- Paperback: 388 pages
- Publisher: McGraw-Hill Education TAB; 1 edition (January 14, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0071422676
- ISBN-13: 978-0071422673
- Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 65 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #596,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza 1st Edition
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Review by Jim Wilson
Anyone who spends much time here at BR&K is familiar with Brad Graham's work- he's one of those crazy bike builders who's not content with the ordinary form of the bicycle, so he playfully stretches the boundaries about as far as anyone ever has. And he's been doing it since he was a child. Now he and Kathy McGowan have produced a "how-to" book on the subject, of great interest to anyone who'd like to mess around with bikes the Brad Graham way, or their own.
Called Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza (McGraw-Hill/TAB Books) it starts with the basics you need to know, setting up a shop to do it in, acquiring raw materials, stripping down bike carcasses for parts, etc. He also provides a surprisingly short list of tools actually needed to do the work, and their functions.
Unlike many recent authors of "how-to" materials, Brad doesn't assume that everyone has a sophisticated shop filled with state-of-the-art tools and equipment. According to him, all the budding metal butcher needs is a workbench (for which he provides plans), a vise, a hammer, a hacksaw, an electric grinder, some adjustable wrenches, the cheapest and most basic type of arc welder and some accessories for it. He gives a good basic instructional write-up on welding techniques with the stick welder, which is about as good as can be done within a printed text. He stresses that hands-on practice is the only way to really learn the art, but he shows and tells enough, through words and photos, to get you to the practicing point. Amazingly, this extremely minimal equipment is what he still uses to build his bike creations, and he does it in what most of us would consider a squalid, unheatedshed.
This lowball approach applies to materials as well. He recommends common thin-wall electrical conduit, rather than fancier and more expensive tubing types. Sure, conduit isn't as strong or light as CrMo, but it sure is cheap and is certainly adequate to the task. This is very important if you whip up as many bikes as Brad Graham. And like we say, you aren't going to be running it in the Tour de Bloody France, eh?
After the basic information, Brad gets down to projects he's actually built, ranging from the ordinary to the extraordinary, with extremely detailed instructions on building them yourself, or using his tricks to build something different, using some of the aspects taught in a given project.
He starts with the simplest chopper type, based on the "gazelle" fork technique, in which another fork leg is added onto the original leg by pounding it on with a hammer and drilling a hole through the result for a nut and bolt to secure it. This is a very good introduction to chopper building for younger builders, and it's followed by two more choppers of increasingly more sophisticated design and construction. Among the components of these are many useful techniques for building fenders, a triple-tree fork, etc.
These are followed by a snow-going hammerhead trike which he then transforms into a tandem trike he calls the "Snow Bus" It features Ackermann steering and a very strong front end, suitable for extremely rough usage in snow and ice.
From there, things get weirder. Brad gets into the construction of two bikes of the tall variety, one a 10-footer, one of more modest aspirations made by turning the frame upside down and adding a new seat tube and extended steeringstem. As usual, Brad's instructions are lucid and his plans are workable.
Brad then goes into the construction of recumbents and "low racers." These are ground-hugging machines built for speed, which look like they'd be lots of fun to build and play with.
Back into weirdness territory, Brad gives instruction on building a very interesting take on the hinged-in-the-middle "swingbike" concept, then goes even further out with a free-castored-rear, front-wheel-driven machine which is part low racer, part thrill ride.
Also sort of in the thrill ride category are a pair of unicycles, one of which, the "Wild Bull" is so challenging to ride that Brad's technique involves steering with one hand, to free the other one for wildly waving to help maintain balance.
Bike Builder's Bonanza is a very apt title for this book. If you just want to learn the skills to build that chopper or stretch that sled, you'll find the knowledge here. And if you want to learn what it takes to actually build some of those really crazy bike ideas you have, you'll definitely love this book. Brad and Kathy have produced a fine and useful book, and in doing so, have made it possible for many people to make their own bike dreams a reality.
Excerpts from report by Juergen Weichert Local plans for building among our group already include: one hammerhead, one spin-cycle adapted for both road and ice use with detachable blades, and a tall bike set up for touring(!), and several choppers.
Claudio Pagan also reported: If you're someone who's been thinking of building your own, this book will give you both the inspiration and the knowledge you'll need to get you started. I definitely see a Marauder in my future.
Excerpts from two of several reports posted: Also...
My boss (of all people) gave me a copy. Thoroughly enjoyed. A lot of great advice about salvage and what to look for in old bikes, and how-to stuff for the completely new-to-it builder/mechanic. I am a gas torch guy rather than a plug-it-into-the-dryer-outlet welder, but the book is great fun. I may try a Marauder-like bike, interesting geometry and salvage ideas. For sure, when I revise the RR site, this book is recommended reading for anyone starting out! Thanks to the author, and I hope you sell a million of them!
A book review by Warren Beauchamp
Warren's 'bent rating: 5 sprockets! "Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builders Bonanza" is a practical guide to building cool bikes from old scrap bikes. This is truly a book for anyone, even people with no building experience. He starts with detailed instructions on how to build a workbench and how to weld, and proceeds from there with explaining how to acquire and then dismember the bikes you'll use to create your own masterpiece. I wish I had a book like this when I was starting to build bikes! Brad explains in detail how to build 14 different bikes, including choppers, tall bikes, recumbent bikes, and some really odd ones. My favorite is the Marauder low racer.
Each project details the parts you will need, shows detailed pictures of the building process, and then shows the completed bike in action. Brad mixes stories of bikes gone awry in with the instructions to provide a humorous style that is informative as well as a good read.
With this thick 388 page book, even the cheapest novice bike hobbyist can realize his dreams of building the wildest bike on the street!
Review by C. Reichstein
Are you a bike enthusiast? Are you a fan of the local "Chunk 666" bike club? Do you enjoy tinkering, building and welding? If so, get your hands on a copy of Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza right now. This book will teach you how to create fantastically surreal bikes with minimal tools. With 11 bicycle projects in this book, you'll soon have a fleet of DIY bikes.
Authors Brad Graham and Kathy McGowan show you how to salvage perfectly good bike parts at the city dump, or how to find them at minimal cost. Brad Graham--a David Duchovny lookalike--is photographed riding every single bike mentioned in this book to illustrate how each one handles. "Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza" is fully illustrated with over 200 photographs. There are extremely detailed instructions on how to weld bike parts together, strip down a bike to the bare frame, operate an arc welder, spray paint your bike and make it shine. The writing is excellent and easy-to-understand for beginners as well as more advanced hobbyists.
You'll only need basic tools to build these bikes, such as a hammer, vise, adjustable wrench, angle grinder, hand drill, a tape measure, and, of course, a welding instrument. Graham's writing is extremely thorough and knowledgeable. He's been tinkering with bikes for 20 years, so he knows welding techniques very well, and also explains how the physics work out on a particular model. Even though there's lots of technical information in here, it never gets too serious. Buy this book, start your own bike collective, and you'll throw away your television.
A book review by Warren Beauchamp. .
Warren's 'bent rating: 5 sprockets!. . "Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builders Bonanza" is a practical guide to building cool bikes from old scrap bikes. This is truly a book for anyone, even people with no building experience. He starts with detailed instructions on how to build a workbench and how to weld, and proceeds from there with explaining how to acquire and then dismember the bikes you'll use to create your own masterpiece. I wish I had a book like this when I was starting to build bikes! Brad explains in detail how to build 14 different bikes, including choppers, tall bikes, recumbent bikes, and some really odd ones. My favorite is the Marauder low racer. . .
Each project details the parts you will need, shows detailed pictures of the building process, and then shows the completed bike in action. Brad mixes stories of bikes gone awry in with the instructions to provide a humorous style that is informative as well as a good read. . .
With this thick 388 page book, even the cheapest novice bike hobbyist can realize his dreams of building the wildest bike on the street!. .
From the Back Cover
ATOMIC ZOMBIE'S BICYCLE BUILDER'S BONANZASUPERBIKES (FOR STINGY BUDGETS) For bicycle lovers, tinkerers, and inventors, this dream resource offers hours of fun, creativity, and adventure. If you have standard workshop tools, Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza provides everything else you need to create cool custom bicycles on a shoestring budget. You’ll find exciting plans for choppers, low racers, tallbikes, recumbents, tandems, and others that defy description. You'll learn how easy -- and cheap -- it can be to build machines with names like Marauder, Sky Cycle, and Hammerhead -- to construct bicycles whose profiles will make you gasp -- and to make your own recumbent bike that can speed along at 80 kph on the flats. This book shows you how to build them all, complete with photos and detailed instructions! Written by long-time bike hobbyist and inventor Brad Graham, founder and host of the atomiczombie.com bicycle builder's Web site, and creator of the world's tallest bike, this value-packed, heavily illustrated manual offers an exciting range of resources from complete custom bike plans to details on working with tools and customizing bikes you already own. Look inside for all the help you need with:
* Getting parts for free, or almost free
* High-speed recumbent low racer with hydraulic disc brakes
* A two-headed winter-ready mountain bike
* A bicycle so tall that you have to duck under power lines
* Ultralong fork choppers with loads of attitude
* A rugged all-terrain mountain tandem
* Pedal-powered vehicles that seem to defy the laws of physics
* Customizing details, such as getting a smooth paint job and removing rust from old chrome
* And much, much more!
Top customer reviews
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I'd think twice about buying this book because unless you have plans to build a skyscraper bike or something that is very non-practical, then you shouldn't get this book. Don't get me wrong, it is a good book for certain people and if you like bizarre and crazy bikes, this is for you. Otherwise, I'd suggest getting a plan from the internet based off their site.
What would make the book better are some height and weight charts and how long/short, distant/close to make different bike parts and some suggestions as to how much weight a bike could hold based on design options. I have two building a home made trailer books that have charts and tables to indicate a trailers weight carrying capacity and where the stress points will be on a home made trailer.
The book” Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Bonanza” should be titled Atomic Zombie's Bicycle Builder's Basic Guide.” I don’t know of another “bike builders” book so this book is a starting guide. I know Atomic Zombie sells plans; maybe they are better and have more helpful information.
Many of us consider bicycle frame building to be a high art; building a beautiful bicycle certainly takes training, skill, and patience. Brad Graham and Kathy McGowan, however, bring bicycle building down to a very practical level. There is nothing precious in this book.
They start with a series of chapters on very practical topics - setting up a workshop, acquiring raw materials, types of welders, and basic welding.
They then move on to topics that are more specific to bicycles - designing frames, stripping down bike parts, and chopping up old frames.
Throughout these chapters, they give good simple instructions and plenty of black-and-white photos. The writing style is very readable and the photos add much to the explanations. Even if you don't end up building your own bikes, you will end up learning much about bicycles.
The meat of the book, though, are the splendid designs of various bikes that Brad Graham has built. There are tall bikes, chopper bikes, recumbent bikes, and even tandems. I wish he would have included a few cargo bikes, but he certainly has presented quite a variety.
In summary, I much enjoyed reading this book and I learned much.
Brad did a good job of including all info needed to build the bikes shown. Learning from his experience and mistakes is going to make all it the more enjoyable putting together that first custom bike.
Now I want to see a followup book that gives even more plans.