Recumbent: Materials

Now I have a design, I can prepare the build of my recumbent bike. From what material should I fabricate the frame? Steel? Alumimium? Or carbon?

First of all, I considered steel as it has many advantages. It is strong, widely available and cheap. However, I can't weld. So, I went looking for a course or something like that. I found several schools educating professional welders but no one for amateurs c.q. within range c.q. nearby. So, if using steel, I had to find a firm to do the welding for me. This seemed not practical. So went looking for alternatives.

Maybe aluminium as it's light and stiff. But welding alumimium is even harder than joining steel. Maybe glueing. Seemed not strong and/or safe enough for me.

Then I had another idea. Carbon is easy to process. But how to make a strong and rideable frame? Well, I could use PVC pipes to form the frame and strenghten it with carbon. But would it be possible to construct such a form? Besides, carbon can become brittle. As this is the first bike I build, I hestitated to experiment with so many things concurrently.

Then I read about wooden bicyles. Wood? Serious? I found out there are some commercial bikes available. AxalkoRenovo and Connor all produce quality wooden bikes.

Picture: Renovo Bikes
Altough I'm not an experienced woodworker, I can handle the material. At least, I think so. ;-) Furthermore, it's affordable. Besides some companies, several homebuilders have made nice wooden bicycles. To mention a few:

Last time, I told you I choose the 2x4 Lowracer. This recumbent is designed to be built from wood. Several people did so and two of them published their stories on the web: Ligneus and XnTrick. I contacted some of the people mentioned above. They - and others, like the designer, my dad and the team of Mossink - provided me with good advice. Very kind and helpful!

Meanwhile, I'm used to the idea the idea the recumbent will have a wooden frame. It's just as in the early days when the bikes were made of wood and the men of steel. ;-)

Now the design is chosen and the materials selected. Let's start the build.

Keep on cycling!

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