Lee’s Homebuilt Custom Trikes
This was my second trike that actually looks like most of the others on the market. It was created from parts from 2 different 26 inch mountain bikes and tubing from about 5 various recycled ones. I ride around the neighborhood on the night before trash day and pick up every bike I find thrown out. Most of them just need rims and/or tires.
The wheel base of the trike is 38 inches and the width of the front wheels is 34 inches. It gear inch range is 28-83 and uses a Shimino SIS rear derailer.
I looked all over the place for some decent cloth for the seat and didn’t have alot of luck at any of the local cloth stores. They all had nylon but it was always really thin stuff. I finally ended up using what is called a “stuff” bag from the camping department of the local “Large-Mart”. I took out the seams and then just folded and reseamed the edges and added grommets. It has held up over a year now with no problems. UPDATE 7-30-04 : the seat finally decided to split down one of the sides- the nylon cloth seems to have “dry-rotted” from the sun as it tore by itself when there was no one on the trike. Not bad for a seat that cost less than $10 dollars to make though. I intend to replace it with another just like it.
The steering is set up like a tank type system with the handles rotating around a pivot welded to the bottom of each side of the seat frame. The linkage is currently made up of 1/2 inch bolts and nuts welded up in a universal type joint. I would have used regular rod end bearings but I couldn’t find any locally at anything resembling a reasonable price. Since then I have found a local go-cart dealer that sells the 3/8 size for $5 a piece and are now using them for everything I build. This steering on this trike is also being converted to regular rod end bearings as I get the money and time.
Brakes are a sore spot on these things when you cannot afford disk or drum type hubs. I tried using caliper brakes on the front rims; even went so far as to connect them together on one handle but I never could get them balanced properly so I compromised by using 2 caliper type brakes on the rear rim. This would probably not be enough brakes if there where alot of hills but here in Wilmington, N.C. most of the area is reasonably flat and I have had no problems stopping. Locking up the rear wheel is very easy to do if required.
The rims and wheels are standard inexpensive large-mart type bike rims and are 26 inch front and rear. After this trike was built I now understand why all the commercial trikes use 20 inch wheels on the front. Those large rims on the front will NOT take the side forces if you are cornering hard at any real speed. I have had a couple of rims fold and have learned to take it easy on this trike at higher speeds. Being 5 miles away from home and having a wheel collapse does not create a happy situation when walking more than a block is not a option. The front forks and wheels are going to be changed over to 20 inch types as soon as possible!
The normally lower bearing race is actually brazed to the inner tube and the tube has nuts brazed in the ends that the frame bolts onto. I’m using a different setup on most of the rest of the current trikes I’m building; the headtubes are mounted to the frame and the forks have a C shaped 1/4 inch steel frame welded to them that bolts to the headtubes in a more conventional manner.
Why do I use front forks when most trike makers don’t?
 I am disabled and live on social security disability and the local bike shop charges alot more money than I have to spend for modifying two wheel hubs for stub axles.
 Regular 20 inch rims and hubs are fairly cheap and easy to come by; even the same bike shop will sell me two new 20 inch mag-type rims for less than 1 hub modification and I can get two complete 20 inch boys bikes from one of the large-marts around here for about $70 and that give me 2 sets of wheels plus the rest of the bikes for parts. These are inexpensive bike parts but I’m trying to build inexpensive trikes so that works out OK too.
 The top of the forks have a 1/2 inch nut welded on that allows me to mount just about anything I want such as lights, mirrors, etc and it’s very easy to mount the fenders they sell at bike stores and large-marts if wanted.
** I can also do the same thing with the head tubes but currently they just have a couple of bolts screwed into them to prevent rain from leaking into the bearings. **
Update 12-8-04 This bike has been given away at the Wilmington -free Yahoo group. This is the local chapter of www.freecycle.org This is an interesting organization, you give away to or receive stuff free from other people that don’t want it anymore and it can be anything legal and I really mean anything from good working stuff to maybe an old tire with no tread… anything! . There is no money involved in anyway. I got rid of a whole car load of old broken computer stuff to a guy who likes to tinker on electronics. He’s happy and I’m happy to have the space again and thats the name of the game…