Wheels Bikes with 24" wheels-do they work?

Discussion in 'Bicycle Repair' started by gia, Jun 26, 2011.

  1. gia

    gia New Member

    I'm about to start my first build, with the motor kit supposed to arrive in a few days. I've had zero luck finding an older used cruiser, which was my hope, which leaves me using a new bicycle.

    With limited funds and skills, I really don't want to start this first project off trying to figure out how to modify a bike a great deal. I'm trying to stick to the KISS theory here...

    The problem is that I am short, and while I've ridden bikes with 26" wheels most of my life, in a men's version, that stretch is tougher. The idea of stretching around a hot motor isn't real appealing, nor is the idea that I would have a hard time at stop lights, etc. with a too-large frame. The 24" frames DO fit, but I'm concerned about the availability of things like appropriate tires and tubes, whether the motor is really going to fit, etc. Plus, there just aren't any "cruiser" style bicycles that are men's with 24" wheels available locally, which means that I'd have to go with a mountain bike. My current bike is a modified dual suspension mountain bike--cruiser seat & handlebars make a lot of difference!

    Has anybody else used 24" mountain bikes? What kind of luck have they had with finding tires more appropriate to streets & roads?

    I've searched the forum until I was blue in the face, and found very little regarding these smaller bikes, which sometimes are referred to as "boys" bikes. Would I be better off dealing with the lack of stability in an oversized frame?

  2. MikeJ

    MikeJ Member

    Hi Gia -

    Will bikes with 24 inch wheels work? Absolutely, YES! I know because my first motorized bike build three years ago was a 24 inch boys mountain bike. The bike was around 12 - 15 years of age at time I purchased it from a neighborhood garage-based bike rebuilder. I first saw it while doing a Craigslist search. It was a steel frame and had a Japanese name on it. I don't recall the make nor model right now, and it would be a week until I could post any pictures.

    I took my time building it and had to make a few minor adjustments (but NO frame drilling!). To my amazement, it fired up after a few seconds of pedaling per instructions.

    The engine was a generic 66cc two stroke with all the common vibrations. The engine installation was a tight fit; I had to file a little bit off of the air filter to make it fit. Get the largest triangle frame you can find. As a rule (I suppose): the larger the head tube space from the horizontal tube to the down tube, the greater your chance for extra engine space. No engine modification of any kind was done.

    The drive chain went to the left side "rag" joint. It was a bit painful getting that rear sprocket aligned and centered. Many guys have used that "rag" joint for many miles. I personally prefer a machined gear assembly (check "Manic Mechanic" and "Creative Engineering"; one of those businesses make custom sized bike gears. From experience: monitor the status of your order closely so it does not fall out of sight.)

    I broke in the engine. Picture this: a 72 inch tall guy in a full motorcycle helmet and bright yellow nylon jacket on a frame built for someone half his weight. Elbows and knees almost sharing the same space.

    It rode just fine. I built it for a 61 inch lady friend who promptly hit the curb and sailed over the handlebars. It is a very good thing she had a helmet; she broke it instead of her head upon impact with the concrete. A few bruises, but no other injuries. Eventually, she rode this one and I rode my second build (26 inch wheels) for a 30 mile round trip. Her reward? An A&W root beer float.

    The bike has since been stored. It will take some effort to take out of mothballs and roadworthy again.

    Keep looking and keep in mind that building should be fun and a learning experience. You can find parts and pieces; perhaps in out-of-the-way places. I work on my bikes a few hours every week without a deadline. Eventually, a surprising riding machine will emerge.

    Have fun!
  3. Al.Fisherman

    Al.Fisherman Active Member

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2011
  4. Trix

    Trix New Member

    I have a 24" schwinn bike with 36 sproket.....it did 43mph....I'm 175lbs :bowdown:
  5. gia

    gia New Member

    I finally found a small framed bike with 26" wheels. So...problem solved. Checking around, it looked like tires were very limited in selection compared to 26" wheels though, which made me question whether using this size wheel would be wise.

    So, the question is a moot point for now. Not sure what bike #2 will be yet, but first have to do THIS project! Tomorrow is build-a-new-motor-mount day as the down tube is an oval and too large for the kit mount. Joys!