Pan Am Bike Tour for My Son and Me

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by KarlsMom, Mar 18, 2012.

  1. KarlsMom

    KarlsMom New Member

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    Hi Everyone! I came here when I was doing some researching on which engine type to get. My son, he's six, and I were in Bolivia a couple of years ago, and instead of flying back, we're wanting to do a family tour from Indiana, to Bolivia, mainly on the Pan Am highway.

    Since I have a kid, and we're wanting to stay there, at least for a while, we'll be taking more stuff than most do on tours. Pulling him and our stuff isn't something I want to do without any help, so a motor is a must have for this trip. I called a couple of bike shops here in town, and was told that the hills would burn up a gas motor, but all the sites say electric motors don't have enough power to get up hills. These same sites said gas motors did fine going up the hills. I've decided on the gas motor! I'm trying to stick with the 48/49 cc size, because of the legal requirements of the different states we'll be going through.

    My questions are many, so please forgive me if I add to this later on. I am a complete newbie when it comes to motors and stuff. Like I told my second oldest son (who's had a gas bike before), to me, a clutch is a bunch of eggs.

    I want to know which parts are the first to go on a motor that gets a lot of use, and isn't in the best of conditions. It'll be dusty (yes, the rainforest is actually dusty and sandy, believe it or not!) and very bumpy with a lot of uphill/downhill roads. I want to buy replacement parts for the most likely ones to go, so we don't get 'stranded' with just my muscle power.

    Also, how difficult is it to replace the gas tank? Are they universal and interchangeable? If not, how is it done?

    How can I tell how fast I am going? How do I control my speed?

    How can I tell from an item description which engines start with a key? And do these come with a spare key? I'm really good at losing things!

    That's good for now, I think. Please let me know! Your advice and help is very appreciated!

    KarlsMom
     
  2. planetcaravan03

    planetcaravan03 New Member

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    I am pretty darn new to this as well. My first suggestion would be a chain and tensioners.
    Paul .crt.
    p.s. If your plans come to, feel free to stop here in Champaign-Urbana Il. We can ride somewhere and get some lunch.
     
    #2 planetcaravan03, Mar 18, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  3. Ibedayank

    Ibedayank New Member

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    nothing made in CHINA!!!!
    A real Honda GX50 motor
    EZM Qmatic trans

    lots of reading on this forum so you know how to install and fix it
    and what tools you will need to do so on your trip
     
  4. KarlsMom

    KarlsMom New Member

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    I talked to my son and watched some videos on engines. Youtube has everything these days, I think! My son said I might want to look into getting the springs, too. If I have to break it down once a week and clean it all up inside, I can handle that, as long as I know how it came apart. And now I know that the clutch controls when the the belt or chain is turning.

    But definitely the chain, and an extra clutch. Are tensioners the tool used to take out links in the chain?


    I don't even know where to buy one of those and how many CCs are they? I can't go over 49 CCs.


    KarlsMom
     
    #4 KarlsMom, Mar 18, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2012
  5. LR Jerry

    LR Jerry Active Member

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    Ibedayank gave you some good advice. The Honda GXH 50 is one of the best engines out there. It's a 4 stroke which means no mixing oil in the gas. In many states manual clutches are illegal. There's several good gear boxes out there which use a centrifugal clutch. EZ, Staton, Sick Bike, etc all have good 4 stroke kits. Look at my build in my profile for some ideas. For long travels you'll want instrument devices and lighting. The main reason for pointing you in this direction is the low maintenance involved. For the most part just do scheduled oil changes and air filture cleanings. Good luck.
     
  6. KarlsMom

    KarlsMom New Member

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    I don't want to get too expensive with this, though. A lot of people do this tour without any motor at all. How much does that motor cost, and where can I find one if it's within my price range?

    One thing I didn't mention in my original post is I've never had a driver's license, ever, and I'm 45. I know how to drive, but in Indiana, I'd have to wait (I think it is) 6 months before I could go from the beginner's license to a regular one and then another 3 months for a motorcycle endorsement.

    My main goal is to get there to Bolivia without breaking down before I get there. If I am only riding during the day and not as dusk or dawn, would I still need the lights?

    Thanks everyone!

    KarlsMom

    .we.
     
  7. LR Jerry

    LR Jerry Active Member

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    More bad news for you then. Many states don't require a motorcycle license for a motorized bicycle but the do require regular drivers license. Northern Tools sells the Honda GXH 50 (49 cc) engine its around $400. You can also look it up online. The three places I told you about if you go online the web sites have phone numbers and they can help you with what engine kit will best serve you. You'll need to lookup and read the laws of the states you plan on passing through. The only way you'll be able to carry your 6 year old is maybe in a side car or maybe a trike build. Even then I suggest researching the laws of the states and countries you'll be passing through. With these kits you get what you're willing to pay for. You'll probably be better off flying down there then ordering a kit for a bike. Good luck.
     
  8. motor_bike_fanatic

    motor_bike_fanatic New Member

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    I personally have only used the cheapo 2 stroke rice burners (rice burner is slang for chinese engine), and have no personal experience with 4 stroke engines, mostly because they are so expensive. HOWEVER, if you are planning on taking such a long tour, you dont want to do it cheap. I would conservatively estimate that if you want to guarantee getting through this tour without breaking down, you can conservatively estimate you will need at least $1000. You will need a four stroke engine, because a two stroke engine will not handle a tour of this magnitude. you will need a strong frame and heavy duty wheels and hubs. You will need tools to carry with you. You will need spare tires and tubes. Please dont leave without tires, tubes and tools, and expect to fix the bike when you get a flat halfway to bolivia. I personally think you're better off flying, and its probably cheaper. Not to mention the fact that no six year old probably really wants to take an international bike tour anyway. The idea might sound fun to him now, But wait till the second or 3rd day of the trip. He will be saying he wants to go home and play in his own back yard or watch Handy Manny or whatever he likes to watch.
     
  9. Ibedayank

    Ibedayank New Member

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    honda gx50 specs
    Specifications

    Engine Type: Air-cooled, 4-Stroke, OHV, single cylinder
    Bore x Stroke: 41.8 x 36 mm (1.65 x 1.42 in)
    Displacement: 49 cm3 (2.99 cu in)
    Compression Ratio: 8.0 : 1
    Net Torque: 2.7 Nm (2.0 lbs ft) at 4,500 rpm
    PTO Shaft Rotation: Counterclockwise (from PTO shaft side)
    Ignition System: Transistorized magneto ignition
    Starting System: Recoil Starter
    Carburetor: Float Type
    Lubrication System: Forced Splash
    Governor System: Centrifugal Mechanical
    Air Cleaner: Semi-dry Type
    Oil Capacity: 0.25l (0.26 US qt, 0.22 Imp qt)
    Fuel Tank Capacity: 0.77l (0.81 US qt)
    Dimensions (L x W x H): 225mm(8.9 in) x 274mm (10.8 in) x 353mm (13.9 in)
    Dry Weight: 5.5 kg (12.1 lbs)


    where to buy

    http://www.google.com/search?q=hond....,cf.osb&fp=c22360c520dea7c9&biw=1280&bih=920
     
  10. porch lizard

    porch lizard New Member

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    A trip to Bolivia on a Motor assisted Bicycle would be just the adventure to take. It's only 4000 miles and if the rider could average 8 hrs. of riding at 25 mph. per day, it would only take 20 days of riding to get there. To get there with no problems, I would get two of everything that you add to a regular bike to make it a motorized bike, put it in the trailer with your 6 year old, throw in extra tires, tubes, chains, and brakes, add the tools you would need and head on out on that long lonesome highway with your favorite tunes blaring away. What could go wrong?!! Happy Trails!!
     
  11. porch lizard

    porch lizard New Member

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    What's your plans for April 1st?
     
  12. motor_bike_fanatic

    motor_bike_fanatic New Member

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    I am sorry, but I think this is a terrible idea. I dont see anything wrong with the idea of taking the trip in itself, but for someone who clearly has little mechanical experience to try to take on a 4000 mile trip is not a good idea. Its not like driving a car across country, where as long as you have the money you can drive or tow it to a garage and have it fixed and be back on the road. If you break down, especially in another country, if you cant fix it yourself, you are stuck. Everyone else can be glib about this if they want, but they cant stop me from voicing my opinion. As far as this being the ultimate adventure, that might be true - for an adult who clearly knows what the trip entails and knows if they will really enjoy it or not. But its not fair for to a child to be stuck on the road for 3 weeks, riding in a bike trailer no less. He may enjoy the trip in a car, but I really doubt he would enjoy it in a bike trailer. Please be fair to the child and dont put him through that. And getting through this trip is just NOT as simple as "get two of everything that commonly fails, throw in some tires and tubes, strap your kid in the trailer and ride away with your favorite tunes blaring". First off, There are alot of parts that dont commonly fail that can still be very important to the proper operation of the engine. What if a part fails that you dont have? Secondly, you will need a custom trailer built, because a kiddie trailer wont hold the weight of a kid plus spare parts, tools, tubes, tires, food, water, and whatever else you will need. Third, you really should have a fair amount of mechanical experience in order to make this trip. You should be fairly experienced with bicycles as well as small engines. I have been riding, fixing, modifying and improving my bike for 3 years, and I wouldnt take a trip this size because I am not confident enough in my mechanical abilities, or that I would have everything I needed to avoid getting stuck when I broke down. For someone so new to motorized bikes and mechanics in general to think they could get through this trip is simply unrealistic. I am sorry, and I mean no disrespect. But anyone who is glib and tells you just to go for it with no experience is just giving you bad advice. If I were you, I would get a four stroke engine and build the bike, but plan the trip for next year and learn everything you can about your bike in the meantime. Try to maintain it yourself if you can, but ask for help if you need it. But when someone helps you, ask them to show you and explain everything they are doing. with these four stroke engines being relatively low maintenance, you will probably be ready for this trip next year. most of the fixing you will have to do between now and then will most likely be to the bike itself, and not too much to any of the motorized components. Please give some serious thought to what Im saying. If you end up stranded somewhere between here and bolivia, at least I can say I tried to talk you out of it, since apparently no one else will.
     
  13. KarlsMom

    KarlsMom New Member

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    I don't know where to begin. He's not the typical 6 year old. He's already been to Bolivia, and he's really good at riding (as a passenger) on a motorcycle. We've discussed that he can ride on some roads on his own bike and with what I'll be carrying (two trailers, not one) if I have the motor off, I will be going about the same speed as he would be. The engine is mainly for going up hills, because of the load, it's not for the entire trip. If I have to take one trailer up at a time, I've seen others do the same. You take a load, drop it, go back, get the other load, go up a bit farther, and then repeat. I've also thought about the possibility of asking a local to haul it up one side for us, just attach it to the back of their vehicle.

    Break downs leading to us getting completely stranded isn't really possible because anywhere you go, there are bicycles. We can do this without a motor. It's just going to be a lot easier with one than without one. My son is used to riding in a car, because we have friends who sometimes give us rides, but he's been in horse drawn carts before, too. To be honest, my number one concern in reaching our destination are the many rivers we'll have to cross. Not all have bridges, and many rely on barges for crossing. It's not going to be easy to get both trailers on the barge, and I'm going to need help with that. But that's something that is workable, too.

    About his age, he's only two years younger than a set of twins who rode the entire Pan Am with their parents when they set off from Alaska. It took them two years, but they made it to the tip of Argentina, and they didn't have an engine at all, but two regular bikes, and a tandem. They also had a lot of the side baskets, panniers, I think they are called, and a trailer. They rode for about four hours a day, and only rode every other day. They aren't the only family that's done this, or is planning on doing it.

    We're planning on about four hours a day, but about five days a week, instead. We're only going for half that distance, and I don't mind if it takes longer than two months, but I would like to get there before the rainy season sets in - I'm hoping to leave in May and get there before November. That's six months.

    Yes, the trailer is going to be custom made. I know how to ask questions. Just because I didn't know what a clutch was, which I do now, doesn't mean I don't have any mechanical aptitude. My ASVAB scores were higher than any of the guys who were took the battery at the same time I did. Knowing or being able to learn how stuff works doesn't mean you have to have the vocabulary down pat. I think, and maybe I am wrong, but if I can put an engine together, and hang onto the manual, I should be able to break it down, too.

    Don't be so discouraging, guys. This is possible to do, it's been done before, and others will do it, too. I'm not the type to quit at the first sign of a problem, or to throw my hands up and say 'I can't figure it out!' That's just not me. If I want to do something, I figure out how. There's more than one way to solve most 'problems' which in my family, we call 'bumps in the road.'

    KarlsMom
     
  14. Ibedayank

    Ibedayank New Member

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    Your ASVAB scores don't mean anything when your 200 miles from anywhere but people living in grass huts. If you think some poor peasant in the middle of nowhere will know how to fix a motorized bicycle when they have never seen one before your in for a rude awaking. YOU better know how to fix everything on your bike because chances are you will be the only one that will have a clue as to what it is and how to fix it. Not to mention where on earth to even get the parts to fix it. I would go on some LOT smaller trips locally to find out what works and if you and your son will really be capable of doing this.
     
  15. motor_bike_fanatic

    motor_bike_fanatic New Member

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    im not trying to discourage you from making the trip. Im just saying you should have more mechanical experience with a motorized bike before taking this trip. I have had problems that have made my bike totally unusable. motor or no motor, stripped hub bearings make a bike unrideable. a bent or warped rim also makes a bike unrideable. if you dont have a bike that can handle the power of a motor, you can damage your bike and it can become unrideable. There is also a big difference between mechanical aptitude and mechanical experience. I never said you couldnt figure it out. I just think you should take the time to get to know your motorized bike really well before you take a 4000 mile trip on it, regardless of how much or how little you will use the motor. I started out with no mechanical experience whatsoever, and in 3 years, I have only been to a bicycle shop a few times for rim straightening and having a pedal crank replaced. I have since learned how to install the crank, but rim straightening is still something I would have done at a shop. Just build a bike and learn all you can. If you have the aptitude that you say you do, then you will be ready for this trip next year. I just wouldnt recommend to anyone, man or woman, new to this hobby, to just build a bike and take off on a 4000 mile trip, regardless of their mechanical aptitude.
     
  16. motor_bike_fanatic

    motor_bike_fanatic New Member

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    At least Im not totally alone in trying to be the voice of reason here.
     
  17. LR Jerry

    LR Jerry Active Member

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    There's the issue of you being legal as well. Please at least get your drivers license. I hate to see you end up in jail and your bike impounded. Research the laws, gain experience and consider riding with another who has taken some long trips. Do you speak Spanish and Portuguese? I'm not against your trip but have a good plan before doing it. Gain some experience first. Most of all get legal. Good luck.
     
  18. KarlsMom

    KarlsMom New Member

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    I've looked at the laws. For a 49CC engine or less, you don't need a license.

    Why would I need to speak Portuguese?

    KarlsMom
     
  19. motor_bike_fanatic

    motor_bike_fanatic New Member

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    different states have different laws, even though there is a federal law regarding vehicles with small engines, many states have stricter laws than the federal one. you seem very determined to make this trip, even though many experienced riders are advising against it. Im done trying to give you good safe advice. if you want to take this trip, fine. whatever goes wrong (and something definitely will) its on you. good luck.
     
  20. LR Jerry

    LR Jerry Active Member

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    That's what some of the Latin American countrys speak. On the license issue the laws very from state to state as do what they consider a motorized bicycle. This is why I said you need to research the laws of each state you'll be passing through. I would even go as far as to research the laws of the countries you'll be passing through. Some good planning will make this possible for you. If time is on your side then use it. However if time is short I'll try to help you for as long as I can.
     

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