Hello From Peoria, IL! (New Motorbike Owner Here, Help Wanted)

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Aqualung, Feb 13, 2016.

  1. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Hey everybody!

    First off, thanks for all the great material available here... I already know this forum will be a vital source of information and advice regarding all things motorbike. I am painfully new to this "hobby," and I have all the faith in your various experiences.

    Alright, so I have a Schwinn Sidewinder (about a year old, Walmart version.) It cost me about $120 or so brand new... Anyhow, I have a friend who has a HUFFY CRANBROOK, fitted with an "80cc" 2-stroke (see photo below.)

    She's had it since it was made for her by a guy from Peoria named Dave, who apparently sells motorbikes. She says it cost her $400, and it was bought new in July 2015.

    She recently made me the offer to trade my Sidewinder (plus $50) for her Cranbrook motorbike. As far as I can tell, it's an amazingly generous trade! She says there is nothing wrong with it, it's barely been ridden, just kept inside since the summer, since she's "too afraid to ride the thing."

    What I would like to ask in this thread is basically two things:

    A) When I check out this motorbike, are there any aspects that I should be sure to inspect that might stand out? (I know it's a Walmart bike, and I'm sure the kit is nothing special, but is there anything that would make this trade just not worth it?) What questions are the most important to ask?

    B) Is there anything you guys can tell me just from the attached photo that can help me identify the kit and/or anything positive or negative about the way it was assembled? How about vital upgrades?

    Thanks in advance to those who choose to give input/advice on my decision, and also to those who already have in threads prior to my own. I kinda have my heart set on this thing, and I can't afford to do any better right now, but I am really excited to get into learning everything I can to get the most out of this unexpected offer.


    (PS....The fenders are coming straight off soon as I get the thing! Also, I apologize that there is only one picture available at the moment.)
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2016

  2. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Welcome aboard. You're right in my neighborhood. I'm across the river from you.

    I had a motorized Cranbrook a few years back. It served me well plus it served one of my daughters well after that. And right now I'm rebuilding it into another MB. It'll be on the road again this spring.

    The Cranbrook is a pretty good bike for this job, though opinions do differ on that. The Cranbrook does have some weaknesses that you should be aware of. Maybe 'some weaknesses' is going too far. But I can think of one, definitely. The rear hub is not all that good. I managed to make mine last for a while. Maybe you can make yours last indefinitely. But I kinda doubt it.

    You might want to take that hub apart right now while it's in good shape. Become accustomed to just how those parts go together and clean them and re-grease them regularly. You might also get online to www.huskybicycle.com or www.niagaracycle.com and order yourself a replacement wheel with a better hub. A Shimano CB-E110 would be a good recommendation. Or you could just order a hub and re-lace your current wheel. It's not as hard as one might think.

    My opinion of fenders is that you really can't ride in the real world without them. Any small chance of rain and you're grounded. So rather than remove them, I'd recommend re-inforcing them. You can make strong brackets out of strips of steel that you'll find at a home improvement store.

    Your engine kit is a basic two cycle setup. They're generic and there's not much difference from one to another. I get a couple thousand miles, on average, from one of those engines before it develops some issue that I don't feel like dealing with. Maybe a crank seal has gone bad. Things like that. I don't bother tearing an engine down and replacing parts like that. These engines are too inexpensive for that. I just get a new one.

    The fasteners, nuts and bolts, that come with these kits range in quality from 'kinda poor' to 'truly awful'. Be quick to get better ones and replace.

    I don't recommend upgrades. They don't do much, I think, beyond making an inexpensive bike more expensive. Maybe it would be more fair to say that upgrades should be left to serious racers and such who already have some level of expertise.

    Your biggest concern as you're getting to know your bike is keeping things fastened down. That engine and the other parts will want to vibrate loose. You ought to carry a small tool kit and look things over often. Start with the engine. Try to pry it back and forth by hand. If you can move it at all, then tighten it back down. If it doesn't stay just where you put it, it'll cause you trouble. (But be careful of over-tightening! Stripped studs are a bummer)

    Your exhaust, your intake and your chain tensioner will all, likely, try to loosen up on you from time to time. Keep an eye on them.

    This can be the hardest part for a newbie. Parts loosening up and getting damaged before you even realize that there's anything wrong. For me, it was bike #3, the Cranbrook that I mentioned above, before I had my "Eureka!" moment and became certain that I understood the bike. Before that I had enough trouble that I began to doubt, at times, whether these engine kits were worth the trouble. After that I've always been certain that I had a bike I could count on. Not that there's nothing more that can go wrong. That's always possible. But now I'm confident that, on average, that bike will get me where I want to go reliably.

    The only other thing that I'd ask of you is that you ride like a friendly, polite, safe member of the 'traffic community'.

    I agree that the deal you've been offered seems like you're coming out ahead. But if the girl in question is frightened of this bike or she feels that the upkeep is just too much, then it becomes believable. Maybe she just wants to go back to a pedal bicycle with gears.

    So have fun and good luck. This can be a great hobby.
    Aqualung likes this.
  3. KenM

    KenM Member

    Yes , everything that Mr. Bluegoat said! Keep an eye on the chain tensioner! Do not let it come loose, it could and does go into the wheel. BAD thing to happen.
    Check with your local law enforcement , for motor bike laws.
    You really should get front brakes on it to if you can. 20 miles per hour is a little hard to stop with just rear brakes. 70% of braking is done with the front brake.
    That is a good looking bike! It has sat a long time , so it will be hard to start, but don't let that keep you away. It is just part of the game!
    Go and get it . And have fun. Enjoy the addiction :D Ride safe,
    Be carful around people and pets. And you will be all good!:p
    Keep looking up! Ken.
    Aqualung likes this.
  4. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I've got good news on the legality question, Ken M and Aqualung.

    In 2010 Illinois' motor vehicle code was amended. If I remember right, sections 140.4 and 140.14 are the pertinent parts. It's been a long time since I've read them. But I well remember them describing these as nothing more than a bicycle. The downside is that you can not register them. The upside is that you don't have to. They're bicycles and nothing more.

    There is a 50cc limit under this law. And the bike can not have any gears that the rider needs to operate. This might call into question whether a multi-speed bicycle qualifies. My answer would be that the rider doesn't actually need to shift those gears. So if you imagined yourself dealing with a hostile policeman, you might have to argue that matter before a judge and let him decide.

    And I suspect that this law had in mind 'no clutch'. Again, someone who is hostile might argue that this makes this bike not qualify. But that doesn't seem to be a slam-dunk since the code doesn't actually mention a clutch.

    But my experience with these (8 years of a lot of riding at this point) has shown me that law enforcement is really quite neutral, and possibly even friendly, toward people who ride nice. Act like a grownup and they don't seem to care one little bit about your bike. So I've never had to deal with hair-splitting over whether my bike fits the code exactly or not. And my bike, yours too, is certainly very, very close to fitting.

    I mentioned that not being able to register it as a moped is a bit of a disadvantage. The reason for this is that there are some people who are just plain hostile. They aren't all that numerous, but they're there. And they use this as an excuse to accuse you of riding an illegal moped. Jerks. This makes me wish I could register my bike.

    It's not all that common. A couple of years ago I got in a shouting match with a guy who, just walking on by, started an argument with me. He'd obviously seen these bikes before and was holding a grudge against them.

    After cooling down I started strategizing a new way to shut these idiots up. And my plan is to say, "Look. You're barking up the wrong tree. Bikes like this aren't what's in your way. It's all those other darned cars. Everywhere you go you have to get in line and wait your turn over and over again. There are too many cars on too few roads. That's what makes getting around so angry. Guys like me were smart enough to get out. You should do the same. It'll be good for you. And if you can't do that, then at least be grateful that we're one less car on the road. We're easy to pass."

    I haven't had a chance, yet, to try that one. Because the haters aren't really all that common. Or most of them keep it to themselves, at least.

    But I'm willing to bet that that little speech will take some wind out of most of their sails.
    KenM and Aqualung like this.
  5. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Very cool! I live right across from Bradley and I work at Steak n Shake there in East Peoria, which is where the majority of my motoring will be done -just up and down that hill on Main St, and the bridge there. I might see about making the journey to Pekin now and again, if I can find a relatively safe route. I have a few good friends out there. Do you know if the folks at the Bike Peoria Co-op are willing to work with motorized bikes? I imagine they might frown on them. I'll just ask them haha.

    Thanks for the links, I will definitely look into that. You're absolutely right about the benefit of knowing the ins-and-outs of every part of the machine. I have read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and since have longed to HAVE a machine to care for so intimately, haha.

    I understand and agree with your opinion, but until I'm able to get these strips and have adequate knowledge/tools to fabricate the brackets, I feel like I can handle the skunk stripe for a while... if I must ride in the rain. I was so gung-ho about those beautiful fenders, but the horror stories about them breaking are just terrible, so it is good to know there is a fix, but as of now I'm just too excited to get out there and ride.

    Roger that, I always have a backpack with several wrenches, a spare tube, and a set of those tire pry things in case I need to change the tube on the fly. I will take an inventory of all the size wrenches I'll need for my new bike soon as I get it. I'll make sure to do a "pre-trip" inspection and tighten each nut, bolt and screw before I set out... Also checking tire pressure, tensioner alignment/chain tension, brakes, etc.

    Now, on the subject of nuts and bolts... I have read that blue Loctite is ideal, given it's ability to come loose if necessary. I really do plan on buying/applying Locktite to as many of the components as needed, but I am somewhat unsure of where to use it and were NOT to use it, and whether or not the blue is really enough for the task?

    Aside from that, I really appreciate your input, and I'll follow it well. As more and more questions come up I'll try to use the forum before asking out-right hahaha.

    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
  6. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Thanks very much, I think she looks great too!

    Front brakes will be my first addition to this machine, most definitely, especially considering the hills and heavy traffic in my area.
    As for etiquette on the road mentioned by you and BGW alike, I will certainly make sure to do just that. It's safety first, then not looking like an idiot. Peoria has a really high number of motorized bike riders compared to other cities I've lived in, and yeah they sometimes make a bad name for us from what I've seen.

    However, like BGW pointed out, IL law and Peoria city ordinance is pretty easy going as far as these machines go... granted of course one is not acting like an idiot.
    KenM likes this.
  7. KenM

    KenM Member

    The first thing to do is to replace the bolts that hold on the chain tensioner with good grade 10.9 bolts and nuts. The stock ones are to soft , and will strip. Ask me how I know!:oops:
    Have fun with your new bike! How is the snow up there?:cool:
    Keep looking up! Ken.
    Aqualung likes this.
  8. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Ughhh you just had to mention the snow. It's friggen LOVELY. I rode my Schwinn to work and back today and I'm amazed I didn't get stopped and given a field sobriety test. (But I did make it home just fine.)

    As for the tensioner components... absolutely, I will do that ASAP, as well as shop for a high-grade U-bolt and nuts for the engine mounting. (I can only imagine how you figured that one out haha.) We have a Lowe's nearby which should have everything I need in that regard. That design on those tensioners seems terrible, predestined to fail.... I was reading about "cross-hatching," to give them more grip, I think I may try that. You just take a coarse metal file to the bar where the tensioner will be fastened and rough it up a bit, correct?
  9. KenM

    KenM Member

    Yes you are right about roughing it up.
    Or if your chain stay is to skinny like mine,( it is an old Huffy road bike). I cut up an old hacksaw blade, put two pices in the tensioner with the teeth facing outside on both of them. Just a little bit of JB Weld to hold them to the tensioner plate, and tighten it down good so the blades bent to the shape of the bar.
    Then when the JB Weld dries you can move it to adjust the chain however you need to.
    This is my ride.

    Attached Files:

    Aqualung likes this.
  10. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    So after being put off for weeks I finally got this motorbike in my possession!

    It was garage-stored since last summer at the lady's friend's Grandmother's house. The guy basically just took it out of there, put in some old gas they had mixed up a while ago and drove off. Let me tell you: They had no idea what they were doing with this thing. It's no wonder now why my friend was so willing to let it go. Before I go to far into why I am now very happy about my trade, here's a couple things I asked about the bike before I ever even rode it:

    "Did you guys break it in properly?"
    "-Ohhh yeah man! Definitely did!"

    "What fuel/oil ratio did you put in it?"
    "-Oh I'm pretty sure it was 2-1"

    Yeahhhh....... So that gave me a preview. Well, the guy told me it still runs fine but it's lost a lot of its top speed, and it sorta "pulls back" when it gets to its top RPMs." So when I got on the bike, it didn't wanna start of course. Took a while to go, and when it finally did, and it was nowhere near as fast as it should be. I only rode it two miles home, and my heart was sinking because I'd been so excited about this thing, and it seemed like I was now stuck with a 15 mile an hour leaf blower.

    Then it got worse. I stayed up late taking off the fenders, adjusting the seat, putting on my lights, tightening screws and bolts and things like that; so I could be ready to creep noisily to work in the morning. Well, since the markings on the choke were in Chinese and the petcock was unintelligible, I wasn't sure about anything really as far as positions go. (I know better now, keep reading.) So morning comes, and I hop on my bike in the cold. Mind you, I'm still guessing about the levers because even though I looked it up, I doubted myself and hadn't found my exact kit online.

    It wouldn't even stay running. Any throttle with the choke open just bogged it out. It ran very weakly with the choke closed. I had no idea which was which, and I know now that I had ridden it home with the choke closed the day before (as per dudes instructions.) Also, I'm pretty sure I left the fuel line open all night too... I'm almost positive the engine was flooded beyond belief.

    I fiddled with the idle screw, had it way too high then way too low. Needless to say I was very, very frustrated. So I just set out and tried to make the best of it. The choke lever was so loose, it came up from vibration when I'd put it down, and vice versa. Luckily I only live about ten minutes on a regular bike from work, all downhill. I had "felt out" how to keep it putting along at least, even though I knew it wasn't right. If it started bogging down, I'd flip a switch and try the throttle, and try again: flip a switch feather the throttle... just keep moving... get to work.

    So here's where things start to look up. After work, I got home and got online. I found some instructions on how to adjust the idle screw: to take it all the way out and then turn it 10-11 times (my lines and carb connection were already set up the way the instructions said.) This seems to work wonders and feels so much better running/idling. Along with this adjustment, properly using the choke and letting the engine warm up has made all the difference. I'm listening for the RPMs to calm down when idling, that seems to tell me it's getting warm and will run smoothly.

    I also opened up the air filter and got some of the excess fuel off of it, tightened the casing back on. I also snugged up the choke lever nut while I was in there, and I could see once and for all that: UP is choke-closed, and DOWN is choke-opened... Up for cold start, Down for running/warm starts!

    To figure out the petcock once and for all... I just grabbed a cup, pulled my fuel line from the top of the fuel filter and turned the petcock pointing all the way up: gas poured into the cup. Pulled it all the way down and -wouldn't you know it- the gas stopped coming out! Petcock up: gas-time, petcock down; no riding, no gas.

    Okay, that just leaves this terrible gas/oil mixture. My exhaust was kicking out some white smoke for a few minutes this evening, after I'd gotten my bike running better. I realize this is just excess oil burning off. I wasn't too bothered by this, considering the much better engine sound and vastly improved power/acceleration/idling I was getting. It's stopped smoking now, but tomorrow will tell if proper gas/oil will make a big difference. (I'm confident it will.)

    In a weird way, I'm actually happy they gave me the bike in need of these adjustments. I got to get in there and look at it for myself, and I've started learning first hand about how this all works. I know it's just the beginning, but it's a nice feeling.

    I'm still getting a little "pull-back" at high RPMs, but it's not flooded anymore, runs strong and does what it's told. I still aim to replace the fuel lines, petcock, air filter, various nuts and bolts, etc, but yeah... feeling much better about this.

    Let me know what you guys think! This is only day two, surely more to come, but so far so good!

    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
    KenM likes this.
  11. bakaneko

    bakaneko Active Member

    A performance and high quality iridium or platinum spark plug makes a lot of difference. These spark plugs provide a stronger spark, which leads to better ignition and more power. Its well worth it. I take it the previous owners probably didn't change the spark plug.
  12. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Oh yeah, I checked out the plug too... They definitely didn't change it. The ceramic end is white and clean, but the on the threads it was black and "sort of oily" but dry and sooty on the arc point. Had some soot built up so I gave it a good wipe down. Wasn't in terrible shape, but not pretty.

    I'm going shopping for some AMSOIL and new gas tomorrow, I'll pick up a high quality spark plug while I'm out. Thanks for the tip!
  13. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    This is a good example of how folks will get/build one of these things and then neglect to learn even the basics of how to work it. Your bikes' first owner didn't seem to know a thing.

    But you're right in thinking that this situation gave you a crash course in some of the things you need to know.

    Maybe you ought to have a look at the fitting between your carburetor and the engine intake. Not all of them fit perfectly together. And some of the symptoms you listed sound like a lean fuel mixture.

    If your intake doesn't seat just right against the carburetor, then you can seal things up with some silicone caulk.

    Congratulations on getting things going better. It sounds like you'll do okay.

    The weather tomorrow sounds awful. It's too bad. We've had some pretty good riding days lately. I'm pretty likely to drive to work. I think this'll be the first time in ten days or so.
  14. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Yeah, they don't know or care to know, and they are the first to admit it too. Oh well, it's to my benefit I guess...

    Right, where the carburetor connects to the engine, you mean the tubes with the 45(ish) angle? I read today someone suggested a strip of electrical tape under the hose clamp to seal that up matter of fact, but silicon caulk sounds much better.

    Tomorrow is my only day off in a while, and I had not looked at the weather yet... That really sucks to hear... but I don't care, I'll be out there. I just removed my fenders too!

    The front one came off no sweat, but the rear one had a screw I couldn't reach without removing the back wheel, so I kinda just pried the thing off with a flat-head screwdriver. Those fenders are so incredibly flimsy, I couldn't deal with that. I'll figure something out to keep the water off my motor and back, but not those things. The way the builder assembled the bike, he had cut a small section out of the rear fender for the chain -but it still rubbed on it at times- bending the sharp edge toward the tire. I don't have any tin-snips or anything... every time I looked at that I just shook my head. My chain or my tire was gonna be damaged. It had to go.

    Thanks for the compliment by the way. At 10AM I was cursing my bike, by 5PM I was zooming around feeling like Tim the Tool Man Taylor. I can already feel that I'm getting sort of obsessed with this thing. Riding and maintenance absolutely go hand in hand.
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2016
  15. bakaneko

    bakaneko Active Member

    I can tell you electric tape does not work. You just need to push that carb into the manifold as much as possible and then get a real tight seal on it with your wrench and make it "permanent" with a double nut. If there is a leak, it would be gas and if your seal isnt gas resistance then its not gonna fail eventually. Since I done the double nut, the carb has never moved.
    Aqualung likes this.
  16. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    I'm glad you guys have mentioned reinforcing the carb/intake connection, because I sure have noticed fuel leaks. I'd wiped everything down in the morning... checked it again at lunch time, and the lines had leaked (of course they did, they aren't true fuel lines, and are soon to be replaced/secured.) That was clean blue fuel...

    But I've also noticed black, oily fuel coming off the carb/intake and getting onto the bike frame and clutch casing. Nothing too severe but it's definitely there. I had thought it was due to all the excess fuel in the motor from the flooding.

    I guessed it was so dirty looking because of the ridiculous amount of oil they've been running, but again, thanks for bringing it up: a leak is a leak. That's money up in smoke....

    It sounds like securing that connection should definitely be my next step, for a few reasons.
  17. Aqualung

    Aqualung New Member

    Alright, update time:

    Went to Walmart and got a 1 gallon gas can and a funnel. Then went to Autozone and got Valvoline 2-stroke oil (I'm not sure how well broken-in the engine is, so I figured I'd get decent oil, but no need for the super amazing stuff, but not the cheapest either.) I also got a tube of silicon caulk, a second adjustable wrench and a little thing of blue loc-tite.

    I did a 24:1 gas/oil mix with 87 gas (5oz oil to 1gal gas.) I did this because it seemed safe for now with plenty of oil. I don't need racing speed. Before I filled my gas tank I took off the carb, emptied the old fuel out of it and made sure it was clean. When I reattached it to the intake, I sealed it all up nicely with the silicon and made sure it was seated tight tight tight.

    Filled the tank, started her up and wow... this machine is running wonderfully. I did turn the idle screw up maybe a half turn, just to get my high-end up there a little, and now the idle sounds healthy and active, and WOT gives me plenty of speed. Low-end to mid range torque is more than satisfactory for me. I took it up a couple of pretty good hills with no problem whatsoever. I've got my tire pressure to just below 40psi, which is the recommended pressure.

    I haven't applied any of the loc-tite to anything yet, because I'm not sure what should get it and what shouldn't. I have no experience with it, so any input on that would be appreciated. Also, is there anything else that could benefit from the silicon? Aside from that, I'm still waiting to get a really good spark plug. The one in there seems to be doing an OK job for now.

    The "fuel lines" gotta go next paycheck, and I'm debating whether or not to drill a few holes in the air filter casing. Seems like it takes a few seconds for the RPMs to go back down after throttling, I'm gonna look up what that means too. But as of right now, all is really well. Just sucks it's so flippin' COLD outside.
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2016
  18. Aqualungg

    Aqualungg Guest

    Hey everyone just a quick update: I have moved to Gatlinburg TN and had to leave my bike in Peoria... Oddly enough I had a major crash due to wild turkeys flying out in front of me. Hit a pot hole and went down at about 30mph... Just bent the back wheel pretty good.

    BUT: I'm staying with a brother of mine in TN who has basically given me a 1969 Harley-Davidson Ironhead Sportster to ride indefinitely... so I'm still a motorized bike owner/lover, but I gotta hog now and I can't be happier.

    Thanks again to everyone who offered their input. I'll drop a line when I come back around town.