Introduction: Build a Custom Bike

Picture of Build a Custom Bike

Now, have you, as a kid or an adult ever wanted to build a custom bike?  I am sure some people have whether it was a motorized pedal bike to an full on motorcycle.  However, as you maybe aware, it can become a costly process.  I learned this, and decided I wanted to build a custom bike for as cheap as possible.  Since I have never built a bike before, but have a fair amount of mechanical know-how, I decided to start with the engine, and build the bike around it.  The reason I decided on this course was because, I thought, starting with the frame, whether I fabricate one, or buy one, I will either be looking all over for an engine that fits, or modifying the frames.  If I start with the engine I can fabricate a frame to it, or I would still have to modify a bought frame for it.  So it boils down to fabricate a frame or buy a frame and fabrication would lend itself better to starting with the engine.


Now this is a short version mostly of lesser important matters.  Anything very important or in need of more care will be covered in part 1b.  If you have know how in this area, feel free to skip right to Part 2 (COMING SOON!).

So, now you are wondering, OK, great, now what about the engine.

Now, I know someone is going to tell me this, but yes, I used a very weird engine.  I think it will work out great though with the specifications below:

400cc Wisconsin Engine
-Cast Iron build
-lots of torque (30 ft/lbs)
-1900rpm idle, 3700rpm max. (No load)
-the carb is made to be able to tip to extreme angles without flooding or starving
-it has an oil pump (Much better then splash lubrication)

So it has some good credentials, however, it is 60 years old, but has no wear on it which is excellent and a bit surprising even.  Now, you may think, where can I pick up one of these from!  Well, you can try the bargain finder in your area, and even junkyards tend to have then, and usually they only have minor problems.  So there is the option of the odd engine like I used, or similar (A twin cylinder 20hp Honda, those are fairly common), or the second option.

Now the second option is opting for a standard bike engine, something that is made for a bike.  These, although I can guarantee will probably be more expensive, they will require less fabrication for installment.  Using a non-bike engine means it will not have the same mounting abilities of a bike engine.

So there is trade offs.

Once you have picked an engine, if its used, it is a good idea to clean it up, even if it runs.  You might find you didn't get a great deal, you might find you got a great deal.

*Sorry some of the pictures are sideways, I am trying to figure out how to fix that.*


Woogaus (author)2011-07-09

Just curious as to how the bike build is coming?

Wesley666 (author)Woogaus2011-07-09

I have come to a fork in the road actually, do I build a bike, or, do I build a diwheel? I have all the parts for a diwheel, an engine, a skid steer transmission, large tires I can use to make the giant hub less wheels. I am thinking that would be the way to go as they are extremely uncommon, and would be the first Instructable for one, in fact, I believe it would be one of the only gas powered diwheels in the world if I did build it...

fallental (author)2011-05-31

I have a 1979-1980 Ford Snowthrower with a slightly chipped flywheel but it runs perfectly, I can find replacement parts for it, will it become a problem? Also, can a flywheel be painted? is it recommended?

Wesley666 (author)fallental2011-06-01

You can paint a flywheel, that usually isn't a problem. The chipped flywheel will be. If its chipped it should be replaced, otherwise over time the chip and any tiny cracks will spread, and eventually it will explode ruining the engine, your day, and possibly part of you. If you can get a replacement, I would highly suggest it, the flywheel may be one of the simpler parts on an engine, just a heavy wheel, but any damage to them can be incredibly dangerous. No one wants a heavy metal wheel turning at high speed to start to disintegrate and fly part.

lukeyj15 (author)2011-05-23

Very nice job. I have a briggs and stratton quantum 35 I'm working on at school. I got it running today. The rewind starter needs work, and I'd like to fabricate a frame for it, but I have found the B&S to be a good engine.

Wesley666 (author)lukeyj152011-05-23

B&S do make excellent engines! That is a vertical shaft engine if I am correct? I have seen lots of mini chopper and small motor bikes made with B&S engines, some with lawnmower engines that haven't had a conversion done to them (Very bad) and I wanted to do that, but over the top, and then I realized no ordinary pedal bike (And some motorbikes) would hold my 120lb engine! HAHA!

THAT REMINDS ME! I was wanting to make an Instructable on Vertical to Horizontal conversions for engines! So if it is Vertical Shaft, I will post an 'Ible later on how to get it to run horizontally. I planned on doing that awhile back because there are always people asking, "How can I get a lawnmower engine to run horizontally?" and I have never seen an answer, but I tried it and its very simple. Really, its just adjusting the carb position and putting a piece of Acrylic over the crank case to see what needs to be added to sling oil...Which usually is just a stiff piece of metal in a check mark type shape.

Also, I hate pull starts, or at least fixing them. If they have to be taken apart, the spring inside is such a pain to rewind and reassemble. I might make an 'Ible on that too! :D

fallental (author)Wesley6662011-05-28

I would greatly appreciate it if you did! I have been searching the internet for a good way to convert a vertical shaft to run horizontally, but nothing I found was good! You might be my savior on this.

Wesley666 (author)fallental2011-05-28

I definitely will. It's not hard, adjust carb position, and then pretty much it's build a part which is almost directly copying a horizontal shaft engines oil slinger. It surprised me how many people have never tried it. I thought I would one afternoon, and after putting a piece of clear acrylic over the back, I could clearly see what need to be adjusted. It cost $5 at most probably. I will get on that right after I do the recoil pull start 'Ible.

lukeyj15 (author)Wesley6662011-05-23

Yes, rewind starters annoy me. I spent over an hour working on it today, it still isn't working properly. Yes, it is a vertical.

fallental (author)lukeyj152011-05-28

I worked on my old Lawnboy's pull start for about an hour too yesterday.

fallental (author)2011-05-28

I think this is a great project!, and I am very glad to see it put up - gets me thinking and gives me ideas of my own.

Wesley666 (author)fallental2011-05-28

Yay! Inspiration is good! :)

Thanks for the comment! :D

Phil B (author)2011-05-28

*Sorry some of the pictures are sideways, I am trying to figure out how to fix that.*

n your photo editing software there is a menu option for View. Usually there is a Rotate command in a sub-menu, or Rotate may appear as its own separate menu header. Click on it once and the photo turns 90 degrees. Some programs allow you to rotate both clockwise and counter-clockwise. If yours allows only clockwise rotation, you may need to click three times for 270 degrees of adjustment to get what you want.

Wesley666 (author)Phil B2011-05-28

Ok, so it like what I have been doing, rotating the pictures while they are on my computer and re-loading them (I have reloaded any of the turned ones yet). Is there a way to do it right on Instructables? If not it's fine, I have fixed most them them already and will upload them soon. Thanks for the help though! :)

Phil B (author)Wesley6662011-05-28

I do not believe you can rotate or otherwise edit photos through the Instructables site. You can, as you have done, remove one photo and replace it with another. I do not remember if you have done this, but you can left click your mouse over one of your photos and drag to draw a yellow text box. Then you can type and save an explanatory note.

gmoon (author)2011-05-24

Ah, dude--you should break this up into a traditional "instructable."

And It's every bit as useful as a "small engine repair" tutorial (maybe more so) as it is about your bike...

Wesley666 (author)gmoon2011-05-24

Yes, I knew this comment was coming. I think I will make a part 1b to go along with this and it will be the same thing, but alot more in depth and broken into steps. Ya, I will definitely do that, I just wanted to make sure I got it into the Bike Contest, and the detail I would have went into if it was a traditional Instructable would have been far too much to complete for the deadline. Thanks for the honest feedback though, you confirmed my suspicions! :)

TSC (author)2011-05-24


husamwadi (author)2011-05-23

lol, with an engine that big, you might as well stick wings onto your bike and watch it fly :P

I like your project!

Wesley666 (author)husamwadi2011-05-23

Thanks! Most people think I am crazy, but they do generally like it. I homemade ultra light...There would be a worthy Instructable! Eventually someone will do that, I would prefer to buy a flying machine though...less chance of...Catastrophic failure and dying! :P Lolz! Thanks for the comment!

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