Long Wheelbase Tour Easy clone bike plans
Long Wheelbase Easy Racer clone frame plans
Build your own
Tour Easy LWB recumbent.

By Warren Beauchamp - 1997

First you will need to find some parts:
  • Frame - You will have to locate two old 10 speed bikes or the equivalent. Police auctions, garage sales and cruising your neighborhood on garbage day  are great places to pick up old 10 speed bikes cheap or free. The bikes can even be wrecked, as long as the sections you need are still straight. Look for aluminum components and bolt together cranks, they are a dead giveaway that the bike is worthy to cannibalize. Avoid bikes with 1 piece cranks... You will need about 6 feet of 7/8" tubing (preferably aircraft quality) for the lower frame. Alternatively, you may find a golf pro shop in your area that will sell you some nice un-chromed golf club tubing, or if you are really cheap you can use 1/2" EMT (electrical conduit).
  • Wheels - The rear wheel will come from one of the cannibalized bikes. The front wheel can come from a kids bike with 20" wheels, or you can buy a wheel.
  • Handlebars can be bent from 3/4" electrical conduit with a conduit bender, or your can buy them.
  • Seat - can be made with conduit as well, then brazed and covered with mesh material, or you can buy one. Many people make seats from padded plywood.
  • Gearing, Brakes, etc - You can re-use all these parts from the bikes you cannibalize.

Next you will need to figure out how to stick all the frame parts together.
I like using an acetylene torch to braze the parts together. It's pretty easy to do. The two keys to making it work are making sure the areas to braze are clean, and to use flux. Alternatively you can use a MAPP gas setup. This is much cheaper initially but you will go through many bottles of gas during your project, as each bottle only lasts 10 minutes or so. Some other people prefer stick or wire welding. All of the methods work, pick what works best for you.

Make the frame

First completely disassemble both donor bikes. Remove and save the sections from bike one that are indicated by the thicker lines.

Carefully remove the rear triangle and save it.

A hacksaw or angle grinder both work well to cut the frame pieces.

bike1.gif (9200 bytes)
Remove and save the indicated sections of frame two. bike2.gif (10025 bytes)

First, join the frame section with the bottom bracket (section "C" above) to the frame section with the head tube (section B above).

The tube that goes up from the bottom bracket (cranks) will need to be mitered (fish mouth) to fit snugly against the top tube. This can be done by filing the tube, or with an angle grinder. The length of this tube will vary, You will need to miter the tubes to fit together, as different head tube lengths will make dimensions vary.

Ideally one tube will slide snugly inside the other, but more than likely the tubes will be the same size. This is called a "butt joint". You may need to add extra support inside the sections where the tubes butt together to strengthen the joint and provide support while brazing. This is typically done by making a sleeve to span the joint between the butted tubes.

The rear triangle will need to be re-formed. If the original frame was brazed, you may be able to just heat up the seat stay joint at the dropout and bend it to the desired shape.

Note that using some type of jig to ensure the frame is straight is a really good idea. My first frame was not straight and had to be cold-bent, which left one of the tubes a bit wrinkled looking.

Arrange the tubing sections as below:

 

bike3.gif (12284 bytes)


Top seat-stays will be braised to the top frame tube. extra supports need to be added by the rear up-tube to provide added support, and to center the stays.

bike4.gif (1941 bytes)

Steering
The front fork can be tricky. The idea is to give the front fork enough rake to allow the bike to handle well. It is fairly easy to give the fork more rake with a conduit bender, but care must be taken to make it symmetrical. The best way to adjust it is to ride the bike, and check if the bike "pulls" to the left or right. If it pulls, it needs adjusting...
Use a conduit bender to add more rake to the original 700C front fork.  The angle of the steering is very important. Make sure that there is about 2" of positive trail (as shown in the picture)

trail.gif (4361 bytes)

The original Tour Easy uses chopper style handlebars. These can be purchased, or free formed from 7/8" x .060" aluminum tubing. This is called "tiller" steering. As I didn't like that, I decided to build remote steering.  This was a little more complex, as I needed to add a remote head tube, and ball and socket ended tie rod, but it feels very nice.

Seating
There are many commercially available recumbent bike seats available for around $200. As we are trying to save money here, and having fun building things, I decided to build one. I had an ATP Vision at the time and attempted to copy it. As the Vision (aluminum tube) vision seat had nicely bent tubing, I decided to attempt to duplicate the bends in the chrome moly tubing. A common method for bending tubing involves packing the tube with sand, and tightly capping the ends. Ideally this prevents the tubing from crimping when it is bent. Chrome moly is not nearly so forgiving. I suppose with the proper heating and tube bending dies, it would have been possible to put nice bends in the tubes, but I ended up mitering and chamfering the ends to the correct angles, and the brazing it all together. No muss no fuss. Alternatively, 1/2" EMT seems to be strong enough, and bends nicely with a conduit bender. The Vision Seat has a wonderful mesh seat cover that attaches with velcro. After a few weeks, the seat was nicely sewn, but not without antagonism. A standard sewing machine seems to have problems sewing a multiple layers of nylon mesh, straps, and velcro.

If all goes well, you should have a great, long wheelbase bike. Good luck!        
 

June 2011
Time to rebuild my wife's bike. I'm going to shorten it a bunch, remove the remote steering, remove the cross brace, and change the front tire to 406mm.. She's riding an EZ-1 now and it's too slow and heavy. This won't be quite as compact as the EZ-1, but it will roll a lot better and be much lighter.

It may look something like this photo-chop.

1/25/2012
Or, maybe I should go a bit longer, with dual 700C wheels. This should roll really well, and would be very similar to a RANS Stratus XP or a Lightfoot Ranger.

 

 

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