Bike Sunday: Home Made Bikes – Some on Steroids

Remember Allen Millyard’s five-cylinder Kawasaki from the Kawasaki article I posted a while back? If so, you’ll like this one. If not, I’m certain you’ll enjoy the ride anyway. All of today’s featured bikes share one trait: An owner who just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Some of them are widowmakers, while others attempt to extend science and/or be green.

One such owner, who has had my attention since 1960, really smashes the thrill-per-minute equation.

He built this five-cylinder Kawasaki even before Allen Millyard began to hit full stride. You can find several of his creations online–including this one, with a V8 made from two Z engines.

This 2,300cc V12 is an example of what pops up when you Google “Allen Millyard Homebuilt Motorcycles.” The engine is essentially KZ1300 cylinder blocks  joined at the crankcase. And no, two times 1,300 does not equal 2,300; the stroke has been reduced from 71 to 63mm. Millyard states that the resulting stress reduction makes the engine almost bulletproof.

All Millyard’s other two-strokes have been sold, but he’s keeping this one–too many late nights developing it and besides, a guy has to have some fun.

Some bikes make you look twice to catch what’s different about them. That’s true of virtually all of Millyard’s extra-cylinder bikes, as well as this W3 built by Jim Fueling. (I didn’t include a link because he’s all over the web. Google him.)

This bike runs on hydrogen. It’s not especially pretty or fast, but it runs, producing hydrogen through a membrane. It’s not a fuel cell, and I have no desire to either probe deeply into its workings or build one myself. Created by two college students, it runs for about an hour at a top speed of about 20 mph. I  expect their creation only to become better, although I might not live long enough to see it become practical. And that’s OK. If you want an in-depth look, here you go:
Homemade Hydrogen Motorcycle Is Ugly, But It Runs | Autopia |

Maybe you simply want to be green. Or fast and green. This bike runs on regular diesel or biodiesel. There’s no gearbox, so you’re pretty much stuck with low-speed tooling around. It’s not a practical bike, but the owner wasn’t necessarily going for practicality. It did, however, manage to set a land speed record (albeit a specific one for biodiesel-powered bikes under 350cc) of 56.5 mph. That might not impress you, but I find the fact that a kid just out of college achieved it–just to see if he could–very impressive indeed.  Here’s the link to the whole story:

Drivers of Dodge diesels who love their Cummins should pay attention to this homemade beauty, from Hemmings. The particulars are lost, but it’s homemade for certain–that frame isn’t from any stock bike I know of. Basically, the structure is diamond-plate built around a four-cylinder, 85-hp Cummins Diesel.

I think this bike’s weight would make a Harley seem like a trials bike, and the engine heat would be intense in slow traffic, perhaps making this thing a double threat to light up your life. Read more at:

Hemmings Find of the Day – homebuilt diesel-powered motorcycle | Hemmings Blog: Classic and collectible cars and parts

I can’t say how quickly that diesel Cummins will move, but if this works I doubt the diesel could catch it. I can imagine the torque from something like this actually flipping a bike. However, the Boss Hoss seems to make it work. I’m not very familiar with BMW engines but this one sure sounds good. I’m sure that so long as the rider doesn’t kill himself, there won’t be much else on the road that can stay with him. If you want to hear it run, check out the video–but you may need a translator to understand the people. Even if you don’t speak Dutch, the engine makes itself very clear.

Here’s another Millyard creation, which I saved ’till almost the very last.  Like any Millyard creation, it looks like a factory job.  Also, I didn’t include the Dodge Tomahawk in this story, not only because it is four-wheeled, but because I’ve seen it run and don’t think I can do it justice.  I’ve placed it here because it seems to lead quite naturally to a legend that I wanted to touch on lightly. You can find more about it on several web sites.


EJ Potter was not really a biker; he was just into stuffing large engines into unexpected places and making them work very well. He used to say that Evel Knievel got paid for saying what he was going to do and that he, EJ Potter, got paid for doing things. He did them extremely well, and with a number of machines.

This is a very young-looking EJ Potter.  Known far and wide as the Michigan Madman, he is quoted as saying, “Ignorance is a powerful tool if applied at the right times, usually even surpassing knowledge.”  Often, not knowing they couldn’t do something has led a number of people to accomplish things that surpassed expectations.

EJ Potter began drag racing this Chevy V8-powered Harley in 1960. Following the realization that there pretty much wasn’t any way to fit a clutch, the routine became simple: The bike would sit on a center stand. Potter would start the engine and spin the wheel at about 100mph. When the light changed, a helper pushed him off–usually resulting in this:

The engine was either a 265 or 283, the only small-block Chevy V8s available in 1960. It was a sidewinder, which helped reduce the torque forces intent on flipping the rider on his side. Potter ran the bike with a chain that worked off a jackstaff behind the engine.  I’ve seen him run, and it’s something that makes you hold your breath.

Potter broke his pelvis while riding this monstrosity in England, the first of two major injuries.  He wasn’t really drag racing, since he had no opponents. Instead, he rode the exhibition circuit and got paid for how fast he went.  He went very fast.

His second injury was caused by jumping off this rocket-powered trike when the chute failed. I have seen vehicles powered by rockets, and they are quite impressive. In the ’60s, I saw the exhibition Dodges with turbines. I am quite a fan of trikes, but I firmly believe that three wheels, while fun, will never handle as well as four. If you feel you must try one, at least do so in a straight line, like he did.

I cannot think of a rational reason to stick a rocket on a trike other than suicidal tendencies. In Potter’s case, though, I think it was all about the money.

Potter also managed to create a few four-wheeled exhibition machines. This Plymouth places the driver in the back seat. Why? Because in front is an Allison aircraft engine.  He named this thing Nightmare, but I think Michigan Madman says it all.

The two Arfons brothers used this power plant when drag racing was young. They, too, were quite impressive–especially after swapping their Allison for a jet.

In 1973, Potter decided he’d had enough of the track, and switched to tractor pull events. As usual, he won, this time with the Allison and a torque converter. He just didn’t know he couldn’t–and now he can’t.  He passed away earlier this year from complications of Alzheimer’s disease.

I hope the the inclusion of his sidewinder bike with the others here caught your interest. Paul Crowe, as usual, does an excellent job of describing the career of this accidental genius. Here’s the link:

I know of several three-wheeled vehicles born from the same kind of creative energy, but they’re for another time. Until then, I hope you’ve enjoyed these out-of-the-way creations.