Build a hypothetical post-apocalypse bicycle

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  • Interesting question... on one hand do you opt for a tank, and get the industructability? Or do you opt for a Citroen 2CV and have the car that famously any farmer could fix?

    I think we're basically shooting for a bicycle equivalent of a 2CV. It won't be pretty, but it would do the job and anyone would be able to fix it using scavenged parts and basic tools.

    Washing machine bearings are a great idea, especially if that's a fairly standard part. They'd keep well in the unused machines too.

    This is my thinking.

    I've trued a wheel with some needle nose pliers, and some tape as a guide. Doesnt require tools.

  • Probably wouldn't bother with that hat, mind.

  • Loving this thread, nice work Velocio.

    A solid starting point would be looking towards a touring bike which has been made with travelling the world in mind. Such a bike would have been created with the intention of being able to keep it running when faced with broken parts in the middle of nowhere.

    I've long been a believer in equal length spokes for such bikes, back to the travelling for polo days of carrying the bare minimum.

    My BMX uses almost exclusively a 6mm allen key to dismantle it (Despite the variety of thread sizes). The only exceptions being the Thomson Seatpost and my bar end plugs and the need for a chainbreaker. I'd want to replicate this as far as possible on a touring/apocalypse bike.

    Fixed and brakless seems like a logical outcome but I'd definitely be starting with a 1x6 setup using a friction shifter and Hope Pro2 Trials. The ISO disk mount on the other side housing a fixed cog for if when that setup breaks down. You could actually run an additional chainring on the front and manually shift the chain across if the need arose. It's not you'd need to have the quickest shifting in the world.

    Wheelsize, In europe 700c would be fine but if there's a possibility you may need to be somewhere else then 26" would be preferable for availability of spares. In a pinch you can stretch smaller tubes from kids bikes and make them work in a 26 too.

  • Will there be any spare headset spacers available after the apocalypse, or would Ed have stockpiled them all?

  • < Space reserved for pic of BRP's English >

  • You mean BRP.

    I highly doubt that African Sunset (BRM) is in the process of building a bike that could be ridden after the apocalypse. He'd be one of the first to go, stood with open arms welcoming all of Hell's demons into the world.
    http://media.comicvine.com/uploads/8/833­88/2702538-09.jpg

  • Edited.

  • Cheat.

  • deletes post admitting editing

  • deletes post admitting deleting

  • actually I would use my old muddy fox courier. apart from punctures and broken cables it still works, and is as horrid but useful as the day I first bought it

  • The future is wood, just as it was on the earliest cycles with cartwheel technology for wheels and bearings - old, tried and reliable. The issue is knowledge to build them and the frames.

    And if you are thinking 2CV then you should be thinking Africar.


  • Done.

    These things last forever, are built like tanks, are mainatainable and fixable by basic (though not metric) tools, and have been proven (and consequently cloned) across the world, and tolerate an almost complete lack of maintenance extremely well.
    Mine is nearly 40 years old and at the moment it's my daily rider.
    And the wheels on it are 60 years old

  • I think the idea of a fully enclosed drivetrain makes sense. I wonder if it might be a place for shaft drives as an over-engineered solution?

  • Use tri bars for gun mounts.

    And you'd definitely want racks to carry water and scavenging stuff.
    Ideally to be able to carry someone too, so a long bike would be my starting point.
    A Surly Big Dummy or Kona Ute would give you the chance to add Mad Max styling too.


  • Done.

    These things last forever, are built like tanks, are mainatainable and fixable by basic (though not metric) tools, and have been proven (and consequently cloned) across the world, and tolerate an almost complete lack of maintenance extremely well.
    Mine is nearly 40 years old and at the moment it's my daily rider.
    And the wheels on it are 60 years old

    And you've never had a puncture or replaced the tyres? The cables are still the original and never been replaced?

    Welcome to the post-apocalypse, where you avoid cities for the gangs that roam around, and travel constantly and scavenge a living. There are no bike shops, and you don't carry more than a few basic things.

    There are no replacement tubes after more than 5 years, and finding the right bearings and tools and then performing a service is difficult almost immediately... so as soon as you do need to perform maintenance you're screwed. (Oh, and brake pads, chain wear, etc too)

    We're looking for the Mad Max of bicycles, something that will continue to work when all else fails. Something that 10 or 15 years after the apocalypse is still rideable. Something that means that 20 years after the apocalypse you can still manage 10mph average human powered speed rather than 3mph.

  • Then I think we really are talking of cart level technology. Boneshaker - wooden wheels, iron tyres with pedals on the front wheel, add a sprung seat mount if you wish. Cheating? No need to reinvent the wheel when bikes were originally designed for exactly the scenario you are looking at.

  • I think unicycles and penny farthings are cheating.

    A bicycle... the bi being the important bit.

    Well, that balls up my suggestion: 36" Ultimate Wheel - Training Wheel Not Required - YouTube

  • Jesus at the last supper.

  • You need a snow bike.

    Then cycle north, untill temps drop below 0.

    Zombies create no body heat so freeze solid at these temps.

  • Welcome to the post-apocalypse, where you avoid cities for the gangs that roam around

    what, LFGSS ousted from London by 5th floor?

  • Then I think we really are talking of cart level technology. Boneshaker - wooden wheels, iron tyres with pedals on the front wheel, add a sprung seat mount if you wish. Cheating? No need to reinvent the wheel when bikes were originally designed for exactly the scenario you are looking at.

    ^This. If you're going to reject anything that will ever wear out and can't be repaired by simply hitting it with a rock then we should just go back a couple of hundred years.

    If we have more reasonable expectations that you might have a spanner and an allen key and an occasional chance to scavenge then obviously you'll want to standardise as much as possible e.g., 26" wheels rather than 700c because the tyres are easier to find.

    The interesting bit, I reckon, is identifying components that will genuinely last a lifetime, like Royce bottom brackets, and maximising the lifespan of the bits you'll have to scavenge for. So on that basis it would be a fixed gear, chain-drive with full length chain case running on the best sealed bearings (BB and hubs) that you can find. Steel frame, as that could be welded back together (or go stainless). Your tubes will puncture and when you've run out of patches, stuff them with something squidgy, or go for solid tyres straight off. Front brake is a problem since all bike brakes wear down, if you went disc you'd save your wheel, but pads would be easier to replace or carry. Maybe a rod brake acting on a solid tyre would be the best option.

  • I'd think a drum brake would be the most durable braking system; three pairs of shoes will last a lifetime and the drum itself will likely never need replacing.

  • I know you say they are cheating by penny farthings are ace!

    It's all about reducign the number of thigns that can go wrong so you can't get more simple. Unless you fancy one of these:

  • Smallfurry is politely and modestly avoiding the obvious, his fat and long bike will be exactly what Mad Max would choose to ride (in MovieWorld). Has the optional custom weapons rack been ordered yet?

    For real world unkillable bikes, check out Cuba, their bikes are even older than their cars.... I sent over a box of old bits to some of their racing guys I have ridden with, they're the best bits in the land!

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Build a hypothetical post-apocalypse bicycle

Posted by Avatar for Velocio @Velocio

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