What Was Your First Motorcycle?

Do you remember your first motorcycle? Take a trip down memory lane with Joe Welder to see how he turned a mini bike into a high-octane machine

The Taco 44 Mini Bike

My first motorcycle was a Mini Bike. I traded my electric guitar for a Taco 44 kit that my neighbor and his dad couldn’t figure out or didn’t want to hassle with building. 

My Dad and I collected all the needed parts. The centrifugal chain drive clutches were popular but unreliable, so we engineered a bitchin belt drive system with a double pulley jack shaft. The drive system connected to a variable speed clutch and was installed on a polished and chromed Briggs & Stratton 5HP engine complete with a Tecumseh down draft carburetor and a straight pipe exhaust!

We designed a friction rear brake and custom foot pegs, which we had HeliArc welded at Foothill Welding in Claremont California. We dropped the parts off to be welded along with the drawings, and when we picked them up a few days later, I was turned on by the cool looking Heliarc welds the dude laid down.

I asked a couple of questions and he showed me how it worked. My friends thought it was so cool and before long, they started calling me “Joe Welder.” I had a lot of fun on that bike. That’s were I learned about engine modifications. We turned the flywheel all the way down to the magnets, milled the head and made our own copper gasket as the OE one was a thick layered sandwich design.

One night my Dad came home and I was doing a trophy run down the alley behind the workshop. He said there was a long white flame streaming from the exhaust and it smelled like it was burning up. When I told him I added some nitro to high-octane av gas, he knew I was ready to move up to a motorcycle.


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