Big wheel 2.0

Some of you here are old enough to remember when the big wheel came out. (the plastic trike with the handbrake that let you do cool spin-outs) Growing up on a gravel road made owning one pointless, so my only chance to ride 1 was when we drove into town to visit my cousins.

Fast forward a few decades and I buy my son his 1st chopper.

When they later came on sale I bought a 2nd one and stripped it right away.
Any adult who has sat on a schwinn chopper knows they're a little cramped, so my original plan was a simple stretch. Thanks to this and other sites, i've seen some wayyy cool trikes, so I knew I was going to build 1 eventually.
All the necessary parts have come together (more or less) but this build may well get cancelled if the axle I have does turn out to be bent beyond repair.
Step 1; The wheels.
The axle came with 26inch skinnys, which I knew would taco under lateral load. They also have a hexagonal hub to prevent them slipping on the axles ( never worked on a trike before, so I dont know if this is common)

After some careful guesstimating, I figured that swapping the wide hubs from the chopper wheels with the narrow ones from the trike wheels would work using the choppers spokes.
But, what the heck do I know about the arcane alchemy of wheel building? I've never tried that kinda magic before :|
So 8 hours of experimentation later, I wound up with a pair of fat back trike wheels, and had to mock things up. The black frame is a craigslist find, the red is the new frame I bought and stripped.
Both frames will be merged together to form something rideable. ( at least, thats the plan so far)

Some serious shimming or frame offset will be required to make the drive-line work though.

I also have a spin system in the works, but no pics yet, as it exists soley in my head at this point :lol:
Apr 20, 2009
Fairfax, VA
I don't have a lot of experience w/trikes, but perhaps the "toe-in" mentioned elsewhere is actually camber, and the rig is mounted at the wrong angle. :?
Jul 13, 2009
Hollister, CA
A banana seat works great to fit these for adults, check out the Easy Rider thead in the build off. Very comfortable and doesnt hurt my knees. Do you have a chrome rear fender you wanna part with?
O.K, I've been slacking long enough, time to get busy again. Deorman, it was bent after all, I wound up using my pipe bender on it, thanks for the advice though.
Johnp, if I decide not to mount the fenders i'll let you know.

Broke out the cutting wheels and welder, there wont be too many build days left with the garage door open this year. Remember the red frame? :p

Marked out where to chop up the other frame with tape.

Now that both are in pieces, time to combine.

Aww crap, which way was that supposed to go again? :roll: :wink:
Oh yeah, this way;

Yup, thats enough of a stretch for my stumpy lil legs, if you're much taller than me, (and that ain't hard) then you're gonna be scrunched.

Not done with the welder yet, I think I want to put another tube in to mimic the seat tube and support the stretch. On a trike thats 7 feet long, i'm not going to worry about adding weight :lol:
Also have to build the spin out device, and mount that on there.
Ain't that just about the bugliest thing you've ever seen on 3 wheels? 8)
Jul 13, 2009
Hollister, CA
This is looking crazy. I have a nice set of fork tubes with a front brake if youre interested. Just got my camera back tonight and will get pics of my extra parts tomorrow.
So, been chipping away at this thing a few hours here and there, made a ton of progress, and have had to sacrifice a few ideas.
I had planned to make it a dual drive as well, I wanted to have electric power at the ready, so I put a lot of time into making templates, mounts and such.

I'd stripped down a used kids electric dirt bike for parts, but I can't seem to figure out how to dual drive it without having my pedals be turned by the electrics.
So, until I can take the time to collect the nessesary parts, the electrics are out.
I figured i'd better be able to stop this beast, so I fabbed up and welded on a new bracket to mount the caliper.

Had to kiss the inside of the fork with a flap-wheel to eliminate rotor rub. Next was a crank swap, from the old single to a triple chainring, not sure if i'm going to bother with a derailler yet.
Cobbled together one freakishly long chain to tie front to back, swapped on the only brand new part in the whole build (a new tire) and it was time for a test ride! :D ride vid. (22 seconds)

The spin-out mechanism is driving me up the wall. While it lifted the back of the trike fine on the bench, on the ground, it's a diferent story. I can't seem to get 100% reliability out of it, but i'm going ahead with it anyway. Maybe once it's all put together it will gell.
I'll get some daylight pics at lunchtime.

Spent most of my lunch hour working on the little details, running cables and such, making the deadline is going to be tight. Had to cut a new hole in the frame so the cable would be on the proper side for the derailleur. Taped paper to a factory hole and rubbed a piece of metal to copy it.

Needed a quick way to hold the bogie wheels in place, yet still be easily removable. Took a piece of this futon frame and 1 of the bolts, turned it into a spring perch. A 2nd set of rear dropouts welded under the originals takes care of the pivoting action.

Kept at it after work, filling in holes, grinding down welds, got a little carried away with the flap wheel :D :shock:

Forgot to take that daylight shot before tear-down though, guess you're all going to have to wait until it's back together. Normally by now I know exactly what i'm doing as far as paint goes......this time, I havent got a clue what i'm going to do.
Lets hear what you'd do of it was yours.
Edit; fixed broken pic link
deorman said:
Paint scheme-


Don't forget the streamers! :wink:
:roll: :p I should have realized I was setting myself up for that, Deorman! Somehow, I dont think the blue n yellow works for me.
Actually, if you want to reminisce and kill 2 minutes and see a ton of different versions, go here; then click history, then click Big Wheel Flashback!
I never realized they made so many different versions.
Any other (ahem) constructive advice?


Mar 9, 2007
Southern Illinois
Ihad a gi joe big wheel as a kid (the one in the lower left) i think id still dig the army green and black color scheme now (we wont drag out the smurfs bigwheel with the smurf head on the bars)

okay here it is
LOL, O.k., I see the kind of advice that i'm going to get this time around :p :roll: All I know is as I sit here typing, it's Nov. 25 and the deadline is hours away
(5 days or so worth of hours, but still....)
I already own too many red bikes, and my last bbo entry was flat black....maybe i'll just go see what colors I have kicking around.
So, it's now Sat. night, close to midnight eastern by the time this post is done. Started in the shop at 9am.
Been a long time since i've played with body filler.
The frame is just sitting in the bench-vise waiting to be hung.

This is my hi-tech frame painting system, a pair of old braided steel cable bike locks (the type you use with a padlock)
Hung from a sprinkler pipe, height ajustment via vice grips;

A look at the base coat color;

Action shot of the mad rattle can man in action;

Ya, ya, ya, I know I said I already have too many red bikes, but I wasn't going to waste time going paint shopping.
This is what u call working with the stuff I had on hand.
So, tremclad white for the rear.

Camera batteries went kaput, so the pics of the rest of the paint dont exist,wasnt stopping 4 those either lol.
OK, off to bed, tomorrow morning means putting humpty together again.
Sep 8, 2009
Nice build...I can help with the crank problem...What you need to make and/or buy is called a freewheel crank. It has a freewheel (as per used on rear hubs) incorporated into the crank so the chainring can spin freely, a second
ring is attached to this for electric power the original chain remains for chain to connect to rear wheel sprocket. sell the Cyclone freewheel crank, you can also buy what is called a 'trials crank' used obviously on trials bicycles that are freewheeling cranks but they are very expensive. I have made a ghetto freewheel crank for my brothers motoredbike it works well and is still going strong after 12 or so months of riding...

Best of luck

EDIT: TIP you can use a European bottom bracket bearing cup for a DIY setup, these bearing cups are threaded with same size/pitch thread as the freewheels, find a metal crank and weld one of these cups on spin on a freewheel attached a pair of sprockets and your in business.. (make sure you get the right side bearing cup the left side has a reverse thread ie. left hand thread VERY handy for SouthPaw freewheels if you wish to make a dual drive having left side of rear hub driven by a motor ;-)

Kim, thanks for the heads up on the special crank, i'm not 100% sure I follow how to build one, but I know how to spend $ lol

Fireproof, thanks much for the apes link, might be just what I need!

So, I guess it's time to post the re-build pics, here ya go;
Everything spread out and ready to go;

Get going already!

Now we're getting somewhere;

The final product!

How it works is pretty straight up, get some forward momentum, lift up on either handle, twist the handlebars and spin!
We've found that leaning away from the slide helps keep things shiny side up, 180 and 270 degree spins are dead easy,
the full 360 takes timing with the handlebars.
If you look at the pic of the back of the trike, the bogie wheels are easy to remove and install no tools needed;
just remove the 2 tensioning springs, turn the trike on its side, slip the rack out of the dropouts, and twist.

Finished thread with spin videos here;

If there was anything i'd change, its the fact that I mocked up using the choppers original 24 inch front rim, like the bonehead
that I am, I figured it was the same size as the 26 inch disc brake rim I was going to use. This caused me a few headaches, and
a few design changes. I replaced and relocated the dropouts, and had to curve the bogie arms with a series of pie cuts and welds,
just to get the lift mechanism to work reliably, which it now does. The frame is a little higher in the front now thanks to the bigger rim,
where ideally i'd have had it parallel to the ground. Oh well, all stuff to remember for next time !
Sep 8, 2009
rick74304 said:
Kim, thanks for the heads up on the special crank, i'm not 100% sure I follow how to build one, but I know how to spend $ lol
In a nut shell... the crank (with sprocket on it) needs to be able to 'freewheel' ..JUST the sprocket not the axle, that
MUST be made 'independent' of the sprocket.

The 'ghetto' way to do this is attach (weld usually) are standard rear freewhell to a crank arm and then bolt
a front sprocket to this freewhell so it can ..well..freewheel. So now when you put the crank arm on the axle
you can spin this sprocket (forward) To this freewheeling sprocket, you bolt (with spacers in between)
a second sprocket of same or similar size depending on the sizeof your electric motor ... So now, you have TWO
sprockets side by side that can freewheel. ONE of the sprockets with have the chain running to the rear wheel hub
the second (usually the inner sprocket) will have the chain running to your electric motor. When the motor spins up
it thus turns BOTH front sprockets (and thus the rear wheel) while your crank arm remains 'motionless'
You can pedal if you wish or not, either way the motor doesnt son the crank arm JUST the sprocket.

As i said though, if you cant manage it you can buy the freewheel cranks from Sickbikes pretty cheap