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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Engine: What Route Should I Go on My Honda Ruckus?

Expert Author Dravor Spencer
Everyone wants to go faster but the 49cc GET engine in the Honda Ruckus just isn't fast enough. Sure it can get you to 40-43MPH, but that isn't fast enough to keep up with traffic in most cases! That's just not safe, especially with the increase in distracted driving cases and motorcycle crashes. So, what can we do? How can we pick up more speed after maxing out what the variator, CVT, and gearing changes did? Luckily, there are a couple of Honda Ruckus parts on the table and we'll discuss them today!
The Honda Ruckus is quickly becoming the scooter to have to try and push to 50+MPH. The Honda reliability in the chassis and engine beckon tinkerers to make it faster. While not very common, increasing the bore of the Ruckus is starting to become popular; it offers great gains, but has some tradeoffs. The first tradeoff is time. The GET is a water-cooled engine and you have to take the cylinder off of the bike and take it down to a machine shop to bore out the cylinder to the size you need. Many machine shops are not capable of this because of how small the bore of the Ruckus is.
The next trade off is loss of reliability. With any upgrade, there is a risk of losing all reliability and it is especially so with the big bore upgrade to the GET engine. The final tradeoff is heat. With the big bore making the cylinder walls thinner, there is less area to shed heat from the cylinder, even with water-cooling. The oil also begins to heat up more, thus causing many failures in the engine.
If that puts you off of the big bore upgrade, there is good news in the engine swap arena. The Ruckus frame just begs to have something else in it. It is such a piece me together bike, it is no wonder people ask if you made it yourself. This is what makes the engine swap possible and slightly easier in the Ruckus versus other scooters. The most common is the Ruckus GY6 Swap, as the engine is cheap and plentiful. It is used in so many Chinese built scooters, you can find it anywhere. Even brand new, the GY6 is still inexpensive to purchase with most going for less than $500 out the door (but still would require a wheel made for the GY6). If you want the best wheel choices, you'll want to get a long CVT case engine as it will allow for up to a 13" wheel with low profile tires.
Once you get the GY6 engine, you'll have to choose how to mount it. There are many companies that offer GY6 swap mounts that range from inexpensive, normal tire weld-in mounts to completely bolt in 8" + fatty tire mounts. It's really up to you which direction you'd want to go. As with anything, there are some tradeoffs that must be considered.
The first is that this is a Chinese built engine. This isn't to knock everything Chinese made, but their reputation isn't exactly great. Reliability may be an issue on a used engine and a little less so on a new one. Second, this will not bolt into the OEM GET engine mounts or even aftermarket GET mounts. It looks similar, but it is not the same as it is wider. Third, the GY6 engine, even the 50cc short-case version, will not hook up to the GET wiring harness without modification or a new harness. Finally, there may be some legal issues with a swap. If you have to smog test your scooter, then a GY6 swap may not pass as most of the GY6 swaps involve the 125cc and 150cc versions. The short case 50cc GY6 could possibly pass, but you will not be gaining anything in that swap other than an air-cooled engine.
However, don't let this put you off of doing a GY6 engine or even big boring the GET engine. While each has negative tradeoffs, there is one positive tradeoff that overshadows them. That is the power you gain from a big bore or engine swap. The 125cc and 150cc GY6 engines are nearly capable of 60MPH out of the box and big bore GETs have shown anywhere from 55-60MPH. Whichever way you go, you will have a bike capable of beating most traffic on those surface streets.
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