Firmstrong (ha) first ride

Discussion in 'Motorized Cruiser Bicycles' started by Desmond, Dec 7, 2010.

  1. Desmond

    Desmond New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    [​IMG]

    I've replaced all the original fasteners, weaker brackets and did away with the switch to the throttle. I cobbled up the front motor mount and rear tank bracket from scrap. My attempts at a juice can tank were foiled by the rapid growth of rust in the grapefruit juice cans and heartburn set in from drinking it, so I took an easier route. Works well so far.


    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I rode a mile and the Hi stop coaster flange sheared right off. The front caliper brake is almost worthless. I feel like Wile E Coyote, so the bike is now named Acme. These bikes are a puzzle that takes some care to make right, but that seemed obvious when I opened the kit!

    Ordered a set of stronger alloy 12G wheels with a Shimano coaster and disk brake hub in front. Manic Mechanic sprocket mount is on it's way. Need to cobble up a caliper bracket for my fork. Ideas appreciated.

    I plan to mildly port the engine, add an expansion chamber with mower muffler and perhaps a carb. Should be fun...

    laff
     
  2. bairdco

    bairdco a guy who makes cool bikes

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,352
    Likes Received:
    28
    i'm glad to hear you're working your way through it to make it roadworthy.

    a lot of people give me a hard time because of my stance on cheap bikes, but experiences like yours prove me right.

    i keep tellin' people, you can make a cheap bike work great, it just takes money to do it.
     
  3. Venice Motor Bikes

    Venice Motor Bikes Custom Builder / Dealer/Los Angeles

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,174
    Likes Received:
    18
    That front mount looks nice! 1/4" flat steel (bent to fit) with some 'U' bolts works well too.
    Let us know how that mount holds up. (^)
     
  4. azbill

    azbill Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,367
    Likes Received:
    0
    agreed :),,,
    nice job on the mount (actually, the whole build ;))
     
  5. Desmond

    Desmond New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks, folks! I just received Manic Mechanic's elegant and well designed drive adapter. I'm certain this is the answer for anyone with a fondness for coaster brakes. To any newbie using the rag joint...please reconsider. It's superior to trashing a wheel, then $pending for it and a wheel.. I intend to rely heavily on the disk front brake, since my Ducati motorcycle habits make the rear brake a mere accessory.

    BTW, props to Pedal Pushing Bicycles in San Diego for locating my new wheels. If you live nearby, Dan is a wonderful fellow and I've had years of experience with his shop for building landsailers, kite buggies and restoring obscure old bicycles. A fine shop for new and used stuff!
     
  6. thatsdax

    thatsdax Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
    Messages:
    869
    Likes Received:
    1
    I too bought a firmstrong. CA520. I wound up with 2 of them. The Factory send me one and the frame was bashed from the axle of the front rim during shipping. They told me to keep it and sent me a Frame that also had the rear end. So. All I had to do was add a seat and front Rim and tire. So. I had two. It was work getting them both going. I had to take an air tool and clean out the slag from the seat post tube so the seat post would go in. Brakes are spongy but work. I bought this bike hoping it was a poor mans version of the Electra Townie. It is actually a poor mans version of the poor mans version. For the 100 bucks you save, it is not worth it. Being that it is steel, you can weld on it which it nice for doing custom builds. For 99 bucks including shipping, it is worth it. But good luck finding that deal. But really. For all the work required and the poor quality, You are better off buying a Used Electra for around the same price. I hope I did not hurt anyones feelings.. But.. This is how it went for me with this CA520 Firmstrong.
     
  7. Desmond

    Desmond New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    These bikes are crap, but I knew it when I bought it. The quality is awful, but I needed an expendable test bed to take the plunge. The motor is similar. OMG! When I opened the box from Zoombicycles, I laffed my azz off.

    I'm an experienced track and long distance cyclist and motorcyclist.
    It was just a testbed for the motor and concept.

    It's all good!

    I plan to migrate to a better style after I get into it.
     
  8. yodar

    yodar New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    0
    THAT TANK IS SHEER GENIUS! Is that scrap Bike frame to mount it on?

    I go thru 2 tomato juice cans a week and punctured and drained the cans so I could solder a threaded fill-fitting where the holes were

    I hope to mount it under the seat. haven't figgered the hardware yet.

    Yodar
     
  9. Desmond

    Desmond New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's a foot of 1" steel tubing welded to a steel strap for the seat post with a U bolt. A length of paint-roller frame rod support relieves tension on the seat post.

    I hope your juice can works out. I really like the concept of the tank in back.
     
  10. Desmond

    Desmond New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    I just got my drive line decently aligned. I suspect the best way to get the most power from a China Girl is to eliminate the resistance of the chain drive and intake/exhaust restriction. My ZB cylinder ports looked surprisingly smooth, but the intake manifold needed a Dremel very badly. Exhaust was almost as shockingly restrictive. The standard tensioner is solid and malleable enough to get it coplanar. I can't believe how smooth it is compared to the rag joint. That Creative Engineering adapter is magic!

    If the rain stops on one of my rare days off, I'll post the results of my many many hours of fussing. I appreciate the many improvements I've learned here. I hope to contribute.

    Update:
    Finally got to ride and I'm amazed how much more powerful it is. I live on a hill that overwhelmed the bike last time out with a 44T sprocket, but after reshaping the manifold and pipe, cleaning up the chain line and even dropping to a 40T, it zooms up the hill!

    Now to put on that Avid disk brake...
     
    #10 Desmond, Dec 17, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  11. Allen_Wrench

    Allen_Wrench Resident Mad Scientist

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,787
    Likes Received:
    1
    Legend of the "Firmstrong" name has reached my ears too. "Firmstrong" they say, hmmm...

    Ya know, if a man really wanted to sell young skunk cabbage plants, he could always label them "tea rose" and then people would buy them. But certain things reveal themselves in time. Even if the label says "Rose", if it stinks - there's something wrong.
     
  12. Desmond

    Desmond New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2010
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's an upside to a cheap frame...feeling free to change it!
    I added an Avid BB disc in about an evening.

    I mounted the wheel with the caliper clamped in place by a wad of inner tube bands, pivoting it into place carrying a cardboard bracket template.
    [​IMG]
    After trial and error, I made a tab that fit.
    [​IMG]
    The same method was used to position the tab for two tack welds on the outside before running a bead on the inside of the leg. A dab of close enuff paint sealed the deal. Yes, it stops quite well!
    [​IMG]
     
    #12 Desmond, Dec 30, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2010
  13. Goat Herder

    Goat Herder Gutter Rider

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    6,251
    Likes Received:
    2
    I like the way that came out there . One of the better way more trust worthy approaches. I like the Avid D brakes they are among my favorites.
     
  14. yodar

    yodar New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2010
    Messages:
    147
    Likes Received:
    0
    That fabrication is beautiful. of course the next question is: is is feasible to sell the brackets to people who aren't as skilled as you? ;>)

    I have brazed 4 pieces of steel to steel in my whole life. I fear I would destroy the beer-can-metal MY frame is made from.

    I don't think I can put such brakes on a springer fork anyway

    Yodar
     
  15. azbill

    azbill Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    3,367
    Likes Received:
    0
    venice motorbikes (ad on this page) makes a bolt on adapter for mounting discs to springer forks ;)
     

Share This Page