eBiking Anyone?

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davintosh's picture
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eBiking Anyone?

Hey All:

Anybody else on AF into electric motorized bicycling?

I have been hoping to jump into it for a while now, and finally ordered a hub motor last week (due for delivery tomorrow!) Then out of the blue I picked up two Giant Lafree ebikes yesterday! A friend runs a local bike shop, and I had asked him a while back about electric bikes, so he knew of my interest in them. Later he emailed me that there might be a couple of Giant LaFree's coming in on trade. I stopped in his shop last night to buy some innertubes, and they had come in this week. They weren't quite in sellable shape, and he decided that it would be more work to get them running than he could sell them for, so he was going to dump them. Or, I could just have them!

They're both 2003 Sport model women's frames (one silver & one burgundy), and appear to have spent more time in the garage than on the road. We got them home & plugged the batteries in; one indicates a charging error, but the other holds a charge and appears to work fine. Popped it into the silver one last night and it fired right up! That was my first time riding an ebike (actually the first time riding a motorized 2-wheeled conveyance since about 1986), and I've got to say it was a blast. Good thing it was dark or my neighbors would've thought I'd gone off the deep end zipping around the block with a big smile on my face! (then again, some neighbors think I've already gone over, but that's another story.)

The LaFree's controller only engages the motor while the pedals are moving. You don't need to be working hard at it; just a token moving of the pedals is all that's needed. The LaFree also has the motor/gearbox integrated with the crank, so the gearing on the freewheel works with the motor. Gear down going uphill for more torque; gear up on the flats for speed. There's no speedo on it (yet) so I have no idea how fast I was going, but I'd guess it was close to 20mph.

The other bike has a motor/gear case problem (I think), so I'll have to do some more testing to see exactly what's up with it. They look kinda funny, and I'm not sure I'll do much riding on it -- it is a GIRL'S bike after all! -- but it'll be a good learning experience, and fun for the wife & kids.

The whole ebike thing seems to be gaining some momentum, but it's still an experimenter's/hacker's realm. You can either spend a lot on the hub motors or turn-key bikes, or spend a little and put it together yourself. The great thing with the DIY route is it doesn't cost a lot to jump in (if you do your homework and choose wisely) and you end up with eco-friendly cheap transportation, albeit fair weather transportation.

Any others?

Jon
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Re: eBiking Anyone?

The great thing with the DIY route is it doesn't cost a lot to jump in (if you do your homework and choose wisely) and you end up with eco-friendly cheap transportation, albeit fair weather transportation.

Any others?

I'm sure he'll pop up here soon, but ax0n rides a bike to work at least part of the way nearly every day. It's only fair weather transportation of you're a fair weather kind of person. Wink

http://kc-bike.blogspot.com/

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That's me :)

I don't have much advice for fixing up the bikes you've got. I'm very mechanically inclined, but I'd have to have my eyes and hands on what you've got in front of you before I'd be of much help.

When it's higher than 50*F, less than 100*F heat index and not raining, I usually ride my road bike the whole round trip to work and back. It's about 29 miles, give or take and depending on my route. There are a lot of options on my route over this kind of distance, obviously.

When the conditions aren't as favorable or I'm wiped out (like this morning), I use mass transit to help me out.

eBikes are good for getting started, but you'll probably find that as you get more used to riding and exercising, that you'll prefer a light-weight bicycle without power assist. For example, depending on what bike I ride and how much rest I got the night before, my average speed can be about the same as yours over the course of my 29 mile round trip Wink

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I've spent the spring and sum

I've spent the spring and summer on and off working on a couple different recumbent bike designs. The one below is the one I settled on completing (mostly).

It's quite a ride. Very comfortable, even with a bare wood seat, compared to the upright bike that gave its life to be welded into this beast.

Gearing needs a bit of work still. Next one will be a short-wheelbase recumbent....which won't have the turning radius of the Queen Mary like this one does.

homebrew recumbent

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29 Miles?

Holy cow! That's round trip mileage I hope.

I live about 6 miles from work, but rarely ride to work because I can't do it without working up a sweat (even when I was in decent shape) and there are no showers where I work. And I can't bear to work all day after a workout without the shower, nor do I want to subject the people I work with to that! I'm thinking that the motorized ride to work will get me past that, then I can pedal it the long way home for some exercise. At least that's the plan.

Public transport isn't even a remote option for me. Where I work is miles outside the bus routes, in a newly developed part of the city that's almost rural (corn and bean fields across the road, with the airport in the distance.) The nice thing is that most of my route to work is on a greenway/bike path. I'd get on it about a mile from my home, then get back onto public streets/roads about 1.5 miles from work. The bike path runs along the river, so it's a fast, flat run.

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Nice Bent Ride!

I can see it might take a bid of a wide swath to turn that puppy around! And thanks for the recycledrecumbent.com link; I hadn't seen that one before. Some great ideas for reusing old frames. Did you do your own welding on yours? It's been years since I've done any welding, and I need to practice a lot before my next project (and find a decent welder.)

I'm in the midst of working up drawings for a trike that my sons & I hope to build this winter. We're designing a tadpole (two wheels up front, single driving wheel in back), but instead of traditional pedaling motivation, we plan to use a rowing motion for the getalong. I drew up plans for something similar 20-some years ago but never got around to building it. Today there are several iterations similar to that design being built & sold; looking at their designs helped me past some of the workings that had me stumped. I wrote about one such bike -- the VogaBike -- on my blog a while back; take a peek here.

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Re: 29 Miles?

Holy cow! That's round trip mileage I hope.

I live about 6 miles from work, but rarely ride to work because I can't do it without working up a sweat (even when I was in decent shape) and there are no showers where I work. And I can't bear to work all day after a workout without the shower, nor do I want to subject the people I work with to that!

29 miles is round trip, yes.

I don't have showers either, but I do the "Sink Shower". Read my article on staying fresh and clean while bike commuting:

http://kc-bike.blogspot.com/2007/08/tricks-of-trade-so-fresh-and-so-clean.html

Electric assist could help the sweat factor, too. I personally don't worry about it, and just clean up with a washcloth and then change into work clothes in a locking bathroom when I get to work.

That said, each bicycle commuter chooses what works for their situation and what works for me won't work for everyone. What worked for me when I started last september isn't what works for me now, and it's been a long process of tinkering and evolving to get where I'm at now. I'm not much of an environmentalist. I am not in fear over gas prices. I realize that they're all benefits of what we do, but I'm actually just glad to see one more person enjoying themselves on a bike.

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Re: Nice Bent Ride!

Did you do your own welding on yours?

I did. Never done any brazing before, and found I enjoy it. I picked up a cheap brazing kit, and ended up going through 4 of the small oxygen bottles to finish the bike. I'm now looking at renting larger tanks for the next bike.

I'm in the midst of working up drawings for a trike that my sons & I hope to build this winter.

I'd like to see that. The tadpole design looks like it'd be great for long-hauls. The steering looks a bit complicated for my "fudge it" building methodology. Maybe if I get through the next bike intact, though I'll quickly run out of shed space if I keep building 'bents.

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Re: Re: Nice Bent Ride!

I'm getting a lot of info and design hints from a guy who has plans posted at ihpva.org. He's done his homework, and the build guide is very thorough. I took his basic layout -- including steering -- and modified it a bit to accommodate the rowbike style. I'm in the process of putting some of my build info on my blog, but it's not quite ready for prime time. I'll update this thread when it is.

If you haven't been on the ihpva.org site before, dig around a bit; there is a ton of stuff there.

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