Which is better - to construct or buy whole bike with engine?

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by John-Forrest, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. John-Forrest

    John-Forrest Member

    I live in Amherst MA where there are a lot of bikes, bike lanes, and bike paths. I've been riding my regular bicycle a lot. I've had a Chinese motorcycle, a Tank Vision, which has turned out to be a real lemon, just sitting in the shop without parts.

    I'm debating whether to purchase an engine and put it on bike - to just get whole thing put together. I'm not very good with tools and mechanics, so I'd have to get help to put engine and sprocket on. It'd probably be less expensive, since I can get bike local and ship engine in. Also, anoter advantage, is I'd know engine inside and out, so I could do my own repairs/diagnosis. Parts are probably easier to get that way, since these places provide parts.

    Has anyone had experience with Zoombicycles. The engines are reasonably priced and he seems to provide all the parts. It's a place in British Columbia.

    I've seen some very nice bikes on ebay that are already put together. One place I saw was was from a company called "Wonderful Creations"; another place is "WildFire Bicycles". I'd like to know if anyone knows about those or has had personal experience with them. Schiwnn has some bikes all put together. Some of those bikes look too good to be true; I certainly don't want to get another lemon with no support.

    Well, if anyone has suggestions or personal experience with the companies I mentioned - let me know.

    With rising gas prices, I have a feeling this is going to be a growing trend. They've already crossed that bridge in Europe and Asia - now it's America's turn!

    John-Forrest Bamberger
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008

  2. augidog

    augidog New Member

    enuff sed...and you said it, not me.

    do your homework...read and ask...read some more and ask some more...

    welcome aboard :cool:
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  3. Marktur

    Marktur Member

    Build it yourself - it's not that hard. Just invest in a good set of tools. Maybe one of the senior guys can point you to a list of tools you will need. For the install, you really only need a few simple tools - 10mm, 15mm wrenches, and a good phillips, and some needle-nose pliers as a minimum...but my personal list has grown as I find some tools work better than others. Over the years I've learned one really important lesson: No job is a hard job, if you have the right tools.

    Once you buy or have built your bike, maintenance will be a piece of cake, and you will never be a "victim" (of a mechanic or bike shop) again. The sense of satisfaction of building your own bike is overwhelmingly good, too. For me, wrenching just takes the stress of the day away - I'm a computer guy during the day, backyard mechanic (for my motorized bike) in the evenings...seems I find something to tinker with just about every day - and I like that.
  4. CheazyRider

    CheazyRider New Member

    Hey, Mark, I sure appreciate your enthusiasm and passion for MB-ing. You have a refreshingly positive outlook, and I get a vicarious kick out of how you're always trying out new gear.

    John, I'm also new to this deal. I'm waiting for all the parts to arrive, so I can get on the road. I'm chomping at the bit. It's a great adventure, and "putting it all together" seems like at least half the fun.
  5. John-Forrest

    John-Forrest Member

    If I build the bike, I will probably need at least some assistance for drilling the holes or putting the sprocket on. I'm pretty inept mechanically, today I spent about a hour trying to attach a basket back to the frame. I do know someone in a scooter shop who would be interested in trying this out. However, I would like to put some of the components together and observe how it is done. Next year, we're probably going to see lots of thes bikes; I notice the engine shops are sold out lately.

    One thing to think about is what kind of bike to get. I figure the brakes should be coasters or discs to handle the extra speed and weight. I don't know about gears, but it seems it'd work better if sprockets are where pedals are. Of course the frame should be big enough. There are those engines that fit on back luggage rack; for some reason, those don't look very well balanced to me.
  6. Esteban

    Esteban Active Member

    Since you have been " STUNG " once, by a Chinese import,, I think you would be better off getting better quality this time. The rear mount friction drive with a quality motor,[ Robin-Subaru, Honda, Mitsubishi, Tanaka, etc., ] is pretty well balanced & will give good service for miles. Much easier to mount than any other type kit, & easy to remove rear wheel to repair flats, etc.
  7. John, I can give you a hand with anything that is over your head. I will give you a call and we can set something up
  8. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD Active Member

    Welcome aboard John-Forrest. It sounds like you're still unsure if you want to build one or get a pre-built bike. Not knowing your budget, the Whizzer NE5 is a great option in a pre-built bike if it's something you can afford. New ones sell for around $1600, but you might be able to find a used one on eBay for a good bit less.
    I've built two bikes with GruBee 48cc frame mount engines. There is a great amount of satisfaction in building your own, plus knowing the bike intimately like that does allow you to troubleshoot things a bit more easily. I've been quite lucky as mine have been etremely reliable over the past four years. I've never built a bike with a rack mount engine, but I understand they are available with more reliable angines than the little "China-fire" or "Happy-Time" engines.
  9. John-Forrest

    John-Forrest Member

    Thanks a lot for your support, folks. I've kind of narrowed down on getting this Wildfire Bicycle with 49cc engine built on (just got on auction for $400, not bad). It has a lot of important accessories such as lights, disc brake, splash guards, good kick stand, horn, etc. Engine is a bit slow but I think I have to watch my step with the state troopers in MA. I figure if engine doesn't work out, I can also repace with 80 cc in the future.


    I'd be curious if anyone has any direct experience with this company.

    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  10. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    I bought a pre-assembled bike only because it was a folding motored bike with a dual freewheel, and shipping was cheap. $500 total, and I've had 90 days of support that I desperately needed. The box I got was ripped, and the throttle was broken. I got that, then my gearbox crudded out because I didn't realize it was dry. I didn't even realize I had a gearbox at first, and there was definitely nothing in the owner's manual about it (it was also supposed to come filled with gear oil). The block also cracked once right after I got the gearbox back, which I still can't figure out... but hopefully all should be well when I get the engine back. At least I only had to pay shipping one-way twice.

    Anyway, thankfully I had a warranty, and my vendor wasn't flaky like some eBay vendors. It's one thing to ask for a pre-built folding motored bike to your door for $500 with a dual freewheeled hub and a handle on the engine case/mount to easily carry it away even if the engine's hot, and when mounted... it provides a nice handle for the back of the bike to carry up a flight of stairs. I can only imagine how awkward it is to pick a rack-mounted motored bike up. This one is cake. It comes with a dual-sided kickstand that balances on the back tire when the front one is off, and also balances on the front tire when the back one is off. It's amazing how that equilibrium state works out.

    I feel like I got my money's worth, but I definitely have had plenty of work to do either way. I didn't like the stock crank flywheel for pedaling, so I changed that to a 44t since I don't have any hills to climb. Even when I got my replacement throttle, it also broke and the killswitch didn't work either. I also replaced the seat to something without the "horn". The only real complaint I've got with the bike is that it leaks gas from the tank. I hate that, but my friend had a scooter with a matching gas tank that he wasn't using. So, I'm using that, but I find it hard to believe somebody else would be as lucky as me in finding a plastic tank like this that seals properly and has a one-way valve. My point is that even with a pre-assembled bike, you're prolly gonna have minor issues with some components of the bike. You might want a "bench seat" or some different grips / throttle. I hated the twist-throttle, so I got an old brake lever, cut it almost in half, and now use it as a thumb throttle, like on a 4-wheeler. And as for the gas tank, I think that any Chinese engine you get will come with a leaky gas cap (this was most important for me since I have a folding bike that I'm trying to put in other people's cars/trucks).

    I think what I bought suited me perfectly, but I don't know if everyone else will be as forgiving about the leaky gas tank. I also love how I bought another spare motor for $135, and a Robin/Subaru for $250... and they'll bolt right up. I love how I didn't have to drill/cut/fabricate anything for my first time. It was just up and running. Even tho, I've had a few problems... I've learned quite a bit and don't believe I'll be running into these same problems any time soon. Altogether, I paid about $1,000 for a folding bike that I didn't have to do too much to it, and two extra engines, one identical 2-stroke & one Robin/Subaru 4-stroke that bolt right up. Seems pretty good to me.

    However, when I burn thru these engines... I'll be getting a Staton NuVinci kit for my first build, which should go a lot better for me since I've learned a tremendous amount from viewing this forum and learning general engine tips. Already having the motored bike experience & ability to make repairs to a motored bike should make building one a bit easier, IMO. I have quite an upgrade path to try all of these first hand before I die: 2-stroke -> 4-stroke -> NuVinci CVP hub -> GEBE -> E-bike... but with all the chain-driven applications, I couldn't much consider abandoning the dual freewheeled system found on my bike, also found on the NuVinci CVP. But others like the cheap $200 chengine kit as a good start... I'd rather jump over that and go straight to the NuVinci kit if I were gonna build a totally custom bike. Everybody's journey is different, just try to pick a good spot to jump in, then learn, acquire your motored bike tastes, and then pick another spot you want/need to jump to. There will be jumping... once you start, you just can't stop.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  11. KilroyCD

    KilroyCD Active Member

    That bike looks very nice for $400. I especially like the fact it also has a rear drop stand. I've never dealt with that company, but I just might contact them about hopefully getting one of their drop stands for one of my builds. The bike I want it for is a '46 Columbia that has a GruBee 48cc engine on it, and you'd be surprised how much grunt that little engine has. It hauls my fat butt around nicely, and can reach 30mph with the 50-tooth rear sprocket. So don't discount what that little engine can do, unless you have a lot of hills.
  12. sparky

    sparky Active Member

    So, say you pay $400 for the bike, he still charges $150 to ship to you if you only have a residential address ($130 if shipped to a business).

    If you want a Chinese engine, just get a kit and do it yourself on a current bike or any bike you'd like.

    Or get a GEBE or Staton kit.
  13. Mountainman

    Mountainman Active Member

    Have to agree with Esteban here --- Japanese engines are guaranteed to bring many miles and years of PURE ENJOYMENT... Have owned a lot of Japanese motor cycles over the past 45 years -- never wore one out !!! Not saying that it can't be done -- but -- they just seem to last forever -- if treated in a fair manner... So now -- somewhat new to MB's -- I have recently installed a Robin Subaru 35cc on my mountain bike --- that little motor IS A BLAST !!! Happy Riding from - Mountainman
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2008
  14. astring

    astring Member

    that ebay seller has low feed back.
  15. Marktur

    Marktur Member

    That bike sure is pretty...and for $400 the price is right...BUT....add on another $150 for shipping...then realize that when you get it, you're going to need to re-prep it because I wouldn't trust a mass-assembled "anything" from China that can take my life if something was not done correctly. This means removing every screw and bolt and putting blue Loctite on it, or else it will vibrate apart while riding. Additionally, my Kulana, which is also made in the same non-Quality Control country, the bearings in the wheels were just about dry...

    In the end, John, one way or another, you're going to build this bike yourself. There's really not a lot you can mess up, either...and we're all here to help. That same $600 will get you a nice bike, same motor (go with the 67cc - touted as 80cc), and better accessories.

    Either way, make sure you have (minimum tool list):
    Socket wrench with 10mm socket
    10mm open and closed end wrench
    15mm open and closed end wrench
    17mm open and closed end wrench
    big Phillips screwdriver
    needle nose pliers
    wire cutters

    THAT'S IT - that's all you need to build and/or prep!

    Good luck, and let us know what you end up doing.
  16. John-Forrest

    John-Forrest Member

    Where did you get it?

    I'm assuming there's always going to be problems, a good reason to tighten up everything once it's out of box. You sound like you went through quite a bit.

    I imagine I may wind up putting on gear sprockets. One thing I wonder is if there are bigger gas tanks than just half gallon. Can you get a whole gallon?

    I may be wrong but these engines look so simple, I don't necessarily have to get parts (such as carburetor or clutch cable) from the company that made that particular engine. I note parts are a lot less than motorcycle components.

    Where did you get that bike? One odd thing about this forum is there is a section for Vendor Reviews - but no one has put anything there. It might be good to do that so people can pass on their experiences.

    Also, has anyone bought a bike from some place on Ebay (in Fla) called "Wonderful Creations". They have some nice looking preassembled MBs. Curious.

  17. Marktur

    Marktur Member

    Hi John,
    First, it takes SO LONG to eat up a half gallon tank - your butt will be sore, and your hands and teeth will be well-vibrated way before you put on 50 miles in a single session, I think.
    Second, doubling the size of the tank just adds that much more weight up and over the center of gravity, and imho, you don't need that much fuel on a bicycle or the extra weight in the wrong places.

    There's a bunch of great bikes at both Walmart and Target. I paid $99 for my Kulana at Walmart. Target sells the Schwinn Jaguar for about $150, I think. There's plenty of others in between. When you're shopping, I think the most important thing to look for are wobbly wheels. Everything else are pretty easy adjustments.
  18. John-Forrest

    John-Forrest Member

    Hi folks, I really appreciate your support! I'm going through with this and having it sent to a local moped shop and having dealer look everything over before I take it on road. I'm really not very good with machinery, so I think it's going to be safer to have something assembled by someone who knows what they're doing. (I tend to make things worse when I try to do it myself.)

    It should be interesting. I mainly plan to use this for trips 20-30 miles out of town - and use motorcycle for longer trips. Then I'll use regular bike just in town and within 10 miles.

  19. JemmaUK

    JemmaUK Guest

    Just on the build it or buy it question...

    Personally I would, with commercial engine kits, say build it every time. There is nothing like the joy of buzzing around on something you have slaved over yourself and that you can be proud of.

    However - with the chengines - im less sure. Personally I would go for a built bike with parts guarantee etc but only if that manufacturer bench tested and ran in the engines beforehand etc - i.e. a professional outfit.

    If I had money to throw away I wouldnt be so bothered but right now I am at the stage where I am finding it hard to afford fuel to run the bike :(

    Jemma xx
  20. John-Forrest

    John-Forrest Member

    That's just it. I don't have a whole lot of spare cash; otherwise I'd buy the high quality. I'm doing this with my tax refund money to have back-up transportaton.

    If I were in England, I'd get a Honda 125 - they won't import them to US.