The best condidate for a motor bicycle build

Discussion in 'Pre-Motorized Bicycle Information.' started by biknut, Dec 5, 2014.

  1. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I thought this was interesting because we're always debating whether Walmart bikes are good for building a motor bicycle. A lot of us believe they're ok, myself included, but there's many that believe they're the worst choice possible.

    I was looking at a website specializing in eBike conversions. They made the claim that Walmart style bikes are actually good candidates, because they're usually heavier, and therefore stronger. They recommended not using more expensive lighter weight bikes, because their frames are made of thinner metal.

    I tend to agree with that assessment as long as it's understood that almost everything besides the frame will probably have to be replaced.
     
  2. xseler

    xseler Active Member

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    The only thing I've actually replaced on my Huffy are the wheel bearings........and lots of grease. Now, I've certainly added things --- additional brakes and such, but nothing has broken.

    It really surprised me at how well it handled my last fire trail outing. It did better than I did!!
     
  3. crassius

    crassius Active Member

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    walmart & target are where I get bikes - there is a lot of work involved fixing small issues with assembly screwups & stripped out threads - OTOH, I'm not inclined to ruin a good bike by putting a motor on it
     
  4. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Active Member

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    The department store bikes make motorized bicycling more affordable, so I'm an advocate of them. (As long as you avoid the ones with welded-on cargo racks).
    I prefer an older, heavier cruiser like my old 70's western flyer, but they are tough to find in some areas and you will normally need to repaint them.
     
  5. Dan

    Dan Staff
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    I am in no way a fan of wally world but I buy most of my bikes there. Have honestly not had a problem with any of them.

    A comparable bike made with exotic materials to save weight, (kinda wasted on us a good deal of the time) is 3 to 4 times the price and often imported any way.

    After many happy hours searching online, I still find that they have the largest choice in cruisers. With gears and front and back brakes. Somewhat difficult to find.

    The "trick" is to try and get one still in the box but in any condition, check if not completely dismantle and reassemble. The master mechanic might have been in a rush collecting shopping carts or may never have assembled a bike before he did yours.

    I like the heavier frames, the cheap brake pads that seem to outlast expensive ones and of course, the price.

    Bought a notcher and a welder to produce bikes and just haven't got to it yet. Would really like to see a good cheap bike made in the west.
     
  6. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    My Huffy Cranbrook from the Beast of Bentonville did well.

    I'd been eyeing it for a while because it looked like a nice bike for this job. Then one day I noticed that it had 12 gauge spokes. Bought it on the spot. Kudos to Huffy for beefing up the wheels.

    I did toast a few wheel bearings. But otherwise the bike did just fine. Though I'm not riding it right now, it's in working condition.

    Now, I ride smart and I know how to roll with the punches that the road will give. I'm fairly gentle on my bikes. But I don't treat them like a porcelain doll. I ride daily as well. So they get some use.

    But because of the cheap wheels, I regard big box store bikes as being on the very edge of the safety margin.

    I think fairly well of them. And you get good bang for your buck.

    But not just anyone should put a motor on one of them.
     
  7. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    In my opinion the wheels are the biggest problem with cheap bikes. Motor bicycles are tough on wheels. Wheels were the first thing that failed on my early bikes. Easy problem to rectify though. Just buy better wheels.
     
  8. KCvale

    KCvale Active Member

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    I like the Micargi Pantera 7-speed for 2-stroke builds, direct drive and jackshafted.
    Steel frame, decent wheels, and dual V-brakes.

    For direct drives the sprocket plops on centered on the hub, and with rare horizontal drop-outs for a 7-speed you can mount it without a tensioner by adjusting the back wheel.

    I get mine from the bike shop around the corner for ~$250 w/tax.


    You might want to beef up the top mount for the front fender if you are going to be on rough road a lot but overall a 3-point mount in front and 4-point mount in back keeps them on well.
     
  9. maniac57

    maniac57 Old, Fat, and still faster than you

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    Ebikes are a different animal from a two stroke chinadoll.
    It's all about the vibration.
     
  10. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    Never the less, please feel free to explain why the claim about Walmart bikes being good candidates, wouldn't apply to a gas bike if you're disagreeing.
     
  11. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    I'll go ahead and interpret Maniac's meaning since it seems pretty clear. And he can always correct me if I'm wrong.

    He seems to be saying that while Wal-Mart bikes might be good enough for electric applications they are not good enough for gas motor applications.

    I happen to disagree. Those frames that I've had contact with certainly seemed to be strong enough.

    Might it be, though, that they have a higher average failure rate than similar frames from, say, Trek or Raleigh sold in LBS? Could be, I suppose. And the same thing might be true of their components.

    But even that wouldn't disqualify them, in my opinion. As long as this hypothetical failure rate isn't too high. The rider must bear the responsibility of keeping an eye on his equipment. Yes, there might be frame failures that give no sign before hand. But we can't cover every eventuality.

    This 'rider responsibility' issue, by the way, is the main reason that I disapprove of those who don't know, understand and even love bikes motorizing them. I think that everyone who wants to be a motorized bicyclist should be a bicyclist first.
    But I'm getting off-subject.

    I do agree that a lot of the components will need eventual replacement.
     
  12. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    The only bike I have personal knowledge of that suffered a broken frame was an Electra, which I think would be considered at least one step up from a Walmart bike.
     
  13. Dan

    Dan Staff
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    You make a valid and great point Blue Goat. I don't think at all straying off topic and is not covered near enough IMVHO. (In My Very Humble Opinion)

    First and foremost, and most definitely in this conversation the bike and understanding of the bike is the premier/most important safety concern. Proper maintenance and knowing what won't work or last with the speeds and vibrations (certinly including e-bikes as they are still exceeding design) Any bike needs to be our first concern.

    I cringe when I suggest to new folks that an old bike is a good choice. Or when I suggest a wally world bike will work. Or when I suggest putting an engine on a bicycle. No "lol" Taking a device meant for cruising around at human powered speeds and putting a motor on em and turning them into a 2 (or 3) wheeled vehicle is just a little nutz. (people are crazy and we are just some of them)

    But first and foremost, it is the bike. Choice is second to knowledge, maintenance and just plain knowing when some thing just does not feel or sound right.

    What is awesome about "here", is you folks. I don't mean that in any other way than I truly mean just that. The welcomes to new folks and the time and concern taken to typ for the hundredth time; "Watch those fenders", "Ya need better brakes" "No, a pulse jet is a bad idea...." (I actually said that to some one.((Really, really funny as I am half done with one. not kidding))

    I was thinking this would be a controversial topic and am even more surprised more folks who do not like the less expensive bikes have not voiced an opinion. Really used to be a very hotly debated topic.

    Dan *can't stay on topic* Keav
     
  14. KCvale

    KCvale Active Member

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    There are no Walmart brand bikes.
    Wallyworld sells all kinds of bikes, the point I think is dissuading people from buying that $100 Cranbook or $125 Huffy with the attached rack because it looks cool and they have no money.

    Throw a $100 motor kit on it with pliers and you may get 40 miles on it.
    Then put it up on Craigslist for $250-$350 and pass the junk on.
    That is sadly plentiful here in the Phoenix area.

    I've built on a lot of bike frames and looked at a lot of repair jobs, I say 'looked at' because in many cases it just less expensive overall for the customer to just buy a solid new build that trying to make a turd smell better with Lysol when it will always be a turd.

    Huffy uses the cheapest materials they can where you can't see, the hubs, especially coaster brake hubs.
    Why save $50 today just to push an impending $50 problem off until it strands if not potentially hurts you on the road?

    My advice is save up for a good bike first and I mentioned one of my standard builds that don't come back.

    It makes obvious sense in local business not to sell crap that is going to come back to you, but isn't it wise to take that approach to your own ride?

    It might dawn on you when you crap your pants, either because you had to take a dump and your bike breaks, or you came so close to getting killed you pinched a loaf on the spot.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  15. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    Maybe you didn't read my opening post. I did mention everything would need to be replaced except the frame.

    As far as your contention that throwing a bike together with pliers will end up junk is probably true, but isn't that going to be the same case with any bike, no matter what the original donor bike is?

    With the exception of the Panama Jack bikes where the frame seems to break at the rack weld, I haven't really seen much evidence that the Walmart style frames end up breaking any more frequently that other frames, except for the fact that there's probably a lot more of them, so more of them break only because of that.
     
  16. KCvale

    KCvale Active Member

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    My point exactly, why buy a $100 bike just to put $150 into it to make it sound when you can just buy a good $200 - $250 bike?

    The thing is, the guy with only $250 needs an engine kit too so the bike stays the same and of course fails.

    Absolutely!
    Again my point is simple, I find it best to just not skip important stuff because you have a small budget and that includes the proper tools for the job.

    MB's are a cool way to get some custom transportation for cheap but there is only so much you can skip on if you don't want to spend more time and money fixing it than riding it.
     
  17. 2door

    2door Moderator
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    Here's my view, for what its worth.

    The point being the mechanical ability of the builder. A builder with enough mechanical know-how and experience can have good luck even with a 'cheap' bike. Conversely, there are those out there who given an expensive bike to start with will manage to mess it up and end up with a bike that is not only potentially unsafe but usually unrelieable.


    My Dad used to say this about people without mechanical skills: "Give them a cannon ball and a rubber mallet and they'll break the cannon ball."

    It's not always dependent on how much you spend but how much you know.

    Tom
     
  18. biknut

    biknut Active Member

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    I still haven't heard anyone convincingly dispute the idea that a cheap heavy bicycle, such as a Walmart bike, is not better to use than an expensive lightweight bike. Sure a cheap bike has crummy wheels, but not very many bicycles come from the factory with motor bicycle grade wheels at any price.

    Personally I prefer a low cost bike, so not much money is wasted when I upgrade the parts with ones of my personal approval.
     
  19. KCvale

    KCvale Active Member

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    Yep, and since this forum helped me so much when I first started I share what I learned in topics just like this, 'The best candidate for a motor bicycle build', and I say not a $100 bike.
     
  20. xseler

    xseler Active Member

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    'Most' people dipping their toes into this hobby most likely want to see if they will like it before laying out a boatload of money. This describes me. I already had a relatively new Huffy cruiser and got a kit before I found this forum. I guess I was lucky that I picked a good kit (66cc Skyhawk) and had turned a wrench or two. So far, I couldn't be happier with the result. After finding this forum, there are some things that I would have done differently, but they've caused no issues so far.

    This is kinda like any other hobby --- you've got to know a little about what's going on, or you're gonna get hurt or spend more money than necessary. Just my opinion.
     

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