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Building a “Motor” Bike

Rio and Ziza on their "motor" bikes

Rio and Ziza on their "motor" bikes

When I was young, my brothers and I lived on our clunker bikes all summer. One of our best discoveries was the old “motorcycle” trick where we would use clothespins to attach playing cards to the frame and forks. The cards made a fantastic roaring sound as they caught on the spokes. To us, it was like having our own Harley.

Now that our own children are heavily into bikes I decided to show them the card trick today. Unfortunately, newer bikes have wider frames, so old-fashion clothespins slip off. I tried wiring a piece of cardboard (cut from a cereal box) onto the frame and that worked reasonably well, but the real ticket proved to be large binder clips. They’re strong enough to hold the cardboard on, but make sure they aren’t touching the metal or they might scratch the bike. More durable and equally fun (the sound is a bit softer) were pieces of plastic cut from stiff containers such as those in grocery story bakeries.

Rio riding his "motorized" bike

It doesn't get much more fun than this!

Rio was thrilled, riding back and forth up the road and showing off his “motor” to the neighbors. Sometimes the simplest things are the most fun, whether you’re a kid or just an adult who thinks like a kid.

Bike "motors" made from cereal box and plastic food container

Bike "motors" made from a cereal box and plastic food container

All text and photos © 2009 Don Pitcher

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