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Tour de Hell

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There is no way the original bottom bracket could be used with the frame this low. In fact, it's so low that the chain ring would even hit the ground. Another bottom bracket is carved from some old frame and placed in the vice for cleanup (Photo 11).
Photo 11 - Salvaging a bottom bracket.


The cleaned up bottom bracket will be installed somewhere on the frame that allows the cranks to spin without bottoming out. To do this, a notch is cut from the down tube ahead of the original bottom bracket, and the new one is inserted there (Photo 12). Don't forget about the threads - there are a left side and right side to these things!
Photo 12 - Installing a new bottom bracket.


With the new bottom bracket installed further up the frame, there was plenty of clearance for the cranks (Photo 13). Now this poor innocent speed bike is only a few steps from becoming a fully chopped lowracing recumbent death trap.
Photo 13 - The relocated bottom bracket.


Can you imagine the handling characteristics of the evil beast taking shape in Photo 14? I love a challenge, and I knew this bike would feel like nothing I have ever ridden before. I was eager to get out and skin a few elbows.
Photo 14 - The twisted beast taking shape.


As if the bike wasn't as twisted and evil enough, I just couldn't put the seat back on in its normal position. To make the overall attitude of the bike even more unwelcoming, the seat post was welded to the little tube between the seat stays, and placed as close to the rear tire as possible (Photo 15). Now the rider would be low, sprawled out, and in control of a bike that may actually have a mind of its own - great fun!
Photo 15 - The seat is almost on the rear tire.


To make the bike functional, a chain was cut to the correct length and placed on one of the higher gears for all out speed (Photo 16). I promptly jumped on the chop, and headed down the street, fully expecting to get my ass kicked. Well, wasn't I surprised, when I could ride the thing! Although I did flop around like a flounder out of water for a little while, once used to the weird pivot steering, I could ride the bike smoothly. I went faster and faster until I came to a corner, and there it almost ended badly. I only have one word to describe what can happen on this kind of chopper at high speed - jackknife!
Photo 16 - The completed, unpainted bike.


Since the bike was rideable, and it was extremely fun to watch my buddies drive into walls on their first attempt at riding it, I decided to fix it up with a nice paint job. The name Tour de Hell suited the bike perfectly, because once you get on the thing, you are most likely going down fast! To keep the evil magic flowing, another chrome tipped fork set was cut just for the tips (Photo 17). The top part of the fork legs and dropouts were cut off leaving the rounded points, then the oblong tube at the other end was un-squished in the vice to make it round again.
Photo 17 - A little more chrome.


The un-squished ends of the fork legs were welded to the ends of the original handlebars giving them a Devil horn appearance (Photo 18). The small welded area was taped up with black tape - just like the original handlebars.
Photo 18 - Devil horns!


Once painted and re-assembled the chopper looked pretty damn cool (Photo 19). There was something about the bike that taunted you to ride it, yet at the same time warning you of the impending pain that was in your immediate future. Ok, it wasn't all that bad, I mastered the bike in a few minutes, and although most who tried it hit the nearest wall, after a few tries, anyone could ride the thing.
Photo 19 - Tour de Hell - a serious cyclist's worst nightmare!


Cam strikes a pose with Tour de Hell, just before crashing it into the fence (Photo 20). I rolled on the ground laughing as he wobbled down the lane looking like a spastic fish, flopping left and right to control the bike. The tendency to over balance the bike was amplified due to the pivoting front steering. If you just relax a little, and trust the bike, it will let you ride it in a straight line. Cam eventually had the bike under a bit more control after a few spills.
Photo 20 - Cam the fearless posing with Tour de Hell.


This was a fun project, more of a show chopper than one that I would want to travel great distances on, but definitely fun to ride. The best part, I have to admit, was demonstrating how easy the bike was to ride to friends and then watching the carnage ensue when they gave it a shot. The "spastic fish dance" is something that has to be seen in person to fully appreciate. Most riders would get the hang of the bike after a few minutes, as Cam eventually did (Photo 21). Do you think you can ride an evil beast like Tour de Hell?
Photo 21 - A few minutes later, Cam and Tour de Hell become friends.


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