright chopper bike

“Hi Brad and Kat.

Finished and now riding my latest chopper. The bike parts were in the main free. Paid for a Brooks saddle and mudguards and crank, then new cables but even so the final spend is probably still than £120 which will just buy you an entry level mountain bike (without the really comfortable seat).

Whilst out with two friends on their mountain bikes today, they both had a go and loved the more upright riding position. I had a bit of trouble getting it back!

New Years resolution is to finish the quad (two wheel ratchet drive and good ground clearance for the derailleur) picture also attached. It is close, but I’m not happy with the handle bar positions, and a bit limited in options given the narrow track, but it will be finished for sure.

A work in progress quadcycle.

As always finding the website a real inspiration.

Regards, Tim Fox (aka go1000go in the AZ forum) based in the UK”

Affordable DIY bike plans.

New Jersey Warrior recumbent tadpole trike

“This is one of a series of homebuilt vehicles, thanks to AZ.  Mr. McCullom is a fellow teacher at Salem County Votech, NJ. He teaches Welding (he has a 100% placement record).

I currently teach Computer Applications (mainly Web 2.0) and how to create a business plan.

On this particular project, I salvaged the parts and built the jigs, the students fabricated the trike. Special thanks to Mr. McCollum and his students, can’t wait to get it on the road.”

Bryan McPhee”

Two AtomicZombie thumbs up to Bryan, Mc. McCollum and students at Salem County Votech. A great job!
Bike builders rock!