Simple SWB Recumbent - Page 1 of 6


Figure 1

Here is a very simple 20 inch wheel short wheelbase recumbent bike that you can build in a few hours using nothing more than a kid's bike and a few lengths of round tubing. This project makes a good starter recumbent and is a good experimenter's platform for those who want to try out various seating positions and angles. The completed bike doesn't weigh much more than the bike used as parts, and can be stored in the same space as a regular bicycle. Of course, this simple project lacks many of the more advanced features offered in our DIY Plans, but you could always add your own modifications to expand on this project.

Figure 2

You can build a 20 inch wheel short wheelbase recumbent from practically any kid's bike or BMX bike. You will need to start with a working cycle or at least one that has functioning wheels, cranks, and a transmission system. The rear wheel should have a multi-speed freewheel so that you can have multiple gears, but you could also build the SWB around a coaster hub and just make your bike single speed. If you want to climb a hill or reach any decent top speed, then you will need a rear wheel that has at least a 5 speed freehub.

Besides a working 20 inch bike, you will also need a few feet of round tubing. You can cut up another bike frame for the tubing, or just use some thin walled electrical conduit (EMT) for this project. Basically any square or round tubing with an approximate 1.25 inch diameter and a wall thickness similar to bicycle frame tubing will work. The other part shown in the photo is the bottom bracket and crankset that will be placed ahead of the front wheel. You can cut the bottom bracket from another frame since the original bottom bracket will be unused and left on the frame. For more information on bottom bracket sizes and assembly, see the tutorials on our main page.

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You can build it yourself from our easy to follow DIY plans!