January 2006

Are you getting sick and tired of the "tribute bikes" produced on Discovery Channel's American Chopper? When are they going to make a Marie Antoinette tribute bike, complete with guillotine? Or a "Madam Curie" bike complete with radioactive materials (hopefully strategically placed such that the rider will be rendered unable to have children), or perhaps the "Little House on the Prairie" bike that sleeps 12? Maybe a microwave bike made up of surplus waveguide, decorated with tuning studs?

How about a chopper that is dedicated to the SUV owners that are using up nature's most precious resource, so they can appreciate what their grandkids will have to drive? The H2-owning Teutels aren't going to get this done anytime soon, so maybe it's time to turn off the TV and enter the chopper competition here at Microwaves101!

Notice that with each iteration, the Hummer gets smaller as more and more petroleum is extracted for their gas tanks. We asked Nostradamus, what will the "H9" look like?

What do you get when you mix a trash-picked reel-type lawn mower, circa 1970 from the AMF corporation, a wrecked bicycle with stripped gears and only one tire that holds air, some used gas pipe, and a broken office chair with $40 worth of assorted new hardware? One of the the most righteous rides in the neighborhood, that's what! This is the type of illegal wheels that cops don't ticket, because they are too busy laughing!

This little project took over a year of research, several grinding wheels, and a whole mess of welding (emphasis on mess!) The beauty of the AMF reel mower was that it was self-propelled (two horsepower!), and came with a clutch mechanism that is comprised of a belt-tightener. The engineering problem was how to improve upon the 3 mile-per-hour speed of the mower when it was engaged in "drive". The breakthrough was to rearrange the unit so that the wheels are driven at the mower reel speed, not the intended wheel speed. It turns out that in this manner the top speed is in excess of 20 miles per hour, which feels faster that you'd think when you are sitting on this damn thing! Note that with this simple "one-speed" transmission, clutching the thing is the equivalent of starting your Honda in fourth gear: that belt is smokin!

Why a tricycle, not a go-cart? Well, in addition to the excellent look we've achieved, the details of steering and brakes are already done, so the tricycle look was more for convenience rather than anything else.

Here's two pictures of the chopper under construction, note the neatness of the laboratory that has been a big concern for Mrs. Unknown for the past three years but who's counting. Yes, Captain Safety, we removed the mower blades.

If you look close you can see the original paint on the bike read "Specialized". Somehow some of the letters were lost and it now reads "Special ed"!

Here's the shakedown ride, without the deluxe seat. The engine provides a heater function in this manner, suitable for chilly days. Those cool chopper handlebars and footrests were originally the handle that you'd push the mower with, the rest of frame iron came from Home Depot. The gold-tone pneumatic rear tires are from Harbor Freight, and add a "low rider" mystique to the chopper that makes it at home in any Barrio. The axle is only live on the clutch side (we don't plan on going off-road any time soon), this was accomplished by welding the wheel bearing solid to a 5/8 inch bolt which is pinned to a gas-pipe axle that has the sprocket welded to it. Nice!!!

He's outta here. We've clocked it at 20 MPH, using a hand-held radar gun. Hey, there's the "microwave connection" to this topic!

Attention Detroit: we'll go mano a mano with any of your vehicles on a gallon of gas... this puppy needs less than a gallon to go 100 miles!

We're still re-engineering the chopper. What's next, a drink holder?

Check out the Unknown Editor's amazing archives when you are looking for a way to screw off for two hours or more!