Saturday, April 19, 2008

Motor Oil

SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil

Should you use it in your vehicle?

The answer is simple:

You get about 1% better fuel economy, but you get 30% shorter engine life !

The above statement is based on real life experience and is comparison to SAE 5W-30 Motor Oil.

In order for you to understand the above short answer, some lengthy explanation is in order!

The SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) has been the first organization that in June 1911 developed the SAE J300 standard that specifies Engine Oil Viscosity Classification.

The "SAE" then on the caps of glass oil bottles and later on the tops of paper oil cans, does not stand for any magic, it is simply the acronym for "Society of Automotive Engineers".

Before SAE came up with this scheme to classify oils by their viscosity in simple terms, which hopefully the motoring public could comprehend and easily understands, there was no simple way to tell how oil would behave in automotive engine when "hot".

Back then oils had no W rating, which stands for "Winter". Since cars were seldom driven in winter this was not a real problem. The roads were generally unpassable and vehicles usually not capable of starting when temperatures approached freezing.

Therefore the SAE viscosity rating was based on how quickly a specific quantity of motor oil flowed through a test ofrice when heated to operating temperature (100° C or 212° F).

The SAE Viscosity Number or "Grade" according to the initial SAE J300 standard was simply an average time in seconds that tested oil would take to flow through the test apparatus.

Since SAE did not want to confuse the public with hundreds of numbers and since the simple test yielded different times for different experimenters, it was decided to make the graduation in steps, rather than absolute test values.

Therefore the SAE Viscosity Number according to the SAE J300 standard was an "approximation" and NOT an exact measure


Any oil that took from 5 to 14 seconds to flow would be SAE 10.

Oil that would take 15 to 24 seconds would be labeled as SAE 20.

Oil that took 25 to 34 seconds would be SAE 30.

And so on until SAE 50.

In the original SAE J300 specifications there was neither SAE 5 oil nor any SAE 60 oil.

The science of Rheology (The flow of liquids) was not well developed at that time.

Automotive engineers were neither scientists nor physicists.

Therefore it took several years before the SAE J300 "staircase" was translated from time measurement numbers in a crude instrument into a scientific viscosity values for viscosity expressed in Poise.

Not to confuse the motorists, who by then got used to buy motor oils by SAE numbers, the numbering system that by then did not relate to anything comprehensible was maintained.

By then the J300 SAE Standard was also recognized, but not adapted by API (American Petroleum Institute).

Hundreds of Oil producers had thousands of oilcans with SAE numbers already in the market place.

As far as the author of this article could find the oldest Motor Oil SAE Numbering system was as follows:

SAE Viscosity Grade Flow Test time (seconds) in Apparatus Viscosity in CentiStokes @ 100° C


under 14

4.00 ( 2 - 5)


15 to 24

7.45 ( 6 - 8)


25 to 34

10.90 ( 9 - 12)


35 to 44

14.40 (13 - 16)


over 45

19.10 (17 - 21)

The last column is not part of the SAE J300 Viscosity Standard, they are the average viscosity values (and the range) of oils that were typically sold within the specific SAE Grade.

The SAE Viscosity Numbers only indicated the oil’s ability to flow at the test temperature of 100° C.

The SAE Viscosity Number did not in any way imply suitability for any purpose or quality or performance of the oil that carried such identification.

The test was also performed ONLY on FRESH oil, so no durability or stability was ever implied.

During the early days of motoring, the Motor Oils were "pure" petroleum oil with no enhancements in processing. Nor did Motor Oils contain any additives, therefore eventually oil marketers started to label ALL petroleum oils in the market place with the SAE Viscosity Numbering system Numbers, so that consumers could quickly identify what viscosity the oil was when "at engine operating temperature".

This early specification was important for simple reason, because oils sourced from different oil fields and different regions had vastly different viscosity index (which at that time was not yet well defined, although recognized by oil people).

Viscosity Index (VI) is nonscientific arbitrary value that simply represents the slope of inverse relationship of oil viscosity to temperature.

All petroleum will flow slowly at room temperature, and much faster when heated up.

Therefore as the temperature is increased the viscosity is decreased.

That is what is expressed mathematically as inverse relationship.

If one value goes up (temperature), then the other goes down (viscosity).

Some oils although they were thick at room temperature would flow as easily as water when hot, yet others that were not as thick at room temperature would not thin out as much.

This means that two different oils that appeared to have an identical viscosity at room temperature (which was usually the temperature at which the motorist would purchase or pour the oil into the engine), did have totally differing viscosity when heated up.

The early automotive engineers even then recognized the viscosity, as very important quality.

And above all the viscosity when "at operating temperature" or when "hot" was universally agreed to be far more important quality, than the viscosity when the oil was at ambient temperature.

This was especially important since one oil sourced from Gulf Coast, for example, could be thick when cold, yet unable to protect the engine adequately when hot.

By contrast another oil from Pennsylvania, which was lot easier to pour when ambient, would be just right for automotive engine when hot.

The first example of the thick when cold and really thin when hot, was oil with low viscosity index.

VI of ZERO – The thick black Gulf Coast Aromatic crude would behave like this.

The second example of the not so thick when cold and not as thin when hot, would be the oil with high viscosity index. VI of 100 (then thought to be the BEST possible) – The amber oil which came from the oil fields of Pennsylvania and consisting of the paraffin crude that made Pennzoil and Quaker State world famous.

Although the VI (Viscosity Index) was eventually defined by API, it was really not of concern to SAE and still till today is not part of any SAE specification.

The actual viscosity at differing extremes of engine operation is what Automotive Engineers today agree on as most important specification.

Over the 70 years that the SAE J300 Standard was in effect, number of shortcomings were discovered and the Standard was amended numerous times, and although its evolution is of interest, the discussion of its exact detailed history is far beyond the scope of this article.

However, here is in brief what has happened over the 70 years.

SAE 60 grade was added as the need for thicker oil in aviation and heavy duty engines became apparent.

SAE "W" grades were added in 1952 as it became apparent that engines could not be started in Cold Winter Climatic conditions with some SAE 30 oils. The "Winter" (W) performance was originally defined as viscosity at 0°F or -11.8°C.

SAE 5W and later SAE 0W grades were added as thinner "economy" oils needed to be defined.

Additional test specifications for winter performance were added to "W" requirements as engines failed mechanically in cold climate immediately after initial start, due to oil starvation.

SAE 15W and SAE 25W grades were added to further narrow the performance definitions in Winter Climates.

In 1970's minimum high temperature high shear specifications were added for performance at 150° C, when it became obvious that engines suffered from excessive wear or even seized at high speed high temperature operation such as long distance interstate driving or towing in Hot Summer climate.

So the changes to SAE J300 Standard were usually, until very recently, a reaction to "fix" an existing problem with lubricants that caused engine problems in service. This was either due to viscosity breakdown when hot or failure to flow when cold. In either case, resulting in catastrophic engine failures.

Last few SAE J300 Standard changes were PROACTIVE. They were legislated jointly by the auto and engine manufacturers, as well as, the lubricating oil producers, before any problems in the field occurred. This was based on research tests in the laboratories, and therefore done in anticipation of problems before they had chance to occur.

Many of these specification changes were necessary because today’s cars equipped with electronic fuel injection and electronic ignition will start immediately at much lower temperatures, than vehicles made just a decade ago.

Much smaller engines with lower engine oil capacities produce much more power and thus put oil under much greater mechanical as well as thermal stress.

The current SAE J300 Engine Oil Viscosity Classification Standard is tabulated below:

Revised DEC 1999

SAE Viscosity


Cold Cranking

Maximum Viscosity

@ Specified Temperature

Cold Pumping

Maximum Viscosity

@ Specified Temperature

Hot Viscosity

@ 100° C



Hot/High Shear

@ 150° C




6,200 @ -35° C

60,000 @ -40° C > 3.8


6,600 @ -30° C

60,000 @ -35° C > 3.8


7,000 @ -25° C

60,000 @ -30° C > 4.1


7,000 @ -20° C

60,000 @ -25° C > 5.6


9,500 @ -15° C

60,000 @ -20° C > 5.6


13,000 @ -10° C

60,000 @ -15° C > 9.3


> 5.6 <>



> 9.3 <>



>12.5 <>



>12.5 <>



>16.3 <>



>21.9 <>


Now you might ask: "Why all that mumbo jumbo and mass quantity of information?"

Based on our experience 99.8% of motorists have absolutely NO IDEA what the SAE Numbers on Motor Oil Labels really mean.

They assume that the simple recommendations in their vehicle owner’s manual are "cast" in concrete, and the SAE viscosity of recommended Motor Oil can not be changed under ANY circumstances.

The fact that it is quite appropriate to either increase or decrease the motor oil viscosity that is recommended in your vehicle owner’s manual, if it is appropriate for YOUR particular operating conditions as well as desired engine life.

Here are some REAL time, as well as, laboratory tested "ultimate" and unchangeable truths:

  1. The ideal oil viscosity for motor oil used in conventional piston engine operating at the "normal" engine operating temperature is equivalent to SAE 30. (In range of 9 cSt to 12 cSt @ 100° C)
  2. If you use thinner oil (SAE 20) under these "normal" operating conditions there will be LESS resistance to motion due to reduced viscosity, and therefore BETTER Fuel Economy will result.
    This gain in fuel economy does not however occur without costs.
    1. Increase in oil consumption due to lower viscosity. Can be offset by better seals (they cost more)
    2. Increase in oil consumption due to higher volatility. Can be offset by synthetics (they cost more)
    3. Decrease in Engine service life due to increased boundary wear under some operating conditions
      (this will cost more per mile driven or per engine operating hour)
  3. If you use thicker oil (SAE 40 or SAE 50) under these "normal" operating conditions there will be MORE resistance to motion due to increased viscosity, and therefore WORSE Fuel Economy will result. This LOSS in Fuel Economy is somewhat compensated for by:
    1. Decrease in oil consumption due to higher viscosity.
    2. Decrease in oil consumption due to lower volatility
    3. Increase in Engine service life due to reduced boundary wear and better separation of parts in relative motion.
  4. If the ambient or operating temperature is INCREASED from the "ideal" or "normal" (70° F) then the oil viscosity MUST BE INCREASED to assure same level of protection and lubricating oil film integrity.
    (It is not just better, but a must to use SAE 40 oil at 100° F ambient and SAE 50 at 120° F ambient)
  5. If the load is increased such as when towing, the oil viscosity MUST be increased to assure the same level of protection. (Use SAE 50 when towing)
  6. If the engine speed is INCREASED such as during long distance high speed driving in low ambient temperatures (so that the bulk oil temperature is not increased) the oil viscosity could be DECREASED that is SAE 20 is preferred to SAE 30 oil. (This however works ONLY in manual transmission vehicles where vehicle speed and engine speed are proportional and higher RPM can be maintained by more frequent downshifts if necessary)
  7. If the load is decreased then the oil viscosity can be DECREASED
    (When Empty Tractor is driven at 70 MPH on Interstate, it is OK to use SAE 30 instead of the SAE 40 that is specified and appropriate when the Tractor is hauling maximum load at 55 MPH)
  8. The most important factor related to long-term engine durability and component wear seems to be:
    High-Temperature / High-Shear-Rate specification shown in the last column of the SAE J300 Standard.
    For SAE 20 oil it is 2.6cP minimum.
    For SAE 30 oil it is 2.9cP minimum.
    For SAE 40 oil there are two specifications 2.9 cP same as SAE 30 and 3.7 cP which is the same for SAE 50 and SAE 60, but why? Well the first specification is for light-duty engines (cars that are not expected to last beyond 70,000 to 150,000 miles) and the second for heavy duty engines (that is engines which are expected to last up to 1,000,000 miles). That is why oils which are labeled as HD or Heavy-duty must satisfy the second SAE 40 specification of 3.7 cP.

OK the final scoop on SAE 5W-20 and SAE 0W-20 oils:

You will definitely get better mileage with SAE 5W-20 then SAE 5W-30 oil, but not by much, usually the optimistic estimates are LESS than 1%. The bad news is about 30% reduction in engine life (from 100,000 miles or 10 years to 70,000 miles or 7 years).

Only manufacturers who have 3 years or 36,000 miles powertrain warranties currently recommend
SAE 5W-20 oil to be used in their NEW 2000 through 2006 model vehicles (FORD, HONDA).

By contrast Mercedes-Benz that offered 4 years or 50,000 miles warranty not only specified
SAE 5W-40 motor oil, but in the USA, to assure that only that oil grade was used, provided periodic maintenance FREE to all its customers. (Free maintenance was offered by Mercedes-Benz from 2000 model years through 2004 model year, it was cancelled on 2005 model cars and SUV's)

ALL heavy-duty engine manufacturers recommend SAE 40, SAE 15W-40 or SAE 5W-40 oil.

FINAL choice is yours, you can get BETTER mileage, or LONGER engine life.

If you are leasing a vehicle, then the BETTER mileage parameter is definitely more important as well as cost effective. You just do not care how long will engine last on a car that you will only operate for 24,000 to 36,000 miles. But how many Gallons of fuel you will burn will make a difference.

If you own your vehicle for the long haul, or indefinitely, then SAE 5W-50 is absolute must!

That is why SynLube™ Lube-4-Life® is available ONLY in that grade, since we guarantee 300,000-mile service life from engines that were engineered to last no more than 100,000 to 150,000 miles. It makes that much difference!

But due to unique colloidal technology used in SynLube™ Lube-4-Life® you still get mileage benefit that is 1.6% to 2% better than even SAE 5W-20 petroleum motor oils that are now used by OEM’s.

So with SynLube™ Lube-4-Life® you DO NOT have to sacrifice engine life to get BETTER fuel economy! You get both: lower fuel consumption AND longer engine service life!

Now it would NOT be fair if we did not explain what is the incentive for FORD and HONDA and soon other manufacturers to promote and hype the SAE 5W-20 motor oil for use in their NEW vehicles.

For many years in the USA automotive manufacturers and importers have been subject to CAFE (Corporate Average Fuel Economy) Standards that were passed by US Congress during Fuel Shortages and fears of America running our of Gasoline in few decades. These laws when enacted forced US auto manufacturers to not even match the fuel economy of then popular Japanese Imports.

The CAFE standards were (and still are) 27.5 MPG for cars and 20.7 MPG for trucks. And they were unreasonable when average US made car got 12 MPG. But also reasonable when average Japanese car got 34 MPG. People bought cars or station wagons, mini vans and SUV’s were not yet invented (or designed) and people used trucks for business and not commuting.

Today 52% of vehicles sold are in the "truck" category (SUV, Light Trucks, mini-vans) and most NEW vehicles get 8 MPG less than the "trade-in" vehicle they replace.

GEO METRO that got 50 MPG without any high tech tricks, because it is small light car, did not sell, there were over 2,500 units made year ago still on dealer lots throughout USA, after the production was discontinued in 2000 model year and majority of sales were not to private individuals but to rental fleets. At the same time there was 6 months waiting list for the latest SUV’s that get only 12 MPG, like for example the very popular DODGE Durango.

Car manufacturer gets a hefty Federal Fines for not meeting the CAFE MPG standards for every 0.1 MPG by which they fail, multiplied by the number of vehicles they sell.

That is $5.50 per each 0.1 MPG by which the standard is missed multiplied by the number of vehicles sold in previous model year.

Ouch, that runs annually into millions of dollars.

The success in the car industry is measured ONLY by how many vehicles have been sold in last 10 days.

Customer satisfaction, customer loyalty and especially vehicle durability, as long as it survives the initial warranty period is ABSOLUTELY of no concern.

Therefore every 0.1 MPG by which you can rise fuel economy does matter, and manufacturers are quite willing to sacrifice engine durability, after all the sooner you will wear out your new car the sooner you will buy another and that is positive impact on the 10 day sales statistics.

Nothing else really matters, not now, not latter.

SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil is GREAT – It yields better EPA numbers than SAE 5W-30 oil = better CAFE = lower Federal Fines for not meeting minimal CAFE standards. It typically to the manufacturer saves about $15.00 per vehicle in Federal CAFE Fines.

SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil increases oil consumption – More oil gets used, just great for oil companies everywhere.

SAE 5W-20 Motor Oil increases mechanical wear, reduces engine life – that way you will buy new car sooner = more sales for car manufacturer.

Everybody wins, but the vehicle owner, who has to pay more per mile driven in the long run.

So the choice again comes to either use the SAE 5W-20 oil and DO NOT OWN THE CAR – lease it or rent it.

Or if you do buy the car use better oil like SynLube™ Lube-4-Life® SAE 5W-50 and keep your car almost "forever".

The CHOICE IS ultimately YOURS !

Alternately you can use our SynLube™ Lube-4-Life® SAE 0W-40 PZEV Motor Oil that is designed specifically for new "green cars" that were actually engineered to run on SAE 5W-20 oil in the design stages. This Motor Oil is intended for 15 year or 150,000 miles service life and is warranted for this period.

Currently only FORD Focus PZEV and HONDA Insight Hybrid are cars with such engines available to consumers in USA. (TOYOTA Prius Hybrid has TOYOTA Echo engine which was NOT originally engineered to use the SAE 5W-20 motor oil)

GEBE Dooz and Not Dooz - Reveal Your Trix Bike-Wyz!!!!


Basics (and see also the "sticky" on How GEBE systems work.)

Let's keep it simple suggestions as starters - tell it here!.

GEBE kits allow 100% free wheel pedaling.

Bike having wheel with internal transmission shifter cable entering axle from end will not work. Will have to switch trans or go to coaster only.

Be sure to measure bike correctly - best not to buy bike with incorrect measurements; You need 1.25 inches from closest spoke at point 7.25 inches forward of rear axle - see GEBE site. Guessing seldom works. Ask first.

Thin (700) wheels and road bikes are not really safe or comfortable, though they may be ones you have. You are better off finding a used cruiser or MTB and going from there. Used MTB are all over the place and cheap.

Engines, yours or GEBE are all better off vertical or very close to vertical to max fuel fill.

High horsepower is not a big deal. You do not really want to move a cruiser or MTB faster than 15 - 20 mph; bad for bike, dangerous for you. Engine weight and noise are factors. Need speed, get a different rig.

Be sure Fuel Tube extends all the way to bottom of tank. It is not good for 2-cycles to run dry and you want to use all available fuel. You can find fuel tubes at local mower dealers. Not difficult to remove tank and R & R the tube.

Only start and run engine with drive belt in place, per GEBE.

Run 2-cycles as recommended. Rich break-in formulas are urban myths. Engines are chrome-lined and built to last.

Break-in is 1,500 to 2,000 hours.

Two brakes. Coaster plus or any other sets.

Larger tires , say 2.25 size can cause problem, BUT, you can place SS washers between drive gear and spindle to move belt outward; and move engine around on mount per GEBE site, so belt is not rubbing on drive ring or tire. I ran engine with big Bontragers and no problem, but I guess the rule should be only as wide as practical and that may be limited to 2.00 inches, so extra tweaking is not needed or will downgrade performance. Am using 1.95 Armadillo now and it is perfect. Comfy ride and no adjustments needed. It is also bulletproof.

36-spoke rear wheel is best option and these are available from GEBE, prevents slippage of drive ring more likely with 34 spokes.

High rev starts without pedal assist will also cause spoke problems and slippage, I understand.

Longer axle - 8.5" minimum is recommended, so you may use SS washers between nuts and lock mount to axle mount nut, etc. If you use a 9 incher, maybe ss acorn end nuts will protect the threads best. My 8.5 is nutted to ends.

The main engine axle support can be easily spread and drilled for additional support bars, lights, etc.

The single engine support bar can be any material and can be bent as needed and mounted to seat post, cross bar supports, seat bolts, etc. Normally, the two strips that they supply will cover most applications.

Bolts supplied by GEBE can be replaced with SS.

Rear fender may not have enough clearance under engine with fat tires, and this can sometimes be fixed by drilling hole in fender where nut is located - rare.

Drive ring is self-centering, if you get the spokes lined up correctly. I used WD-40 (not the spray) to install drive ring and wiped off, but soap needs to be washed off to prevent rust and problems with painted spokes. Need to reduce potential slippage of ring.

Replace throttle and stop button clips with SS hose clamps.

There is site on install on CF bike here: and another by Lee here: First shows problem solving and logic to compare to your situation and how you might do differently. Second site has loads of links and info. Good stuff to review.

Pedaling bike under power is what lots of people do. Steep hills will often require pedal assist.

Friday, April 18, 2008



I cannot stress to you enough how important safety is to most of us here. You will be exposed to open punishment from cagers and/or even the road if you don't "look before you leap". Here are some basic tips you might not think about. Don't wear synthetic clothes, because if you're burnt badly enough from your exhaust, the material could melt into your skin. Don't wear shorts. Do not drink alcohol; you will get a DUI, because even regular bikers must follow normal traffic rules. Be afraid of cagers, but don't be afraid to take up some room on the road... they will go around you regardless of how much space you leave for yourself. Never ride at night without front & rear lights. Regardless of the time of day, try to wear brightly colored clothes, or use a safety flag in order to make the elderly more aware of your presence. Always be completely aware of your surroundings. Always check for loose bolts or chains & any leaks, preferably everyday. Have good brakes & tires, and consider a chain guard to keep your pant legs from getting caught in a position you won't appreciate. Avoid loose gravel/dirt/sand/pebbles like the plague. And last but not least, don't forget to wear your helmet!!

Legality is a tricky topic. Certain assisted bicycles could possibly be allowed in one region of a state/province/nation, but not another. The extent of this guide really only allows for federal laws, because your individual city or state can place restrictions on something the national government hasn't regulated. As of now, the U.S. government has only allowed electric bicycles to fly under the radar of officers across the country. Some states & cities ban gas-powered bicycles, but Arizona is one state that specifically allows gas-assisted bicycles so long as the engine is less than the common 50cc limit. It is your duty to contact your local officials & even to inform them of laws your legislature has passed. Or it could also be your duty to persuade your legislature not to regulate assisted bicycles.

Choose Your Frame
Once you've figured all this out, you should consider what type of bicycle frame(s) do you desire. There are several: cruiser, chopper, mountain, road, bmx, folding, trike, recumbent, recumbent trike, or even unicycle if you dare. A thread discussing the differences between cruisers & mountain bikes can be found here.

Frame -vs- Rack -vs- Trailer Mounting
Next, you need to consider where you want to mount your engine. Many people choose frame-mounted for the aesthetics; they want something that looks like a motorcycle by filling that huge hole inside the frame. A V-style frame is usually easiest to work with frame-mounted engines. Your frame is probably capable of frame-mounting a 2-stroke if there is a 14" gap along the seat-post, from the top of the crank to the bottom of the top horizontal bar. Wider engines, like 4-strokes, will probably require a wider crank. Frame-mounted setups also don't easily work with rear suspension frames. Frame-mounted engines could burn your calves if you don't wear pants.

Rack mount kits tend to be more expensive than their frame mount counterparts, as they often use high quality (and high reliability) two and four stroke motors, and high quality components. These engines tend to require much less 'tinkering' than do the Happy Time motors. Also, the rack mount motors tend to keep a bicycle looking like a bicycle, and not a motorcycle 'wannabe.' Since the motor and gas tank are behind you, you won't be in any danger of burning yourself on a hot exhaust, and they are quieter for the rider. In addition, there is no need to worry about wider cranks. Drive systems for rack mount motors include chain drive (Staton-Inc,[others],) belt drive (Whizzer, Golden Eagle Bike Engines (GEBE)) and friction drive (Staton-Inc,GEBE, [others]).

There's also a less popular, but more versatile way to push your bike along, and that's with a trailer pusher. You can use any motor & drive system to accompany a simple, one-wheeled trailer that attaches to your seatpost. Simply clamp it on & hook up the throttle cable, and you can motorize almost every human powered contraption with wheels.

Belt -vs- Chain -vs- Friction Drive
As hinted above, there are many ways to connect the output shaft of a gas-powered engine to a tire: a belt, chain, or friction roller. Each has its pros & cons. Friction, or "Scrubber" drives, are the simplest to install. They employ usually a textured metal roller, supported at both ends by a bearing, that is directly driven by the engine. In operation, the roller is pressed against the tire, and friction between the spinning roller and tire rotates the tire to drive the bike. Unlike belt or chain drive systems, the only factor affecting roller system top speeds are the engine RPM and the roller diameter - a larger roller results in higher top speeds, while a smaller roller results in greater torque. Tire size does not enter into the calculation at all. Scrubber drives are less efficient than chain or toothed belt drives, as they increase rolling resistance on the tire. In addition, in wet weather, they can lose effectiveness and slip (and if misadjusted, can lead to tire damage). Finally, they do cause more tire wear than other systems. Evin if properly adjusted, you can easily get one to two thousand miles of wear on your tires.

Belt-driven setups tend to be regarded as the smoothest of rides, requiring virtually no maintenance, but sometimes a replacement belt is necessary. They also slip in wet conditions like friction rollers. Belts can also easily be popped on or off the engine's driveshaft for easy pedaling. Belt drives fall into two categories: V-Belt drives (used by Whizzer) and toothed timing belt drives (used by GEBE). The V-Belts are rugged, but are less efficient and require more periodic adjustment than do chain or toothed belt drives. The GEBE system (Golden Eagle holds many patents related to timing belt drives on bicycles) uses a very large timing pulley that snaps to the wheel spokes. The GEBE system is quiet and light-weight, but, it also requires a different riding style (no 'jackrabbit' starts, for instance) and it is recommended with motors less than 2 HP.

Chain drive systems usually employ a gearbox to reduce the drive sprocket RPM. Chain setups are the noisiest, heaviest, & hardest to install. And as long as the chain is kept lubricated with WD-40 or PB Blaster and the drive wheel is properly trued or balanced, you will have a very efficient, rugged, & snappy setup. More complex freewheel setups allow for a freewheeled pedal crank to bump start Happy Time engines or double freewheels on the rear hub for centrifugal clutches. Also, like friction rollers, sprockets can be swapped to gear toward greater torque or top speed.

2-Stroke -vs- 4-Stroke -vs- Electric
Then, you will need to consider whether you'd be best with a 2-stroke, 4-stroke, or electric motor. Size, weight, price, & being largely maintenance-free goes to the 2-strokes. You don't need to drain/change the oil; simply mix the 2-stroke oil with a gallon of gas at a time & keep on pouring until the engine stops purring. Most 2-cycle engines also win in the area of being able to bump start the engine by releasing the clutch lever while you're pedaling. 2-cycles are also best suited on a motored bike that folds & one that will be tipped or flipped. These 2-strokes generally allow for more horsepower, which means a greater top speed. This thread talks about how a 2-stroke will still win in a race against a 4-stroke of the same displacement, even if the sprockets are properly matched with the strengths of the specific type of engine.

On the other hand, 4-strokes make a pretty efficient motored bike due to their complexity. They get better gas mileage, more torque, & not only do they emit less noise into your surrounding, but also less pollution. Due to the nature of 4-cycle engines, you must change the oil. You might even need to do some valve adjustments. All of this leads to a generally more reliable system than a 2-cycle.

Lastly, we have the electric motor. There are both brushless internal hubs & external electric motors that are driven just like a gas-powered motor (chain, belt, roller). Its only limiting factor is the capacity of fairly expensive batteries. With time, Lithium Polymer batteries will become cheaper & their range will grow. Electric bicycles are virtually silent, are considered most everywhere as consumer product, not vehicles, and are one of our best hopes for saving the oil that we will never be able to reproduce [without an excessively wasteful cost in the conversion process].

Speed & MPG
You're prolly curious as to what type of speed & mpg you will reach with your setup. Chances are you'll fall inbetween 100~200mpg & 25-40mph. There are prolly some extremists who don't fall in these ranges because they want the fastest motored bike around. It's important to remember that bicycles aren't designed to travel 40+mph; these aren't motorcycles. Overall, it's tough to say what you should expect because your unique system will have its own efficiencies & inefficiencies, like engine/sprocket/wheel sizes & how much you actually pedal.


As most of you already know, 2-strokes need 2-stroke oil, & 4-strokes need 4-stroke oil. One of the best tips you can receive for oil is to follow the manufacturer's suggestions. The only real tip for 4-strokes is to change the oil after 5~7hrs for the first time break-in, and then every 10~25hrs thereafter.

2-Cycle oil needs to be mixed with the gas before pouring into the tank. For the break-in period of a gallon or so, use a tad more conventional dino oil only to make sure the engine is properly lubricated. You might even want to add this extra oil straight down the sparkplug hole, directly into the cylinder.

Mixing 2-Cycle Oil
To properly mix 2-cycle oil & gasoline, you're best off using a 1 gallon container, because mixed fuel that sits for longer than a month can go stale. Also, you should avoid gasoline that contains ethanol. To properly calculate the amount of oil you need, find your recommended gasil ratio, then divide 128 (number of ounces in your gallon gas tank) by the ratio. For example, for 50:1 use 128oz/50 = 2.56oz and for 25:1 use 128oz/25 = 5.12oz Fill the can a third of the way with gas, pour in your 3-6oz of oil, then fill up the can the rest of the way, and don't forget to shake well.

During break-in, you'll want to take it easy on the engine, gradually engaging the throttle more and more as time goes by. Always let the engine warm up, then ride it with just 25% throttle for several minutes. Next, pull the throttle about halfway for a short period of time, & then rest the engine after every 15 min of runtime. Repeat this process, making sure to let the engine warm up then cool down, Again, gradually engage the throttle more and more, but don't run it wide open for the first tank or so.

Switching To Better 2-Cycle Oil
After break-in, you'll prolly want to switch from regular dino oil to a full synthetic or 80% synthetic / 20% castor bean oil mix, but you certainly can stick with the regular dino if you so choose. Castor oil has its benefits, but I don't think too many people run their engines only with castor bean oil anymore. Some of the best brands of 2-stroke oil are Amsoil, Royal Purple, & Redline. The two best 80/20 synthetic/castor mixes are Maxima Castor 927 & Klotz Super Techniplate.

"Reading" The Spark Plug
You'll also want to learn how to "read" your spark plug. This essentially provides clues to whether or not your cylinder is receiving the proper air/fuel/oil ratio. Here's a site that shows you what the plug should look like, and here's another site.

Judging The Proper Fuel/Oil Ratio Based On Environmental Effects
You should also understand how to judge whether you need more or less oil in your mix, depending on certain circumstances. If you you will run WOT for a long time, you'll need more oil. Smaller engines need more oil. Higher RPM engines need more oil. Engines with a heavy load (i.e. - rider and/or trailer) need more oil. Warmer temps may need more oil. And elevation will also affect how much oil you need, because higher elevations have colder, denser air.

- Lacing a sprocket thru spokes works best with 10-12 gauge spokes, and it's commonly referred to as the "clamshell sprocket" since it's sandwiched between two pieces of rubber. Go here to find out how to drill your own holes for an odd number of spokes. Or PM the_wheelmaster for a safe & cheap bet on a solid clamshell job backed with a lifetime guarantee.
- Double freewheel setup, which could be welded together for a solid hub like Happy Times need (if you don't like the clamshell sprocket method).
- One & only freewheel setup for Happy Times
- Gear reduction

- Tranny comparisons
- Staton CVT
- NuVinci CVP hub (2) (3)
- Or you can just setup a ghetto transmission by using derailers or internlly geared hubs, tho with internal gears you must take it easy, at a minimum letting off the throttle while shifting.

- General tips for builders: use rubber/leather inserts for motor mounts, replace all cheap bolts/nuts with grade A US stuff, use Loctite, & take your time.
- Custom engine mounts
- Chainsaws, weedwhackers, etc.
- 2-strokes (2) (3)
- 4-strokes (empty, need links)
- Custom frames
- Old school motored bike book

- Mistakes we all make
- Tools for the ride
- Consider that a busted inner tube at an unexpected time is something you can avoid easily with thick liners or cut up street tires, thicker puncture-resistant tubes, or you could go way out there and buy AirFree tires.
- Don't get chain too tight or too loose. If you need to add/remove links in the chain, look for the master link with clip.
- Adjustments to brake cables will prolly need to be made after first couple hundred miles ridden on new bikes.

- Engine won't start? TROUBLESHOOTING GUIDE
- General horsepower thread(s)
- Homemade dyno
- Exhaust (2) (3) (4)
- Carburetor (2) (3) (4) (5)
- Remove governor (GXH50)
- Engine
- Leaky intake or exhaust (permatex 1A)
- Leaky gas cap (2)

- Lights (2) (3) (4) (5)
- Large's clutch mod
- Throttle
- Add pull start to happy time
- Double the gas tanks
- 1Gal Gas can as tank
- Toggled anti-theft killswitch, Keyed switch
- Very professional keyed ignition switch setup

- JohnnyGA's John Deere bike
- Graucho's beast & his greatest paint jobs ever
- Lhemrick's old school creation with sidecar
- Greenblazer's green fuzzy chopper
- Alan's super clean cruiser
- Azvinnie's Kustom Schwinn
- Blaze's Schwinn Stingray
- Zomby Builder's beautiful ride
- iRide Customs' custom ride
- Alaskavan's trike
- Papasaun's trike
- Azvinnie's "tri-brid" trike
- Bamabikeguy's trike w/ motor on front tire
- Willimoto's pocket rocket
- Nwguy's folding bike w/ motor on front & double the gears
- Smallest motored bike ever
- Simplest weedeater build ever
- Srdavo's chainsaw build
- Electric pedal assisted road bike
- Eric Peltzer's open source electric bike plans
- WIZARDOFOZONE's electric bike idea
- Simple trailer pusher
- Complex solar-powered trailer pusher idea
- Motorized unicycle

- Electric Motors/Batteries:,,, Cyclone Kits
- 2-Stroke Engines: TLE33, TLE43, Rob/Subaru, Chung Yang @ Staton-Inc, GEBE,
- 4-Stroke Engines: GXH35, GXH50, Rob/Subaru @ Staton-Inc, GEBE
- Kits: Staton-Inc, GEBE,,,
- Regular Bikes:, WalMart
- Pre-Built Motored Bikes: Spooky Tooth Cycles, Whizzer Motorbikes,,
- Oil: Maxima Castor 927, Klotz Super Techniplate
- Parts & Accessories: WalMart, Staton-Inc, Kings Motor & Bicycle Accessories, NuVinci Hub, Cheap speedo gauge, Airfree tires, Bike stand, Tires, DIY Trailers, Chinese 2-Stroke spark plugs

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


1) people who insist that any motor on a bicycle is silly. These people are almost always upright roadies up-to-date on every piece of upright competition equipment and technique there is, but who cannot imagine why you wouldn't want to pedal a 50-mile one-way commute every day, or why you would ever want to even try a recumbent, or anything else what wasn't UCI-legal.
2) people who have electric systems. These people think that pedalling all of the way with an engine "assisting" is great, and don't often go real far. Much of the attraction seems to be that the engines are basically silent and they can "race" unsuspecting people and win, and that they can use their electric-bikes on bicycle only-pathways, even though it's usually illegal (these people would probably be the first to phone the police about someone riding a minibike or motorcycle on their "non-motorized traffic only" bike path...).
3) People who have gasoline engine setups. The biggest issues they seem to dwell on is legal/licensing and the coming scarcity of Chinese 2-cycle bike engine parts.
4) People (motorcycle riders and otherwise) who think that if you want a motorized bicycle that you should just get a motorcycle or moped; these people can't imagine any reason to have a vehicle that can be engine-powered as well as pedalled (and so can be used legally on bicycle-only pathways).
I am planning on getting a gasoline-engine setup soon.

By far--the most-common question people using the electric assists ask (online) is how to get more power & range out of them. People ask this about the cheapest $200 complete bikes, as well as the $1500 Bionx systems on high-end 'bents.
People using gasoline setups hardly ever ask about this.

If you want bicycle-based transportation that you can use as casually as a car--that is, with no worrying about recharging times and with no distance limitations--the overall impression I have gotten from owners' posts is that an electric system simply cannot do that.

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Firstly don't worry about 2-stroke parts, the 4-stroke motors are much quieter and made by quality Japanese company Robin/Subaru, (be wary of Chinese copies).

Secondly most Cops have more important things to do than arrest powered cyclists as long as you are not creating a nuisance. In the State of NY "powered bicycles" are apparently not legal, yet a small scooter less than 33cc does not require "Ticketing", or registration. (Someone will probably look this up). A Golden Eagle customer has ridden many thousands of miles around the USA on his 26cc powered upright and has never been questioned in any US State.

Third, You don't need your motor on the bike paths, just switch it off.

As a long time cyclist and Motorbike rider I know that riding a power-assisted bike is nothing like riding a motorbike, they are not comparable.

My Golden Eagle system has plenty of power and I don't need any more, just ask Bryan, Peter Stull or Larry.

For those who think it's cheating I congratulate them on their good health and hope that they stay well and able.
For the rest of us unwell, disabled or incapacited riders who want to spend more time on their bikes rather than in their cars or on the bus power-assist enables us to ride further and longer than we otherwise could.

Without the power assist I could not have participated in and enjoyed the wonderful cycling events recently in the USA.
Golden Eagle have literally hundreds of testimonials from happy people who are now able to enjoy riding their bikes again after suffering ill health or disabilities. Anyone who says that's cheating should understand that not everyone is as strong and well as they are.