Personal Reflections:Front to Rear



This is in the White Zone because I don't want it construed to be a TECH TIPS post .... it's my experienced opinion only, and it only applies to what I see about these Chinese motors as it applys to full dressed coaster brake beach cruisers with fatter balloon tires.So today,after a beautiful ride with the bike doing that thing that other posters have mentioned, that 'settling down ' peaceful purr it gets as if to inform you that "yes bike master , you are done adjusting me " ... I feel happy,I am in need of nothing more ! enjoy me now oh paranoid Bike Master, for today I am a completle and satisfied build!" .... So here are my personal reflections from FRONT TO REAR :

1.Front fenders MUST have the strut nuts n bolts threadlocked

2.Front forks with an open wheel axle fork really need washers added and can be decievingly misaligned (very dangerous situation)

3.Cruisers with Schwinn style spring on pivoting springer forks needs the spring nut to be neither too springy nor too tight so as to damp or lose all suspension ... both ends of that spectrum are very dangerous.

4.Add a front caliper brake to the front fender at the hanger bracket through opening,trust a coaster brake without a caliper backup at your own peril. I nearly lost my life once this way, with 2 less serious but still frightening brake losses later on as well

5.Sadly,remove the whitewalls if you're a perfectionist ... they will not stay that BRILLIANT white no matter how sucessfully you've spaced your chain,nor lessened your oil to gas ratio, nor coated,waxed, oiled, Bleche Whited, or pressure sprayed them.I've spent many dollars and time to prove that one could run BRILLIANT white tires .. I WAS WRONG. (the key word here is what the perfectionist would call BRILLIANT white .... yes you can run them sucsessfully if muted smeared tones of bone or yellow grey white don't trouble you .) I believe now with all my heart that if you could PEDDLE 30 mph without an engine even attached this tire problem would still occur ... the average 10 mph or less a beach cruiser normally runs is too slow to have these problems occur.At 26 to 35 mph and over I believe it to be a combination of caliper pad dust spray from high speed stops, road spray,chain grease 'spitting' no matter how clean the outside surfaces of the chain are,occasional side to side chain swipe if you havn't made the chain clear the sidewalls by at least 3/8ths of an inch, and exhaust soot /misting despite even the lowest oil/gas ratios.

6.The Red push kill switch functions because the thin tin attachment strap acts as the ground to kill the motor.unfortunately,it also causes the housing,that is the white plastic base surrounding the switch to crack if you are using the strap as the sole means of attachment which anyone would.Don't do that.Take a really small ball of clay epoxy or even a hot glue gun and affix the underside of the switch firmly to the bar with that method.Let the strap act only as the ground by tightening it only enough to contact the metal bars of your bike.Don't let the strap apply force to the switch in any way.I replaced 3 of these before realizing the problem.

7.The Alloy push button clutch lever will eventually you'll find, not be fully disengaging your clutch.The bike will creep slowly along on level surfaces regardless of your occasional turning of the adjustment screw,or at the times you want to peddle but let the engine run the squealing you'll hear is from poor dis-engagement by the lever with subsequent unecessary clutch wear.

Naturally I'm aware you can re-adjust several areas of your cable or clutch nut to remedy this but why ruin your perfect clutch play and clutch gripping pressures just to please the lever ... there are several methods to widen the gap so the lever is as open as you want it .... I left only enough space to let my fingers get around my left hand grip.A dremel drill for a tiny hole with a fitted piece of steel wire,brad length,top of a fishing hook,or similar piece of strong wire fits into the drilled hole and widens the gap when the button is pushed.

8.After 5 speedometers,I find only Schwinn 17 function red trimmed speedo with the large nickel sized battery in the rubber padded SCREW DOWN door cover performs without being affected by the engine or CDI.Plus you cannot lose your accumulated mileage if you must reset because you can re-enter the exact miles you were reading should power be lost or you had to double button reset. (Target among others has them)

9.Don't re-order throttle or clutch cables just because you had a break at the throttle or clutch lever end ... all bike shops have ZIRKS ... barrel n screw thing for brake ends .... but tighten one onto your throttle or clutch lever,dremel the screw off,and cut a wafer thin slice off the end and you have a perfect barrel end that cannot be identified or look any differently than the original except its brass.Fits back into the throttle channel hole or clutch hole exactly (and sometimes even better) than the original cable.Tighten the ZIRK screw with vicegrips before dremeling it off. When newly ordered cables are way too long,this method lets you cut off the factory barrel with no fear so you can get a perfect length for you build.

10. Four gas tanks,dollars, time and sweat prove to me there is but 1 best method to eliminate the ugly strap method the gas tank uses while guaranteeing your not going to lose or ruin your tank from a faulty attachment change:
Dremel off the 4 saddle clamp threaded studs. Drill holes in the tank and add stainless bolts into holes with JB WELD/cut off heads,add nut and washer and wind all the way up to the tank. Drill bike frame holes, add clear vinyl tubing thru the bikes frame and insert tank into frame till tank is resting on the washer and top nut. Shorten the cut end till there is only about a 1/4 inch of stud left and add lower washer and final nut. Leave a fraction of an inch of tubing at the top and bottom of the frame so the washers are actually resting on that,not on the frame itself.Silicone wrap on the gasline where it enters the tank is a must and is just silly to avoid doing,plus it makes the gasline turn easier at that last crucial tightening where its not quite aligned to make it easy to use the on/off lever.

11. Avoid the through bolt method of attaching the FRONT motor mount if possible,and forget any form of rubber damping. Scary as it sounds,if the original saddle studs and saddle are too narrow to slip down either side of your too fat downtube,CHANNEL each side of the downtube with a dreml grinding rod just a tad and the bolts will slip right in and on. The fact that the U-Clamp may not fit perfectly around the downtube is in fact a GOOD thing as its 'points 'will dig a little into the downtube guaranteeing a nice no lean engine sliding effect that happens with rubber damping and the single thru bolt method.The fact that the studs are now locked into the 2 side channels you ground also stabilize engine tilt. Unless your downtube is some enormous diameter I've not seen, you are not overall removing any more material from your frame with these channels than you are with the huge 1/4 inch holes your drilling straight thru the center,and thats not including the hole stretch and side to side metal fatigue that occurs as well in my opinion.Skip the rubber padding at the rear as well,and finally, RED locktite all 4 saddle studs .... for any need to remove, heat for only 20 seconds with a cigarette lighter of the TORCH TIP variety to heat without hurting any surrounding chrome or plastic or paint. The smoothest of all possible mounting methods for cruisers in my opinion and after many dollars and hours wasted on every configuration.

12.5 saddles,and many more dollars spent on gel pads or covers have me believing that the best (or at least the most readily available) comfortable seat is the huge 12x12 BackTrails crusing saddle I found at Target for $20

13. Kickstands: Tighten that single bolt or hexbolt tight and exactly where your happy, then drill a hole right in front of any part of that kickstands mounting platform and run a stop bolt and nut through to simply eliminate the nearly guaranteed 'rock' and nut loosening that occurs with repeated use of kickstands.On some 2 bolts are needed both fore and aft to literally force the platform to be unable to slip on the bikes frame where the fastening plate is attached. Red locktite the main large bolt to totally eliminate constant kickstand maintenence. I've made it a habit as well to use only my hand to raise and lower the stand as uneven ground is often forcing the stand metal plate to be bent outward as it tries to clear the ground to click into the open position as you use foot pressure to find the right lean angle.

14. On beach cruisers, forget the chain idler completly in my opinion. Use it on the pedal chain. Don't adjust tension to both chains equally. Forget using a buddy,or trying to tighten while astride the bike, or pounding wedges. With both nuts loose but close to being tightened, go to the left side and tighten the engine chain first by using a vice grip pliers .One jaw on the tip of axle and the other jaw on the curved metal that make up the axle holder. Adjust the pliers so lightly that you can turn the knurled adjuster nut with the jaws closed (yes you can) You will have the greatest chain tension control you have ever seen this way. Let the engine chain rather than the pedel chain be the Master setting for both chains. The vice grip will in no way interfere with your tightening wrench on the axle nut if the jaws of the grip are positioned as I've stated. Now adjust the tension on the peddle chain using the vice grips in the same way but have the idler wheel installed near the rear only about 3 inches in front of the peddle chain sprocket and have the bottom of the chain resting on the loosened idler wheel with the wheel ON TOP of the lower run of chain ... tighten the chain via the vice grip method and lower the wheel just a bit,a lot of tension is not necessary and too tight adjustments either on the axel or on the wheel will make for very hard peddleing. Now tighten the locknut on the idler wheel.Remember, the idler wheel is pulling the peddle chain DOWNWARD, not lifting it upward as in the engine chain configuration. Actually, the idler is in fact acting much like the chain tensioner you see on any multispeed racing bike derailleur. You will not believe how silent it gets with the idler off of your engine chain, and your alignment from engine sprocket to rear wheel sprocket is not being diverted by anguler problems the idler causes to the engine chain. The careful and exacting pressures and wheel alignment you have with this method allows perfect rear wheel alignment or slight wheel angleing .Just a caution however about wheel angles to allow more chain clearance alongside the tire sidewall.I found a website that mentioned how coaster bikes aren't 'sensitive' to misaligned rear wheels which I feel is a ridiculous statement.I tried this on my first build to add a slight bit of chain clearance past the sidewall.It may be un-noticable for slow peddling speeds but is extremely noticable in my opinion on engine powered bikes at speed with a disconcerting side slip and sideways torquing that can't be good for control, frame stress, or for tire wear as the tire is literally always in a state of angled skid from the true direction of the mass of the entire bike and rider. If you don't have enough axle tip to get a grip on with vice grips, read on :

15. Go to any GOOD bike shop if you don't believe me : Axels are not 'adjustable" .... I mean you cannot make your wheel gear run your engine chain closer or farther from your sidewall by shorting your axle on that side or vice versa .... the rear wheel hub will always be in proportion to the rear wishbone of the bike's frame, and all that is accomplished in my experiences by over adjustment of beach cruiser wheel axel cones is the losing of thread space ,and usually on the right hand side. Ask, learn, or if you already know about hub cones, adjust them to get even amounts of thread on both sides when your final lock nuts are tightened there is usually on cruisers about a 1/4 inch of thread left evenly on both sides. Trust me after much reading and hairpulling, nothing gets accomplished by axle 'sliding' no matter what your brain tells you ... it only ends up that all is the same except that now you will be short axle thread on one side or the other and in some cases so short your safety is jeprodized because the nut can be as much as half way off its threads when fully tightened.

15. We are able to cause just a bit more torque when engaging the clutch than with peddeling and after 2 innertube rub wear leaks I have used cut innertubes to add an extra thickness of spoke head liner to the inside of the rims. If you've had deflations or fast flats and the tube shows a 'catseye' shaped tear as in both my cases, you might find its due to a spoke screw top being a tad higher inside and rubbing against the inner tube. Being able to torque our tires a bit with our engines makes to my mind and only in my opinion the need to make 1 extra layer of spoke liner. Worked for me.

In conclusion, it's all what I learned on 2 Beach Cruiser builds. My opinion only, and in the White because I presume no other expertise but what is now working for me on a cruiser that's fast,silent,not throwing bolts,bucking,surging, squealing or any other nonsense .... but it took a while to find some of the above observations and corrections.
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Thanks for the info...

I was worrying about the coaster brake - 30mph - Audi door issue and was planning on fitting another brake.

I was looking at another drum brake as was fitted to 'Anita' but may also fit a caliper brake to the back as well, if that is the case I will get the double brake lever... doing that will also allow me to easily set up the brake light again.

I dont know how much the gebe belt will mess up the whitewalls, but then it doesnt really bother me all that much. If I remember there is a product on the market for car whitewalls that is like a spray on protective coating but for the life of me I cant remember the name of it..

Jemma xx
One last forgotten observation....

There is one last trick for fitting the Front mount saddle and engine studs when your downtube is a little too fat , and for some bikes you'll not need either the infamous single center bolt nor even the channel cuts I've recommended in other posts .... take a full sized Vice Grip (real ones, the wanna be vice grips always jam on the knurled knob. Use a diaper or red shop cloth to protect your downtube and open the vicegrip's jaws as wide as possible. Grip the downtube LIGHTLY,it should be a SOFT squeeze that a child could do. Now turn the adjuster knob an INPERCEPTABLE turn, and squeeze again ... repeat about 9 times turning the knob so imperceptably that you never feel much handle resistence because what is happening is that you are slowly turning the round downtube into an oval at the point where the engine studs need to pass.Works perfectly, your studs will eventually clear both sides of the tube and in fact when fully tight the pressure restores most of the roundness the downtube originally had. One last thing I failed to mention on any of my posts concerning the fitting of these studs is that occasionally these readjustments are not the only needed thing ... in some cases a quick run to Ace hardware for these same 2 studs in about an inch longer might be necessary .
motor mount studs

I found the motor mount threads on my Chinese made 60cc (or whatever it is) to be 6mm. They didn't have a great selection at Home Depot, but 1 was long enough.
A good post with good advice. And it was nice of you to take the time to write it all.
It might well save someone some headaches.

Hey Jemma, isn't Essex the home of Steve Marriott? Of the Small Faces/Humble Pie?
I believe it's also where he died in a house fire. A pity. A great talent, not well recognized.