Friday, October 08, 2010

How To Make A Bicycle Sail

What You'll Need:

An aluminum beach chair
Plastic yard sign with "H" shaped wire frame
Hacksaw, Duct Tape and Scissors

Step 1) Dismantle beach chair with hacksaw. Take "U" shaped tubing from seat and backrest and slowly bend them to desired shape.

Step 2) Cut yard sign in half, place inside the tubing and attach/fill in the gaps with duct tape.

For standard bikes simply tape the sails to the sides of the wire frame, using duct tape as the hinge. Bungee or tape the wire frame to the rack and seatback. Broomstick/crossbar should be bungeed/taped on the front of the rack just in front of the sail. Attach sail edges to crossbar with bungee cords or duct tape.

For Recumbents the proceedure is the same except the wire frame ends should be bent at right angles and then extended with ballpoint pen tubes or aluminum tent pole pieces to accomodate sail height. The end result should look something like this:

(recumbent style shown - standard bike sails should have a thinner gap)

Attach wire frame to seatback crossbars and backstays with duct tape. Sail crossbar should fit in between sail and seatback.

Obviously there will be differences in beach chairs, racks and bicycles, but the beauty of bikesail technology is that it can be designed, built, modified and repaired using little more than duct tape, tubing and wire. So long as you have panels that you can fold out when there's wind and fold back when there isn't, you're sailing.


::mwah:: said...


where ya getting "blown" now?

Penny Pincher said...

Is there a way that you control whether the flaps are out or not, like a string or pulley, or does the wind do it all on its own? I guess if you have a headwind it would plaster the wings against the sides of the bike, and if there is a tailwind it might unfurl them on its own?

Freewayblogger said...

Having the sails fold out and back on demand probably wouldn't be too hard, either via pulley, control rod, or something using bungee cords. I tried having the sails untethered and letting the wind determine their position, which really makes the most sense- but apart from really high wind situations, it turned out to be too annoying having them shift all the time once I hit wind speed. Tying/anchoring them in either open or closed position ended up working best, and generally takes less than a minute.

Mad Man Mikey said...

Just wanted to say hello and thanks - your tutorial will be very helpful.

For the record, I am trying a different design. I found one of those tri fold lawn chairs ( and plan to cut out the plastic and replace it with sail material (a friend sails and has old ones).

I am hoping that this design allows me to retract the sales by letting me fold them together as if for storage.

If it works worth a darn, I'll blog it.

Thanks again!