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The Recumbent Couch-Cycle


Nate Welbourn showed me his recumbent couch, and I had to know how that beast came to be built.

"The whole notion of an amphibious tall couch trike is the beer-induced brain
child of a Rat Patrol member who goes by the name of Nancy Porker; I am simply
the conduit between a fantasticly absurd idea which should never have been done,
and something that now exists and is actually practicle to use in the real

Why? That’s a fair question, but one that I haven’t seriously considered
until now; I guess we were looking for a ride with style so we figured a couch
bike is probably going to satisfy that brief, and it had to be a tallbike so
that the eye level of the pilots would be well above that of all but the tallest
pedestrians (good for concerts and the like)… also the couch had to be easily
removeable for parties (it’s held on to the frame by 8 bolts, and the brake and
gear levers simply pull off)…


Yes, we happened to have quite a bit of refuse steel lying about our
workshop too… Plans are afoot for a parasol cover, fold-out bed, etc, etc.
This is a chick magnet by anyone’s standards! In any case, it probably hadn’t
been done before, and that seemed like a sound reason in itself. It made sense
at the time!


What else? Well, you’ll notice a bit of a cocktail bar/table at the couch;
this will soon be completed with drink holders in which to put one’s beer, thus
affording our no-doubt-soon-to-be-patented Steer by Beer Technology (you need a
beer in order to steer!). Seing as we were already building a tall trike with a
serious inherent danger of off-camber cornering disastery, I thought it would
also be great to have a reliable 360degree-turning system, allowing it to
(theoretically) spin on it’s own footprint in traffic. And guess what; it turns
on it’s own footprint!!! It was all "educated guesswork" (I’m a graphic designer
working at a university, so that seemed to make excellent sense!), but I tried
to design the weight distribution such that most was over the back wheels so
that the bike would turn well and minimise the tendancy to roll over and snap
people’s backbones…


After working out some basic dimensions, it just seemed to make some kind
of ‘lateral sense’ to create such a thing which could be ridden into and through
the water without stopping (we had consumed a lot of beer at this point)… that
makes sense, doesn’t it?
After a lot of talk about using empty coke bottles, discarded newspapers
and old candy packets for displacement, I found myself insiting on retaining
‘some kind of hydro dynamics’. We ended up sourcing some old plastic barrels,
chopped the tops off and smashed them together with a film of epoxy. All of a
sudden the hulls became very strong — even stronger than I had invisaged. Then,
we used a 2-part expanding polyurethane foam to fill each barrel, ensuring
enough displacement (and that at the very least, the hulls couldn’t sink), based
on some rather blurry mental calculations. A rudder? The front wheel would


The floatation hulls and associated frame
attach or detach easily by one person and are held in place by 4 high-tensile
bolts. The aqua propulsion system also easily detaches when required. I think
the floatation system weighs about 80kg (you’ll be used to do your own metric
conversions of course, living in probably the only country in the world still
using emperial measurements! Anyhoo…), while the rest of the bike is probably
around 70kg. Surprisingly (and this REALLY surprised me!), she is pretty stable
on land and absolutely stable in the water. We have tried to capsize her,
but to no avail!!
I think I must be quite good at guess work and bring with me a wealth of
good luck, because the test float was so successful that no further structural
changes were required. This was good news, after about 250 humorous hours of
late-night labour and much domestic anxt.


OK, it probably has a top speed in the water of about 1 knot, but it’s a
STYLISH ride! The cops aren’t sure how to take this one, it’s a bike but it’s
much bigger than a car… or is it a boat? We are quietly confident that she is
legal in this country.
So, what’s the next project? Sleep 🙂

4 comments to The Recumbent Couch-Cycle

  • Jess

    The next project should be figuring out how to take it off some sweet jumps!

  • It would add complexity to the contraption, but the “steerer” needs pedals, too. 🙂

    Ingenuity knows no bounds!

  • Kim

    I agree with this completely, thanks for the post.

  • MJB

    “Plans are afoot for a parasol cover, fold-out bed, etc, etc. This is a chick magnet by anyone’s standards!”

    I think the next project should be one of those wire day beds with a canopy. All that frilly goodness would be a true chick magnet. And what gal doesn’t want a floating bike princess bed? Plus the canopy netting could double as a fishing net in dire times of hunger when food is required to keep the bike/bed/boat moving.

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