Build Recommendations

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by ThinkRob, Mar 27, 2016.

  1. ThinkRob

    ThinkRob New Member

    Mar 27, 2016
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    I've been lurking here for a while, but I've finally decided to jump in. So I've made an account and am planning on doing my first build some time this summer.

    To that end, I'd like advice.

    For the motor I'm going to go with a two-stroke, chain drive China kit. Pretty much anything that's 49cc and available cheaply. I've been wrenching on all sorts of stuff for most of my life, so even though the out-of-the-box quality on this stuff might be crap I'm not concerned. Nothing a good inspection, some better fasteners, and a Dremel can't fix. Besides, I love messing with small engines!

    So I've got the engine under control... but the rest of the stuff is where I need y'all's advice.

    Here's what I'm planning so far:

    Frame: Columbia 1937 Cruiser seems like a good, cheap choice for a novice. I know that the common wisdom is to get something with a steel frame and good looking welds. Tank mounting might be an issue, but if I *really* like the bike I can probably get someone to fabricate one to go where the fake tank goes.

    Brakes: No idea. Discs in the front seems like a good goal, but I'm not sure how easy it would be to add them. Advice here would be appreciated.

    Hardware: Walmart bikes come with crap fasteners, etc. Or at least that's what I've been led to believe here. No worries; that's nothing that a trip to the hardware store and a bulk purchase of good stainless hardware won't fix. I don't want or need fenders.

    Suspension: Hmm... Uh... is this required? It seems a little nuts to drive something at speed that doesn't have at least front shocks, but then again I'm a novice when it comes to this. If I do decide to add front suspension is that something that can be added onto the Columbia frame? Or do I need to pick a frame that comes with a front shock setup? Or are shocks not actually required?

    Wheels: I know that I need to replace these, as the stock ones are supposed to be crap on most cheap frames. There are plenty of good recommendations on this forum, and I can certainly pick one... but if someone has a specific recommendation for this frame I'd like to hear it!

    Budget: Under $700.

    Other stuff: While I can grok most mechanical things, I can't weld, and there's not a good welder near me. I *might* be able to take something to one that I know is good, but I'd rather not because it's pretty far away...

    Thanks in advance!
  2. Agreen

    Agreen Member

    Feb 10, 2013
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    The wheels are usually the least of the concern. I believe the "Columbia 1937" bike is a Huffy, which has like 12ga spokes. Worst case, you'll have to replace the guts of the coaster brake with Shimano components. A whopping $12 venture.

    Suspension is not required. Nice, but not required. A good suspension fork if you want one is the monarch springer. I believe you'll need the 1" tube.

    Hardware: you're more likely going to need good hardware for the motor kit, and not the bike. Replace all the acorn nuts on the engine with open hex nuts.

    At least get a rim clamp brake for the front. You can actually bolt it where the fender bolted to, which you said you won't be using. And buy some kool-stop pads. You'll thank me for that.

    The frame looks cool enough. I've considered it, but never pulled the trigger. It doesn't have a welded on rear rack, so you should be in good shape. Search "Huffy nel-lusso" or "Panama Jack". You'll see what I mean. It's essentially a cranbrook with a welded rack, which makes a weak point for the frame. Don't let that discourage you from Huffy bikes. They're good cheap bikes that can hold up to good amounts of abuse. Just make sure you grease the bearings before you ride it.

    When you get your 48cc 2 stroke kit, take it apart. All the way. You'll see that there is still metal shavings in the engine! Clean it out. Now that it's fully disassembled, do a gasket match port on the transfers. It helps power so much, and makes it so much smoother.

    Above all, enjoy your build!
  3. 2door

    2door Moderator
    Staff Member

    Sep 15, 2008
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    Welcome to the forum. We're glad you've come in from the cold and decided to start your first motorized bicycle project.

    You've received some good, solid advice from my friend, Agreen, and I can't add much to it. It sounds as if you're certainly on track with your project and we wish you luck. If we can help in any way, let us know.

    Good luck, have fun and ride safe. Above all always remember that it is a bicycle, not a motorcycle. Be aware that the components you're dealing with were designed with pedal power in mind. When you add an engine you need to be sure the bike parts are up to the task. Brakes, bearings, rims, spokes, tires and frame need attention before looking for more speed and power.

  4. Venice Motor Bikes

    Venice Motor Bikes Custom Builder / Dealer/Los Angeles

    Mar 20, 2008
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    In my opinion, 1970's Schwinn beach cruisers are some great bikes to motorize!!
    They're real easy to find for only a couple hundred bux, & have very strong wheels with 12 gauge spokes...
    I think good wheels are one of the most important things on any motorized bike!

    Suspension isn't really needed on these bikes, (the large cruiser tires make for a very comfy ride).

    Any style front brake will help, but a front disc brake is the best if you start 'hot rodding' your bike.
    #4 Venice Motor Bikes, Mar 28, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2016
  5. Tony01

    Tony01 Active Member

    Nov 28, 2012
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    The most important part of your build is the front brake. Having just tried my first motorized bike with a front rim brake, I'm appalled at the quantity of people here that consider this "good enough" being that it is just SO BAD. Any disc brake setup or a SA 90mm drum would be best. Front disc setup will run you at least $250 and a drum will be at least $150- use a disc fork with the drum as it will be ready for the braking forces on the fork leg.
  6. racie35

    racie35 Active Member

    Nov 17, 2012
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    Sturmey archer 90mm SL drum brake hubs are usually around $65 online. Lace that in and you'll have a good start.
  7. kevyleven007

    kevyleven007 Active Member

    Sep 25, 2008
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    steer clear of cheap " huffy" bikes and get a good vintage cruiser or a better quality bike shop brand or cruiser bike.
  8. ZipTie

    ZipTie Active Member

    Jan 8, 2016
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    Ultimate cheap but sturdy safe bike is a all steel Huffy Cranbrook with fresh grease packed Bearings, Fenders removed or reinforced, a front drum, and a shock fork or monarch 2 springer as Agreen suggested cant be beat for the money. With Good lines, steel wheels, a decent rear brake, 12 gauge spokes, a steel frame and a 2 stroke can be done for 300.00-360.00 bucks total. There are great exact tutorials online for every step also. Yep steer clear of any Huffy with a rear rack welded on as they have weak spots above the welds and or below. But the Cranbrook is free of this problem. You could build 2 Bikes with this bike and system and have a third back up engine to boot for a 700.00 budget,Just saying. Welcome to the forum lots of valid but different Opinions here on bike platforms.

    PS Get
    a 41 chain right away and avoid 90 percent of chain problems right away. Grind your clutch cover down using 2 doors tutorial also here
    #8 ZipTie, Mar 29, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2016

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