Archive for the 'moped' Category

anyone look at these anymore?

eeeh here’s sparklebutt, just in case.


Little A3 Ripper Tomos

My buddy Luke dropped his A3 Tomos by the other day for me to have a look at. The symptoms he was describing sounded like a bad condenser, though it was obvious that he had wired in an external one.
Today I threw it up on my lift and had a look-see.

A3 Tomoses are my favorite. The engine covers and overall styling is so classic.



It turned out that none of the wiring on the bike was very well connected, and the old condenser was still on the stator wired in. I pulled the flywheel and took out the old condenser, replaced a couple twisted together jumper wires with new, proper length wire and soldered it all up.

I took the bike for a good 20min ride and it rips! The Airsal / Proma Circuit combo with the two speed makes for a zippy little guy, and it should be fairly reliable! For a moped anyway.
While out on my ride I ran into a friend of mine that I haven’t seen in ages. He’s got a couple Maxis rotting away somewhere and might be down to unload one on me. I would love to get my hands on a complete bike to build my Tomahawk Cup bike from, so hopefully that works out!

I also played with some Sachs stuff a little bit. I’m excited to finally have some time to get rolling with Austin’s AMS.

I’m converting his 2 speed manual to a 1 speed manual, doing some fun clutch stuff and putting a big boy kit on it. It should be a fun bike, if I ever get it finished.

More later!

Tomahawk Cup race bike

Don’t know what the Tomahawk Cup is? read this! –,3527560,page=1

These are the classes as they were hashed out and as they currently stand –

Stockish Class
– No custom frames
– Pedals or Kickstart
– Stock Cylinder ONLY
– 15 mm carb limit
– Aftermarket pipe allowed
– Variated bikes allowed with no launch lever
– Any factory chassis or engine parts can be swapped to build a stock frankenbike.

Non-Variated Class
– < 75cc Kits air cooled
– No carb limit
– 1 and 2 speeds
– Moped H20 < 50cc kits

Variated Class
– < 75cc kits air cooled
– Bo carb limit
– Moped H20 < 50cc kits

Unlimited Class
– < 99cc kits

While I have a billion projects, a few of which might be fun in some of those classes, I decided to do a Puch E50 build for the non-variated class. I have already done the crazy, complicated, weirdo concept super race bike thing for the Polini Cup all those years ago and was totally burned when no one showed up to race and the series got canceled, so I decided I would build something simple, easy and, most importantly, CHEAP to go racing with. Worst case scenario – this race circuit bombs like the Polini Cup and I have a super rad Maxi to rip around on that didn’t cost a bunch of money and end up too much a headache to put on the street (ala VX4).

Chris Paz hooked me up with a frame. Well, most of a frame. It’s going to need some stuff welded back on, namely some shock mounts, but it’s free and a rad platform to build on!
I may take his work further and cut the seatpost part of the frame off and just build something out of tube steel to sit on, I’m not sure yet.

Other parts I already have laying around are a set of E50 cases, a 17″ disk brake front wheel, a couple different french bike pipes to choose from (Doppler and Doppler clones, I think? Not much of a choice really.), and this thingy-
KTM 50 CDI, same setup I’ve been running on ciaociao for yeeeears. Mr. Naz up in Seattle built this for someone forever ago and I ended up with it.
It’ll be perfect!

My plan for the engine build is going to be a heavily ported Gila on that 77 stuffy crank with the 77 Super Clutch. I’m going to use a pull start, so I’ll ditch the stock starting bits and cut the starting plate off the clutch to lighten it up some. I’ve also got some clutch bell mods in store, as well as lightening the main gear. I’m going to balance all those bits too while I’m at it.
I’ll probably run one of the 24mm carbs I have laying around.

The new Garage will be out soon and I’ll be documenting the build over there, but I’ll link it up over here too when ever I have updates.

This should be a fun build! I can’t wait to get back on the track!

General tank vs knockoff General tank

Some time ago a customer had one of those super expensive General knockoff tanks shipped to the shop for a project I was going to build for him. The project fell through and I ended up with the tank at a steeply discounted rate.
Since I have a bunch of legit General tanks kicking around at the moment, I figured I would do a side-by-side comparison of the two, as well as some detail pictures of the knockoff tank.

The OG General tank is from Dirty, my 81 AMS Tahoe. Many companies rebadged General mopeds, AMS was the house brand of Moped Factory out of Reno Nevada back in the 70’s and 80’s.

I kept these pictures super big, that way you can click them and see in high detail the rough finish on the knockoff tank.

I started off by weighing them both on a shipping scale.

As you can see, the knock-off tank weighs in just under a pound and a half MORE than the OG tank. That might not seem like a lot, but when you’re holding the tanks in your hand it sure feels like a lot. Also, take into consideration that Dirty’s tank has probably a quarter pound of varnish in it currently.

The OG tank is your typical stamped sheet metal, seam welded fuel tank, whereas the knockoff tank appears to be made from many pieces of thick sheet metal, cut into shapes and welded together. The welds are then poorly “smoothed” in what seems to be a half-assed attempt at making the tank resemble the original.

Click on these pictures and zoom in on the knockoff and you’ll see little pinholes in the welds at the corners, lots of grind marks and lumpy edges.


The knockoff has balancing tubes which is rad! I think some General tanks have them too, though the three I currently have do not. Not sure I’ve ever seen one in person that does either. Hmm, maybe they don’t? I thought I read somewhere some do. Whatever.

Rather than stamping the tank locating thingies out of a single piece of sheet metal, these guys cut out two different pieces, bent one into a C shape and welded it all together.

That KINDA looks like stamped metal, but it’s actually multiple pieces of metal welded together and grinded into shape. I’ll try and show you the welds inside the tank in a bit.

Another look at one of the balancing tubes. Looks like it shouldn’t leak! I hope! Also, this tank does not use the same petcock as the OG tank, which is too bad – those are cheap.

Grind weld grind weld grind weld

It’s pretty hard to get good pictures of the inside of a gas tank, but I did my best! Here you can kinda see on of the welds that makes up the “bump” on the side of the general tank.

The welds are pretty hard to see in this picture, but they are there. Eventually I’ll get better pictures with a better flashlight.

Or hell, maybe I’ll cut this thing down the middle and get a good look at the inside. I’m planning on putting it on the SR250 and it’s going to need some modification to fit anyway, maybe I might as well.


It looks like a big lump of clay!


It’s pretty rad that someone reproduced this tank, but for $300 or whatever it costs* it’s totally not worth it in my opinion. I mean, the amount of man labor that went into each of these tanks is crazy, but I’m pretty sure the guy who built this tank got nowhere near that amount. Probably more like $30. I hope it wasn’t $3. :/

I’m glad I ended up with one, I wanted to check one out pretty bad and it’ll be awesome on the SR eventually.

*Edit – I decided to look up the price, these tanks are now half as much on ebay as they used to be!
Still, at $160 (or best offer) and another $85 for shipping, I don’t think I could ever justify picking one up unless I got them to take a lowball offer.
It’s rad they offer them in aluminum and chrome steel, but dang.. those prices. All in all, I think if I ever have a need for another General tank, I’ll just hit up MA.


Finally got everything from SF. Now to get organized and get busy!








This isn’t all of them, there’s still the Motobecane VLX, Critical Miss, HobBAD Sparkle Butt, Ciao Ciao and the other DR350. But now everything’s more or less in one place and I’ve got my tools. I’m stoked!

La compression de César


hobbAD – Wooly Bullies 2013 raffle bike

thanks bully buddies, i’ll get around to it sooner or later!












halloweener update – the rally part of the update (part 3)

so yes! la rally! my east coast lover, doug, flew over and we tossed the ciao and sparkle butt in the back of the truck and headed to sf. as it turns out, sf is a couple hours out of the way when heading from sac to la, but i didn’t really take that into consideration when i promised bay area peoples i would take their bikes for them. oh well, i had to go get ciao anyway.

i didn’t really take any pictures since i was driving, but doug took this pretty one.

other than burning a bunch of oil (THIRTY QUARTS by the end of the trip! THIRTY QUARTS!), the truck did pretty alright. it’s totally new engine time. i should be able to pick up a good engine for $200-300, which will make the truck a $700-800 truck, which is perfectly fine by me.

the rally was awesome. i didn’t get any pictures or anything because i was too busy being awesome on my awesome ciao.
ok, it’s more because i pretty much forgot about my camera, but yeah.
on the saturday ride i managed to lose a bolt from my rear wheel (i need to make sure i tighten bolts when putting things together, i guess?), which caused my wheel to jack sideways when i hit the rear brake, which made the tire bite into the frame and lock the rear wheel up.

i was probably cruising around 50mph when all of this went down, but i rode out the skid for a while so i was probably doing more like 20 or so when i high sided onto my left side. still did plenty of damage, though. ciao bounced down highway 1 shooting sparks and i tumbled after. you couldn’t even tell the ciao had wrecked, it was fine. i got away with some road rash on my already sunburned arm and a pretty nasty bruise on my hip. two weeks after all of this and the bruise was twice as big and twice as purple and there was like a fluid sack or something under it. it was a pretty good tumble!

it was a pretty scenic spot to wait for the breakdown truck, though.

i could have kept riding had i another bolt to replace the one that went missing, and it wasn’t until i was sitting there on the beach for a while after everyone left that i realized there was six of those bolts holding the engine in doug’s bike. womp womp.

the rest of the rally went awesome. i was able to get a bolt and made the sunday ride without a hitch. i even won a moped at the raffle!

monday morning doug and i went and collected everyone’s mopeds and put them in the truck and headed back. this was doug’s first west coast rally where he didn’t have moped troubles! he was pretty stoked, i think.

next time i’ll post about the raffle bike i won! and then after that i’ll post about the 2013 dirtbag challenge and the bike ryan and i built! you can’t wait!

halloweener update – more of the same from before (part 2)

alright, continuing from yesterday.

another thing i decided to take care of was my clutch bell. at a creature rally forever ago i had to weld the nut on the back of my clutch because it had stripped out and left me kinda screwed. that fixed me up good enough and, other than the pulley being a little warped from the heat, it ran great forever.

then at a polini cup race i blew a belt and it had flipped out of the rear pulley onto my yellow malossi contra spring, collapsing most of the spring and leaving only one coil still functioning. this made the yellow spring much weaker than a stock spring. i tried to adjust my variator weights to make up for it, but i could never get it to perform very well, and since i welded the thing together i couldn’t swap the spring.

so yeah, i get myself a second clutch pack and put my malossi red spring in it. this works out, except the clutch is a non-reinforced 2-tier clutch bell version, and my reinforced 3-tier bell won’t fit over the clutch for whatever reason. i was getting it ready for the reno rally at the time and didn’t have time to sort it out, so i just put the 2-tier bell on it.

i decided to do something about that finally. i pulled the 2-tier bell and compared it to the 3-tier reinforced bell. you can kinda see here that the 2-tier bell (left) has a ditch that runs around the outside of it whereas the 3-tier does not. i colored the 3-tier bell with a blue sharpie in that area to verify that it was infact dragging here, and it was.
you can also see the thickness difference between the two bells in this photo.

here are a couple closeups in case the picture above doesn’t show it well enough.


i ended cutting a bunch off the end of the starting clutch bell, coloring it blue, installing the bell to check where it rubs and then pulling the bell back off and doing it again.
took like 5 tries before i got it to clear.

ok, so got all of THAT sorted. next, my rear hub has been leaking oil ever since the nut stripped out on the back of my rear variator and kinda lathed the seal and hub case down all those years ago. all that oil saturated my rear brake shoe and ruined it, so i changed the shoe and replaced the seals.

apparently i didn’t get a picture of the seal in the hub, but here it was after i pulled i out.

and here’s the hub itself.
i was worried there wasn’t enough sealing area left for the outside of the seal, but there was nothing to do but put in the new seal and hope it was ok. it totally wasn’t ok, it ended up leaking oil everywhere at the la rally, even with the new seal. anyone have a spare vestap rear hub? haaah.

seal looks oily here only cos i good and lubed it up before putting it in.

rear seal looked fine, but i replaced it anyway. M! for malossi gears! really though, i had a couple of transmissions at one point that i was swapping out and kept forgetting which had the gears in them.

i tried sanding my brake shoe to see if it would work alright, but it was no use. it’s too bad, i had a kinetic shoe in there, which is the widest shoe available for vespa mopeds. here you can see the different sizes lined up. left to right – kinetic shoe, ebc shoe and stock ciao shoe.

while i had the wheel off i noticed the bearing in the carrier thingy on the right side (what do you even call that thing) was super notchey and in bad shape. figured i ought to take care of that too while i was at it.

i ground the heads off the stock rivets and pried the two pieces apart. with a little banging, the bearing came right out.

the new bearing (double shielded 6202) pressed in pretty easily.

pop-riveted the two halves back together and it was good as new.

i buttoned everything up and was pretty well ready to go.


i had a couple more things to do – the decomp didn’t return as quickly as i would like and i needed to figure out what i was going to do about lights.

the decomp thing is due to the cable being kinda sticky. i lubed it up as best as i could, but i felt like the little spring on the head wasn’t going to be enough to ensure it closing all the way, so i rigged up a lever return spring.
it works perfect to give the cable an extra push. i’ll replace the cable someday, but this is working great for now, so it’s good enough!

as for the lights, i ran out of time. i entertained the idea of a bicycle friction generator light, but those things are expensive for the nice ones and the cheapies are way too crappy.
in the end i just ran without lights. i stuck a derbi light on it so that it looked like i had a headlight, but there isn’t any wires running to it or anything.

and that was it! i think. that was a lot of typing, i hope i didn’t miss anything.
i took some pre-la rally pictures in the sf moto elevator.




alright! part 3 tomorrow!

halloweener update – ain’t got nothing else to do (part 1)

i have totally slacked on updating this thing for reasons that are many and more and because of that i have a huge backlog of things to post about, which is daunting and becomes another reason for not updating this thing. makes perfect sense, right?

i suppose i’ll pick up where i left off and go from there.
last i visited this thing, i was getting the truck and the ciao ready for the la rally that happened a couple months ago.this is going to be a three parter, i think. pretty sure not many people read this thing, and it would be asking a lot of those who do to have them read this post as one whole thing, so yeah. i’ll split it up for you guys. first i’ll start with the ciao, since i had to dig into that a bit to make it rally ready.

i threw it on my lift and pulled the head to install the decomp valve. it had been removed a couple years ago for a customer’s bike, which is the main reason ciao’s been parked for so long. i lapped the new valve into the head real good, decked the head on some glass real quick to make sure it was still flat. i sprayed on some copper spray gasket and torqued the head back on. went to start it and, surprisingly, it fired right up! it’s been sitting pretty much since september of 2010, so i was expeciting it to need at least a carb clean, but nope! fired up on that old gas and idled no problemo. i decided to clean the carb anyway.



inside of the frame’s kinda a mess. i end up cleaning that up a bit. not like remove dirt, but more like cut metal out and stuff. you’ll see.

21mm straight throuuuugh

ever since i built this bike, i’ve had issues with the float bowl hitting the frame. i cut a bunch of the frame out and switched the race bowl for a plastic bowl so that i could wittle some of it away to get as much clearance as possible, but i’ve still managed to crack a bowl or two from frame flex and stuff. not to mention it has always kept me from having the belt properly set on the rear variator due to the engine not being able to slide back far enough. i never fixed it because i was always too lazy, but i decided that it was time.

it’s down in here where the float bowl hits the frame.

i know it’s not super clear, you’ll just have to take my word for it.

and here you can see how my belt sits like a whole millimeter down into the rear pulley. it’s been this way for like 8 years now! so silly i haven’t fixed it sooner.

so out comes the engine and in goes the angle grinder.

i didn’t really get a before picture (other than the one above), but here’s what it looked like after.

i put the engine and carb back in and yay! i finally have full travel at the rear variator!

i also took care of my idle screw issue. when i built this thing i realized there was no way i was going to be able to get to the idle adjustment screw on the left hand side of the carb, so i just removed it and capped it off. then i tapped the other side thinking i would have room to get to it there. turned out i totally didn’t, so i just capped that side too.

well, i was tired of adjusting my idle with the throttle cable adjustment and having no slack at all in the cable, so i took a phbg idle screw and ground most of the head off. then i cut a new screwdriver slot in it. it finally fit in the frame, but other than getting to it with some long pliers, i couldn’t adjust it really. at this point i decided i was spending way too much time on something so silly, so i cut a window in the frame.


that did it!

stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow!

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