Last Updated on January 2021
Are you a motorcycle enthusiast who can’t refrain from admiring classy and posh bikes when on the road? Do you have the burning passion and desire to build your own from scratch?
The great news is that with the right information, materials, tools, techniques, and skills, you can actually build your own bike. You will be riding not just any other bike but your own hand-made, while showcasing your love for them.
If riding a two-wheel is not just a hobby or a fun activity but a way of life for you, I’m sure you’ve ever thought of making the most out of your existing bike or thought of creating a new one. However, when you have set your mind to build a bike, you have three options. You can decide to customize your existing one, work on a donor bike, or build your own from scratch.
With your existing bike, you will be working on something you already have. This is most suitable for first-timers since there is no much work to be done.
A donor bike is also another option for you. The only drawback associated with a donor bike is getting the right model that you can easily customize to something unique and incredible. The last option is building your own motorcycle from scratch.
In this article, we will focus on how you can create your motorcycle frame from scratch. Here is a step-by-step guide you can follow.
Establish the kind of motorcycle frame you want
This is the initial stage and will greatly influence the final outcomes of your creation. Before settling for a certain frame style, you have to look at the bigger picture, which is the kind of motorcycle you plan on building. This will give you an idea of the kind of frame you will need to build to achieve your ultimate masterpiece.
The frame type and style will also guide you on the kind of materials, budget, tools, and machines you will need. It is also worth noting that any work initiated by planning has high chances of success; hence invest your time and effort in planning for the resources you will need to create nothing short of spectacular.
This is also the stage where you will evaluate the kind of work to be done and whether you will need other people’s skills and expertise in your project.
Developing an actual design of what is in your mind gives a new insight into your creation. It portrays how your frame will be like. This is a critical stage where attention to detail is needed; any little mistake at the designing stage can give you a hell of a time when building your frame.
You can use computer-aided design (CAD) tools to design your motorcycle frame. In case you don’t have the software or the skills, you can always use other frame designs available on the internet. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel; you just need to play around with them and develop your own unique version.
Some of the frame designs include; single cradle frame, backbone frame, double-cradle motorcycle frame, perimeter frame, and trellis frame.
When designing your motorcycle frame, you need to do thorough research, be open-minded and have the ability to incorporate new ideas into your project. Commit to creating nothing short of a masterpiece.
Assemble the materials and tools
Having already come up with the design, and establishing the frame you want, getting the materials and tools will be seamless. Even though you are working with a budget, don’t compromise on quality.
The type of materials you use will determine your motorcycle frame’s durability, reliability, functionality, and reparability. All these factors can make a whole lot of difference to your riding experience.
When building a frame, it is crucial not to leave anything to chance. Think of its damageability; if the motorcycle was damaged, will it be easy to get the spare parts? Are the spare parts locally available? What would be the labor cost of making the frame functional again?
All these are questions you need to ask yourself before purchasing your materials.
You don’t want to use materials that would be almost impossible to find when you really need them the most to get your bike back on the road. Get the right materials for your tubing, chassis, lungs, and you will be unstoppable.
Building the frame
This is the fun part of building a motorcycle flame. The joy and satisfaction of seeing something that was once just a thought in your mind coming to existence are inexpressible. At this point, you only think of the final product and the great impact it will create.
So let’s get to the nuts and bolts. You will need to start by cutting your components as per your design, making sure you cut the right dimensions and follow all applicable welding symbols in your diagram.
To be on the safer side, give them a few allowances to give room for any misfits or mistakes. Cut the right pieces for the bottom and top rails, rear axle, down tuber, steering yolk, and all other pieces that your frame will need.
When you know which piece goes where and which works best where your work will be smooth and effortless.
However, one challenge you are likely to encounter is keeping the frame straight. This should not scare you because there are ways to check whether your frame is straight and to straighten it. When building your frame, you should ensure your motorcycle’s integrity and safety are never compromised, even when on the road.
Bending the tube
Using the old tube bending method, which involves heating the tube and eventually bending it, is not recommended. This is because heating at the wrong temperatures can interfere with your tube’s molecular structure, making it weak and brittle. This is why you need to have a tube bender to bend your tube properly without reducing its inner strength.
It is crucial to measure the right dimensions and angles, giving each an allowance to avoid making irreversible errors that could have a negative impact on your whole project. Before bending your tubes, ensure you consider all probable errors and mistakes and take the necessary measure to counter them.
It’s also worth noting that kinking is a probability that is likely to occur when bending your tube and frame. To prevent this, you can fully pack your tube with dry sand and weld it well at both ends. Nevertheless, you can consider purchasing a pre-bent tube instead of going through the hustle of filling it up or risking not putting enough sand into your tube.
Welding your frame
Assemble the frame pieces together, weld them in place properly, and where you need to put nuts and bolts, ensure they are well tightened to ensure the pieces don’t fall out.
You can use two common techniques to weld and conjoin the tubing on your motorcycle frame; GTAW (gas tungsten arc welding) and GMAW (gas metal arc welding). Additionally, there are other techniques you can use but whichever you choose, ensure you have the right skills and space for the work.
Make sure you have the right welding safety gears such as a OSHA approved welding helmet, safety glasses, welding jacket, and gloves. Also, ensure you have your welding tools such as chipping hammer, wire brush, MIG pliers.
You should not forget to get a jig, also known as frame jig. It is useful in the welding process; it helps keep the metal parts together when welding your frame and ensure they fit perfectly.
With the kind of force, heat, pressure, and motion involved when welding, a jig will help make your welding work easier and smooth.
Once you are done building the structure, the other thing you need to do is to improve its appearance. Use sandpaper to smoothen the frame joints. After this is done, clean your frame before painting it the color of your choice.
Cleaning before painting helps the paint to stick well and evenly. You can also choose to paint your frame with multi-colors that easily blend to give your creation that boost in its appearance.
After coming this long in making your frame unique, exceptional and functional, there is one more thing you need to do to stand out completely. Do a tip-over test. This will help you as the manufacturer or engineer to identify and eliminate any problems early enough.
Tip-over testing aims at determining the extent of damage in case the motorcycle tips over. In the case that your motorcycle tips-over, it should have the ability to absorb the impact energy without causing any damages to the fuel tank, engine, frame, or frame casting. Once your motorcycle passes this test, you can be sure you’ve done a pretty good job with your creation.
Skills you will need to build a motorcycle frame
Upon deciding that building a motorcycle frame from scratch is the path you want to take, there are a few skills you need to equip yourself with. They will ensure you get the final results you desire without much struggle or inconveniences. Here are some of them.
This goes without saying. When working on any project, research is fundamental. In this time and era, getting information on literally anything is easy.
With the internet being a resourceful tool, you can use, you don’t have an excuse for not building your bike due to lack of information. Read many motorcycle books and bike magazines if you have to but get started on your custom bike frame.
As you do your research, ensure the information you get is easily applicable in your bike project to avoid investing your quality time and effort on the wrong things. It is recommended to embark on a project only when you have done your thorough research. This will save you time and other important resources.
It is essentially hard to start a project with the intention of attaining 100% success without knowing how to run it to its completion. While working on a project, you should not only initiate it but also ensure its completion within the stated timelines. You may need to understand how the project management process works starting with initiation, planning, execution, implementation, and closure.
The process is not mandatory, but it can go a long way in making sure you achieve your objectives seamlessly and tirelessly. Project management skills will help to ensure as you start to build your motorcycle frame, you don’t leave it half-way done. They will assist you in completing it and ensure the final product is worth your time and resources.
This is a vital skill, especially when you are planning on building a masterpiece. Putting down on paper the ideas of how you want your bike to look like plays a key role in ensuring you deliver just that. If you are working with other people, it is wise to sketch your bike frame in a way that they can interpret it with ease and accuracy.
The design stage will determine the kind of bike you will deliver at the end of your project. This is where your designing skills will be needed. It would be best if you also had a keen eye for detail to avoid making irreversible mistakes when building your bike’s frame.
If you’ve done an engineering course, you’ve probably tackled this topic in class. It can be an interesting topic for anyone looking forward to working with metals in the future. This skill is essential when building your motorcycle frame. It will help you weld all your metallic components easily and effectively.
GTAW is the most recommended welding technique due to its flexibility and versatility. GTAW can be used in welding thick or thin metals and ferrous or non-ferrous metals. With good welding skills, you can be sure that you will create a functional and durable frame.
Additionally, to complement these skills, you need to have a high quality and reliable welding machine. Whether a beginner or an expert at your trade, getting a welding machine that is energy-efficient and user-friendly will go a long way in ensuring your welding work is easy, fun, and tireless.
With the enormous technological advancement in the world today, you can build anything you want. If you set your mind to create a certain bike model, everything else is at arm’s length. Owning a hand-made motorcycle will not only give you pride in yourself, but it’s also an opportunity for other people to appreciate your talent and efforts.
It is easy to think that building a bike ground-up is rocket science, and only the geniuses can create the fancy and stylish bikes you admire. However, the human mind can create anything, and yours is not any different. You only need to have the desire, discipline, commitment, patience, and you will soon be on the road riding your own custom bike, and others will be admiring it.
Let the old Chinese saying ‘the journey of a hundred miles begins with the first step’ guide and inspire you as you embark on the journey of creating your own epitome of excellence.