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A DIY Handlebar Clock

Post Received 19 May 2020

By Mark Noel

After the speedometer I reckon that a clock is the next most useful instrument to have on a motorcycle. OK it would be great to have real-time displays of blood and tyre pressures, heart rate, antibody count and the weather forecast but for me an awareness of time is more useful. After all I need to be back in time for tea, else there will be trouble!

Some time ago I made a clock unit for my Jawa which is mounted on the stem of the right hand mirror. Fabrication involved turning three components on the lathe - two of plastic for the main parts and a polished bezel in aluminium. The timepiece comprised a £5 watch from our local bargain shop, and the end result cost only a few pence more, plus a morning in the workshop.

Since then I have entered the world of 3D printing and decided to make another handlebar clock using this technology which provides greater freedom of design, with no need for the hacking of metal or plastic to achieve a good result.

From ebay I bought an inexpensive Casio analogue watch, chosen for its plain white face and bold hands. The straps were removed and the lugs on the plastic case sawn off and filed to form a smooth outline. This shape was digitised and then embodied in a 3D model which comprised three components: the main body containing a recess shaped to contain the watch movement; a backing piece that clamps to this main body and; a black bezel that forms the face of the unit and holds the watch in place.

A computerised 3D model of the case so the 3D printer can print out the pieces
3D model of the main parts of the handlebar clock
The parts, 3D printed body and bezel and a collection of smart brass screws and fixings
Components of the handlebar clock

The 10mm diameter mirror stem on my Honley 125 rises about 45 degrees from horizontal and so two 4.5mm radius saddles are cut through the mating faces of the main body and backing piece at this angle. M3 brass threaded inserts are heat-staked into the back face of the main body for M3 screws to clamp the unit to the mirror stem by sandwiching together the main body and backing piece.

The watch in the 3d printed case secured to the wing mirror's stem, looking very smart
Clock mounted on mirror stem of Honley 125 Turbo

The bezel is fastened to the front with polished and lacquered 10BA brass screws and this black bezel contrasts nicely with the white body of the rest of the unit. The photograph shows the completed watch fitted to the bike and with the help of this accessory I have never missed my tea since!

For those of a technobent these are details of how the unit was made: Alibre Design 3D modelling program, Cura slicing software, printing with Ultimaker Tough PLA on an Ultimaker 3.

Although handlebar mounted clocks for motorcycles are widely available, this has been a fun little project, with the option for customisation and some saving in cost. If you fancy doing something similar then 3D modelling software is available for free, for example in FreeCAD, and there are many folks out there offering to print plastic components at very low cost. 

After the success of this venture perhaps I will attempt to build the real-time blood pressure monitor mentioned earlier. However it will need a very wide scale to cope with the stress of motorway riding!

Got your own delightful motorcycling creation you want to share on Bikes And Travels? Click here.

Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Very neat Mark.
Although with all the hard work involved I'm glad Honda put one on mine.
As an aside the ST 11 design is 30 years old and Honda fitted one back then, you'd have thought others would have caught on.
10/06/2020 09:27:54 UTC
Steve S. said :-
On my Honda from way back when, I just fitted an old digital watch to a leather key fob. Worked well for years. Then the watch and keys were always with you when you left the bike.
10/06/2020 10:55:45 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Very neat, although perhaps a solution looking for a problem? Still, if you have a 3d printer then you'll always be looking for things to make on it. A bit like my lathe.

As far as a watch / clock goes, a simple analogue quartz watch from a car boot asle / charity shop stuck onto the fork yoke with a bit of silicone or plastic does me.
10/06/2020 11:53:23 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
It's far far too neat for my own bodgetastic standards. Fear not Ian there's another post from Mark coming soon featuring more from the 3D printer. I'd like a 3D printer (and a lathe) but to be honest they'd be rather wasted on me. I'd manage to make scruffy 3D prints too.
11/06/2020 16:33:39 UTC
Bob said :-
Neat, waiting for my 3D printer to be delivered (they promised today but with Covid they can get away with anything).
I've got the lathe and milling machine, 3D printing is the next thing for me.
I've just started out with FreeCAD - what do you use?
When you say the shape of the watch was digitised - how was that done? Did you just measure it or have you got a 3D scanner too?
11/06/2020 20:13:09 UTC
Mark Noel said :-
A "solution looking for a problem", not at all Sir, I find that the handlebar clock is close to my line of sight and very handy.

One issue I have discovered is that at high speeds relativistic time dilation leads to an error in the displayed time relative to the time of stationary observers, which means I often arrive late. Therefore I am working on a revised version that compensates for this effect by computing a correction taking input from my Honley's speedo drive.

For 2D CAD I use FastCAD and have done for many years. It is bug-free and 'works as you think' with a large workspace free of countless buttons sen on other programs. It is also extremely fast being written in machine code.

For 3D I am using Alibre Design Expert, although the lighter Alibre Atom has since come out it would provide enough tools and be less expensive than Expert. Alibre has all the functions of heavyweights like Solidworks. Alibre exports STL files for processing in Cura for output to my Ultimaker or any other 3D printer for that matter.

I really like my Ultimaker 3 Extended. Very few prints have failed. It has auto-detection of the filament type and there is a strong connection between Cura and the printer's configuration. However, it is expensive and I did have to sell one of my wife's kidneys to fund this toy.
Posted Image
18/06/2020 13:33:49 UTC
Bob said :-
Oooh, that looks posh!
I'm happy with my Creality Ender 3D Pro for the moment.
I've printed a cover for the top of a Scottoil bottle, so that I can carry it with me wihout the nozzle getting lost (I've filled the Scottoil bottle with engine oil so I can top up my engine or Scottoiler from the one bottle) and a thread cover for the steerer stem of my electric bike.
I didn't buy my printer to print Star Wars figures.

I have not got on at all with FreeCAD, it seems designed to be as bloody difficult as possible. You may laugh but the online TinkerCAD (owned by AutoDesk) is surprisingly powerful when you dig into it. It looks a bit silly at first but it's actually got some real depth.
I'm still looking for a useable offline solution though.
18/06/2020 13:49:13 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Holy bleep of bleep bleeping! I've just looked up the price of the Ultimaker 3 and Mark, I'll be sending you a bill for my concussion! I've bought motorcycle for on tenth the price and put 50,000 miles on them. I'm off to make my own from some wood and an old glue gun.
19/06/2020 08:25:44 UTC
Mark Noel said :-

I too have dabbled a bit with FreeCAD. Unfortunately it tries to be CAD for everyone, from architecture to aircraft design, and as a result is bewildering. Download a free trial of the engineering-focussed Alibre Atom or talk to Mintronics to seek a deal. It's a bargain for the power on offer.

The 3D CAD learning curve is as steep as the Eiger but in the end is worth the ascent.
19/06/2020 10:46:50 UTC
nab301 said :-
Quote "However, it is expensive and I did have to sell one of my wife's kidneys to fund this toy."
Maybe you can print a new kidney now with the printer....
20/06/2020 20:29:04 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
They are printing 3D hearts so I'm sure a new kidney is possible...
20/06/2020 22:25:12 UTC

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