NORTH SALEM, N.Y.— Tinkering and building things are a way of life for 13-year-old Ryan Cindrich. Whenever something breaks in his North Salem home, no matter how complex, the 8th grader starts researching and then grabs his toolbox and gets to work. He welcomes the challenge.

“Whenever I see something that’s tedious, I think, how can I make this easier to work with? And I just think from there and see what I can do,” Cindrich said.

It was Cindrich’s can-do attitude that attracted Popular Mechanics magazine to reach out to the North Salem engineering prodigy to spotlight him as its “Kid of the Month” for the May issue. 

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It was his most recent  project, in which he converts a bicycle into a motorized vehicle, the magazine’s attention.

Cindrich says his idea for the project was entirely serendipitous. He was shopping on for a part for his dirt bike when he came upon the bicycle conversion kit.  Just for kicks, he purchased the Iglobalbuy 50 CC2 Cycle Petrol Gas Engine Motor Kit for Motorized Bike, and figured it would be an enjoyable project.

“I’ve always loved engines and thought this would be a fun thing to do,” he said.

The whole thing was made all-the-more enticing thanks to some Amazon gift cards he had received as a present, which he used to make the $126 purchase.

The kit converts an ordinary bicycle into a gas-powered mobility device that can travel up to 20 miles per hour.  For the project, Cindrich used an old 26-inch Fuji Thrill bike that was no longer being used by his family.

“I was super-excited when I first got the kit,” Cindrich said. “When I actually opened it up, it wasn’t as intimidating as I thought it would be.”

 The next stop for Cindrich was  YouTube to see some installation tutorials before he did his own installation, especially since some of the instructions were in a foreign language.

Cindrich said he got the whole thing put together in about two days. After that, he needed another day to get everything tuned up and working properly.  His father helped him with the chain, which needed to have several links removed in order to work.

He noted that the kit, while not especially difficult, had some inferior-quality components.

“The problem is the throttle cable stripped part of the inside of the grip, so I pretty much used electrical tape on it, just to hold it back together,” Cindrich said. He plans to replace some of the parts and upgrade them soon.

The tank installed on the bicycle holds about a quarter gallon of gasoline and allows the bike to travel upwards of 20 mph. 

Cindrich said you first get on the bike and use the clutch, which disconnects the engine so you can pedal it like a normal bike.  Once you reach a speed of about 6 to 7 mph, you let off the clutch and continue pedaling to engage the engine. Speed on the bike is modulated by twisting the revamped bicycle grip, much as it does on a motorcycle.  It opens the carburetor which lets in the gas. The more gas that goes in, the faster it goes.

None of his friends was familiar with a motorized bicycle.  Not surprisingly, his friends were thrilled with the results.

“I let a couple of my friends ride it and they thought it was awesome,” he said.

When he’s not converting bicycles,  Cindrich enjoys tweaking his dirt bike “Even when there’s nothing wrong with it, I’m looking for ways to work on it and make it better,” he said. As for his newly converted bike it’s still a source of enjoyment for him. In good weather, he tries to ride it at least twice a week, and takes it on vacation on Montauk, Long Island,where there is less traffic on the roadways. Cindrich said it’s somewhat noisy, but notes that the muffler does a good job of keeping the decibel level low.

“It’s definitely not something you want to be taking out at 6 o’clock in the morning and running,” he said.

Cindrich  wants to be a mechanical engineer when he grows up, and says he enjoys the new 3-D printer his parents bought him for Christmas to help him with his various engineering projects.

When asked if he likes math, he responded, “Ugh.. I do not like math. I’m not terrible at it, I just don’t like it, and that’s one of the things you need to be a mechanical engineer,” he giggled.

He said he’s looking forward to the summer when he can have more time to fix things.

“I hate it when everything works perfectly,” Cindrich said.