Thursday, April 15, 2010

Questions and answers about AtomicZombie bikes, trikes, recumbents, choppers...

We have compiled a Frequently Asked Questions section on the main web site. We occasionally get specific questions about Atomic Zombie DIY plans, so rather than repeating the same answers over and over again, we will blog about some common questions and answers. There are more bike building FAQs here:

Are your plans like blueprints? Do you supply CAD Drawings?
No, our plans are definitely not blueprints! Our plans contain highly detailed text and photos that explain every step of the building process from beginning to end. You do not have to understand CAD drawings or be able to read blueprints to build any of our plans. There are also detailed drawings in our plans showing critical angles and measurements. These are in a format that anyone can understand. Yes, we do things differently, but as you can see by our vast builder's gallery, our system definitely works!

There are over 1,000 examples of bikes and trikes built from our plans in our gallery, and many of them were built by first time welders, or those without any mechanical trade experience. Because of the amazing success of our current format, we do not plan to switch to the rigid blueprint or CAD style format as that would isolate our community to only those with an engineering background.

Why don’t you use blueprints, CAD Drawings, or include a detailed materials cut-list?
Blueprints assume that you will build an identical copy of something. This is almost impossible when it comes to creating a bike or trike without having access to a large machine shop or large supply of parts. For instance, the Warrior Tadpole Racing Trike can be made to accommodate riders of varying weights and heights, so forcing the design into a rigid blueprint format would force a 5'-2" tall 150 pound rider to build a trike suited for a 6'-4" tall, 350 pound rider!

Our plans take the builder through every step of the building process, and then explain modifications that can be made to suit the builder’s needs, rather than assume everyone wants the same exact final product. The same principle holds true for materials. There are hundreds of different variations on parts such as wheels, forks, and bicycle frames. Our plans allow you to adapt to whatever parts you have on hand or can acquire, making suggestions along the way for alternative parts.

A "cut here" list or a "bill of materials" forces the builder to seek out specific brands of components, hoping that they are still manufactured or within their individual budgets. We have found that this rigid format does not work for the majority of homebuilt bike builders, and creates much more frustration than simply allowing the builder to do some self-calculations or explore his/her own creativity before beginning the building process. Just have a look at our gallery to see the amazing diversity shown in our builders’ completed bikes and trikes. We’re all about thinking outside the box.

To quote AZ veteran bike builder PeterT: “You need to remember one thing - you are building your bike, with your budget, and your abilities, to your specifications, talents and expectations. You might spend hours/days/weeks etc. trying to sort out your cut list, but as soon as you walk into the actual store to purchase your required cuts, you will change your mind, and think of some wonderful way of modifying the design you want to build, so I offer some prudent advise - do a rough cut list to make sure that you have enough material for the basics, and then become friendly with the person serving you because you will be seeing him again and again, when you have 6" left and you need 9" to finish something, or you want to see if something else would look better on your new bike. Don't over-think things or you will never get started.”