Thursday, October 3, 2019

guest article, post 1 of 2 today

Article 1 of 2 today
Post apocalypse motorized bicycle project- Update 3

An update on the motorized bike.

I finally got around to installing the Staton friction drive on my bike. I was impressed with the quality of the kit, and consider the price to be very fair for what you’re getting. The kit with the 35cc motor is $360 at the time of this writing. You can also purchase the kit without an engine for $122. I chose not to go this route, because I wanted to be sure that I had a perfectly matched engine to the kit. My kit came with the Honda GX35 engine, but the dude at Staton told me that the Zenoah engine was also good.



I am slightly disappointed with the performance. To be fair though, I think that a lot of it has to do with my attempting to push my heavier 29” bike, along with my 6’, 190lb frame, down the road with a little 35cc 4 stroke motor. I lagged when going up hills quite a bit, but I also did not try to go full throttle on it as of yet, since I’m still in the breaking in stage. From take off, I peddle up to about 5mph before applying the throttle. This seems to be less stressful on the system, and is also recommended by Staton for clutch preservation. In short, I need to peddle assist when taking off (Normal) and when going up even slight grades. So it’s probably best to look at this particular system, with this particular engine option, as a “motor assist”. For anyone planning on going this route, I’d recommend a lighter 26” alloy bike, and try to stay at 30lbs or less if possible. If you weigh much more than my 190lbs, you might also want to consider larger engine options. A sustained cruise speed of 15 to 18mph on flat land, is an easy pace, and no problem at all with this unit, using the .930 (7/8”) roller. This provides quite an advantage over a non-motorized bicycle, as the average cyclist cannot sustain this pace for longer periods, so the advantage is definitely there.

Other considerations

Where I live (California) you need an M2 motorcycle license and moped plates to ride an internal combustion motorized bicycle, however you do not need insurance. In many other states however, you are exempt from such requirements. So short of moving out of state (Which I’d highly recommend) another option, if you can afford the extra cost, is electric. As long as you’re at 750 watts or less, you are exempt from the licensing (link below)

Consider a girl’s bike for this project

Here’s the thing. When you get to be a little older, as am I, swinging your leg over a tall 29” bicycle (And perhaps even a men’s style 26” bicycle) starts to become a chore. The girls bikes are a step through design, which eliminates this hassle. Just be sure to paint it a masculine color, put on your meanest looking scowl, perhaps hang a pirate flag from it (Taking great care not to accidentally choose the “ass version” of said flag) and hope for the best when cruising the rural neighborhoods :D Just remember that while the girl’s style frame will work with a friction mount, it will not work for a frame mount motor, which requires a large, open space, in the frame, and forward of the seat, should you decide to go this route instead.


Would I do it again? The short answer is probably not. I probably would have got a dual sport motorcycle instead. The motorized bicycle would be the perfect option for many people however. I would say that if you require, or wish for performance beyond what the standard friction drive can provide, that you too should probably consider moving up to a motorcycle. If you need off road ability, then you want either a dual sport, or one of those off road moped/scooters, that have more recently made the scene. If you plan on mostly staying on pavement, then something like a 50cc to a 150cc scooter would be a good option. If you are on a limited budget, but have good mechanical abilities, then a Chinese scooter can be a good buy. If you are like myself, and do not wish to constantly be maintaining and tinkering with it, then you have no choice but to save up and spend more for a used Japanese scooter/motorcycle.

All said, I’m not really regretting my decision so much. I think that it will serve me well.

Future projects might include a bicycle sidecar, and a teardrop camper. In the case of the sidecar, if I were to buy/build one, I would probably add a cheaper electric motor assist to it, to help ease the strain on the little Honda engine.

Bicycle Sidecar

$150 bike camper: DIY micro mobile home (downloadable plans)

Kent 26" Women's, La Jolla Cruiser Bike, White


  1. Dear Bison, Bless your Pristine Glowing Locks.
    And, to the nice individual who provided us with this information on friction motors please allow me to provide some insight.
    I used an internal combustion friction motor, on a standard commuter bike with 26 inch wheels, for a commute to work. Twelve miles each way. Installation was not very difficult.
    However, the roller, unless perfectly aligned, which only happens maybe once every (insert your most unlikely inconceivable event here) , will eat your tires in no time at all. I would plan on going through at least four-six tires a month utilizing this malevolent contraption.
    Due to vibration, the air filter/intake assembly flew off, while I was on the road, and the motor sucked in half a tree I rode by (only slightly hyperbolic).
    Needless to say that at that point the motor was useless until disassembled. Not something I could do as I was 12 miles from home out in the country.
    Please, I recommend you steer clear of these friction drives for "any" reason". If you like the idea of a motor-assisted bike consider the other options that the author kindly mentioned, especially electric. Additionally, there is a chain-drive motorized bike that might help you obviate some of the mechanical issues of the tire-slaying, tree-sucker (friction drive motor).
    When you make a call into the dealer to return these lovely monstrosities, I guarantee you that they are counting the days until you are no longer under their return policy, which happens to be uncommonly short.

    1. Tires ain't cheap anymore. Glad you brought this up. Thanks.

    2. Mr Unhappy...

      There is a learning curve with friction drive! I too burnt a 30usd tire! By revving it up on the wheel!

      The trick is to br gentle and peddle while SLOWLY giving it gas. Its not a motorcycle! First you get it up to minimum motor -clutch speed then, and only then do you add power. These things should be called - and are - mabs, motor assisted bicycles.

      As for your lack of proper alignment, that's on you. They need to be set at 90° to the tire. The thing vibrates apart? Sounds like a cheap engine! I noticed you didn't mention the make?

      Research everything! Read reviews! A cheap "happy time" "china girl" engine will screw you long time!

      I prefer the best quality I can afford. Because I can't afford cheap junk! It costs too much in the end.

      Sorry you got a dud engine. But you learned. Use threadblock on everything!

      You can go electric if you want! Good on you mate! But the range is limited. And if you think a quality gas engine costs alot wait until you buy one battery pack! I wish I could afford ebike! Sigh.

      Your mileage may vary.


    3. Oh yeah...

      My (thick slick kenda 833?) tires last a long time. More than a year! I'm only changing them to schwinn cruisers for rain times.

      The trick is to slowly build speed. Those brake lever throttles suck! I use a (antique '80's) friction mtb thumb shifter lever as my throttle and it is slow and smooth. Do not use a index shifter because you need slow access.

      There is a learning curve!


    4. If I was going electric, I would get 12v sealed deep cycle ( the motor I was looking at was 36v, so you need three-$200 total ) rather than any super high tech crap they offer like lithium, to minimize cost. Yes, limited range. But as said, it is a pedal ASSIST.

    5. Good tips Stevelo. Yes, the friction drive is not a system that can be treated as a “twist and go” type of setup. I pedal up to about 5 to 7mph, and then gently apply the throttle. If the engine still feels as if it is lugging, I peddle assist some more, until I get up to speed. Once up to speed, as long as I’m on flat land, the engine can easily maintain this pace.

    6. @Jim. I doubt that there is a limit in Nevada on the wattage of the motor, and electric is likely exempt. By far, the easiest setup would be the electrified front wheel hub.

      Now the name of this particular circuit escapes me, but there are electric motors that sense the pedal input. Apparently, not all do. What I mean by this is that as you peddle, the electric motor senses the rate of peddling, and either increases or decreases based on this, so that you are not working against the motor.

      Electric is very expensive, but if you can afford it, or don’t mind getting a cheaper setup, by all means, go for it.

  2. Fellow Cycling Minion.

    Sorry you ain't too happy with your ride. In apx 100 miles your engine will be broken in and gain about 1/3rd of strength! Of course these thingy is motor assisted. You'll still have to peddle. At least on hills.

    After scouring the forums for a rain resistant tire style, the winner is. Wide, "flat top" cruiser tires! Something with tread! My high pressure slicks don't cut it in rain so I'll be switching soom. I guess I'll have to re-center the engine.

    My recumbent and loaded trailer weights a lot and the 35 pulls fine if very slow with a one inch roller. That said, the 700usd 50cc with a 1 1/8 roller, pulls it like a donkey on meth! I still peddle but mostly just for looks! Lol. I wish I got it first! But the 35cc was a great learning engine. They require a lot of getting used to!

    I just mounted a basket to my "u channel" and it is freakung great! It's just big enough for a tiny backpack. Or a gallon of gas.

    Sidecar bad! You want narrow! Think woods. Think dodging crap! Think extra tire to avoid cliffs and holes and glass and cars ans trees... Etc.

    The main reason I went with a 2 wheel recumbent instead of a comfy 3 wheel is height for visibility and narrow for dodging road crap at speed. A single wheel trailer like a bob or aosum will hold a lot of stuff.

    A greed on the ladybike frame! When I had my 80cc happy time bike stepping over that was worse than riding it! But it pulled great!

    I am sorry you have to beg your gov for permission to ride your thing. Don't forget to put lights reflectors and a horm/bell on it and wear yer hellmit!

    Compared to other systems these motorized bikes are only BTN. But they're cheaper and easier to fix.

    I hope your satisfaction increases.


  3. Thanks for the comments!

    @7:34. So far I’ve had good luck with tire wear. I press it down about an 1/8” into the tire, and haven’t noticed any significant wear. Then again, I peddle a lot, to purposely reduce strain/wear, on the system.

    @Stevelo. Thanks. I’m actually not unhappy with it, just wish that it had a little more power. Since I’m in Commiefornia, and this is a CARB approved motor (California Air Resources Board) it’s almost certainly jetted too lean. If I can figure out the proper jetting, I think that it will make a world of difference.

  4. Hat tip to the inventor of the motorized bike and the author of this piece. You are so typical of what has made this country the greatest place in the world, if not a genius.

    1. Thanks Pilgrim. The motorized bicycle is a wonderful alternative for those of us that don’t feel completely safe on a full fledged motorcycle, yet want something that offers a little more than a standard pedal bicycle. The first motorcycles were indeed nothing more than a simple motorized bicycle. As time went on, they became more suited to the higher speeds and performance that the motorcycles of today are known for.

  5. Riders!

    This very Saturday in Pornland Oregon == TrikeFest!
    I'll see you at Pornland junior college Sylvania!

    What can you expect?
    * Rides!
    * Riders of your preferred gender(s)!
    * Handle-bar streamers!
    * Adult supervision on the test-track!
    * Dozens of vendors offering hundreds of models of three-wheel contraptions!
    *Recumbents! Racers! Grocery-getters! SHT EOTW survival gizmos!
    * Your chance to intimately experience that 'carnival-like' atmosphere we know and love called 'Pornland'!
    * Plus a chance to win a life-time supply of exclamation marks!

    [As a member of the John G. Blaine Society, I'm temporarily exempting Californians from the 'keep going until you reach china' rule!]

    1. I feel I'm being short changed on explanation point usage :(

  6. This just in... Stevelo from town!

    My 50cc Honda engine is starting to be "broken in" and it's really perky! Sometimes I can even go uphill at 20 mph!

    Stanton Inc's website says it will pull 400#'s at 30 mph on level ground. (1 1/8" roller) I figure me and the bike-trailer-tools combo weighs about 250+ pounds?

    Of course I still have to throttle up just before a hill - just like the 35cc - and i still have to peddle assist it. But it's got one extra horsepower over the 35 and that really makes a big difference.

    Basically, "I just read the map and steer, that's all..." (Stan Ridgeway "salesman" song reference;;)

    I carried my fat pile of dried goods and 3 used deli 5g buckets without bothering to tally the weight. Once home I realized I was probably above 70+ pounds of cargo.

    That's not counting my weight, the bike and all the random tools and 4 spare tubes - 2 thorn resistant, 2 standard - because of 20" front and 26" back tires. (A spare for the spare...) And a quart of unneeded spare gas... (The 35 needed it due to tiny gas tank)

    I noticed that truck wind blasts were super severe at 25+ mph! They required "knee gravity balance" motions to keep me upright! Similar to motorcycle racing... Big wind is one of the reasons I felt I needed the extra horse.

    I live in the "mountains" of Arkansas. Very steep hills. Narrow roads and lots of semi trucks. Nice wide shoulders in my county though. Very few steep cliffs! No stop lights and only 3 stop signs to get to the store in the real town.

    One of these days I'll write a post and make a video tour of my my friction recumbent trailer set-up. I guess that I still have sticker shock about the thing! For the same price I could have bought a car that might last have lasted three years, or bought ~5 years of monthly paid cheap car insurance! It took several years to finish.

    I'm still strung out from the ride and will probably have a hard time sleeping tonight, but I'll be eating good tonight!

    My best dang cat ripped into my pound of cheap sausage! :/


    1. Great report Stevelo! Sounds like you’re really getting some serious use out of your motorized bike. Wow, a difference of 1hp from the 35cc to the 50cc. That’s a significant increase for sure.

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Glad to hear that it’s working out for you DG. If you’re a mechanical person, the China girl’s are not so bad of a buy. I actually had relatively good luck with mine, until I ran into that clutch issue from hell. And even then, I could have remedied it by getting a $40 centrifugal clutch kit. But at that point, I just decided that rather than dump any more money into it, I wanted to get something that would last for the long haul (No pun intended). One thing about those little 2 strokes is that they’re very simple. A high quality 2 stroke, such as the Zenoah, would probably be trouble free and long lasting as well.

  8. Author,
    Per the concerns of the first commenter, how about one of those kevlar-reinforced tires? That should increase tire life quite a bit, and reduce the likelihood of flats.

    Also, I'm glad to see you got a "real" engine, Honda. I hope you purchased some Militec 1 that I recommended a while back to increase your engine life and preserve your investment.
    Happy trails,
    Peace out

  9. I forgot to mention that I hope you're putting quality gas in there, preferably Chevron premium or a near equivalent. Ethanol is hard on the small carburetors. It's best to get a bottle of ethanol treatment to put in with each fill-up.
    I am eagerly anticipating a followup article regarding fuel economy and thoughts after it wears in (I might want to get one also).
    Peace out

  10. Just re-reading your comments, if you reduce friction with the Militec-1, and put premium gas with ethanol treatment in, it should give you a power boost.
    Peace out

    1. Thanks for your input @Peace Out. I’m still in the breaking in stage, so I haven’t got the Militec as of yet. However, I have it bookmarked.

      A while back, I tried to find some Kevlar tires for my 29” bike, but didn’t come across any. I’ll look again, but so far, I haven’t seemed to have any excessive tire wear issues.

      Yes, I purposely avoid the ethanol gas, and the local Mobil is said to be ethanol free. Yes, I use the premium.

      I’ll try to provide you with some data in the future regarding fuel economy. I know that it’s great, I just don’t have a number. The biggest drawback is the very small (.17 gallon I believe) fuel tank, so you would definitely want to bring a small fuel cell along if going on long journeys.

      So far I’m having fun on it, and it’s a great alternative to an expensive automobile.