First, let me start off by saying this… I am not a mechanically inclined person. Some people just naturally seem to be able to figure out how to fix things. Me, well, I seem to be really good at breaking things. Now that that’s out in the open, I installed a an 80 cc motor kit on my Beach Cruiser and it was a freakin blast! This was the most fun I’ve had in a while. In just a few days (3 actually) I was cruising up and down my street with a big fat smile on my face with the wind in my hair at a smokin 25 mph. Sure, my neighbors hate me now but it was all worth it. In this article I will tell you how to have as much fun as I did.
Why you should install a motor on your bike too..
Did I tell you how much fun it is? There are a lot of other good reason some may want to put a motor on their bike. Here are just a few I can think of right off the top of my head.
- It’s so easy practically anyone can do it. It’s not that I’m bad with tools, it’s just that i’m not good. I was surprised at how easy it was, especially for someone who doesn’t really know their way around an engine. Really, just knowing the basics of an engine will go a long way here. For example, engine uses gas… gas make engine go. Essentially, a cheap socket set from Walmart will get this job done.
- Your bike will still be a bike. – For the most part, you are not making any permanent changes to your existing bicycle. I could strip off the motor in probably less than 30 minutes and be back to stock in no time. I didn’t drill into my bike, I didn’t alter any parts. I just added an engine, a throttle and a few other minor parts. In fact, you can still pedal the bike normally if you wanted.
- A fun weekend project. – This would be the perfect opportunity for a parent to teach their son or daughter about the basics of how a motor works. This little kit will not only keep your kids busy, it will teach them a lot about pride of ownership. This project would be a great way to get in some bonding time and have a little fun at the same time.
- Great for transportation. – If you live in a town where getting around on bicycle is common, this would be a great alternative for you. Whenever you get tire, just drop the clutch and your motor will start right up and pull you the rest of the way. Also, many states have relaxed laws on these types of bicycle mods and they usually don’t require a license or registration. (Check your States’s local laws)
- The modifications are almost endless. – I am always looking for new mods for my hog. There is so much to choose from on Amazon or Aliexpress. From ape style handlebars to custom rear view mirrors, the possibilities are endless. The more creative you are, the better. I have a speedometer and a phone mount on mine. I also picked up some Harley Davidson style handles that looked awesome, until i dropped the bike and they broke. And the very best part is most of these little mods are dirt cheap. Usually withing the $10-$20 range.
I’m in, How do I get started?
Great! First, you are going to want to make sure you have a bicycle that is 26 inches, preferably a beach cruiser. You can definitely make it work with a mountain bike, but you may have to make some small modifications here and there. You can also use up to a 29 inch bicycle but you are going to run into some modification issues along the way. So keep it simple if possible. Also, It has to be an A-Frame bicycle (the male type). The female type bicycles typically do not have a cross bar. The cross bar is essential on this kit because that is where you will be mounting the gas tank. Now I have seen mods that put the gas tank in the back, on top of a rear tire rack so that might be an option.
Next, you are going to want to purchase a motor kit. There are A LOT of options to choose from. You can get them on eBay, Amazon, or Aliexpress. Keep in mind, most, if not all of these engines are going to come from China and some lack quality. If you are shopping on Amazon, try looking for a motor kit that has a lot of positive reviews. The same goes for eBay. On Aliexpress, it’s pretty much a shot in the dark. There are some good quality engines that are made in USA but you will be paying a lot more for them and changes are all the parts are still made in China. The best engine I’ve seen so far on Amazon is from Iglobalbuy who are currently selling 80 cc engine kits for $126 here. Another great website to get a great engine and accessories for your hog is at www.bikeberry.com.
Installing your motor bicycle kit
Ok, so you have everything you need to start building you bike. Find a nice and quiet place in your house, preferably a garage or patio, and start unwrapping all the parts. There are a lot if you purchased the whole kit. Try not to let it overwhelm you. try to keep everything together and organized. Now chances are you got some pretty shitty instructions in your kit, this is normal. Heck, you’d be lucky if yours are in English. Mine were in Romanian I think. But I digress. Is that how you use that phrase? Anyway, YouTube to the rescue. I am a visual learner. Just search YouTube for “80cc bicycle engine install” and you will find a crap load of videos to watch. Some great, some … ok i guess. But from my experience, each video I watched taught me a little bit more than the last. I started with the big parts and worked my way from there.
Problems I ran into – I think the hardest parts were installing the sprocket adapter because it has to be just right in order for the wheel to turn with the chain. If you wan’t to save a whole lot of frustration, you can get a cheater sprocket adapter from Amazon to make that whole process easier. The one the kits comes with is a pain in the arse. Another issue I had was installing the float on the carb. There is certain way it sits in the carburetor for it to work properly. Youtube this also if you have problems. But if you have carburetor experience then you’ll probably be just fine. This was my first experience messing with a small engine carb so there is a small learning curve. Other than those two issues, everything else was pretty much cake!
How to start your bicycle engine.
Here is the moment of truth. You put in all that hard work and it’s all come down to this. These bad boys can be tricky at first until you get the hang of things. Do a break check first. Make sure you have a helmet on… trust me. Make sure your gas switch is on and gas is flowing down to the carb. You should be able to see it because the gas should be blue due to the 2 stroke engine oil mixed in. The choke on the carb should be on. Check to make sure you are holding your clutch in. Lock it in if you can. Hop on the bike and start to pedal, preferably downhill if possible. You are going to want a lot of speed for the first start. Once you are going about 10 mph, let the clutch out. At this point you should start to feel some resistance. This is normal. You should hear your motor trying to start. Keep pedaling! The first start is always the hardest. If your motor has not started after about 20 seconds of pedaling then take a break. You will want to double check everything at this point.
Common problems for not starting:
- You may have installed the kill switch incorrectly. Check your wires and make sure they are connected properly. The blue connects to blue and black connects to black. The white cord is for the generator. It only generated about .5 amps so don’t even bother. You CAN charge a USB device with it but I wouldn’t risk anything expensive. If you are not going to use it, just wrap some electrical tape around it and zip tie it to the frame.
- The clutch is not engaging properly. An easy way to check this is simply trying to push/walk the bike with the clutch engaged (let out). If the wheel rolls while the clutch is engaged, then you will have to tighten the clutch. If the rear wheel locks up and skids then that means the clutch is probably working properly.
- The carburetor is not getting fuel. This was a problem I had my first time. The carb was not sucking up the fuel and delivering to the engine. An easy way to check this is to loosen the screw at the bottom of the carb. If fuel starts dripping then you know fuel was flowing to the carb. If nothing comes out then you may have a bad carburetor. Luckily, they are dirt cheap and can be replaced on Amazon. I recommend buying a spare anyway.
- Bad electrical. This could be either a faulty spark plug or it could be your generator. To check this, remove the spark plug from the engine, leaving it connected to the wire. Hop on the bike and pedal a little with the clutch engaged. Hold the plug next to the frame and look for a spark. If you’re getting a spark then electrical is good. If not, you should start by replacing the plug. If that doesn’t work, consider replacing the ignition coil.
- Bad fuel mixture. If you didn’t know already, 2 stroke engines require a oil to fuel mixture. The break in period calls for 16:1 ratio. I feel that might be a little too much oil. Start off with 24:1 and you’ll do just fine. These aren’t rolls-royce engines we’re dealing with. Heck, you’d probably do fine with 50:1 but you didn’t hear that from me.
After your first ride and beyond
Congratulations! Hopefully everything went well. The first few rides can be tricky but they get easier. It’s important to check your bike over for any loose items. There is a lot of vibration in these little rice cookers. Part will sometimes come loose. The chain tensioner was always a problem child for me. Tighten down that sucker as tight as possible. WARNING: let that sucker cool off before making any adjustments. These guys get HOT. I have a burn scare on my hand to remind me everyday.
After about 2-3 tanks, you will have reached the end of your break in period. At this point you can start to experiment with the fuel ratio. Also, you’ll probably start to notice more power. These little china engines will gain some power after a while so if it feels lame at first, hang in there. There are mods for performance you can purchase like better carburetors and air-intakes that actually do work. I’ll provide some links at the ends for some mods that I have used and recommend. So have fun, stay safe, obey the laws, and wear a freaking helmet! You only get one head.