Advice for buying a prebuilt bike?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by BlueDestiny, Dec 30, 2014.

  1. BlueDestiny

    BlueDestiny New Member

    My first motorized bike was stolen right after I finished putting it together (of course). I would rather not have to build another one from scratch due to working part time and going to school full time. The primary reason I want a motorized bike is to have an easy time getting around the city of Berkeley CA, which is very hilly in places.

    If anyone has tips for what to watch out for when buying a prebuilt bike I would appreciate it. I'm trying to avoid buying a scooter (is basically the same functionality as a moped but 3x the price) or motorcycle (too expensive).

    The only thing that would get me to buy a kit is if it does not require a huge amount of tweaking/aftermarket parts to get running as mine did. I'm talking just bolting the engine/gas tank on hooking up the wires and cables and that's it.

  2. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Well, the basic happy time 2 cycle engine kit can be what you've described: bolt it on and go. Though I'm not normally one to recommend such a thing. I do think these bikes should be taken seriously.

    But you've built one before and that helps. You've got some experience. Have a good look at the wheels and make sure they've got no loose spokes or cones or anything like that. And make sure that when you fasten that engine down it stays exactly where you put it. No movement. Same thing with the chain and axle.

    You could build that in a day,barring unforeseen fit or clearance issues. And you could ride that safely, and fine tune from there, as long as you go slowly.

    If you decide to buy a pre-built bike, then I'd urge you to stay away from any builder who slaps a kit onto a hundred dollar bike and sells it cheap. This will probably not be a safe bike.

    If you go pre-built, then I'd urge you to go with, for instance, Venice Motor Bikes. He's not exactly local (Venice CA), but you'll get a well-built bike. I'll bet it'll cost more than, say, $300 though.

    You could consider KCVale, too. He's a member here. Phoenix AZ, if I remember right.
    It might sound like a pain dealing with someone that far away. But you want your bike to be safe.
  3. BlueDestiny

    BlueDestiny New Member

    True, now that I know what I'm doing more or less it wouldn't take much time to slap an engine on. The real caveat is fitting everything properly, which was a proper nightmare on my first build.

    Are there any walmart-etc generic mountain bikes or cruisers that are known to fit an engine with no problem? Searching the forum hasn't turned up anything specific.

    E: Well I'll be damned, somebody here actually did use the exact walmart bike I was looking at and slapped a kit on it. Looks like it worked out for him, but I'll keep investigating.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2014
  4. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Well-Known Member

    We have local motorbike sellers on craigslist here. Most come and go. They irritate me because most of them make unrealistic performance claims, and exaggerate the road legality of them.
    -Since you have built your own motorbike before, you have a big advantage over a complete newbie. You know the importance of a straight chain line. You can pick out poor cable and wiring routing. You know what a good motorbike should feel like while riding.
    -If I were you, I would buy a motorbike from one of the local craigslist builders, but inspect it carefully before acceptance. If its not built right and they wont correct it, walk away.
    -If you don't want a new discount store bike, buy a sturdy used cruiser from 70s yourself
    and have one of the craigslist sellers install it. The down side of this it that you can't walk away from the deal if its not installed properly, since you provided the bike. Good luck.
  5. crassius

    crassius Well-Known Member

    got 3 bikes here for repair - were ordered by customer from 'some guy' who offered to build them for $50 apiece - all 3 are dead with loose motors. bad wiring, no tensioners for chains, and a lot of other problems - customer says the guy's phone number no longer works

    will take a while to even get them to the point where they'll run but still need some attention by owner for cosmetic stuff

    best advice is to find someone that will build for you locally and be there for support if there are problems
  6. BlueDestiny

    BlueDestiny New Member

    I've decided to get another bike+kit because if you want something done right you gotta do it yourself. I'm researching various frames to use and the ones that caught my eye so far are this huffy 26inch cruiser and this single-speed/fixie. I'm interested in those two because both have been used in builds on this forum (with the cruiser even having a good review for fitting an engine kit on the walmart site) and because they are cheap.
  7. crassius

    crassius Well-Known Member

    just built a huffy fresno for a guy - frame eats up vibs really well, but some work is required to fit the rear sprocket over the oversized spoke anchors on the rim - bike was $139 at target with 7-speed & real brakes

    I rode an older schwinn majestic a while back & is best handling bike I've ridden - 7-speed & real brakes - $169 at tartget, but has same chinese front fender probs as walmart schwinns
  8. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    My last motored bike was a Huffy Cranbrook. I don't mind giving it the thumbs up. It was a good bike for the job. 12 gauge spokes was a big plus.

    In fact, I had been looking that bike over and thinking it looked good for that job. When I noticed those spokes, I bought it on the spot.

    Downsides; the rear wheel hub doesn't seem to be very high quality. You'll want to disassemble and grease often. (But this is true of any coaster brake hub used in this application.) The gearing is not exactly bad. But pulling away from a dead stop can be a bit clumsy. You might well wish to change your gearing. With a smaller front chain ring or a larger rear. But this doesn't have to be done immediately anyway.

    I'd put rim brakes on it front and rear. To help carry that load for the sake of the rear hub.

    And I'd reinforce the fenders. This is important! A big safety issue.
  9. AssembleThis

    AssembleThis Member

    My First Build!

    Hi BlueDestiny!
    Wow sorry to hear about your bike being stolen. I know exactly how you feel, I'd be devastated if my first build was stolen.
    Mine is a Kent La Jola cruiser. I've had it for about 9 months and just refilled my 1 gallon gas jug for the sixth time. Don't know exactly how many miles but I'm sure it's over 500. Nice thing is for a cheap Wally World bike it hasn't left me stranded once. I have made many upgrades to the bike and engine, neither are stock. It goes way too fast at top speed. I like to ride it about 20 to 25 mph. It's not complete yet as I'm designing a full electric system for it. I started a second build on the same type bike hoping I can make it even better. I just bought an AC DC TIG welder to make my first stainless steel gas tank and mods on the frame. Hasn't arrived yet, standing on pins and needles waiting for the UPS truck.
    Some pics.

    There is a real problem where I live as well with theft. So I use 2 Kryptonite chains and 2 Kryptonite cables as well as an alarm lock that goes off if the bike is touched. I also lock the bike up in my living room when I'm at home.

    Hope you have better luck with your next bike. :)