Do I want to build motorbikes?

Discussion in 'General Questions' started by, Apr 9, 2009.

  1. I have just about given up on ever finding another job at 73. I am looking at some down time when I get my knee overhauled anyhow. Maggie suggested after I had to let my son in Tulsa use my HT/Schwinn to find work that I could make some coin building and selling them. :idea:
    What would a 70cc Gru Bee in a new $125 bike sell for ready to go? Or possibly a bit better bike such as a Cranbrook Huffey at $140? (NOT Walleyworld). It would require a bit of rigging to mount it properly. One thing I am concerned about is if I build one and sell it, that's just an individual doing his thing, but if I do a bunch of em and some dumbA-- hurts himself on it, he is either going to blame me,as a business, or George Bush, and sue me. Would going LLC do any good to save my butt? I may pursue that drive chain brake idea also. I dropped my resume of at the Tri County Tech office offering my assistance by designing and building machinery or prototyping for people in the new business incubator cheaply. I netted one father and son with a new steam engine idea that need a prototype built that might be fun. Right now I am skinning my Lotus 7 replica for entertainment.
    Curtis Fox, one of the motorbike club members and his wife dropped by for a visit on their way to Utah in their motorhome. It was really neat to meet someone I only knew online. We had a good visit

  2. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I suppose most of us have given some thought to building these for profit. My guess is that it would be difficult to actually make a living. (forget guessing, actually. I'm pretty sure of that.)

    But if you're known around your community as "that bike guy", might you be able to parlay that into other odd mechanical jobs? Bicycle repair, auto oil changes, etc? Even then, you're not likely to be the next Donald Trump. But if it brings in as much as a part-time McDonald's job, then you're better off. But I'm afraid even that modest goal will take some time.

    One thing you could do to expand the profit margin a bit is to forget about using new bikes. Just trash pick old ones (and many are not that old at all), give 'em a paint job and build.

    I'm no legal expert, so I'm not even sure how much "limited liability" an LLC will get you.
    But I'd be willing to bet that it's not worth it for such a small venture unless it's at absolutely no cost. Which seems doubtful.

    You can pretty much count on being sued by the first guy who hurts himself. That's just how people are. But if you warn your customers at the time of sale that they're "not gonna be able to squeeze any blood out of this particular rock", then maybe the first or second guy won't even bother. And bringing up the safety issue at the time of sale would be a good idea, anyway. For those who don't listen and just want the big payoff anyway, you've just got to make yourself judgement proof.

    So I'd say that you probably can't count on making any real money with just MBs. And certainly not at the start. But if you took the plunge and then "networked" with your community, you might build something that could produce a modest income. And with HT engines down to about $100-110, the investment is not huge.

    Good luck.
  3. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    well I have been watching a guy down the mountain that's building and selling HTs

    don't think that he's making much money

    plus I would have buyers sign some kind of a waiver
    getting sued just one time can be the pits !!!

    ride that thing sideways
  4. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    Have 'em sign a waiver. No lawyer would waste his time if you show that the purchaser has signed a legal waiver. Notice that when we buy these engines, we agree to waive our rights to sue the manufacturer/importer/distributor of the engine.

    The manufacture of these engine kits is a very small business, and all it would take is one lawsuit to put a small factory out of business.

    My bikes sell for $550.

    Brand new 26" MTB equipped with HT engine, headlight, dual pull brake lever, trip computer, and puncture proof tubes. The engine is disassembled, and checked for proper assembly, then test run for about 12 miles. Carb mixture and jetting are adjusted, then out the door it goes. I also sell engine kits that have gone through the same inspection and adjustment.

    It generates more income than a part time job at Home Depot, and I work my own hours. My problem is keeping a supply of bikes available.

    Good luck on your business venture!
  5. seanhan

    seanhan Member

    Waiver don't mean jack...
    ask six flag's that , they have a sign not responsible for injurys..
    when someone get killed the family get 8 million dollors.
    sigh's and waivers, contracts dont mean jack if the judge rules against you..
    Anybody can sue you for anything anytime !!!!!
    This is America for gods sake !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  6. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    You're right, they don't seem to mean much when it is the little guy going up against a big corporation. Any scumbag lawyer will sue a megacorp even though his client waived their rights. They know that megacorp will settle out of court and scumbag lawyer walks away with the lion's share of the money.

    If someone gets hurt or even killed on a MB, there is no megacorp to sue. Just a guy assembling bikes in his basement. He won't even spend five minutes reviewing the case before he tells the client that they have no legal leg to stand on. Not enough money for him to waste his time.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  7. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I suspect that arceeguy is correct about the difference between suing a megacorp and suing a back yard mechanic.

    But I wonder about something; suppose a guy gets killed on one of these. His wife, unless they're quite well off, almost has a duty to try to recover the lost income. That's especially true if there are surviving children. Now if someone wanted to sue me for, say, $10,000, the lawyer would likely have one look at me and fold his hand. But in the case of a lost income, the claim would be much higher and, maybe, taken more seriously by the legal people who might get involved. My appearance is "quite modest". But if he figured out that I owned a home with at least a little value, would he think differently? That's pretty much the situation that I'm in. He might think, "it'll be a quick case. And I'll walk out of it with, maybe, $3000." That could be trouble.

    I suppose I'd look into bankruptcy. But I'm not sure if that protects one from civil judgements.
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2009
  8. seanhan

    seanhan Member

    I know someone that got a judgement against them for 1 Million $
    After that they filed bankruptcy and the Layer had 30 day's to go to the judge and get the 1 Mil. factored into the bankruptcy.
    He did not find out, even though it had to be in the Paper. And the bankruptcy did not include the 1 mil. so he did not ever have to pay it. (there was no way he ever could anyway)....
    Layers will just keep going till the money's gone, then they give-up, There like parking meters....
  9. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Actually, seanhan, I would have thought that if the award was not included in the bankruptcy, then it would have stood as-is.

    But I'm no expert.

    The thought of having a lien (is that the right term?) attached to the only real asset I have is awfully frightening.
  10. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    I would imagine that if someone got killed on a MB, there would be a car involved. I think that the bottom feeding lawyer would go after the driver of the vehicle (who has insurance) rather than the assembler of the bike. If someone gets hurt on a MB because of a mechanical failure (engine seizure, for example), can the bike assembler be held liable? Tough case - one that a lawyer will not be wiling to waste his time on, especially if the client signed a waiver. These lawyers only go after the "low hanging fruit".
  11. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    the first problem that comes with getting sued is
    one must attain a lawyer so as to protect one's self
    for the one's that do own homes and carry home owners insurance
    don't think this will come into effect -- would think home owners insurance will not cover

    I am fortunate enough to have a lawyer friend
    but -- these guys hardly NEVER work for free
    thinking that he could put together a fool proof waiver for 2 to 3 hundred dollars maybe ?

    a contractor putting installation into our house a few weeks ago
    had me sign a waiver he had made up do to allergies I have
    it stated that if I had any problems I could not sue him
    it looked to be pretty official to me...

    if a possible buyer looked to maybe ((not be of age))
    I would be checking ID
    one can not sell anything such as a MB to anyone under 18 with written permission from parents

    there seem to be a few bases to cover so as to protect one's self

    ride the motor bike thing
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2009
  12. Pablo

    Pablo Motored Bikes Sponsor

    Lawyers really don't have friends. Be careful while hunting wabbits.
  13. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member


    How many lawyer jokes are there?

    Only 3. The rest are true stories.
  14. arceeguy

    arceeguy Active Member

    You could apply for business insurance, although I expect the premiums to be outrageous - if they will even write the policy. But then you'll give the lawyers the "low hanging fruit" they want, as the insurance company would rather settle than battle it out in court.
  15. Born2BWild

    Born2BWild New Member

    OMG no I would never build bikes for sale. Anybody around here who does this has too-high prices and soon goes away. Unless you are just doing it as a 'service', which is just like an hourly job. If you are building to order (in your garage) it could be stressful. Or not. Depends on how demanding the customers are, and which ones YOU choose to service.
    I have lots of experience with cars and it's a hobby that pays very little (if you're lucky).

    You make much more in some industrial field. But find a good product to rep and sell to companies that need it and have money to spend. There are so many products out there that are under-represented these days. Older guys retiring and can't find anybody to take over a 'niche' business simply fade away...
    To make money you have to get low down on the the 'supply chain', closer to the source (at a lower cost). And that takes serious work and investment, as well as volume. The risk associated with carrying a product that might not move is the biggest factor.
  16. seanhan

    seanhan Member

    All the Waiver means

    is that you were made aware of a potential issue.
    It dosen't release anybody from Liabilaty.
    It's so the defendent can prove to the Judge that he warned you !!!!
  17. bamabikeguy

    bamabikeguy Active Member

    I got a PM, thought I'd give an opinion, and landed in this thread after a search.

    Here's how I look at it.

    I'm not "selling motorized bikes", that would mean I was in the retail business.

    It is more of a service, a contracting job, where I'm taking two separate units of the customers choice (bike and engine size/type), then putting my experience and knowledge into the project.

    And honestly, unless you are mass producing them instead of "onesies/twosies", it is just a hobby. When all the break-in miles are factored in, one MIGHT clear $10 an hour.

    I buy a business license "bikes" once per year for $10, but pay the sales taxes at my bike shop. That keeps me out of all the state revenue hassles.

    There ARE guys in metro areas who can start planning ahead for $4-5 gas, and can pick just a frame from a wholesaler (Nashbar, Niagra, etc), then add wheels and cables.

    You aren't going to get J&B Wholesaler prices because they have a network of dealers. That's why I constantly stress buying from a local bikeshop over online purchases, you can work out discounts for 5 wheels at a time, 10 mirrors at a time, tubes and liners and such.

    Get a good enough relationship with a bike shop, and you get 2-3 day delivery on any bike in the catalogs, a discount, and customer referrals.

    Then send YOUR customer to the bikeshop for saddle upgrades and basket purchases. You don't invest capital in accessories, they can adjust a derailleur in a minute or less.

    Your customer is ALWAYS your best advertisement, and to back up the bikes sturdiness, you have to upgrade rear wheels ($50), tubes/liners ($25-35), and keep a few new tires on hand when the customer brings their own used bike.

    You will have fewer complaints if you do that important break-in mileage yourself, then rotate the engine back to inventory and break in another.

    Think about that as "long term advertising", if you've gotten the engine approaching peak performance, and your customer competes/compares to a do-it-yourselfer who ran wide open throttle from the beginning and can't break 20 mph, your bike will win.

    As to demo rides, sometimes I have one of the engines I'm nearly done breaking in on one of my demo bikes, and most times I go out on a ride with them, on a different bike model with a different type engine. (Usually I'm on the 21 speed, them on the 7)

    We swap rides half way, when the customer comes back he/she can make a decision, and it usually is for the better bike. Sometimes I just let them jump on the bikes themselves, with the recumbent available if they want to try it.

    The most important ride is when they come to pick up the bike, so as we go along a 5-10 mile route, I can explain this and that. Then when they are out there on their own, they can pass that information to the strangers they meet.

    One piece of information I want them to pass along is "I don't sell bikes, I merely build them", and the liability issue is moot.

    My final advise would be carrying 2-3 different sizes of engines, you have to offer the customer a choice.
  18. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    well if you plan on selling the Happy Times
    plan on having some spare parts -- they will be wanted by your customers soon

    my cousin just bought a Happy Time from a very small dealer down the road -- maybe two weeks ago

    he has been back already to purchase
    petcock -- broke on day 2 ??
    new muffler -- orig fell apart on day 4 ??
    head gasket blew out on day 6 ??

    something else also happened -- I just do not remember
    oh yes -- rear wheel came loose day 1 -- that could cause someone to get killed !!

    ride that THING
  19. bikebum1975

    bikebum1975 Member

    I doubt they would go after the builder I mean I am no law expert myself but if you think about it the guys that get hit on pedal bikes they don't go after the manufacturer of the bicycle do they? Same thing with motorcycles to unless it was some kind of factory defect. But I would also assume as arceeguy said it would be the driver they would go after.
  20. Kiwi

    Kiwi Member

    Being an llc would help. They cannot go after your personal assets then