This Minibike Will Land You In Hot Water

The minibike is an American phenomenon which fascinates those of us from countries in which such contraptions are illegal on the road; they seem to deliver bucketloads of low-octane fun in which we are unable to participate. [HowToLou] has one, and as it’s something for use in the Great Outdoors it naturally requires some means of fixing a brew. His solution to the need for a mug of boiling water in out-of-the-way places? A gravity-fed heat exchanger for the exhaust pipe, fed from a reservoir made using an upturned bottle.

As can be seen in the video below the break it’s a simple enough piece of work but surprisingly effective. A piece of small-bore copper tube is passed through a cork into the bottle, then wrapped round a piece of pipe which forms an exhaust The resulting heat exchanger is insulated, the engine started, and the cork loosened just enough to cause a bit of water to flow. The result – a good flow of hot water for that morning coffee.

It may not be the most practical of water heaters, but it’s certainly a bit of fun even if it might not work with all the minibikes we’ve covered.

32 thoughts on “This Minibike Will Land You In Hot Water

    1. I’ve never seen any place in the U.S. where minibikes are street-legal, and local police seldom tolerate having them on the street, if for no other reason than it is usually children riding them. Most kids who have them take them to vacant lots to discover how close they can come to killing themselves.

    2. There’s a “things you need to know not to do in Germany” video on YouTube, don’t remember the channel name, but the presenter is very clear that Germans do not tolerate flauting of laws or even customs.

    3. > waiting at a don’t cross light, with no traffic coming for a km visible ether way
      I crossed a road like that in Germany at about 3 am and an old lady shouted at me as loud as she could “Kindermord” (German for “child murder”). I laughed out loud, if there was a child awake at 3 am and learning by my “bad” example how to cross an empty road with no traffic for kilometres/miles in either direction, I would ask where are the parents ? (Now if the same gun laws were in Germany as the US, I probably ran instead of laughed).

    4. Did mister “look at me I’m an American” bother to ask the Germans why they don’t cross the road when there’s no traffic?

      The answer might surprise you.

      Or it might just confuse you.

    5. I had a minibike when I was a kid. I got it for my birthday – 7 years old.

      We lived on a road parallel to a bayou (muddy river) in south Louisiana.

      Up stream on the road was a neighbor’s house and the end of the road.

      Downstream was my cousin’s house (right next door to our house.)

      Further downstream about a mile was another neighbor and an intersection with a road that went to the highway about five miles from the bayou.

      Just letting us kids out of the house meant that our parents had to trust us not to get snake bit (rattle snakes and water moccasins, both venomous,) fall in the river and drown, or wander off in the woods and get lost (or fall into a patch of poison ivy.)

      By comparison, riding the minibike on the road was perfectly safe.

      Legal or not, we were in the middle of nowhere. The enviroment was far more dangerous than the minibike could ever be.

      My cousin drove his go-kart on the road, as well.


      Seriously. It was common for us – my sister, me, and my cousin and his sister – to see a water moccasin slithering through the grass or wrapped around the mailbox post while waiting for the school bus to pick us up in the morning.

      The school itself sent the buses to pick up the kids. There were no city buses or other transportation. The bus ride to school was like 25 miles.

      Large parts of the US are VERY unlike the tame and overpopulated places people in Europe live.

      I live in Germany now. People in town here say they “live in the country.” We’re in a town with about three thousand people, four grocery stores, several restaurants, a hotel, a hospital, a retirement home, and several schools. By comparison to where I lived as a kid, this is a big city and crowded. There are no dangerous animals – cats, dogs, some squirrels, and lots of birds. Towns are spaced just a couple of miles apart here – I’ve lived places where the neighbors were spaced miles apart, never mind towns.

      When you live in your neighbor’s pocket(s) like here, you have to stick to the letter of law. There’s too many people too close together – bending a rule means somebody gets hurt.

      Out in the boondocks where I grew up, there wasn’t anybody else around to get hurt if you broke a rule.

      1. > Joseph
        As a friend in Munchen says, “Watch out for those squirrels, they’re just fluffy rats!”

        As a kid living in the Rhine valley on the edge of the Black Forest, I was threatened with a fine for climbing trees… So I moved from tree to tree to tree to get away from them.

    6. Minibikes aren’t street legal. They are made to be used off road.

      Imagine if you will one of the places I lived as a kid:
      1. It is more than ten miles to the closest town – which has a population less of than one thousand, and is the largest town in the county as well as being the administrative center for the whole county. That’s also where the schools are
      2. The house was about three miles back in the woods on a small road that didn’t deserve the name “highway.” It served us an a handful of neighbors, and provided a shortcut between two parallel highways.
      3. The house was set back off the road by a quarter mile. We had a 400 meter long driveway.
      4. The nearest neighbor was a mile down the road – 1 mile and a quarter from our house.
      5. Our house had a 16 acre (6.5 hectare) yard around it, fenced in to (mostly) keep out the cattle from the surrounding pastures.

      You can ride a minibike for miles over the pastures, so long as you don’t piss off the cattle or manage to step on a rattle snake.

      There was also damned little traffic out there. Ride up the drive way to the road, then open up the throttle and see how fast (not very) the minibike would go on the flat blacktop or tool over to see if the neighbors were at home.

      Europeans have no concept of just how uninhabited parts of the US are.

      I ought to know.

      I live in Germany. My German neighbors complain of living in the boondocks – in a town with nearly 3000 people, four grocery stores, a retirement home, a hospital, several doctor’s offices, schools, etc. There’s more towns within just a couple of miles of here. Compared to where I grew up, it’s overpopulated and you live in your neighbor’s pockets – the yard my house stands on is smaller than the carport of that house I lived in as a kid, and we’ve got neighbors on all sides.

      Minibikes are cheap and cheerful rides for wide open spaces – and if you take a short cut across a road nobody (leat of all the fuzz) will get excited ’cause odds are there’s not even anybody close enough to even hear the racket a minibike makes.

      1. You’re preaching to the choir here. :)

        I grew up on rural England, in a tiny no-through-road village a mile and a half long. 6 miles to the nearest town.

        We could do pretty much what we wanted on the road.

    7. This.

      I think a large number of North Americans(so Canadians and Mexicans and others included) live in pretty uninhabited areas. Yet we have road systems connecting everything together, often running right though these remote places. That’s not to say that Europeans don’t have a significant population living in rural areas. It’s that it’s a small population and not as big of an influence on the overall culture. Although I’m quite sure you can get away with a lot more shenanigans if you live in the Alps or rural Austria than you could in Paris or Hamburg.

      If you’re an American living in a planned community with a home owner’s association (HOA), typical for most newly built suburbs. Then expect that running a mini-bike up and down the street violates agreements and contracts with the HOA, noise ordinance of the city, and vehicle code of the state. Your neighbors will shut you down. You’re not allowed to have fun if anyone else can see it or hear it.

      1. You’re allowed to have all the fun you want, as long as it doesn’t interfere with the ability of other people to have fun. This includes making a lot of noise and pollution, both of which overflow onto other peoples’ property.

  1. During WWII, american GI’s used to tie-wire cans of soup to the top of the exhaust manifold in their jeeps.
    When they arrived at their destination they would have a nice hot meal ready to eat.
    Campbells themselves produced a wartime ad for this, search “how to pull a hot dinner out of a jeep”.

  2. They were never legal on the road, that scene in Dumb and Dumber not withstanding.

    Heathkit had the Boonie Bike from the late seventies, one of their rare non-electronic kits. There was even an optional kit that replaced the front wheel with a ski, for use in snow.

    I seem to recall something in Popular Science at that point for for a military minibike. The rider dwarfed the bike, but I suppose there was value for tired soldiers.

    1. A monkey bike costs about ten times what a minibike costs.

      A minibike typically uses a four stroke lawnmower type engine. It has no shock absorbers – the “suspension” is a thick foam rubber seat. They are slow, and they usually have wide, thick, squat donut tires with a really nubbly tread for off-road use. The brakes are usually just a padded clamp around the driveshaft. There’s a centrifugal clutch and no gears – twist the throttle and off it goes.

      A monkey bike is a regular, street legal motorcycle that’s been shrunk in size.

      A monkey bike would last about five minutes when riding cross country through the pastures and woods like you do on a minibike, where a minibike will do it all day long and come back for more tomorrow – and if it breaks you can weld it back together in your barn or borrow a part from your lawnmower to get it running again.

      1. True enough for most of the tiny wheeled minibike versions. My older brother and I worked our way up to a new 70’s Rupp Scrambler, (we had mandatory but paid jobs on the farm from about 5 years old) which had working rear brakes (not a given on prior bikes and rarely used on this one) a torqe converter instead of centrifugal clutch, larger engine and big (10″ or 12″) “knobbie” tires, and shocks. While it flew down the farm roads and the trails in the woods, it REALLY flew down the rural dead end road next to the farm (definately illegal and seriously discouraged by the parents and Sherrif). No helmets at the time, and a wild full speed over the handlebars wipeout (probably my third or so concussion before the age of 12, the first one from a motorized vehicle) in view of the adults put a damper on our plans for a “real” dirt bike next….probably saving my life, but it seemed great fun at the time!

    2. Mini bikes are typically powered by horizontal-shaft power equipment motors – go kart motors, push mower engine size. They were built from kits or plans sold in magazines though now of course you just buy them from China. They’re usually pull start and have no electrics beyond the motor magneto. Maybe there’s a headlight.

      Monkey bikes have a small motorcycle style engine, headlights, taillights, turn signals, and a kickstarter. Most monkey bikes are not street legal in the US despite being legal elsewhere – AFAIK it had to do with rider height and the collapsible handlebars.

    3. Most of the mini-bikes are sold as “not street legal”. They have no turn signals, if they have a headlight it probably won’t meet DOT specifications, they may have a brake light. Nothing they have on them is tested. For a while I saw them for sale at WalMart, just sitting next to the gas and charcoal grills.

      Actual small bikes had to meet certain Department of Transportation specifications and legal requirements. My 49cc scooter was a two-stroke oil burner, but it had hydraulic disk front brakes, a restricted muffler and a governor on the engine to keep it below 40MPH, street legal tires, and a full set of signal lamps.

      The price difference? When you could find the mini-bikes for sale at big box stores, they were sold for around $500; often less if they were two-stoke. A Honda Ruckus, their 49cc “doesn’t look like a moped” bikes, retail for about $2800.

  3. briggs and straton exhaust tea,yucky oooblech
    cup has to be MUCH farther from tail pipe
    there are very many easier and better ways to
    make heat,like those copper loop,mason jar alcohol stoves

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