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Motorcycle Starter Rollers


Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
There comes a time in many riders’ lives, when Kick starting a pedigree speed machine becomes impractical.
My Father and I have both reached this stage at the same time. (The only difference is it has taken him over 50 something years to work this out, and me only 4 years. However the motive is very different for the two of us.)
So we looked at buying a Solo Starter, but they are out of my budget.
It happens that I am doing an evening course in welding at the moment, so I have decided to make one using surplus material lying around the house. I have come up with an prototype design (see attachment; 'Roller assembly' and 'assembly1')

Materials I have found:
8 feet of 2 inch 'L' section angle iron
1 single phase 230Volt electric motor with 3 pin plug
4 foot long aluminium tube 3.25 inch OD approx. 3 inch ID.
A selection of bearings (Ball type) approx. 60mm ID 80mm OD
At least 2 x small blocks of Ally. Diameter 70mm height 50mm

Process so far:
Cut the angle iron into 8 ft lengths
Weld angle iron into box 1ft x 1ft x 4 inches (Attached Photo 2)
Cut Ally Tube into 2 x 1 ft lengths
Cover with adhesive grip tape.

Next step:
I then intend on using the electric motor to drive the rollers using a V-belt and two pulleys (A big pulley on the roller and small on the motor in order to gear the motor down as much as possible.)
The next step will be to turn down the small ally to make bearing carriers.
Orrignally I was going to purchase the bearings with square carriers with 4 bolt holes, which could be bolted straight in. However these are £20 for small or £76 each for large ones and I already have lots of new bearings laying around so can’t justify £300 on bearings.


they also sell belts and pulleys, so will order them once I know dimensions. (Estimated cost £30)

However, this is the stage at which I have to ask for help, due to lack of experience, I have some questions which I am unable to answer:
Will an electric motor have enough torque to turn the engine over? (my father would be using it for 1000cc twins, I for 500cc singles.)
Will a V-belt and pulley slip setup?
Are there any rules of thumb as to how small, my small pulley can be? (My large pulley will be restricted by floor clearance.)
What is the optimum rpm of the rollers and therefore the motor?
Is there a simple way of transmitting the drive from pulleys to the rollers?
Is there anything else of importance which I have overlooked?



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Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Some use longer rollers and drive them with a rear drive car's rear wheel. Car needs to not have a limited slip differential. Brian Chapman can clarify, but I think he used one for Mighty Mouse. Davidd has a roller starter, I'm sure, and may comment.

As far as speed, you should be able to calculate what rpm the bike tire is turning at, say, 5 mph, then your roller rpm, then the motor pulley rpm. Is the motor 1500 rpm or 3000? A single reduction might not be enough to get to a reasonable tire spinning speed. You might want slotted holes and a draw bolt (like a Comet G/B) to tension the belt(s). There are design guides on the 'net for tension in belts, etc. Calculating that tension would also be needed.
Last edited:


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VOC Member
We have always used a foxley starter (we were lucky to get one second hand) this can be wheeled easily to the bike on its 2 wheels wherever the bike has stopped
it also has a petrol motor pull starter and turns a standard go kart wheel (CLOCKWISE)
I would have thought it an easy build from an old rotary drum mower
Bike on rear paddock stand, into top gear ,10 seconds rub up and the 1275 Egli burst into life even faster for the Comet...


Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member

i purchased a solostarter........ it works well.
a couple of points about your design
you'll want a ramp attachment for wheeling the bikes on and off
you might need to resite the electric motor..if the starter turns and you dont have front brake on bike pulls backwards
er..what are you doing for a switch?

you need a footswitch
also only one roller needs to be driven /powered

i dont know if solostart would sell you a roller motor and switch

crikey this is starting to seem like an advert for them
i'm just a happy customer
also their rollers are not flat ,,,more like 2 cones end to end
dipping toward the middle ..this helps keep rear wheel central
and the rollers have a coating for grip



Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
The type of starter depends on your needs. Car rollers do not sound like the solution, but if you can find a set cheap, you could convert them to electric. The Foxley type starters are good, but in general it takes two to work. I will assume you want to continue on the path you have set out.

I do not think the belts will work. The momentary loading is tremendous. I used motorcycle chain and I found that the chain sprockets were reasonably priced. I used boat trailer rollers which were cheap, easily available and "V" shaped for some centering action.

Adhesive sand belts will not work. I have seen lots of rollers done this way and it simply comes off or wears off. I had to go to expensive rollers because I needed something that had traction in the salt as well as moisture. A morning dew or wet driveway will render the rollers useless. The slotted steel rollers seem to do the best in all thes conditions with no maintenance. If everything is inside the same dry building, boat rollers work fine. If you use flat rollers you may want to add guide rollers to center the wheel. Additionally, a backstop roller is nice. I do not need one, but when someone else uses the roller and they fail to take thier foot off the swith in a timely fashion, the rollers can spit the tire off the back. If the rollers are mounted in place make sure that there is a wall as a backstop. Test out the positioning so that if things go wrong there is room to recover.

You will need a foot switch. It should be rugged and it is good if it is heavy. Sand paper on the bottom of this will work.

The bearings on mine were two dollars each brand new from a surpluss center. Someone of the forum may be able to direct you to one.





Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
I forgot to say that on my car rollers, which Bruce mentioned, I chucked them in a lathe and knurled the rollers for traction. You can do the same if you use steel pipe or tubing.

Foggy is correct. One drive roller may work. As mentioned, if there is dew or moisture on the tire or rollers, more traction is better.

I do not have figures on the rpm, but the theory is to get the mass of the wheel spinning very fast and let its momentum start the engine when the clutch is engaged. My guess is 20 MPH. My single starts easily and I usually engage the clutch in gear and roll it backwards to compression (11.5 to 1). I then hold the clutch in and roll it backwards onto the rollers. I start it in 1st gear although if you need to spin the engine faster you can just select a higher gear.

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