Sunday, January 31, 2016

How I Built My Own Workout Desk - My Write Bike

Sedentary Lifestyle - Not Ideal

For years now, I've been coming home after my day job, and sitting down at my desk, dining table or couch to write. What I write varies, but one thing doesn't: I'm sitting. I'm comfortable, and so are my flaccid muscles. 

Instead of using the time after work to exercise my body and straighten out the kinks in muscles, bones and joints that have accumulated over my desk-job day, I sit some more.

A healthy lifestyle this is not. But I'd rather sit and write than work out and not write. If only I could come up with a way to get some exercise while writing...

How to Get Moving

I'd heard of treadmill desks, obviously. But not only do they take up a lot of space, they are also rather expensive. 

Then I stumbled across the so called desk peddlers and thought maybe... They're smaller and cheaper than treadmill desks, to be sure. And that's when it hit me! I own an exercise-bike for home use, gathering dust in the corner behind my bedroom door!

Maybe I didn't have to spend a lot of money on something I already had, and could possibly assemble myself...? All I had to do was add a few parts to the bike, after all. What parts exactly was the variable in need of exploring. 

"Ingredients" for My Bike Desk

So I rummaged around my own inventory - what flat surface object did I own that I could somehow attach to the handle-bars of the bike? I got lucky almost immediately when I unearthed this old laptop lap-shelf thingy that I hadn't used for a while:

Suddenly, I was excited - its shape would make my rookie tinkering so much eaiser than expected. All I had to do was hook it over the bike's handle-bars, and presto! I had an easy, flat surface to put my laptop on, without too much danger of the entire contraption sliding off, or my laptop slipping off the desk. It was almost too good to be true.

Of course, it was, if only a little. The angle this left the laptop at on top of the handle-bars was a bit too steep for comfortable writing. I soon got cramps in my wrists when I tried to type out any serious-length text. So I had to elevate the front end of the shelf away from the bike's control unit - but how? 

Perfecting The Raw Material

I figured some sort of wedge between the shelf and the control unit would do the trick, so I cut up an old moving box and experimented with folding different shapes into triangles and wedges. It had to both elevate and straighten the shelf to a comfortable writing-height, while being sturdy enough to hold the weight of my laptop as well as my hands while typing on it.

I finally found the perfect sturdy wedge-shape that helped make writing while riding the bike almost as comfortable as when sitting at my desk. I tried it out that same night. It worked wonderfully, just as I'd hoped and imagined. 

One Last Thing...

Since functionality was now perfected, I also wanted to make sure I wouldn't accidentally knock the entire thing to the ground - my laptop is the one thing out of all my possessions for which I'd run into a burning building (I'm a writer. 'Nuff said.). So, unwilling to subject it to my clumsiness, I ordered two velcro-straps on Amazon. They arrived two days later and, after a few more minutes of testing, found their ideal positions:

Now, unless I knock over the entire bike, my laptop is no longer in danger of flying off the handle. *snerk*

Yes, I know the entire setup looks a bit makeshift. I'm not exactly a master tinkerer. But it's stable, secure, and comfortable enough to use for an hour of writing. And it didn't cost me much aside from about half an hour of experimenting and a few euros. 

Cost Break-Down

Building my own Write Bike (as I call it) was way cheaper than buying anything specifically designed with the purpose of moving while writing. All in all, the costs broke down to the following:

What I had to buy
- 2 velcro straps for 11,02€ 

What I found at home
- 1 home exercise bike, original price (2012) ca. 100€
- 1 laptop support, original price ca. 4€
- 1 moving box, original price 1,50€

This amounts to a total of 116,52€, of which I'd paid 105,50€ years ago.

Final Result

And so here it is: My Write Bike in all its glory. I use it almost every night and am loving it.

Do you have a way to work out while writing? What other options are there? I'd love to hear about your experiences in the comments.


  1. Hmm, you mean This amounts to a total of 116,52€, of which 105,50€ was unused stuff floating around my apartment? That is the coolest ReCycle I've seen in a long time.

    1. ReCycle? Pun intended? LOL
      Yep, most of it just floating around, unused... ;-)