Cut and Weld together a KHS Flite and Beach Cruiser into Gravel Crusher.
Peanut butter and jelly. Socks. Netflix and chill. We’ve all heard the age-old saying that good things come in twos. My excuse for a project idea was loosely based on that principle, although admittedly had the high likelihood of turning into something more akin to Yoko Ono and the Beatles.
Enter the combatants: The reigning champion, a tired, rusty KHS Flite 100 donated to me by my mailman after his roommate went rogue. The challenger, a horrendous floral print, mail-order beach cruiser left for dead at my local storage facility. While separately unappealing, joined together I saw the potential for greatness, the catalysts for such taking the forms of an outlet store angle grinder and an ultra-budget flux core arc welder.
The disassembly was the easy part, as it always is. I went about stripping both frames down with the tenacity of a herd of hyenas, salvaging everything and leaving nothing. Before long, what once were two unwieldly, contorted hunks of steel were now multiple smaller piles of contorted steel strewn about my garage. From these ashes began the structure of what was to come: A custom, wide-tire gravel crusher. Although the uniqueness of such a groundbreaking idea was not lost on me, I knew in my gut that every washed-up hipster from here to the Pacific Northwest would eventually steal photos of my completed bike, posting them to their Instagram with a caption like “Full hearts // Clear minds // Can’t lose”, so I decided to make something truly abominable.
The only real benefit of the herbaceous cruiser was the fact that it originally came with 700 size wheels, and thusly the frame had an abundance of meaty tire clearance. I figured this, along with a salvaged hybrid-style fork would give me the ability to run wide tires, and fused with the main triangle of the KHS, would retain the English bottom bracket shell. You know how they say, ‘It looked good on paper’? Well, I didn’t have any paper handy, so I just began grinding and tack welding crap together in an impending deadline-induced panic. Wouldn’t you know it, once I stepped back, I noticed it still in fact looked like crap, but at least it was now roughly bicycle-shaped crap. Perfect.
I noticed too late that the head tube from the KHS was barely large enough for a 1” steer tube, and as it was would not be able to fit a headset for a modern 1 1/8” fork. After mulling over my options, I decided in a sparkling water-fueled rage that the best option was to cut the head tube off, replacing it with the larger diameter example from the cruiser. This worked, although with no frame jig at hand, I settled for the pray and spray-style of alignment, complete with patented safety squint. Another significant issue was the paper-thin butted tubing of the KHS frame. Using a flux core welder to join this with the thick tubing of the cruiser was akin to performing brain surgery with a rubber mallet and pickaxe. I lost count of the number of times I blasted through the tubing, leaving the frame looking like some sort of Swiss cheese nightmare. I settled on the idea that “A grinder and paint make you the welder you ain’t”, and soldiered on.
The only thing I lacked now was a proper top tube, and after some (read: none) consideration, I decided to use a spare set of motorcycle handlebars, as the drag-style bend seemed to meld with the lines of my ferrous concoction almost perfectly. I added some bosses for style points, welded it up, aligned it all properly (lol just kidding) and stood back to look at it. Yep, as the kids say, this was lit.
After a rear triangle cold-set, a welded-on brake caliper tab, and JB Weld-smoothed joints, the frame was ready for paint. I’m still clinging to the waning fact that 30 isn’t old, so as a homage to the ‘90s, I rattle-canned the whole thing pink with black and white splatter. It looks good from 10 feet away, but no one in their right mind will ever come closer to this thing for fear of guilt by association, so it works out. Throw in a cheap handlebar, some calipers from my parts bin, a bent set of wheels, and we’ve got ourselves a bike. Toe overlap bad.
If for some strange reason you’re still interested in seeing this metal cacophony with a geared drivetrain, feel free to vote it into the finals. If not, I don’t blame you and I still love you anyway.