Saying goodbye to an old friend... err... mini bike :)

Mini Bike & Go-Kart Parts

#1
I picked up my Gilson mini bike a long time ago. It was the first nice mini bike I owned. At the time, my plans were to keep it forever. It was missing quite a few parts but for the most part, it was in really nice condition. I spent the better part of that weekend breaking it down and cleaning it piece of by piece. I took my time and studied everything as closely as I could and tried to take notes of what all it needed and it needed a lot.

2014-07-12 12.45.18.jpg

Over the next several months, I spent countless hours pouring over Gilson posts here on the forums and digging for pictures and info on the lineup. At the time, it just didn't seem there was much to be found. It seemed like the Gilson bikes were a hidden gem that needed to be shared. I did my best over the next couple of years to share the info as I saw a need for it. Some others joined in on the Gilson discussions and I began to rely on them for info as well. We saw some great builds here on the forums by @DocShopTeacher and others that were a overflowing with info.

I tried to track down the parts I needed, and discovered some of them were far more widely available than I had thought. If you have a Gilson with a correct tail light, odds are it came through me at some point or another. I bet I bought/sold 50 of them. Other parts were few and far between. I was able to track down the elusive Gilson bike racks -- and was able to put those in the hands of a lucky few guys that needed them.

Gilson bikes were really what pulled me into the mini bike world. Sure, I had owned Cats and Rupps, but the Gilson bike seemed to have a community around it that loved to share their knowledge. Eventually, just about everything to know about the bikes had been answered and we could focus on helping others. I bet I took measurements of my Gilson a hundred times and provided detailed blueprints of parts for other people.

I loved my Gilson. Sourcing parts didn't really get any easier though. Eventually was able to swap the forks out for a much straighter and nicer set. I located the tailpipe and paid far more for it than I want to admit. I located a rear chain guard (in the right color too!). I found an original blower housing for my engine. My bike was just about as complete as it could be and I had still never ridden it. I had ridden other Gilson bikes but mine was too far back into the shop to really access it. Plus, I had a lot of other bikes that were easier to maneuver. I made some solid efforts over the years. I replaced all of the electronics in the engine, set the timing and lapped the valves. I replaced the oil and rebuilt the carb. By all counts and measures, it should have ran, but it didn't.

2016-04-03 15.39.58.jpg 2016-04-03 15.41.03.jpg

Eventually, in the way a lot of things end up, I started losing interest in mini bikes. I'm not even sure I actually lost interest as much as my free time became less and less frequent. Between work and family, and trying to keep up with friends, the mini bike hobby had to be put on the back burner. Then you run into money problems like families do sometimes and not selling the collection of bikes seems crazy. So I started selling my bikes off one by one. The stove broke. Sell a bike. The house needs a roof, sell a bike. I even sold my Hilltopper, and for a lot less than I paid for it. That one hurt. But my Gilson -- my wife and I agreed that I would be keeping it.

A couple of years ago, I was in my woodshop and realized that my Gilson had been sitting in the corner under my workbench for at least a year. I hadn't even looked at it in ages. It dawned on my that I hadn't even thought about that bike in months. It was then that I knew that it needed a new home. I pulled it out and dusted it off. I finally put the front chains on the two-speed clutch and listed it up for sale. I was probably asking too much for most people, but part of me knew that once it's gone, it's gone. I priced it high hoping that whomever bought it would give it the love it really needed.

And it sat. For a long time, it sat. I had a few tire kickers over the next few months, but nothing ever panned out. This week, someone emailed me on Ebay. They want to buy the Gilson.

I was stoked. Then I was sad. I had still never ridden my Gilson.

After talking to the buyer for a while, I told him I would do my best to get it running. I went down to the shop and pulled a carb down off the shelf and swapped it. No dice. I checked it for compression and it had plenty. I checked it for spark and... it had a really weak intermittent spark. I checked the plug, I pulled the flywheel and looked through everything. There it was. The kill wire was grounded to the bottom of the stator body. All this time -- ALL OF THESE YEARS, it was something as simple as oversight? How could I have missed that when I put it together 5 years ago!? I turned the kill wire and reassembled everything. One pull. One yank on the rope and started right up. It ran like a top. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

I was off. I hopped on the bike and tore around the yard grinning like a 5 year old on Christmas. I took it for a joy ride around the neighborhood. It really does run like a brand new bike. The two speed really comes in handy on the hills in the neighborhood. You can feel it lock at low speed and just start climbing. This is what I was missing all these years.

I then took the next two hours to detail and clean the bike. I polished the chrome to make it as presentable as possible for final pictures before money exchanged hands. A video of it running and another of me riding it was sent to the buyer. His excitement to receive the bike is only topped by my excitement to send it to someone who's going to give it the love and attention is so rightfully deserves.

I rolled it out into the backyard this morning for some final pictures before it gets broken down for shipping. I'm really going to miss this bike, but at least I got to ride it.

20210825_090643.jpg
20210825_090806.jpg
 
#2
Hey cap. Great story and well written. Thanks for sharing. Anyone that has had the mini bike addiction can relate to your story. Glad you finally got to ride it.

I have 2 Hilltoppers and getting ready to sell one of them. Even though if I sell one will still have another it will break my heart! I rarely ride the 100% correct one so if I sell the one that's 85% correct I wont have anything to ride. I did get a Fox recently and once I get that going and can ride it will most likely sell the Hilltopper. I need the room in my shop.

My quick story,
The Heathkit Hilltopper was how I got addicted to this mini bike madness about 1.5 yrs ago. I have an extensive Heathkit "unbuilt" electronic kit collection and added my first Hilltopper to complete my "Heathkit" collection. The rest is history.\

Take care

PS didn't you have a Heald as well? Did you sell that? Think it was you who said you like riding your Coleman's the best? Hope you still have them to ride.
 
#3
Hey cap. Great story and well written. Thanks for sharing. Anyone that has had the mini bike addiction can relate to your story. Glad you finally got to ride it.

I have 2 Hilltoppers and getting ready to sell one of them. Even though if I sell one will still have another it will break my heart! I rarely ride the 100% correct one so if I sell the one that's 85% correct I wont have anything to ride. I did get a Fox recently and once I get that going and can ride it will most likely sell the Hilltopper. I need the room in my shop.

My quick story,
The Heathkit Hilltopper was how I got addicted to this mini bike madness about 1.5 yrs ago. I have an extensive Heathkit "unbuilt" electronic kit collection and added my first Hilltopper to complete my "Heathkit" collection. The rest is history.\

Take care

PS didn't you have a Heald as well? Did you sell that? Think it was you who said you like riding your Coleman's the best? Hope you still have them to ride.
I have owned just about every bike under the sun at some point over the years. I had a really nice Super Bronc VT812 that I sold to @FOMOGO a few years back. He did an extensive cleaning/updating thread on it. I also owned a Hilltopper. I'll argue that the Hilltopper is the best riding bike in the hobby. Those ugly MTDs are a close second, but they're so ugly, I think people forget they exist.

I've never owned a Coleman. I'm not opposed to it, just never found one for a decent price.

I don't have a rider right now. I'm down to 4-5 bare frames and a couple of rollers at the moment. I am sure I could put something together v with a little effort. I have enough parts to build a few bikes
 

toomanytoys

Well-Known Member
#7
I'll be buried with my old bike collection!

Most of them haven't moved in 5+ years. They are fine right where they are.

I do ride my coleman bikes almost every day with the kids or just by myself.
 
#8
I picked up my Gilson mini bike a long time ago. It was the first nice mini bike I owned. At the time, my plans were to keep it forever. It was missing quite a few parts but for the most part, it was in really nice condition. I spent the better part of that weekend breaking it down and cleaning it piece of by piece. I took my time and studied everything as closely as I could and tried to take notes of what all it needed and it needed a lot.

View attachment 281654

Over the next several months, I spent countless hours pouring over Gilson posts here on the forums and digging for pictures and info on the lineup. At the time, it just didn't seem there was much to be found. It seemed like the Gilson bikes were a hidden gem that needed to be shared. I did my best over the next couple of years to share the info as I saw a need for it. Some others joined in on the Gilson discussions and I began to rely on them for info as well. We saw some great builds here on the forums by @DocShopTeacher and others that were a overflowing with info.

I tried to track down the parts I needed, and discovered some of them were far more widely available than I had thought. If you have a Gilson with a correct tail light, odds are it came through me at some point or another. I bet I bought/sold 50 of them. Other parts were few and far between. I was able to track down the elusive Gilson bike racks -- and was able to put those in the hands of a lucky few guys that needed them.

Gilson bikes were really what pulled me into the mini bike world. Sure, I had owned Cats and Rupps, but the Gilson bike seemed to have a community around it that loved to share their knowledge. Eventually, just about everything to know about the bikes had been answered and we could focus on helping others. I bet I took measurements of my Gilson a hundred times and provided detailed blueprints of parts for other people.

I loved my Gilson. Sourcing parts didn't really get any easier though. Eventually was able to swap the forks out for a much straighter and nicer set. I located the tailpipe and paid far more for it than I want to admit. I located a rear chain guard (in the right color too!). I found an original blower housing for my engine. My bike was just about as complete as it could be and I had still never ridden it. I had ridden other Gilson bikes but mine was too far back into the shop to really access it. Plus, I had a lot of other bikes that were easier to maneuver. I made some solid efforts over the years. I replaced all of the electronics in the engine, set the timing and lapped the valves. I replaced the oil and rebuilt the carb. By all counts and measures, it should have ran, but it didn't.

View attachment 281655 View attachment 281656

Eventually, in the way a lot of things end up, I started losing interest in mini bikes. I'm not even sure I actually lost interest as much as my free time became less and less frequent. Between work and family, and trying to keep up with friends, the mini bike hobby had to be put on the back burner. Then you run into money problems like families do sometimes and not selling the collection of bikes seems crazy. So I started selling my bikes off one by one. The stove broke. Sell a bike. The house needs a roof, sell a bike. I even sold my Hilltopper, and for a lot less than I paid for it. That one hurt. But my Gilson -- my wife and I agreed that I would be keeping it.

A couple of years ago, I was in my woodshop and realized that my Gilson had been sitting in the corner under my workbench for at least a year. I hadn't even looked at it in ages. It dawned on my that I hadn't even thought about that bike in months. It was then that I knew that it needed a new home. I pulled it out and dusted it off. I finally put the front chains on the two-speed clutch and listed it up for sale. I was probably asking too much for most people, but part of me knew that once it's gone, it's gone. I priced it high hoping that whomever bought it would give it the love it really needed.

And it sat. For a long time, it sat. I had a few tire kickers over the next few months, but nothing ever panned out. This week, someone emailed me on Ebay. They want to buy the Gilson.

I was stoked. Then I was sad. I had still never ridden my Gilson.

After talking to the buyer for a while, I told him I would do my best to get it running. I went down to the shop and pulled a carb down off the shelf and swapped it. No dice. I checked it for compression and it had plenty. I checked it for spark and... it had a really weak intermittent spark. I checked the plug, I pulled the flywheel and looked through everything. There it was. The kill wire was grounded to the bottom of the stator body. All this time -- ALL OF THESE YEARS, it was something as simple as oversight? How could I have missed that when I put it together 5 years ago!? I turned the kill wire and reassembled everything. One pull. One yank on the rope and started right up. It ran like a top. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

I was off. I hopped on the bike and tore around the yard grinning like a 5 year old on Christmas. I took it for a joy ride around the neighborhood. It really does run like a brand new bike. The two speed really comes in handy on the hills in the neighborhood. You can feel it lock at low speed and just start climbing. This is what I was missing all these years.

I then took the next two hours to detail and clean the bike. I polished the chrome to make it as presentable as possible for final pictures before money exchanged hands. A video of it running and another of me riding it was sent to the buyer. His excitement to receive the bike is only topped by my excitement to send it to someone who's going to give it the love and attention is so rightfully deserves.

I rolled it out into the backyard this morning for some final pictures before it gets broken down for shipping. I'm really going to miss this bike, but at least I got to ride it.

View attachment 281658
View attachment 281657
Do you want to sell this
 

Top