Tools for your mini chopper project
What are the engine options for your custom mini chopper?
When you start choosing the parts that will go into your mini chopper, one of the most important decisions is which engine to use. There are a few builders who have done one off creations with engines from small motorcycles but the easiest way to go is to pick from the array of one and two cylinder engines available. These are manufactured by many well known companies and will fit right in to the mini chopper frames you can buy. If you build your own frame, they will adapt well and you can find a lot of custom parts already available such as engine housings, air cleaner covers and custom exhausts. If your fabrication skills are high, you can use any engine but most of us will do better to work with the standard selections.
Single cylinder or V-Twin?
Mini chopper engines break down into two categories, single cylinder or V-twin. What are the differences? Price, power and size. All mini choppers used to be single cylinder models but like everything else, people wanted more and with engines like the Briggs and Stratton Vanguard available it was a natural step up. However, not everyone needs or will want a V-twin engine, price can be a factor, singles provide plenty of power for most applications, cost less and fit into smaller frames. Your project size and budget will help you decide.
Mini chopper engine manufacturers
When you think small engines, several names immediately come to mind: Briggs and Stratton, Tecumseh and Kohler. Of course, the Japanese have a selection, too, Honda, Kawasaki, Robin Subaru, Yamaha and a few others.
Briggs and Stratton
When most of us think chopper, we think American and the big name in domestic small engines is Briggs and Stratton. In fact, they're located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where a certain big name American motorcycle comes from. Briggs and Stratton is very big in the small engine world, as they like to point out, they build more racing engines than any other company. That experience is nice to have behind you when you choose your mini chopper engine. They have a wide variety of single and V-twin models so either way, you can get what you need.
The next company in line after Briggs and Stratton is Tecumseh. In business for 100 years they have a complete line of small engines, many of which could fit into your mini chopper. The have singles and twins in a range of power levels and they deserve serious consideration when looking for your engine. Located in Wisconsin, also.
The other big small engine company is Kohler and they are located in, you guessed it, Wisconsin. Must be something in the water. ( Which could be why they are the same company that makes the plumbing that goes into all of those sexy shower and bath commercials.) Anyway, they, too, have a complete line of singles and twins that would fit well into your mini chopper. It would be hard to go wrong with any engine from these companies.
You might think Japanese when you say Honda but Honda Power Equipment manufactures its engines in North Carolina and they make a LOT of them. Honda has always been a high tech engine company and they produce a wide range of engines for many power equipment applications and many would fit into a mini chopper with no problem.
Lots of engines, just like the others, singles and V-twins. Sometimes it just comes down to brand loyalty or preference and what the engine looks like.
This company is part of Fuji Heavy Industries that manufactures the Subaru automobile. They have a division in Wisconsin, Robin America, that has a manufacturing plant here. They are a very large producer of small engines.
Which engine is best?
A better question is which options will work in your project. You need to consider price, power requirements, size restrictions and your own personal opinion about what the engine looks like. Are there other accessories like exhaust pipes available or engine housings to dress it up? There is no best, there are many engines that will work great. You choose.