DIY Bike and Trike Plans



  • A long bike in Africa

    Hi Kathy (and Brad),

    I've attached some pictures and a pdf file that shows some of the things that I've ended up doing here involving bikes. Here's some more info, feel free to edit and use.

    Attachment 5271

    Myself and my wife and 2 kids (with a third due this fall) live and work as volunteers in a village of about 7000 in The Gambia. We work with a Christian organization called Youth with a Mission (see www.ywam.org). My main work is with erosion control and tree planting which are very interconnected and a key issue in this part of the world. I work with villagers to tackle the erosion and we plant trees together. I also try my hand at some farming and gardening, testing out new ideas to see how they work in this degraded soil and hot temperatures. Since 2010, I have also been involved in training some guys in making compressed stabilized earth blocks and have had my hand in building 4 houses out of these blocks.

    Attachment 5272

    I have always loved bikes and grew up (in Minnesota) riding and fixing them, but it wasn't until coming to Africa that I really got into them learning the intricacies of repair such as wheel lacing (thanks sheldonbrown.com) and derailleur adjustment, etc. The next logical step was modifying and building them! I learned to weld out of necessity in 2010 (in order to finish up the trusses and ceiling structure of our house) and soon after started being called on to repair or modify bikes in the village.

    Bikes here are pretty pricey for African standards and the good ones come used from the US and other western countries. They end their life here and don't die fast as folks continue to fix them until way beyond repair. A common repair is cutting out an old, stripped bottom bracket and welding in a new Chinese one that you can buy for a couple of bucks. Another one is converting a former mountain bike into a single speed which can involve welding rear dropouts on it in order to adjust chain tension.

    After agreeing to help a friend make a sturdy rack for the back of his bike, I started getting requests left and right for the same thing. The deal is that they pay for the steel (about $2) and buy the bolts (40 cents), make all of the cuts and doing the scraping and painting. I help them with measuring and some instruction and do the welding. It's fun to see the results and satisfying that they have mostly made it themselves. Just as I was writing this a friend came by to see if I could weld his today - I told him to check if the power has come (it doesn't come every day).

    Attachment 5274

    I also help folks with the repair and maintenance of their bikes, again making them do most of the work and just advising and explaining the tricky parts. Each time we go to the US or UK (my wife is from England), I try to come back with parts scavenged from ebay bikes or elsewhere. These used parts are much better than the new Chinese ones that you can buy here, so I sell them at a minimal price to those repairing their bikes at my place.

    I made my first long bike towards the end of 2011 and we have used it nearly every day since then. Over 150 trees have been planted this summer using only bikes - mainly my long bike and another long bike that I made with a friend. A trailer that attaches to the bike makes it possible to carry up to about 40 trees at a time (albeit slowly as that's a lot of dirt!). The bike can also carry about 80 liters of water or over 100 kg of manure (used in our sorghum field) or my two kids (and a folding canoe behind on the trailer).

    As I was building this bike (I got the inspiration after seeing similar ones in Copenhagen in 2010), I came across Atomic Zombie and devoured nearly everything on the site! I look forward to the newsletters and have gotten lots of ideas and inspiration from AZ!

    Attachment 5273

    I am currently finishing up a handcycle trike (tadpole) and want to make a Christiania style cargo bike in the near future. I'm also thinking about trying to make some 'xtracycle' type of things out of old frames to help friends make a removable modification to their bike in order to carry more cargo at key times of the year (plowing time, harvest time, etc) - any good ideas on how to do this??

    To see some videos of bikes in action, check out our youtube channels: 'ebrohaugh' and 'yusufudamfasabi'

    Thanks again for the plan and for all of the inspiration that you guys give!

    Erik Brohaugh
    Sabi, The Gambia
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