How to Build My Own Cheap Motorcycle

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Anyone who is out to build a motorcycle and go cheap can make it happen by spending the time to pull all the parts together. Deals and giveaways are out there and it's more a matter of diligence than dollars. The idea is to work out a reasonable budget and start gathering the major parts. Once you have the frame, engine, wheels and tires, there will be plenty to work on while you go about acquiring the accessories.

Visit motorcycle salvage yards and look for a frame and engine that are intact. Inspect the frame for cracked welds. Making a deal for a frame that needs repair saves some money if you have the equipment and knowledge to do a little welding.

Bring a pocket size compression gauge and a set of sockets with a ratchet. Pull the spark plugs from the engine one at a time and test the cylinder compression by rotating the engine crankshaft bolt. If you haven't done this before, consult a motorcycle website that features articles on engine evaluation. A compression check should be near the top of the list.

Visually inspect the engine as thoroughly as possible. Make sure the crankcase has no cracks or holes. Look for oil deposits or burned spots around the cylinders. These usually signify internal problems. Most salvage yards have a no-return policy. If you're not sure you should buy the engine, ask someone with experience to look at it.

Obtain a repair manual for your particular make and model of motorcycle. This low-cost investment will prove invaluable when you're building the motorcycle, adjusting the valves and checking the ignition timing.

Make a list of any accessories you might need. These may include lights, gauges, handlebars and hand levers.

Browse parts catalogs online or at a motorcycle shop and get part numbers for each of the accessories. Check ads and other motorcycle yards. Attempt to make a package deal on as many accessories as possible.

Rebuild the carburetors using a rebuild kit and carb cleaner. Gasoline deteriorates over time and lacquer deposits affect performance and efficiency. Most motorcycle carburetors are not complicated pieces of equipment. Fuel hoses are sold by the foot and hose clamps are cheap. Install new fuel hoses and clamps. Include an in-line fuel filter.

Empty the gas tank and allow it to air out overnight. Drain the engine crankcase and use a crankcase cleaner to remove oil deposits and sludge. Drain the cleaner in a durable container and dispose of it properly. Fill the crankcase with fresh oil.

Build the motorcycle in stages, beginning with the frame, wheels and tires. Install the engine and continue from there. Connect the battery to a trickle charger and let it charge as you assemble the rest of the motorcycle.

Refer to the repair manual for brake cable and clutch cable adjustments. Install the charged battery and connect the battery cables. Fill the gas tank with fresh gasoline. Start the engine and follow the repair manual procedure for carburetor settings.


  • Test and adjust the brakes before riding the motorcycle any distance.


  • Lubricate the chain, cables and all pivot points at shocks and foot pedals.
  • Register the motorcycle and display current plates and tags.


About the Author

William Machin began work in construction at the age of 15, while still in high school. In 35 years, he's gained expertise in all phases of residential construction, retrofit and remodeling. His hobbies include horses, motorcycles, road racing and sport fishing. He studied architecture at Taft Junior College.

Photo Credits

  • Motorcycles image by w...‚odzimierz from Fotolia.com