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Old 05-27-2013, 10:18 AM   #1
AC909 OP
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What Lifan engine is right for me on my CT90?

I was dead set on getting a Grom when they are available but before I do I am exploring other options that may be less expensive, I may enjoy even more, and are more practical for me. So my gears start turning and I start thinking about how much I love my stock CT90 and how versatile it is. The bike is very basic and low tech which I am all about. I know guys have been throwing Lifan and other "off brand" motors on these babies with really great results and they have seemingly been very reliable. This bike for me would be 75% on road so not having the high low tranny is not a problem as from what I read you don't miss it with how good these other motors are anyways. The most offroad I would be getting into with it would be fire trails and gravel roads as I have other bikes for dirt work. So here is my criteria with all of that in mind on what I would like out of my CT motor:

-55-60 mph comfortable for 20-30 minutes at a time (I am 5' 10" 185 lbs.)
-able to run headlight, turn signals, tail/brake light
-battery optional
-kick start (definetly) and electric start (a bonus but not required)
-12 volt system
-great parts availability
-above 70 mpg
-not shim style valve adjustments
-ease of maintenance
-manual clutch
-oil cooler (would be nice)

Of course, I have checked out Dr. ATV and seem to be in between a 125 and 140 motor. I have been reading all over the internet for info but have not found a ton of information on the CT in particular or any other bike that people are riding on the street. The information I have found has been more of the "How to turn your CRF70 into a wheelie monster that will get you a bunch of dates for you Middle School dance."


What do you think? Any advice and real world experience would be great to hear. Thanks!
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:58 AM   #2
hugemoth
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Putting a Lifan engine into a CT is easy enough if you have some mechanical experience but would be a major undertaking for a non mechanic. The end result though is great and much less expensive than a new bike. There is a Yahoo group on this subject at: http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/honda_clone It has lots of info in the files and photos section.

Lifan engines are very reliable, IMO more reliable than the 40 year old original Honda engines. They do have their quirks however so you'll want to choose the right one for the job. My only experience has been with the 110cc and 140cc horizontal engines and the 200cc vertical engine.

The 110 isn't a whole lot faster than the stock CT90 engine but it does have a lower first gear and climbs quite well off road without the need for a low range. Top speed is around 50 mph and it takes a while to get there. Fuel mileage is generally over 100 mpg.

The 140 engine has a lot of low end power and is well suited to off road. Much more power than the stock CT engines. With 15/40 gearing mine will do a solid 55 mph with me on it 250 lbs 6'1. It'll also climb any incline where it can get traction. With a 17/40 gearing my daughter has had it to 67 mph (verified by GPS). Riding with other CTs it gets 100 mpg. Riding wide open mpg drops to about 80.

Many people report good results using the 125 engine which is a "square engine" with bore diameter and stroke length being the same. There is also a 150cc engine that is supposed to have slightly more power than the 140.

So, the 140 would meet all your requirements and I suspect the 150 would also and maybe even the 125. There are also other brands of Chinese engines that people say good things about but I haven't personally used them.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:05 AM   #3
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http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=881177

See this thread for the mods they had to do
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:36 AM   #4
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Thanks for the info! I think I am going to go for the 140. I would hate to get the 125 and wish I would have spent a bit extra and got the power of the 140.
Are there any recommended spares I should get with the motor purchase? The only problem I have read much about, only a few instances is the clutch and that was from guys mostly flogging the crap out of a little bike on the motocross track. The way I plan on riding it on my CT the motor will hopefully not even know it’s running.
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Old 05-28-2013, 09:00 AM   #5
hugemoth
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You shouldn't need any spare parts, but ditch the funky oil cooler lines that come in the kits and go get some good ones at the local hydraulics shop. Mine sprung a leak and caused a big mess. The only problem I've ever had with the 140 engine itself in over 11,000 miles is the shift drum stopper bolt came loose which caused it to momentarily jump out of 1st gear while under hard acceleration. It was a 15 minute fix with some blue Loctite to prevent it from happening again.

Another quirk of the 140 is it can be difficult to kick start because of the high compression so you need the right technique. Also it needs premium fuel because it will ping on regular.
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Old 06-02-2013, 07:35 PM   #6
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Lifan 140

I have a Lifan 140 that I bought about a year and a half ago new in a box unused. I was going to put it in a CT90 but then bought a NX250 instead. I would take $275 plus freight for it. anyone interested
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Old 06-03-2013, 04:38 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sparke View Post
I have a Lifan 140 that I bought about a year and a half ago new in a box unused. I was going to put it in a CT90 but then bought a NX250 instead. I would take $275 plus freight for it. anyone interested
PM Sent
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Old 06-03-2013, 05:35 AM   #8
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I had a Lifan 140 in my CT90 for about a year. It was a hoot to ride and a pain to start. In that year I replaced the kick start lever 3 times and finally broke the kick start gear and pulled the motor. One of these days I'll fix it and put it in a different bike. I ended up with a 17 tooth front gear and went down 2 teeth in the rear because the motor had so much torque and not a lot of rpm. It would run 65 all day long, and easily pull the front wheel up in 1 st and 2nd gear.
If I were going to buy a new Lifan for a CT90,I would buy the 125 semi-auto trans.
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Old 06-03-2013, 06:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by topless View Post
I had a Lifan 140 in my CT90 for about a year. It was a hoot to ride and a pain to start. In that year I replaced the kick start lever 3 times and finally broke the kick start gear and pulled the motor. One of these days I'll fix it and put it in a different bike. I ended up with a 17 tooth front gear and went down 2 teeth in the rear because the motor had so much torque and not a lot of rpm. It would run 65 all day long, and easily pull the front wheel up in 1 st and 2nd gear.
If I were going to buy a new Lifan for a CT90,I would buy the 125 semi-auto trans.
Thanks for the info topless. Any idea if the 125 motor would hold 60-65 mph very easily? I have heard that the kickstarter can take a bit getting used to on the 140 motor. Also, does anyone know if the 125's have a full charging system to run turn signals, headlight, and brake light? If I could get away with the 125 it would be all the better since I can get them for about $100 less than the 140's. I really want a full manual clutch motor.

A little update on the project: I went and picked up my pretty much complete CT90 K4 the other day off of Craigslist for the HUGE cost of $70. It has been sitting behind a barn for a couple of years to give you a little idea of condition but since I am doing a full tear down and a motor swap it didn’t concern me. But boy did it make disassembly a pain with that rust from sitting outside. I had to hacksaw the swingarm bolt out as one side of the bolt has welded itself to the swingarm bushing. The center stand pin that holds the brake pedal on had to be cut off as well. My plan for now is to get it back to a roller and then find a motor. I have new shocks and a new fork assembly on the way right now.
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Old 06-03-2013, 08:46 PM   #10
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I bought a CT90 on Saturday must be something in the air.
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Old 06-03-2013, 09:48 PM   #11
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I bought a CT90 on Saturday must be something in the air.
Mmmm and the air smells like victory.
Glad to hear it Kevin. We will have to get together some time and hooligan it up.
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Old 06-04-2013, 06:10 AM   #12
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I just did an old Honda conversion that gave me some ideas for my next CT90 project (yes, I bought another one and have been buying up replacement parts). Here's the story. Years ago I had a pair of '70 SL 100's. bought them in non running condition, fixed them and put many hours on them, strictly off-road. Then the state I live in passed a law that if you had a vehicle that was over 35 years old with no title, you could get one by having it inspected and the numbers run to be sure the frame or motor wasn't stolen. One of them was in decent shape with factory paint on the tank and a good back fender, the other I bought In a box and it was a frame with a motor and a spray painted tank. Anyway, I bought the necessary lights and fixed the good one and got a tag and title. But, in the process figured out the motor was a CB125 and it was really tired, so I sold the motor. I was going to buy a Lifan 200 for it. Lo and behold, I was telling a friend my plans and he pipes up and says he has an old Honda NX125 that is in his storage, and it ran when it was parked, but nobody liked to ride it, so it has sat for about 12 years. I went and looked at it, and it was missing a lot, but the motor looked exactly like the Lifan 200. So, $50 and I drag it home. Did the basics, cleaned the carb, hooked up a car battery, added some gas with a hose hooked to a water bottle, and being an old Honda, it fired right up. Used the wiring harness from the NX ( Honda left the color coding the same) it took a little while but switched the headlight and taillight to 12v, found a handlebar switch with a starter button, bought some 2800mh Nicad batteries to make a small 12v battery, switched over all the necessary electrics, and now I have a SL 100 with a 12v, electric start and CDI ignition.
The CT90 I got is a '69, so no turn signals, and a headlight switch,like the SL100. I'm thinking of a similar conversion using the Lifan 125, and converting to 12v as well. My biggest problem with old Hondas is the electrics, 1 problem and you blow all the lights, the electrics are marginal at best and now with age, unreliable. Gearing 125 to do 60 isn't the problem, but rpm was the limiting factor on the 140, the 125 should rev higher, with a better engine balance than the 140. I will go with a semi-auto and electric start. The home- made NiCad battery works just fine and fits where the old battery did.
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:00 AM   #13
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Maybe Im crazy, but since I will not be using anything from the factory CT90, besides possibly the headlight and gauge cluster, could I not just buy a Lifan wire harness like this one http://www.ebay.com/itm/NEW-LIFAN-GY...#ht_513wt_1249 and just not even worry about making the old CT harness work?
I have found tons of info and wire diagrams online for the conversion but it seems to me that it would be much easier just to get this new harness and hook everything in accordingly. Any thoughts/ experiences?
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Old 06-04-2013, 10:28 PM   #14
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Yes it does and yes we will.
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Old 06-16-2013, 03:08 PM   #15
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Did a Lifan 150 Honda CT70 swap. Now changing to a 125

I did a Lifan 150 swap into a CT70 a couple of years ago. Put 100 miles on it to break it in and never rode it after that because it completely changed the bike into something that I didn't want to ride anymore. No one else liked to ride it much any more either for the following reasons:

It now has a manual clutch which changed the appeal of the bike for the worse. The torque of the new motor along with the short wheelbase of the CT70 and the manual clutch make the bike very hard for inexperienced riders to be able to ride without flipping the bike over backwards. The previous auto clutch (and on the Lifan 125) made/would make the bike rideable by anyone. The auto clutch also is very easy to use of-road compared to the manual (see kick start difficulty below).

As mentioned by others in this thread, the high compression and the short kick start lever make the bike VERY hard to start. It now takes a starting technique about like starting an XR400: get the engine to top dead center, balance the bike, and put all of your weight into the kick. Entry level riders can't start it, and I don't enjoy it. My wife and others won't ride it because they get stranded when they kill the motor while out on a ride and can't restart it.

The Lifan 150 wiring conversion was not especially difficult, but then I am kind of an electronics guy. The charging circuit of the Lifan 150 could not run the headlight and tail light and honk the horn until I replaced the tail light with an LED light (I had converted it to a non-battery bike because a CT70 had almost no room to install a battery after the wiring/motor change).

The Lifan 150 also has no electric start option (as least back when I did my conversion) because of the force it takes to turn the engine over).

The Lifan 125 is known for being very reliable and long-lived.

In short, I am planning on either selling the bike (tough thing to do with this motor in it), or swapping the motor for the Lifan 125 and junking the Lifan 150 (more likely).

Good luck with what ever you choose to do.

Lorrin
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