Fail Of The Week: How Not To Build Your Own Motorcycle

There’s a saying among writers that goes something like “Everyone has a novel in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay”. Its source is the subject of some dispute, but it remains sage advice that wannabe authors should remember on dark and stormy nights.

It is possible that a similar saying could be constructed among hackers and makers: that every one of us has at least one motor vehicle within, held back only by the lack of available time, budget, and workshop space. And like the writers, within is probably where most of them should stay.

[TheFrostyman] might have had cause to heed such advice. For blessed with a workshop, a hundred dollars, and the free time of a 15-year-old, he’s built his first motorcycle. It’s a machine of which he seems inordinately proud, a hardtail with a stance somewhere closer to a café racer and powered by what looks like a clone of the ubiquitous Honda 50 engine.

Unfortunately for him, though the machine looks about as cool a ride as any 15-year-old could hope to own it could also serve as a textbook example of how not to build a safe motorcycle. In fact, we’d go further than that, it’s a deathtrap that we hope he takes a second look at and never ever rides. It’s worth running through some of its deficiencies not for a laugh at his expense but to gain some understanding of motorcycle design.

This bike has a classic tubular frame in which the engine sits and is not part of the bike’s structure. Modern sports bikes will usually adopt a different approach in which the engine, as the largest and most rigid component, becomes part of the structure, but the Honda engine hails from a different era.

Frame Design and Kinky Pipe

How the headstock on a tubular motorcycle frame should be attached, a reproduction of a Norton "Featherbed" frame. Flattrackers and Caferacers, (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr.
How the headstock on a tubular motorcycle frame should be attached, a reproduction of a Norton “Featherbed” frame. Flattrackers and Caferacers, (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Flickr.

At the front of a well-designed frame, all the tubes should meet at the headstock. The pivot on which the forks sit, a vertical section of tube which forms the axis of motion for the steering. This section of the frame is crucial to the integrity and safety of the bike as it experiences some of the largest forces while on the road, so if you were to examine this section of a commercial frame you’d find some of the heftiest welding and bracing.

In [TheFrostyman]’s frame the headstock hangs out in front of the rest of the bike almost as an afterthought, held only by a short section of two parallel tubes. Inexplicably he brings the vertical members of the frame to its spine a short distance behind the headstock rather than to the headstock itself. At best this headstock will be flexible and give the bike poor handling, at worst it will bend or fatigue and break, leading to the bike disintegrating at speed.

How not to bend a piece of tube. Compare with the curves of the Norton frame above.
How not to bend a piece of tube. Compare with the curves of the Norton frame above.

Moving through the frame, he has its bottom members curve round below the engine and he’s incorporated some diagonal bracing. Unfortunately though rather than make his angles either by careful use of a tube bender or by welding together individual sections that meet at an angle, he seems to have formed them in a vice  and left his bends with kinks. This will have introduced a significant weakness to the structure, when exposed to the forces it will have to cope with on the road it is likely to collapse. There is also a question of the frame bracing around the seat, he’s taken the frame out to the rear to form a mudguard without taking it up to support the seat. This creates a huge weak point right beneath the rider, it would take a brave or foolhardy rider to sit on a motorcycle seat likely to collapse at the first bump.

Resting on a Chain, a Wrench, and a Prayer

The rear wheel arrangement is probably the most visibly scary piece of this build though. It’s a hardtail design – no rear suspension – which you’d usually expect to see using some kind of double-triangle frame geometry similar to that you will probably be familiar with from a bicycle. [TheFrostyman]’s machine eschews that tried-and-tested design in that the front half of the two-triangle model is missing. The bracing upwards towards the rear mudguard will contribute next-to-nothing to its integrity, so all the strength of the bike lies with his bottom rails and a bent tube touching the top of his gearbox. This is likely to create a weak point in the bottom rails just behind the engine, this frame will not stand up to much punishment.

The lack of a rear brake caliper will be the least of the rider's worries.
The lack of brake calipers will be the least of the rider’s worries.

We’ve saved the best for last with this machine. The rear triangle in a hardtail frame supports the rear wheel, it is crucial to the safety of the finished motorcycle. If you design a hardtail frame, this part of it will be made from hefty tube with careful reinforcement and welding. A section of chain welded solid for the top member and a wrench used as the bottom member should not be your first choice if your life is going to depend on it, you are not going to be able to save yourself with an awesome stoppie if the rear wheel drops off while you are riding the bike.

It’s tempting to sit back and laugh at the builder of this motorcycle for getting it so wrong. And yes, this is a Fail Of The Week post because he has failed miserably to make a safe and rideable motorcycle. But to do so would be unfair, for even with its fails it is an achievement to have built it at all, and particularly so for a 15-year-old. If we could leave [TheFrostyman] with anything it would be the exhortation to never give up, and to return to this project and have another go at his frame. Study a few commercial frames of similar design, and pick  carefully the tube sizes for a MkII frame that addresses the deficiencies of the original. Above all, keep at it! (Edit, November 2019: It seems that he did just that. We like it!)

If you have an interest in motorcycle frame design, we’d wholeheartedly recommend reading every page of [Tony Foale]’s site, meanwhile [TheFrostyman]’s Imgur gallery of the bike is below the break. Those who have their own stories of inadequate motorcycle design, please share your story in the comments. We’d love to hear about who helped you learn a better way of doing things.

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2013-09-05-Hackaday-Fail-tips-tileFail of the Week is a Hackaday column which celebrates failure as a learning tool. Help keep the fun rolling by writing about your own failures and sending us a link to the story — or sending in links to fail write ups you find in your Internet travels.

100 thoughts on “Fail Of The Week: How Not To Build Your Own Motorcycle

    1. I find this article very condescending and I think that the comments agree that the big FAIL is on the part of the writer. I would have loved to been this kid when I was his age and this country needs more of them. This piece could have takin a entirely different ton of creativity and still made the same points. I would like to know what this writer has created lately if ever instead of criticize.
      Here is an example my project, it was first made in Afghanistan welded with a car battery and a coat hanger.
      The RHAT Bike;

      1. This criticism of the article is entirely unfair. He made a basic, point by point argument of why thus is a poor design and and illustrated those points clearly and concisely both with literal illustrations by way of photos and offering constructive and useful advice on how it could have been done better.
        This kid is gonna be a better bike builder because of it.

    2. Give it hell kid,at least you did something constructive. Better than ripping a dirt bike off and getting your ass arrested. By the time you become an adult, I’m sure you’ll have some good problem solving traits. All you need at this point is a mentor with some tools,and you’ll go far.

    1. Age does not matter.
      He’s 15 and has done more than plenty of other people. If his feelings get hurt that HaD pointed out a bunch of flaws with example then perhaps he should pursue a different craft. That is not for you to decide though.
      Dangerous is dangerous, and wrong is wrong regardless of age, sex, or race.
      If my kid made something like this, I’d prefer to have people pick it apart. If he had the maturity to listen and make notes to do it again properly I’d be mighty proud!
      I’ll keep me eyes open for the Mk.II . This kid does not seem like the kind of kid who will give up easily.

        1. [Gryd3] didn’t say that danger is wrong. There were two tautologies “dangerous is dangerous” which obviously can’t be argued, and “wrong is wrong” which also can’t be argued.

      1. I agree wholeheartedly. I just wish this kid was my neighbor and I had the chance to see it before he killed himself on it. I would love to help him out with some basic physics and research. I also have most of the tools he would need that he obviously didn’t have. I wish either of my kids had the “go do itness” that this kid has. If he can handle the constructive criticism he is well on his way to making it in life.

    1. It’s good to take the criticism well, it’s usually the fastest way to learn. If he had gone and asked someone ‘how to build a motorcyle?’, he likely wouldn’t have received a useful answer. Best way to learn is to just do it, and then ask ‘like this?’

      1. That’s true in general. People can be slow to give helpful advice, so offer forth your opinion and wait to be criticised. If you’ve got a thick enough skin it’s probably the best way to get information. Especially here. Ahem.

          1. That’s Cunningham’s Law for you. He’s probably going to get more good advice because of what he built than he ever could by just asking for tips on motorcycle construction. This article is a good example of that.

    2. I’ve gotta throw my support behind this guy too. He obviously shouldn’t commute on it, but I bet it was a ton of fun to build. I think the mad max battle wagon aesthetic is really cool. I’d weld a few more rusty panels into a patchwork to shroud the engine.

      1. Might be some kind of kart would be safer, just for off-road use (since he’s 15 anyway). They’re basically just a roll-cage, I think, then appropriate bits to hold the engine and wheels on. Should be more forgiving, less strain placed on individual crucial parts.

        When a mate of mine was in the ATC, an Air Force version of boy scouts, as a kid, they made their own hovercraft. Using a motorbike engine I think. Maybe that’s possible, if a bit dorkier than your own motorbike. Then again he’d have trouble making a road-legal vehicle of any type from scratch like that, so it’d just be for fun anyway.

  1. Having the engine mounts, drive-chain or neck tube come loose at any speed is a really, really bad prospect. One can only hope that the combination of the tiny engine’s modest tension on the drive chain and rider’s weight on the seat will cause the whole structure to fold up gently until the rear wheel rubs on the frame and prevents further attempts to drive it.

    1. … or possibly, fold up gently and the resultant major league friction between the wheel and the seat will set the riders posterior on fire, thus negating the need for the flamethrower.

    1. Umm Hmmh. Actually you know it’s an especially bad design if another novice sees it and cringes. But we don’t even know if Jenny’s a novice. I don’t weld much, I haven’t attempted a motorcycle, but I’m still confident my skills aren’t up to it. I’m also confident the Frostyman’s skills weren’t up to it. How can anyone be so sure? I think it’s a similar principle to that one in legal parlance known as Plausible Deniability.

    2. Did you read the article? Because there isn’t any shit talking. In fact, it includes this nice little bit “It’s tempting to sit back and laugh at the builder of this motorcycle for getting it so wrong. And yes, this is a Fail Of The Week post because he has failed miserably to make a safe and rideable motorcycle. But to do so would be unfair, for even with its fails it is an achievement to have built it at all, and particularly so for a 15-year-old. If we could leave [TheFrostyman] with anything it would be the exhortation to never give up, and to return to this project and have another go at his frame.”

    3. Maybe but I think Jenny’s mostly concerned with the guy’s safety, a factory-built motorbike is dangerous enough, especially for 15 year olds. You really don’t want bits coming undone when it’s at speed, the guy could easily die. It’d be wrong not to warn him.

      The article doesn’t really mock the guy, just points out the most fatal errors. He needs someone to take him under their wing a little bit. It’s a shame he didn’t have someone experienced on hand when he built it to start with, would have saved him a lot of bother, and he’d have learned without having to make the mistakes.

      I wonder how much of the bike is salvageable? If it’s just a matter of welding some tubes, I suppose he can do that himself inexpensively.

      For the exhaust, isn’t the usual method of tube-bending to fill it full of sand first?

      1. Sand works, for small tubing computer power cords with missing ends work, and for those who want an easier to recover solution, filling the tubes with water and freezing them works very well too.

          1. Well it’s not that exactly. Apparently some methods freeze soapy water or sand with water. Supposedly works great for copper.
            I haven’t tried it out. Was skeptical too… have seen a steel-tubed gate destroyed by ice before. :/

  2. Ok, you are right.
    But he tried. Probably improved his welding skills. He followed a conceptual idea. He finished a project. Much more than you can expect from a typical 15yrs old.

  3. That Norton frame isn’t even a good example of a frame design. The tubes don’t meet as a node at the neck and they are bent in a radius. Proper flat tracker frames have a large diameter CrMo head tube that also forms the rear swingarm attachment.

  4. The solution is (at-least) a complete understanding of:

    * Engineering Mechanics – Statics
    * Engineering Mechanics – Dynamics
    * Engineering Mechanics – Properties of Materials

    These subjects are perhaps beyond the understanding of a 15 year-old, but exposure to them may make him understand he’s putting his life at risk by taking the “Maker” approach.

    As a classically trained EE, I was required to pass courses in all of he above disciplines. I doubt that’s that case with these watered-down EECS “degrees” being offered today (sad face). So even if you’re a “degreed” Engineer, today it’s better check your brain before trying to “responsibly” design a space-frame vehicle.

    1. I’m sure there are plenty of custom fabricators with less-than-complete understandings of the above concepts while still building acceptably ‘safe’ motorcycles. Perhaps experience and failure itself can teach something?

      I think the author took a much more reasonable approach by lauding the creativity and follow-through this project took while suggesting the result is entirely unsafe. At this age, I think it’s much more important to instill a desire for learning and self motivation – the education will follow. Would you suggest that he take statics, dynamics, and strength of materials first (using math above his head and potentially losing interest in STEM) as you did at 15, or that he give up on trying to create something and join the rest of societies consumers? I’m not arguing about the benefit of that coursework – and I hope he gets there some day – but it seems a bit unfair to compare your educational experience to that of a 15 year old.

      1. > “Perhaps experience and failure itself can teach something?”

        Definitely! When I was younger I loved to make bike ramps. You know what my first ramp was? I took a piece of firewood with an old flimsy piece of plywood and leaned one over the other. It was unsafe as all hell! But I learned *very* quickly that it was unsafe and through some trial and error I eventually ended up with plywood nailed to pieces of 2×4 making a secure, reinforced ramp that took more effort to take apart than to build.

        It may not be the best route of making things the right way, but it certainly works! Not to mention the experience of having a problem and setting out to resolve it with the tools and materials you have on hand – something you can’t learn without experience.

    2. It’s all about specialization. Fewer courses in mechanical engineering mean more in EE. It’s good to have a little bit of a background so you have an appreciation for what the mechanical engineers do, but a handful of Mech-E courses back in undergrad isn’t going to make me trust you with any machine design.

      1. To add to that, it’s very dangerous to think that a few fundamentals classes in any way prepare you for real world design. Does Networks II make you qualified even remotely to design a control board, especially if there is a safety component to the design? Of course not. Those courses are just the bare bones mathematical concepts which are prerequisites to courses that might teach you about real world analytical design techniques. If you are using them for a real world application, you are in over your head.

        You are far better off approaching things from a technician’s perspective if you don’t do it for a living. Use proven techniques and patterns. Don’t try to get fancy as a hobbyist when it comes to safety. Stuff like that is why machinists and skilled trades guys look down on engineers, and they are right. If you do engineering you gotta do it right.

    3. I don’t often take offense at something I see on the internet because anyone can say whatever they want without consequence, but your comment annoys me enough to voice a response. As someone with a recent degree (computer engineering) trying to break into the field it’s people with an opinion like yours that really create problems.
      Who gives a flying fuck what courses you took in college. I took courses that were every bit as difficult as anyone in an engineering course load in the past several decades. Coming from a state school, I can do math in circles around some 40 year veteran engineers who went to Ivy league schools. WHO CARES. I’ve been exposed to a large number topics, I’m not going to know them all in depth, and neither did you at that point no matter what you say. The point of college isn’t to master everything, a degree shows that you have been exposed to some things in that field and were able to teach yourself how to use them. It shows that you can dedicate yourself to something that is difficult and come out on top. Most of all it shows you know how to learn, apply, and assess things. Most people ended up in a very specialized role in their jobs anyway and that requires you to learn it, as you often weren’t trained for it in school (if it even existed at the time). The reason modern college grads look so uneducated to you is you’ve lost touch with what it is to have very little experience in that something. So instead of putting up barriers and claiming the world is just a bunch of morons, help them understand better ways to do things and encourage them to learn and gain that experience. That’s the way to build something responsibly, not calling someone too stupid to do it.

      1. Sure sounded to me like he was “encourag[ing] them to learn and gain that experience” by taking the time to point out what some of the necessary (but lacking) experience-building subjects are. Maybe you’re taking it a bit too personally.

        1. It’s possible I am, but he actually calls modern degrees “watered down” and that pushed me over the edge. There was no need to say it, it wasn’t even really relevant.

    4. “I never had any formal training. I came to believe that it stops people from thinking for themselves. I read many books on technical subjects, but always regarded that as second-hand knowledge. I did my best working in my own way.”

      Rex McCandless

      A gentleman who left school just after his 13th birthday and although having taken no courses in engineering managed, with his brother Cromie, to create the Norton Featherbed frame and many other innovative designs.

    5. Of those 3 topics, only “Statics” is even possible to have “a complete understanding of”. And that’s because statics is only a rough approximation of the real world, much like Newton’s laws of motion. (I’m assuming here that statics is based around the concepts of light inextensible rods and frictionless pulleys, forgive me if my education is insufficient)

      The others require a complete understanding of quantum physics, so, good luck with that.

    6. As a recent (2013) B.Eng (Electronic) graduate I take offence.

      Firstly, because I did indeed complete all of those courses
      Secondly, because passing an exam (with distinction thank you very much) does not in anyway qualify me in real-world practice of a specialised application. As an engineer with a good understanding of mechanical principles, I would recognise that a space frame is a specialised and safety critical part of the design, much like an engine, that I don’t have the skills to fabricate and would outsource it.
      Thirdly, I’m quite sure “classically trained” means “most of the systems and platforms you work with on a daily basis didn’t even exist when I was trained”. Electronic and computer engineering are arguably the most rapidly changing disciplines over the last 30 years, it would be worrying if EECS education had not adapted as well.

  5. The mounts for the front brakes appear to be made from home DIY type angle brackets with a thickness of maybe 1.6mm or possibly 2.0mm at the most. Terrifyingly underspecced for such a safety critical part.

    I guess he can always use his rear brake if his front brakes fail. Oh, no, scratch that, he hasn’t got one!

    While I’ve got nothing but encouragement for anyone (especially someone so young) having a go at some homegrown engineering, the distinction between engineering (including consideration of the risks and the mitigation of them) and bodging needs to be made.

    I built a car from scratch at age 19 which led me to thinking about stiffness, strength, load paths, load cases, dabbling in FEA and CAD, and a short while later commencement of an engineering degree. Let’s hope thefrostyman has a similar experience before he comes to any harm.

    1. Agreed- but hopefully that learning experience is the flak online and people telling him it’s a deathtrap, rather than the bike disintegrating at speed with the rider on it. Fail all you want, but try to fail in a way that won’t get you maimed or killed.

  6. Hey, some of my best childhood memories is from deathtraps falling apart on me.

    I built a chopper out of an old 250cc motorcycle engine, pieces of an butchered frame, steel pipes and a 2by4 for a seatbottom with some foam and leather stapled to it to make for a “king and queen” seat.

    The seat was so far back that it could pop a wheelie on any gear, the fork was a hydraulic fork but so long and in such an angle that it flexed more in all the wrong ways then the in the right way.

    Sure, I crashed a lot due to lack of weight on the front wheel and the wheel didnt so much steer as just tip over.

    But it looked cool and chicks digs scars, and healthcare is free where I live, so the plaster and stitches didn’t cost my parents anything. (ahhh, that must burn for a lot of people)

    By the way, wasn’t there a guy called Szyzs building deathtraps on two wheels?

    I bet the motorcycles he built when he was 15 didnt meet all safety standards..

  7. It might be unsafe, but I agree that making a motorcycle that actually works in any way at all is a great achievement. I’m not really a nuts & bolts kind of guy so even something like this that makes raises the hairs on someone’s neck is hella impressive to me.

  8. Even for this website, this article is in extremely poor taste. I don’t care for the author of this article at all. I said I was done before and I gave this site another chance, for that I was wrong. This is nothing but a vitriolic cesspit, and another example of everything that’s wrong with so much of online culture. I’ll always look back fondly on the first article I read here in 2004, but this is no longer the site I loved. I know one pissed off reader leaving doesn’t matter, but its off my chest and I feel better.

    1. While I too dislike the writing and am generally opposed to what people are calling hacks these days, this article about a young person’s attempt to create a vehicle is not the place to complain about “the fall of internet high culture.” Blaming the downfall of a website on one writer’s critique is just silly. Blaming the negative, disrespectful nature of today’s internet culture on the dissection of an unsafe project is also just silly. You sir, are a silly person, and you won’t be missed.

    2. Ex-Reader, I doubt you will see this without email alerts, but I also mourn the damage to global hacker culture caused by a publication that was once my favorite site on the web. To those who ask where we hang out and share our stuff now? Do you really think we want you there? Do you really think we want Mr. “Don’t let the door hit you on the way out” in our conversations? This site is now seen as a commercial, nasty dumpster fire by many members of the community. Most of the links here that people send me are to highlight the garbage now published by this site. For the uninformed, being a real member of hacker community always required civility and those that were dicks were shunned and now work the drive-thru booth.

  9. Everything is ‘fixable’ but it will need some more welding and reassessment of force directions. It’s possible to build a safe moped without an engineering degree, it will just be a lot heavier than required to be strong enough.
    Not having front suspension will break headstock off pretty quick, bunch of tubes to triangulate it will make it a lot stronger but having some suspension will improve things way more. (even a set of mountain bike forks would be an improvement)
    At the rear, I think the idea was to have some flex from the welded chain?
    Problem is, the welds are going to fail and rear will drop dramatically (and dangerously.) I had it happen once with a Yamaha DT400MX when the spring seat failed off a jump. Luckily the spring hit the mounting bolt so didn’t completely collapse

  10. Dangerous – Yes – but I see the potential. I would love to see what this builder could do with a fixer upper/project bike. I bet he could make a safe fun cafe racer – A good starting bike would be an old Honda CB500 or CB700. Keep your chin up and give it another shot!

    Motorcycles are amazing but make sure whatever you build or ride is as safe as possible as riding motorcycles can only be enjoyed if you live to do it another day. Also if you have never ridden a motorcycle before – do yourself a favor and learn on a small dirt or dual sport bike. They are easy and forgiving to ride and hard to break.

  11. I helped someone build this as a youth (brother as in blood family relative and we shared a house/set fire to the kitchen welding this up in it etc), and while it looks cool and the frame is safe, the fail is for the front end.
    Once it was finished I got to borrow it for a cruise around, and in slightly damp weather you pulled the front brake and the braking action and momentum just slid the sliders up the fork stanctions and it just lost traction and slid. It was bloody lethal in damp or rainy weather and my back hurt with the jarring after 10 miles of rough potholed roads, not a great combo for the UK…
    Now I see chopper guys thinking theyre cool with mile long telescopic forks at crazy angles and just laugh. I build mostly streetfighters for myself as form has to follow function. Girder forks still work at this angle though but getting the geometry right on a set of them is a art unto itself.

      1. … actually… perhaps you can, I seem to recall attempting to kill myself while assisting a mate fault finding the ignition on his ancient singer (hilman) imp.. so I retract my last statement… you can, with a little more stupidity than I mustered on that occasion, do yourself a terminal damage with the electrics..

        1. I always thought, that the energy of an engine ignition system is too low to be lethally dangerous – especially if it is “ancient” and not a high power racing coil. Of course you could get a shock and hit yourself when you touch it.

    1. Sure is. My one (and only) attempt at nitroglycerine didn’t actually explode, but I didn’t hang around to find out. Once the coke+mentos-like* reaction started, my evil partner and I left skid marks on our exit.

      * vigorous, bubbling, volcano-like froth heading towards the ceiling. Only with fuming HNO3, conc H2SO4, and eating-grade glycerin C3H8O3. Relative quantities and method freely available from encyclopedias. We made about 50ml, and the splashes ate holes in my t-shirt. I stuck to regular gunpowder after that.

      1. Yup, runaway nitration is always “fun” :P
        btw nitroglycerine is not a good “DIY chemist” start, way too many things can go wrong with very bad consequences…
        For DIY straight nitration, guncotton (nitrocellulose) is nice, since it’s fairly safe as far as DIY nitrated stuff goes :D
        You can have fairly large amounts go “poof” in open space from a flame without causing any damage to your surroundings or yourself.
        If you “need” explosives that are actually usable, RDX is prob. the best bet, many ways to make it, some don’t even involve strong mineral acids. Only problem is you have to master initiators first, because you’re not going to reliably get a detonation without one…

  12. Maybe he should have copied Honda Z50 frame. It was designed in the 60s and is still being made mostly the same. It was originally designed for 100cc engine and later used for 50cc, but some people have put 200cc engines on them.

  13. Building a bike “wrong” still trumps all those arm-chair criticizers that couldn’t even spin a wrench the correct way or change a flat tire to save their soul. If you want to see how to build something wrong, go to the Pioneer Village Museum in Minden, NE and look at Glen Curtiss’ plane he won a bet with. He flew it all over and it’s made with rounding tubing, crushed on the end, and bolted together. Wrong is only relative to the risk the rider decides is acceptable when they decide to go for a ride.

  14. Well done. Well, done at least.

    You have to applaud someone actually building something. Many of us built a variety of ‘deathtraps’ in our youth. Mine flipped over halfway down a steep hill due to a poorly thought out steering mechanism. The next one scared the tar out of me when it going fast enough. The third iteration had brakes and steering!

    Think of it as Darwinism in Action. Succeed or die trying.

  15. Hey this is a hell of a lot than I could ever do, so congrats there, and if it does wreck lets hope that when he gets out of hospital that he builds v2 safer and cooler, we learn through failure more than success, when this kid is 25 he’ll have a few scars and a badass safe bike.

  16. I know this is FOTW, but, given the age and level of experience, I probably would have prefaced this with acknowledgement of his achievement. It started out with the feeling of that ***hole alpha nerd that dumps on your first attempt at something.

    If he read this post I wouldn’t blame him for getting disheartened and missing the praise at the end.

    “Dude that’s so awesome! Here’s some potentially major issues, but if you redesign it with this in mind you’re gonna have an awesome bike. I can’t wait to see what you come up with on you next try.”
    not “Dude that’s a deathtrap! Here’s all the ways it’s going to kill you. I can’t wait to see what you come up with on your next try.”

    1. Exactly, would this kind of behavior fly at a hackerspace? None that I have visited. Hackaday is now all about clicks and has no editorial skill. Most of those with actual experience in building things are already gone along with their knowledge.

  17. Being an amateur motorcycle builder myself, I predict this kid will build amazing bikes some day. I know plenty of guys including myself that avoid frame modifications as much as possible. This kid will learn some basic engineering concepts, get some better tools, and before you know it be building a custom bikes for the next mad max movie or walking dead spin off. You can’t teach creativity half as easy as technique.

  18. What kind of pussy are you? Geez. So s little scooter with a 50cc motor cracks in half? Christ. He will skin has ass and learn from it. I did not see the link to the bike you built on a $0 budget out of junk you could scrounge.

  19. At 15, blessed with machine shop class in highschool. I took a 49cc trimmer motor attached it with a knurled hockey puck to a 12″ bicycle rear end for friction drive, cut that off at the seat tube and attached it to the back of one of those aluminium scooters (that was all the rage in the late 90’s). I still have the scar on my arm from that whipeout. Good thing bicycle helmets were not a requirement then…I really wonder how i made it out of my teens alive.

    More recently (about 10 years ago) I made the wise choice of installing a gsxr 1000 fork set on a honda cb350. “Dual brembos are cool!” Yeah until you actually grab them hard the first time and pull a huge hippo, and shear the headstock. Yep. SMRT. It was my safety squint that saved me. I swear.

  20. Wish I have a little creativity and skills so I can build one too but since I don’t have the talent, it’ll be much better to buy one that suits my budget. Nice to know that at that young age he was able to build something even if it was a failed project. He can still practice and build something nice in the future.

  21. At the end of the day this kid built something. And good or bad, dangerous or safe he can say that and there are far fewer people out there that can say that than those that can. High marks for completion of a project.

  22. I would listen to people’s critque if they can prove they themselves had already built a motorcycle from scratch and refined to a point of safety. Then they would speaking with authority. Anything else is no more than armchair experts trolling internet.

  23. At least this guy is not hacking up the few remaining, operable or rebuildable 70’s & early 80’s motorcycles, for hipsters to buy.
    Take a look through Craigslist…. It’ll make your eyes water to see some of the hacked up messes (“bobbers” are usually the worst) that have been made from some nice older bikes.
    Most of them will never ride or handle worth a damn again.

    Kid could have a future in building some “art-pieces” though!

  24. I have been interested in building my own motorcycle for a long time. I had also seen people build their own bikes but they were not an expert to do this job. This is a great idea and it will save you money as well because you can just buy parts instead of paying someone to put them together for you. Also, this step by step process was very simple and easy to follow which made me feel at ease when doing something like this for the first time.

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