Ages ago I bookmarked a design posted on Make for a Scooter Bike, as I intended on building one when my daughter got old enough. On a recent trip to the surplus store I picked up a wheelset for $3 and figured what better time to start than now. I found furniture grade plywood on a neighbour’s front yard ready for the trash. Screws, Nuts & Bolts cost ~$10.
Now this design appears to be based on a European design, and around this end of the globe we have Like-a-Bike which look very similar. The $300 price tag was a bit steep, and since I had all of the parts in the shop I decided I could build it myself. The whole project took about a week when you take in all of the trial and error that went on. A more competent woodworker could probably do it in much less time. All in all, it made me further appreciate the subtleties of the Like-a-Bike design.
Initially, I went with the design in the PDF file which included front forks cut out of a single block of wood (Left image). This became problematic when I noticed the axle would have to be thinner and the design gave less flexibility when manipulating the headset. I soon went to a different design (Right image) which ended up being more rigid, and easier to modify as the design changed. In the end I also managed to shim in a spring to act as a rudimentary shock. Instead of adding spacers to the front wheel I pulled the axle in far enough to bend the forks. It seems to add a nice bit of curve to the design.
Looking at other wooden bike designs it appears 1/8” plywood would have probably done the trick. I used 1/2” plywood which was probably overkill. This adds to the weight, but my daughter can still manage it easily. The edges are routed to give a nice curve, and to avoid splinters. It also added a really nice effect to the edges. I’m looking forward to seeing the varnish go on. In this image you can also see how the rear wheel fits between the body. I had to sand the plywood down to provide an allowance for the rear wheel to spin freely. To stop the rear axle bolts from loosening, use a nylon threaded nut.
The handlebars were simply cut and sanded down to the final rounded off shape. I also had to modify the front forks to give a larger turning radius. Sanding the inside edge of the fork provided about 20° to each side. The headset also had to be reinforced with more screws, I’d recommend putting countersunk bolts right through the frame. The first time the bike dropped to the floor the threads stripped the plywood. I’m hoping more screws would stop this from happening next time.
This was a pretty fun build that could be completed with some simple tools. I used a band saw, belt sander, router, and drill press. You could do this project with much less if you wanted to. You could also supplement the design with a kick stand, bell, streamers, or carrier.