Why have things not improved?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by JunkyardDog, Dec 28, 2015.

  1. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    Motorized bicycles have been around for a long time now. Yet I see no signs of improvement in the quality or design of the engine kits. The Chinese kits especially still use the same crappy rag joint rear sprockets and those horrible idler pulleys. You would think someone would have come up with something better by now. I remember a time when you could actually buy a bicycle designed to be motorized, with the proper engine mounts welded on the frame, and a sprocket properly attached to the rear wheel. They seem to have disappeared. There are probably legal reasons why you can't buy a factory made motorized bike, but I see nothing to prevent companies from selling all the necessary parts, including frames and wheels, designed to fit together properly without using universal clamps and brackets and shims that never seem to fit properly, and almost always have to be modified to even work. Unless someone is an accomplished welder and machinist, with access to all the necessary equipment, it is virtually impossible to build a quality motorized bicycle.

    What got me thinking about this was a recent ride on a Motoped. Now those are really neat, but serious overkill for a motorized bicycle, and the engine size makes them illegal as motorized bicycles in my state. Price for one is around $3000. I think a basic motorized bicycle, designed so that everything fits together properly without having to be rigged, could be sold for less than half that. Maybe there just isn't enough interest in motorized bicycles to justify making quality parts. Just take a look at www.totalruckus.com to see what can be accomplished with a 50cc scooter when the demand for high dollar parts is there. These scooters sell for around $2500 new, some people have over $10K into theirs. Sure wish some of that type of thing would happen with the motorized bicycle scene.

  2. troyg

    troyg Member

    There's nothing to preven companies, except demand.The majority of Americans (I'll assume you're stateside) are fat and lazy, so why would they buy a bike, any bike motored or not?It's not comfortable doing "movement" things when you're way out of your BMI.Regulations have killed innovation as well, why take a chance on something that has shown doesn't sell well in the past, plus put up with extra regulation that Americans just keep rolling over and lubing themselves up for?Also, percieved dangers are almost as outlawed as real dangers, we have a new regulation that all drones must be registered, that's a National Registry, WE DON'T EVEN HAVE THAT FOR CARS, there hasn't been one NOT ONE drone and airplane collision, but because of media bulls.h.i.t. now people just roll over,... again;
    so there's a bunch of people scared of what they've heard about how dangerous bikes are, why would they want to go faster on such a death trap?The majority of Americans are penny-wise and pound foolish, 85% of people have sattelite/cable/cellphones/xbox/ps3, yet I hear those same people complain about how little extra money they have, and suffer during bill time.
    You're asking for a common sense reason to something, in a world gone mad, there's your answer "Fishbulb".
  3. bakaneko

    bakaneko Active Member

    I think one of the other things you can do is to buy a moped engine and mount it onto a bicycle. The moped engines might be more efficient than the 66/80cc 2-strokes. It seems the most popular engine sizes are 49/50, 110, and 125cc. In the spring, I am looking to building a bigger bike that can go comfortably 45-60 mph and am considering a 125cc moped engine to avoid registering my motorized bicycle as a motorcycle (130cc or less with pedals is a moped in WI) and getting a motorcycle license. The engines are more expensive than the 212cc Predator engines used for high speed motorized bikes though. Here is a link of a 125cc moped engine on a chopper style bike (drives @ 3:10).

  4. crassius

    crassius Well-Known Member

    I'm seeing improvements in kits every few months

    since the change to balanced cranks, my repair work has gone down to unacceptable levels

    rarely see a bad seal, a bad main bearing, or motor mounts ripped from the cases

    thinner rear sprockets have cured much of the broken spoke problems too

    if I weren't so old, I'd be looking for other work to do : (
  5. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    bakaneko, that is a really cool bike. Unfortunately such a bike is not legal in my state. We are limited to 48cc engines. Mopeds are limited to 49cc engines. A factory made moped with a VIN can be registered and insured and plated. I have owned Tomos and Puch mopeds. But they are not allowed in the bike lane, which basically makes them suicide machines in traffic. Anything without pedals or that has more than 49cc must be registered as a motorcycle. But it must have a VIN. It would probably be easier to move Mt. Everest than it would to title and register a homemade bike. So what I would like is a nice clean 48cc MB that doesn't look like a Frankenstein creation.

    I am neither fat nor lazy, but due to a disability, I can no longer pedal a bike very far. I still ride motorcycles, both dirt and street. And I still love riding bicycles, as long as I don't have to pedal them.
  6. Purple Haze

    Purple Haze Active Member

    The parts are out there to improve these kits, the problem is many people want to build to the lowest price possible. The basic engines have come a long way in improvements, but they are still built to a low price with poor quality fasteners, cheap chains and tensioners, and bad metallurgy. Jaguar and others have produced aftermarket parts for these kits that address the glaring faults.
  7. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Well-Known Member

    A Chinese 50cc street legal motor scooter can be bought for $600 in many areas. Kit prices must be kept low to compete with those motor scooters.
    I think a 50 lb motorized bicycle is a lot more fun than a 200 lb motor scooter.
  8. Timbone

    Timbone Active Member

    You can get a decent used motorcycle for $1500. Brand new, you can pick up a little Honda Grom for $3K or even a new Honda 250 for a little bit more. That sets the top range of acceptable cost.

    You can source a good engine in the $400-$500 range. Even a decent bicycle to build on will cost $200 or more. Add on a clutch and other costs and this quickly gets priced out of play.

    I really like that 125cc up top as it fills a niche in the American market: small, high efficiency motorcycles that are fun and dependable.
  9. MacZulu

    MacZulu Member

    that's a very cool 125cc chopper
  10. syphonza

    syphonza Member

    simply put development costs!!!!!! never mind the costs of setting up production, marketing etc.... all while you have no guarantee of ever getting your money back!
  11. troyg

    troyg Member

    Hey don't take offense, I singled no one, majority means over 50%, which means bigger than either your or my one butt, America is up to 63.2% at last count, stats are used in predicting monetary return, if there's more fat people you HAVE to take that, and their behaviors into account.
    Syphonza is partly on to it.You have to remember, we all are WAY into this, but the majority of Americans aren't even WAY into bicycles, better put, just because you're jazzed about something doesn't mean anyone else is, or ever will be regardless of how cool.Examples in other fields, musical fields look at the Yamaha G10C and the Zeta Mirror-6, unbelieveable things, ultra cool, ended up costing the end user $10,000 for one unit, few sold, many pissed investors.
    Do you gamble?That's what's it's about, for the most part you'll see add-ons but no innovation-invention, it's not worth it at this point in America.
    OK the speeds you want to go on a bike, you need a DH or Freeride, disc, or drum brakes, sealed bearings.Common bicycles won't handle high speeds for long.You're going to have to build it all yourself, the only way to do that is either find, or have made, a small wankel, but remember wankels are inherently fuel wasters.Other than that crazy gearing systems, or find and old Sachs bike, and have a machine shop breakdown the engine, and create a sportier one in the same case.
  12. troyg

    troyg Member

    Oh and litigation in America, Can you imagine, you make a MAB, it goes 50mph+, someone dies on it, who do you think they'll come after?They're trying to make loopholes that mak a firearm manufacturer liable for the users actions, don't think that would happen to MAB's?
  13. sbest

    sbest Active Member

    The Chinese kits do what they are supposed to; meet the law for motorized bikes in most locations. 50cc, 30mph, etc. Plus they meet the cost most users want to pay. Quality is sketchy, true, even the hardware is a bit suspect, but I see improvements in the 3 engines I have that were probably build over a 3 or 4 year spread. These are a wonderful simple and cheap learning base for anyone who wants to learn about gas motors and mechanics. Everything on them can be improved, lightened, smoothed and replaced cheaply. Want to see what porting the heck out of it will do? A new cylinder is only $15. Want to lighten a piston? Want to cut a new chamber design? All hugely affordable. A 14 year old kid could afford and have a great time with this engine with only a handful of tools and a few spares. I know this 55 year old kid is.

  14. skyash

    skyash Active Member

    Well I got sick of 66cc motors there to much trouble so I got a 49 cc 4 stroke and it's good not as fast take off or top end but reliable till now the gear box is broken so I got a 49 cc pocket bike motor 2 stroke and it is grate really great leaves the 4 stroke and the 66 for dead so small and compact but so fast. And cheper then all of the rest if I had a shift kit it wood do 80 kmh there is one on you tube that does I believe him after I made my one . I think it is the way to go so far
  15. bakaneko

    bakaneko Active Member

    Pocket bikes are illegal on the road in Wisconsin. It is another interesting option. If it is illegal, you can simply remove the motor from the pocket bike frame and mount it onto your bicycle and boom legal now. You gotta love how the law is written sometimes. :p
  16. JunkyardDog

    JunkyardDog Active Member

    It's tempting to use cost as the issue, but what about those $5000 electric bikes? I still say a very nice gas powered motorized bike can be built for $1000. Now that I think about it, it is not so much the quality as the design problems. Suppose you could buy that $200 or even $300 bicycle with proper engine mounts already welded to the frame, a proper chain tensioner/idler pulley (which would probably require some type of brace welded between the seat stay and chain stay, and a toothed, spring loaded roller) and a sprocket already properly attached to the rear wheel? That would solve a lot of the problems right there. I think the Chinese engine kits could be substantially improved from a quality and design point for a couple hundred $$$ more. You could have a decent MB for under $1000, and even a shifter bike for $1000 or just a little over. And there would be no clamps, no spacers, shims, wrapping things with rubber, etc. It would all fit together perfectly, just like it came from the factory already made. I thought things might be going in that direction a few years back when you could buy a bicycle that was designed to be motorized. It even had the gas tank built into the frame. Then it disappeared. I can't even remember the name of it.

    As a Harley rider (my bike is actually mostly stock) I have seen what can be done with aftermarket Harley parts. You can build an entire bike without using a single Harley part. And you can build it in any style you want. And unlike OCC, you don't have to cut or weld, just bolt the parts together. I remember when gopeds and pocket bikes were that way. You could buy one and modify it, or build one from the ground up, with parts designed to go together.

    As for scooters, there is an allure to MB that scooters simply don't have. In my state, legal motorized bikes (48cc, top speed of 20 mph) have most of the rights of a pedal bike, the most important being the right to use bike lanes. It is impossible to ride a 50cc scooter in town around here. They are not legal in the bike lane, and they are way too slow to be ridden in a traffic lane. And to me they are huge, awkward things compared to a MB. And there is very little potential to modify them. The Honda Ruckus and Grom are about the only scooter and small motorcycle around that people are spending more to modify than the bikes cost new. I think it sure would be cool if you could buy all the made to fit goodies for motorized bicycles that you can for those bikes.

    Earlier I brought up Motoped. They are a company that builds high quality (and expensive) motorized bicycles But IMO they are TOO expensive, and not legal on the street in most states. They are designed mostly for off road use. They are basically downhill mountain bikes with a motor. But they are not cobbled together, all the parts are designed to go together. The workmanship is beautiful. More like a small motorcycle than a MB. But I don't see any reason why this couldn't be done on a much simpler level. Just like what most people build, but with parts that are designed and engineered to fit together. Kind of like the recent modern Whizzer, only with 48cc engines.

    I actually think that the 2 stroke Chinese engine kits are doomed, and will eventually be banned by the EPA. Fortunately we have high quality 4 stroke engines. I remember back in the '70s when the streets were full of 2 stroke mopeds. There were over 100 brands. Tomos was the last survivor, and they gave it up a couple years ago. There is still one moped on the market, a Chinese made 4 stroke, I believe the brand is Lazer. It looks just like the traditional '70s moped, and costs about $1500. I would much rather have a nice motorized bicycle for the same price. $1500 is nothing for a bicycle. Many downhill mountain bikes are getting close to $10,000.

    Sorry about the super long post. But as a motorized bicycle enthusiast, I just can't help but think that it could be so much more than it is, for not a lot more money.
    KenM and Timbone like this.
  17. MacZulu

    MacZulu Member

    hey Skyash where did you get the 49cc pocket bike engine from? just stripped off an old p-bike? any pics of set up? I like ktm 50cc that Dax sells, but people with more experience have said it's more trouble than it's worth to try mount it on a bike.
  18. crassius

    crassius Well-Known Member

    that's the diff between the hobbyist & the normal person - I'd feel like an idiot if I paid more than $300 total for something no matter how reliable that caused me to leave a 1/2 hour early to get to work on time
  19. syphonza

    syphonza Member

  20. sbest

    sbest Active Member

    Hmmm, Things have improved I'd say.
    I paid $60 for my first motorized bike, an old 66cc on a beat 26" wheel road bike, derailleurs and back brake not working. That is cheap thrills gentlemen. I bought it to check out if these China Girl motors are any good. It worked like a charm, but then, I had low expectations. I just wanted more range than my electric Schwinn could get me.


    The China Girl Happy Time motor worked wonderfully. Gave me the range and about 10kph more speed for long distance rides. I did have some reliability problems with the China Girl, mainly due to the previous owner's lack of mechanical knowledge, which I think is pretty common. Bolts were loose or stripped, chain misaligned, clutch mal-adjusted, too much oil in the fuel, broken bits everywhere. The spokes were shot and the back wheel bearing gone. All those are not reliability issues, they are maintenance issues.

    I bought a used mountain bike and a new Grubee Skyhawk motor because I was so impressed and for the price didn't want to have to clean up the old motor.


    Its dirtier than when I put it together, this thing rocks and I ride it, trails and all.
    It does take some knowledge to get the most out of these motors. They are somewhat plug and play but really need some fine tuning and a fair amount of maintenance to keep going well. Stock this motor runs smooth and quiet and will do 50-60kph on the flat and manage 30 kph up all but the steepest hills with a bit of assist. I have no problem running it 50kms on dirt track, all for less than $300 investment. That is really cheap thrills gentlemen. A new motor is cheaper than a battery for my electric.

    I'd suggest that the cheap price (and the spelling in these forums) puts these motors in the hands of many nescient riders. It is a good thing that these motors are affordable enough to provide an education for those wanting to learn. Others will blame their lack of success on the simple design and foreign origin.

    Electric has some real advantages, but cannot deliver the range and speed that these cheap thrill motors can. Battery technology has a long way to come.

    I several hundred kms on my old and new engines. I find something needing a little work after every trip. Loose spokes, low tire, loose drive chain, a bit of grease on the gear, cable adjustment, etc. Hard testing up a hill blew a headgasket.

    A little brains and ingenuity solved this problem and has this cheap little motor running better than ever. Incidentally I drove it home and am still running the same headgasket. These things are so simple I could have repaired it on the side of the road, including planing the head, with only a pocket of tools.

    Yup, they take a hobbyist, but are one of the best values and educations I've seen in a while...