Bringing you the world's best cafe racers, trackers, scramblers, bobbers & custom motorcycles.

‘79 General 5 Star Moped – Rogue Builds

Posted on December 8, 2013 by Andrew in Moped. 39 comments

Blood Lust. Bloodless. Cyborg Death. Let’s face it; when it comes to naming his builds, Austin Tremellen from Philly’s Rogue Builds is a guy with some rather gruesome influences. Sure, he builds some of America’s best mopeds, but we’re genuinely worried about him. Then we find out he’s named his latest build ‘The Oracle’. Harmless enough, you’d think. But do a little research and find out that in ancient times, ‘oracles’ were priests that told the future by gutting a bird and reading its entrails. So, the truth is obvious. Poor Austin is clearly possessed. We’re off to find an exorcist; you guys keep yourselves busy by reading on.

Here’s Austin. “After starting life on an assemble line in 1979 Taiwan, this General 5 Star moped found its new home in my shop 33 years later. With almost nothing salvageable other than the frame, I decided to embark on a project which would give me the freedom to get creative and to really test some limits.

This wasn’t my first Minarelli build, but this time I wanted to try my hand at making something unique. Something that could ride the line between old and new (in performance and appearance) and had a certain balance between industrial and handcrafted. To make this happen many modifications were needed, as were many hands working together. This build could not have happened without a community of skilled and like-minded builders.”

“The process of this build was long and challenging. I think one of the first things I did was swap the original Italian Minarelli v1 engine with its more exotic relative, the v1Lks (a case inducted kickstart version) which I built from the case up. Using a full circle race crank from a v1, I was able to stroke this originally 39mm engine to 42mm. I had the crank balanced and rebuilt by Mr. Crankshaft and the results left me with nothing but praise for Vince and the boys. When rebuilding the engine I decided to go with ceramic hybrid bearings, something unusual for the moped world. I also went for some flat cut gears and a clutch bell fitted with a needle bearing rather than the stock brass bushing as I’ve had both fail on me with a previous build. With such a solid bottom end I knew this was the right build for the big boy BRN 90cc cylinder. After a few days of filing I had a beautifully paired match.”

“The stock 12mm intake wasn’t going to cut it; nor was the restrictive 2 petal reed valve. So I looked to Argentina where racing mopeds is serious business. Luckily, a popular choice for racing there is a Minarelli clone called a Zanella v3. Then I decided to increase the size of the intake and reed valve by fabricating a 26mm 4 petal intake and reed block. I got my hands on one of the racing intakes and ran it over to my favourite machine shop in Philly for further modification. After some rather tedious milling, we were able to make an 8 pedal V-Force Banshee block drop right in! I topped it off with Mikuni TM28 carb that I modded into a powerjet for some extra fun.”

“The final touch on this build was a headlight I constructed using an early 1970’s French AV7 Motobecan 50cc moped case and a tinted projection lens. I also created the minimal headlight brackets using some shop scraps and the stock piston pin. This headlight was inspired by some interior lighting projects that I started last year using recycled French mopeds parts.”

Austin consults The Oracle

“All the nitty gritty and details of the build aside, I’d have to say my favorite part of the process is always the relationships that develop among the guys involved in its construction. Devin Biek of Janus motorcycles had his hand in this project. Then Ian Hailcott from Twinline Motorcycles jumped in and really took it to a whole other level by adding some beautiful welds and the classy yet comfortable leather tuck and rolled upholstery. Finally, MS&M Machine Shop in Northeast Philadelphia performed numerous machining tasks with surgeon like precision. What’s the saying? ‘It takes a village?’”

  • Not a moped fan but this has a very nice look and finish to it.

    • Scott T.

      Yeah, I don’t want to like it. But I do.

      • Kevin

        agreed ! clean lines on the bike would want to hang on a wall as art! .. was hoping to see a cute girl for that last image ..

        but no … sleeve, trendy hairdo, V neck and a beard .. figures ..

        • duh

          Moped?? I don’t see pedals….kind of a waste for 90cc….but looks good

          • revdub

            Curious if you have ever ridden anything like this? I can’t imagine you saying the same thing if you have. In my experience, 90cc’s with a bike this low, small, and light is a blast. Throw it around, take corners extremely fast, and no need for shifting constantly in the city. Seems like the perfect use of 90cc’s, in my opinion.

          • revdub

            I forgot to mention the fact that I guarantee that this can accelerate faster from a dead stop than my RD250, so that’s fun too.

          • duh

            I have a vintage 90CC honda scooter….it’s entertaining but far from a blast. When I was 12 it would have been a blast. Now it just sounds like an over worked gnat. This is like a tuner Civic of the bike world… the end it’s still a Civic (or a moped)
            100mph in 3rd or 4th gear is a blast on my real bikes.

          • revdub

            Bitchin’ story bro.

          • duh

            enjoy your moped….bro.

          • Fast2Furious

            This is a 2 stroke with an 8 pedal reed valve, big carburetor, velocity stack and expansion chamber . As a result it will be considerably more powerful and weigh less then your Honda. So you’re really comparing apples and oranges. Regardless anything worth doing is worth over doing.

          • duh

            yup..I did realize after that it was a two stroke..i’m sure it moves well and much faster than a Honda 4 stroke. I just don’t get all that beautiful work on something with pedals and probably a weak frame.

          • Fantome_NR

            well, if you don’t get it, you just don’t get it. your loss.

          • duh

            Oh sorry…I guess a stirred the pot in the rarefied hipster-doofus world of moped builders. What’s the saying about mopeds and fat girls??

          • Fantome_NR

            I own and ride a 90 horsepower 1100cc Moto Guzzi. I am no stranger to big powerful bikes. I also own a 600, a 450, a 350 and a 250. All different bikes, different styles, different rides. I would love to have a little rocket like this for blasting around the city, I’m seriously considering getting a scooter or moped of some sort.

            Maybe to you, bikes are a way of proving something to yourself or to the rest of the world. To the rest of us, we love bikes because we love bikes. Again, your loss.

          • davmo

            @duh, maybe try some of that rarified hipster-doofus small cc magic out. @Fantome, the Rev, and others above have found the fun of light but fast bikes. There is a different skill-set riding one of these bikes: in some ways easier, in other ways harder. Kind of like the difference between go-carts, 4-wheelers, and cars. All with 4 wheels, all a potential blast, but in a different way. Beautiful bike,BTW. Love the details.

          • duh

            I do have a small CC scooter. It’s ok, but I didn’t dump 8k into it to go 20 mph faster on it. I just hop on one of my MCs if I want to go faster. And Austin did make good points about transporting one etc. He does really nice work. Did you ever think about using a SACHs Madass as a starting point?

          • Austin T. Tremellen

            There are many reasons why I enjoy building and restoring bikes from the 70’s that most owners have tossed aside. Also 4 stroke scooters made in India or China just yesterday are lacking a certain essence and style of which could never be replicated. I also enjoy the simplisity of this perticular Italian engine as well as it’s unique aesthetic created by the fan and shroud.

            However, although I enjoy the many challenges of working with vintage bikes it certainly presents a business issue when I have to build engine from the ground up with parts never befor been used on an engine that was designed to do 1/3rd the speed 😉 It would be amazing to just open a box and pull out a working and tuned engine to bolt on and go. I’m in the middle of exploring some options that may help lower the time it takes for me to build and therefor lower the over all cost of the bike.

          • duh

            Yup me too…lots of different size bikes over the years…and even a moped…when I was 15. Mopeds were for when you couldn’t get a MC license when I was growing up. This site doesn’t say anything about mopeds in it’s title. There are plenty of moped sites for these.
            Beautiful work and I respect that skill…but it’s still a moped.

          • Austin T. Tremellen

            Not that one would know from the article but this is a single speed bike that does 65mph with it geared for city riding. How often do you 12k rpms and let it scream on your scooter or 800cc cycle? I’m not trying to replace motorcycles here, but could you find the value in having a bike that would propel you 60mph but also be able to carry it up the stairs to your apartment or throw it in the back of a SUV? I know mopeds look silly but if you ever find one that’s built up or any small two stroke for that matter I think you would be pleasantly surprised.

          • duh

            OK…i’m sure it’s cool and perfect for the city. BEAUTIFUL craftsmanship too. You do amazing work.
            …. It’s me!! I just hate pedals on my motorcycles! Nice they say to each his own.

            PS…go Eagles!!

          • duh

            Nice work Austin great crafstmanship…’s just me…I don’t like pedals on my motorcycles!!

            ps go Eagles!

          • Kevin

            It’s a moped. Not a motorcycle. But yeah, to each his own. In the end if someone’s having fun on it and loves it, than it is indeed worth it. Also @duh, If you really do love mototrcycles I’d bet if you ever had a chance to ride this moped, you would have a huge smile on your face. The end.

  • BoxerFanatic

    Not bad. Most of the brand name dropping is greek to me, as I am not familiar with the moped scene at all, but it sounds like it is a big-time mix of hop-up parts.

    Seems like a General moped somewhat like this was posted a while back that I liked, too… I like the look of the tank and the frame on these… The tank is a good looking shape, and the frame makes this look like a real half-way point between a bicycle and a motorcycle, rather than a step-through scooter.

    The tiny crank case-based projector headlight is a great touch, too.

  • revdub

    Raw and beautiful. Another seriously great build. The seat, headlight, and overall attention to detail are all pretty amazing. Nothing but respect for you, Austin. Keep killing it!

    • Austin T. Tremellen

      As always, thanks for your support Rev! How is that rd coming along!?!

      • revdub

        The RD is clean, running great, and currently for sale. 😉 Thanks for asking!

  • About time this showed up here!

  • Oh, momma, what a great moped! That is the coolest headlight I’ve ever seen. A French Europa moped was my very first 2-wheel ride a long time ago and I still have a smile when I see bikes like this. I appreciate a photo of the builder with the bike to give it some scale. A real jewel.

  • Blake Proudfoot

    And it could be yours for the low low price of 8200 bucks…………

    Very very cool looking bike but man that’s a crazy price tag

  • meeh

    erm, deleting comments eh?

  • Tirapop

    SWEET! What tires and forks are those?

    • Austin T. Tremellen

      Heidenau K56 Front tire 17×2.50 and 2.75 rear.
      The forks are shortened and polished Tomos EBR hydro forks.

  • Bauzen

    Easily the best looking moped build I’ve ever seen in person. Great stuff!

  • itsmefool

    Dude, where’s the rest of your bike?

  • Richard


  • Richard

    …looks like a LOT of fun…where did someone get the $8k pricetag? eh…more power to em

  • Eric

    I love it! Ignore the haters. The price isn’t out of line with the amount of work, either. Comparing big bikes and small bikes is, well, silly. I have tremendous respect for the craft and innovation involved in making any custom bike work well, and taking something like a moped and transforming it into a work of art like this is an astounding feat. Well done!

  • The Truth

    There aren’t any pedals. Read the story or look at the pictures. Just like an Eagles fan to miss the details.

  • Tom

    Can anyone tell me what gastank that is!!
    Is it self made or from a existing bike.
    I am building a puch magnum custom
    Greats from the netherlands