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Bicycle Computer Desk: Do It Yourself!

Friday, January 08, 2010 Posted by Peter Janiszewski, PhD

Not that long ago, Travis discussed some of the benefits of a treadmill desk, a set-up that allows people to work at a desk while walking on a treadmill. Particularly for people who are desk bound for the majority of their workday, this quirky method can definitely help add much needed physical activity to an otherwise sedentary day.

Of course, to make use of a treadmill desk one needs a treadmill (not cheap) and a specialized desk to work with the treadmill (also not cheap). Thus, we could not have been more excited when a colleague of ours, Katya Herman, sent us pictures of a contraption she threw together to increase her level of physical activity while she works on her PhD thesis. Behold the Herman Cycling Computer Desk – a much cheaper alternative to the treadmill desk that you can build using things you probably already have at home.

Here’s what you need:

1. Bicycle – any bike will do the trick, even the one that’s been collecting dust in your garage or basement over the past decade (although, you may need a bit of oil to lubricate the rusted chain).

2. Indoor Bicycle Trainer (or wind trainer) – This nifty piece of equipment allows you to turn your mountain bike or road bike into a stationary bike that you can ride at home (especially during the winter months). The device hooks up to your rear bike wheel and allows you to pedal without accelerating into the wall. There are countless makes and models of indoor bicycle trainers. One of the cheapest I could find was the Bell Motivator Mag Indoor Bicycle for $79.99, which despite its low price had a very high customer rating. On the pricier end of things ($296.99) is the CycleOps Fluid 2 Indoor Bicycle Trainer which Travis recently purchased and is currently in love with. Personally, based on the reviews I’ve read and the fact that while I do plenty of bike riding (mainly off-road) I’ve never owned an indoor trainer, I would go for the cheaper option for the time-being. Of course, if you have a bike ergometer (or stationary exercise bike) this may be the best option.

CORRECTION: I was just informed by Katya herself that in order to make the bicycle trainer work (easily) on a mountain bike you should purchase a Rim Drive Bicycle Trainer. The one Katya uses and recommends is the Minoura RDA80 Rim Drive Bicycle Trainer (~$220). The ones I've listed above are apparently indeally used with road bikes, although CAN be configured to work with mountain bikes.

3. And finally, the special secret ingredient to the Herman Cycling Computer Desk is… ironing board. That’s right – the ironing board is not just for ironing your socks, as it can also double as a laptop stand. In case you don’t own one (like yours truly – really who irons anymore?) then you can purchase this archaic device online for under 40 dollars.

As pictured below, the set-up is relatively easy. First you hook your bike onto the indoor trainer. Next you rig an ironing board onto your handle bars, ensuring proper balance. Once the ironing board is more or less secure, place laptop on top of the ironing board and you can work/cycle away.

Note of caution – the current model of the Herman Cycling Computer Desk is only meant to be used with laptop computers. I think a desktop computer would be challenging to configure, and thus we’d advise against such practice. Then again, if you’re daring and inventive enough – anything is possible.

Try it ut and let us know how it goes in the comments section below!

Have a great weekend,

Peter Janiszewski

Special thanks to Katya for sending us the pics and for giving us this great idea to share with our readers.

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10 Response to "Bicycle Computer Desk: Do It Yourself!"

  1. Kenji22 Said,

    What a good idea. So many people don't engage with idea's like this due to cost, but this is totally affordable. I may have to go out and find the bike stand. Nice post.

    Posted on January 8, 2010 at 11:19 AM

  2. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    @Kenji22 - Thanks for the comment!I totally agree - for most (who already have a bike and ironing board), all they'd have to get is the bicycle trainer - $80 isn't too bad considering how much cash people throw away at products that are completely useless.

    Let us know how it goes for you - Katya assures us it was a seamless set-up!

    Posted on January 8, 2010 at 2:25 PM

  3. Anonymous Said,

    Just a thought. The exercise bike in your link looks like a good piece of equipment, but I don't think you could use it with the ironing board computer stand. The handlebars stick straight up.

    Posted on January 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

  4. Amby Burfoot Said,

    Oh, great idea. I've been trying to solve this problem for months, but never thought about the ironing board. I think a slightly angled "lap desk" could add some ergonomic comfort. Something like

    I think there must be a whole range of standing desks and tables, and exercise desks, just waiting for us to figure out lowcost approaches. I've found it easy to find inexpensive 6 to 8 inch "bed risers" to put under table legs, but I really need about 15" for my height. Still looking for the best way to achieve that.

    Posted on January 8, 2010 at 7:55 PM

  5. Peter Janiszewski, PhD (Cand.), MSc Said,

    @Anonymous - Thanks for that note - you are absolutely right. Slightly less awkward handle bars would be ideal in this situation. Maybe removing the handle bars altogether is even better?

    @ Amby Burfoot - A lap desk would surely add to this set-up. Then again - I can see quite a bit of wrist strain (extension) from typing if the keyboard is on an incline rather than flat.
    Do I understand correctly that you have built your own treadmill desk by simply extending the legs on a table? Of course - It is so simple! I'd love to see what your set-up looks like.

    Thanks for the comments.

    Posted on January 8, 2010 at 10:57 PM

  6. Blake Said,

    This is pretty awesome. Thanks for the recommendations on an indoor trainer too... I've been searching for a good one... one in the lower price ranges. If you have any other good resources on finding a good one for a road bike holler at me. Thanks!

    Posted on January 9, 2010 at 12:33 PM

  7. computer desk Said,

    great idea by you .I love the look of this computer desk. Thank you for showing a pic. Now I have an idea what to replace my old computer desk with.

    Posted on April 22, 2010 at 8:41 PM

  8. PabloPaul777 Said,

    What a thrill! Almost intrigues me...maybe I'll try the iron board but look at my awesome new SpinDesk at This lets me hammer the exercise. Can someone purchase this and do a comparrison?

    Posted on May 25, 2010 at 9:58 AM

  9. Steve Said,

    Great way to be more consistent with exercise. Use what you love to do to complete what you need to do.
    I know for a fact it works. I use a FitDesk. You can find them on Amazon and on web. Great product for converging health and productivity. Both are important.

    Posted on June 16, 2010 at 11:06 AM

  10. Anonymous Said,

    Do the handlebars stay on the bike, or do I remove them? Does it matter?
    Thanks for this great idea!

    Posted on November 23, 2011 at 11:45 AM


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We are PhD students in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. Our research focuses on the relationships between obesity, physical activity, and health risk. This blog is our attempt to consider the many "cures" for obesity that we read about on a daily basis. Enjoy.


The opinions expressed here belong only to Peter and Travis and do not reflect the views of any organization. Any medical discussion on this page is intended to be of a general nature only. This page is not designed to give specific medical advice. If you have a medical problem you should consult your own physician for advice specific to your own situation.

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