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.