Custom CAD model for custom Bike


I have heard a lot of great things about BikeCad and how it allows for a user to parametrically adjust a frame until it meets all desired parameters. I am wondering though, what would you do if you are designing an exotic bike like a tandem recumbent? Would it be recommended to use a CAD software like fusion 360 to create a parametric model of similar adjustability to BikeCAD, but adapted to a different design structure not supported in that program? Would it also be viable to try and find a way to shoehorn a different design into bikeCAD? I have been shown posts about people improvising recumbents in BikeCAD, but I am not sure how versatile that approach is.

Thanks for your help everyone.


BikeCAD is optimised for a diamond frame bike so drawing a recumbent would be a work around at best. I’ve drawn cargo bikes which are better suited and even that was annoying. I would say that your time (and money) is better spent in a true parametric 3D modelling program. I’ve never used Fusion360 (I use Rhino for anything 3D) but generally it seems like the program most hobby builders are happiest in. You’ll also get great Fusion 360 support on this forum thanks in no small part to @Daniel_Y!


Bikecad pro is indispensable if you plan to build say, 5 or more traditional bike frames. I can’t imagine not having it. It’s just such an awesome program. Unlike fusion, you only have to pay for it once and can actually own it!

bikecad is an awesome place to quickly work out an idea. Great for almost any diamond frame you can imagine. Not so great for recumbents.


I think you could use bikeCAD to design sub assemblies of the bike, but things like the handlebars, seats, drivetrain locations would be very difficult with bikeCAD

I think this is a progression of CAD and framebuilding:

  • level 1: Hand draft everything on paper and holding/tweaking tubes in real life
  • level 2: design the front triangle in BikeCAD, use fabrication skills to figure out chainstay and seat stay clearances in real life
  • level 3: design the entire front and rear triangle in BikeCAD
  • level 4: Create the frame in Fusion360
  • level 5: model all the components and frame (entire bike) in Fusion360

3D CAD is not as difficult as people think. The hard part is spatial visualization (being able to visualize the shapes and sizes in 3D space). People who work with their hands tend to have good spatial visualization skills, so learning CAD is simply a matter of learning where the buttons are.