BY LEW FRAUENFELDER MAKE A
I was reading Boing Boing one day and saw
a link to bikemotorkit.com. At that site, Gas
Imports of Kalamazoo, Mich., was offering a
bicycle motor kit consisting of a 66 cubic-centimeter two-cycle engine, drive mechanism,
gas tank, muffler, and controls for $120.
The ad brought back kid-time memories
for me, as I had dreamed of one day owning
a Whizzer — now I could make one!
THE WHIZZER STORY
Whizzer motorbike kits were introduced in
1939 by Breene-Taylor Engineering, a Los
Angeles producer of aircraft parts and carburetors. The kit cost $55 (something like $800
today). People would buy these kits, which
consisted of an engine, roller drive, control
levers, etc., and adapt them to regular bikes.
(Interesting trivia: a Whizzer was the only
motorized vehicle you could purchase new
during World War II!)
MAKING A WHIZZER KNOCKOFF
The Whizzer brand was revived in 1997, and
today a new Whizzer sells for $1,400; the
engine kit alone is $500. I decided to pay
$120 for the Gas Imports kit and maybe
$50 for a used mountain bike, and make my
knockoff motorbike for a lot less money.
The kit arrived from China about three
weeks after I ordered it. I opened the box to
find that every nut, bolt, washer, and other
sundry parts were not packed in tidy little
plastic bags but were loose and had obviously
rolled around in the box during its journey
to me. I had no idea if parts were missing,
as there was no assembly manual either.
48 Make: makezine.com/26
TWO YEARS IN THE MAKING!
I carefully laid out the parts on our laundry
room counter and forgot about the mess —
for two years. After this lapse, I figured I’d
better get serious about building my motorbike, especially since my wife wasn’t going to
put up any longer with lost counter space.
I went online and found an assembly
manual PDF and an assembly video at Gas
Bike ( gasbike.net). They also sell a variety
of bike motor kits. From there, I went to
Craigslist and spotted a mountain bike for
$35. The bike was in pretty rough shape, so
I overhauled it first before motorizing it.
Now for the coup de grâce — the engine and
control mounting! Actually, the process went
quite well. The kit uses a chain-driven sprocket
that clamps to the rear wheel’s spokes. I found
I was missing a part and readily located a
replacement at a scooter shop.
Since the now-motorized bike has no starter,
I had to get on, aim it downhill, let out the
clutch, and hope it started. It did! A nice pop-pop-pop noise like a baby Harley came from
the muffler. I turned it uphill and was amazed
at the torque that came from that tiny engine.
I’m looking forward to more rides. My only
regret is missing two years of fun motorbike
riding by letting the parts lie fallow instead of
getting with it the day the kit arrived!
Bike engine kit forum: motorbicycling.com
Photograph by Garry McLeod
Lew Frauenfelder lives in Boulder, Colo. When he’s not
building bikes, he’s making stained glass windows, fixing
stuff around the house, and trying to stay retired.