Hooking up your Mill to an Exercise Bike

By Jack Jenkins, founder of the Country Living Grain Mill

I suggest that you look for an exercycle with a cast iron flywheel and enough space between the frame and the flywheel to allow you to bring a V-belt out from the hub.

It was 4:55 a.m., the time that our alarm radio does its early morning thing. My consciousness was struggling when an announcer began intoning something about "the most fuel-efficient machine in the world. This marvelous machine gets 914 miles per gallon," he said.

Suddenly, I was very awake. Visions of replacing our 12 miles-to-the-gallon van leaped into my sleep-shrouded head. I listened carefully. I was both disappointed and delighted in the same instant. This magnificent machine was nothing less than the human body.

I had to have more information, more documentation. I called long-distance to the radio station to see if they could give me sources on the story, but, alas, the very stuff that radio is made of (in an instant, here- in an instant, gone) had taken its toll. They had erased the tape and claimed no ability to retrieve the information.

Still the thought of such phenomenal efficiency plagued me. Here we are inhabiting one of the most efficient machines ever devised and yet we persist in surrounding ourselves with inefficient, energy-wasting machines, expensive convenience appliances that literally encourage the degeneration of the most magnificent machine ever placed on earth- the human body. It's not fair to condemn all appliances. If used correctly they can give us the time needed to accomplish and create. But, like many blessings, mankind has a tendency to overindulge, to take for granted. Often we forget where to draw the line. If it's convenient, we overindulge. If it's pleasurable, we sate ourselves. When we cross over this line of reason and restraint, both the body and the mind suffer.

It may be a simple thing, but to me when I spend ten to thirteen minutes grinding- by hand- our fresh whole wheat flour in the Country Living Grain Mill, both my body and my mind benefit. I'm keeping in tune this 914 miles-per-gallon machine. I could never use an electric grain mill so beneficially. Mentally, what value? The sense of pride I feel as I walk into the kitchen with two pans of beautiful, fresh whole wheat flour and hand them to Ann, is inestimable. A simple thing, perhaps. But often the simple things have the greatest value.


The Country Living Grain Mill with Mounting Board and Exercycle

(The 914 Mile-Per-Gallon-Machine)

The mounting platform with a slotted 2 x 6 board locks the exercycle into place, while making the tension of the belt easily adjustable. The wing nuts and bolts in the slots make it quick and easy to make all adjustments.

  1. The feet of the exercycle should fit firmly against the 2x6 adjustable board.
  2. The wing nut and bolt (located on either side of the board) should be tightened down once proper belt tension is achieved.
  3. Use a three or four inch pulley hub suitable for use with a v-belt.


Creating your own 914 Mile Per Gallon Machine

Dear Friend: Unfortunately, since there is such a huge variety of exercycles on the market, I don't have any specific plans describing how to hook an exercycle up to the grain mill. There is no standard pulley for the exercycle hub that I can recommend because most of the exercycle brands have different flywheels and hubs. The exercycle (AVITA made in Redmond, Washington) that I have hooked up to my Country Living mill has been off the market for at least 15 years. I actually took my exercycle flywheel to a machinist and had him mill a pulley to fit the hub. It cost me $40 but I have been using it for almost 20 years now, so it has been well worth it.

I suggest that you look for an exercycle with a cast iron flywheel and enough space between the frame and the flywheel to allow you to bring a V-belt out from the hub. I saw an exercycle in a thrift store a while ago for $8.50 (cheap). I guarantee that if you are patient and look around you can find a very nice but inexpensive cycle that will serve you well.

For the best ratio, it would be nice to put a three or four inch pulley on the exercycle's flywheel hub. An off-the-shelf pulley might work for you. You will have to drill holes through the pulley and match them to holes drilled in the cast- iron flywheel. Self-tapping metal screws will hold the pulley to the flywheel of the exercycle. Some people have used a strong epoxy to bond the pulley on. Someone suggested J. B. Weld - I haven't tried it, so I can't assure you of success. Trouble is, all hubs are not created equal, so you may have to have a machinist machine a pulley to fit the hub of the cycle that you decide to get. Another alternative is to run your V-belt around the outside diameter of the exercycle flywheel. The ratio isn't efficient, but I know several folks who have done just that and they seem satisfied.

I wish you well,

Jack Jenkins
Country Living Productions

Maureen Ash developed a chain-driven system

With the help of her neighbor, Maureen Ash developed a chain-driven system for powering her Country Living Grain Mill with an old Schwinn exercycle. She say's she's able to grind a hopper of wheat in five minutes! To read her amazing story click here.

Harvest Food Cooperative

Brett McCall uses his grain mill as part of the Harvest Food Cooperative dining kitchen at Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina. Brett found a used flywheel, with which he replaced the wheel of the exercycle. He centered the sprocket on the flywheel and with the help of father-in-law, Karl Schmitt, machined a bolt to hold it in place.

Right: Diana Schmitt on the Exercycle Right: The flywheel installed by Brett McCall. Using calipers he measured to make sure the flywheel, sprocket, and new axle fit the bike and aligned with the chain. After a few adjustments, and cutting the table, to which the grain mill was mounted, down a couple inches to match the length of the v-belt, he was able to power the grain mill with his exercycle.



Tom Farquhar's Mountain Bike Conversion

Tom Farquhar, headmaster of Potomac Maryland's Bullis School has applied his mechanical expertise to the construction of a conversion kit that uses his 18 speed mountain bike to grind flour with his Country Living grain mill.

The Fantastic Double-Grinder Exercycle

Maureen Ash owns and rides this fabulous contraption which was created from the magnificent mind of her neighbor, Tim Bylander. He originally designed the exercycle conversion for one grain mill, but when Maureen found the grinding too easy she asked him to modify it so that her legs could power two grain mills at a time.


  1. Susan Jacobson on July 23, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Where can we buy a Tom Farquhar’s Conversion kit?

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