Called the Tinker Toy, it was built to be a Guinness World Record holder, and Whitelock’s Tinker Toy continues to hold the record for the “Vehicle engine with the most cylinders.” Yep, that’s right, the vehicle with the most cylinders isn’t a plane, car, or boat, it’s a motorcycle.
There are a total of 48-cylinders on this motorcycle, which comes out to a total of 4,200ccs, or about 256 cubic inches. A grand total of 16 Kawasaki KH250 three-cylinder engines were used in the making of this bike, and all the motors are arranged in “six banks of eight and are completely road-legal” according to the bike’s entry in the Guinness World Records.
Although, it technically has 49 pistons since it takes some horsepower to actually start this thing. There is no battery in it, but there is a 125cc two-stroke motor that serves as a “donkey engine” for the main engine’s starter motor. Why is it a 125cc motor? Well, let’s just say that the 50cc motor that Whitelock initially used didn’t have enough power to start the 48-cylinder mammoth of an engine.
As you may have guessed, there is no way that Kawasaki had parts to undertake such a project, as such, Whitelock had to custom make a large chunk of this motorcycle’s engine, fuel system, exhaust, throttle, and ignition system, plus a few other parts from other brands and other types of vehicles. A car’s alternator is used to feed electricity to the motor while it is running.
In total, the bike weighs around 590 kilograms (1,300 pounds), so it’s understandable why Honda Goldwing brakes and forks were used to bear all that weight. Whitelock then used a BMW K100 gearbox in order to drive the rear wheel, and the wheels are made by Hagon that’s made entirely out of stainless steel for strength. The hubs were also custom-made by Hagon in order to fit the bike and bear all that tonnage.
Tinker Toy also wasn’t Whitelock’s first foray into the world of custom motorcycle building. Prior to the record-holding bike, he is evidently a Kawasaki fan, particularly with the Japanese brand’s inline-triple engine. He didn’t go from three cylinders to 48 overnight, however, converting an inline-three into a four. He even made a nine-cylinder motorcycle that had three of his favourite inline triples joined together. In another build, he also made an inline-seven.
In the video, you will see Whitelock riding it towards the end. He does ride it a few metres before his wheel snags on his number plate and flies off. When asked if he would sell his creation, he could be persuaded by £500,000, just don’t tell his wife!