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Electrify your Bike - a $ saving adventure
Old 04-30-2010, 12:31 PM   #1
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Electrify your Bike - a $ saving adventure

I ER'ed a few years ago and then went back to work. I recently won a E-Bike conversion kit and can tell you that you can save a lot $, have fun, be kind to environment and be healthier. I converted an inexpensive mountain bike, see the photo below, and it goes 20mph for 20 miles. I live in a very hilly terrain(central Massachusetts) so I have to help it up the hills but the motor does 90% of the work. It cost ~10cents per charge(.005cents per mile), requires no insurance, no license, qualifies for a 10% tax credit(I believe) and can be placed on your RV/Boat or bike rack.

Check it out @ E-BikeKit™ - Electric Bike Conversion System


100_7054.jpg

ENJOY!
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Old 04-30-2010, 12:41 PM   #2
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Interesting. Care to tell us what the conversion kit would have ran you at their retail prices? Looks like $1000 or so based on their website. And do you know what the weight is of the system plus battery?

I saw walmart had a $250 electric bike recently, but the user reviews said the old lead acid batteries made it very heavy, so once your battery ran out, you were screwed if trying to pedal up hills.

I was thinking an e-bike would be a good scooter-like vehicle to replace a second car for us city dwellers during ER.
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Cost & Technical advise
Old 04-30-2010, 01:01 PM   #3
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Cost & Technical advise

I purchased the Bike new for $120, add another $50 for Head/Rear lights, Mud flaps, rear rack etc.. you want a mountain bike as they are the most reliable and their are lots of choices, driving the price down.

I learned, quickly, that if you want a system where peddling is optional, except up hills to help, you need a 500w, 36v system. If you want a reliable power source you need the Lifepo4, Lithium Ion, battery packs. This is the same technology that is used in Hybrid cars. The battery is $500 of the cost. Another technical consideration is water proofing - the system is 99% water resistant.

I would say that the system adds ~20lbs to a bike(front tire & battery). I easily put on my bike rack in my garage and car.

If you have any other questions call the guy's at e-bike, ask for Jason and mention the April e-bike kit winner referenced you. The front wheel is USA made, New Jersey! They are a three person company and really a pleasure.

I hope that I answered your ?'s
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Old 04-30-2010, 01:34 PM   #4
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I hope that I answered your ?'s
Yes, thanks. I'll continue watching this technology evolve and hopefully watch prices drop.

I still rely heavily on my car due to work and needing my car for frequent business trips across town or across the state. But I could see this e-bike thing working well, plus a couple saddle bags if we were to go to 1 car in ER.
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Couple of considerations
Old 04-30-2010, 02:25 PM   #5
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Couple of considerations

Think of it as a 49cc scooter, with all the flexibility of a bike and non of the hassles of a scooter, I own a 250cc scooter as well. If you drive 10miles or less on safe roads to work then I would say it can be used as a commuter bike. I say 10 miles because of time (a 15 min commute becomes 30). In town it is documented to be faster then a car @ distances 2miles or less. I live in the suburbs, 10 miles from work, I wear work cloths and have noticed no difference v.s my scooter, except time. I don't peddle much - except to aid the bike up hills and keep the speed ~20mph.

Their are a lot of people in the game now and the price is going to be dictated by the battery technology. As EV cars start selling later this year I can see the battery prices increasing for all Lithium uses.
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Old 04-30-2010, 03:28 PM   #6
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Think of it as a 49cc scooter, with all the flexibility of a bike and non of the hassles of a scooter, I own a 250cc scooter as well. If you drive 10miles or less on safe roads to work then I would say it can be used as a commuter bike. I say 10 miles because of time (a 15 min commute becomes 30). In town it is documented to be faster then a car @ distances 2miles or less. I live in the suburbs, 10 miles from work, I wear work cloths and have noticed no difference v.s my scooter, except time. I don't peddle much - except to aid the bike up hills and keep the speed ~20mph.
This is what I was viewing it as. A low(er) maintenance version of a weak 50 cc scooter. I only have a 3.5 mile urban commute now, but I also drop kids off in the morning at daycare (soon to be school). And I have to have my car available for last minute business trips around town or out of town (I'm a consultant). Although given my field of practice, it could be either really good or really bad PR (to different people) to ride an electric bicycle. I'm just thinking this would fit the need during ER for something to get me 0.5 to 2.0 miles from home (which is basically the extent of required travel to get to a million different destinations) and carry some limited cargo fairly easily and safely if we had 1 car and DW was out and about. Or once the kids are driving in 13 years, this ebike could be a third car in a pinch for running errands.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:43 PM   #7
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Ahhh...you guys are making my hands sweat....20 MPH? I was going (pedding here under my own power) at 5 MPH today and that was as fast as I wanted to go. I understand tho...daughter says she usually goes at least 15 to 18 MPH. I don't like speed.

Have fun.
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Old 04-30-2010, 07:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by In-control View Post
I ER'ed a few years ago and then went back to work. I recently won a E-Bike conversion kit and can tell you that you can save a lot $, have fun, be kind to environment and be healthier. I converted an inexpensive mountain bike, see the photo below, and it goes 20mph for 20 miles. I live in a very hilly terrain(central Massachusetts) so I have to help it up the hills but the motor does 90% of the work. It cost ~10cents per charge(.005cents per mile), requires no insurance, no license, qualifies for a 10% tax credit(I believe) and can be placed on your RV/Boat or bike rack.

Check it out @ E-BikeKit™ - Electric Bike Conversion System


Attachment 8925

ENJOY!

That's a really cool setup. Anytime I hear about an electric bike I like checking it out. The only bike I have now is a small folding one (Dahon brand) so that wouldn't be convertable, I'd think. I could use the pedaling anyhow. But the idea of going electric while uphill sounds great.

Thanks for sharing the photo.
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Old 04-30-2010, 11:51 PM   #9
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In Thailand I have always driven a Honda Wave 125 Scooter. Over there, a new one is only about $1500, but I don't know what scooters cost in the USA. It would be a lot more useful than a motorized bicycle. Very easy to handle at anything less than 40 mph and can easily go faster than that if you want.

But you would need a license and liability insurance (which are presumably very low cost for a scooter). Another difference is that maintaining them is super cheap in Thailand because everyone has them, a repair store on each corner. But I am guessing it is more of a hassle in the USA.

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Old 05-01-2010, 12:02 AM   #10
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Once again, this time thanks to In-control, E-R.org has enabled killing a whole Friday evening with interesting web surfing.

I found several news articles that talked about how electric bicycles are changing commuting habits in China, India and other developing countries. Millions and millions are being sold every year.

Of the sellers, I kinda liked these guys from the dusty outback of San Angelo TX. They seem to have a different approach - with no pedal-assist, conventional sealed lead-acid batteries and weight be damned - but let's go fast! Electric Bike & Electric Bike Kits

40 mph+ is available on their 2800W, 72v model.

The coolest-looking design was this model for China just announced by Volkswagon. It's designed to fold up in a car's spare tire space and can charge from the car battery system or a home charger:




Someday soon, you may even be able to order a Lexus (where's the cup holder for my latte?) -


Of course, for economy you could just go home-made with some car batteries:

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E-bike/Scotter/Car cost review
Old 05-03-2010, 08:06 AM   #11
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E-bike/Scotter/Car cost review

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In Thailand I have always driven a Honda Wave 125 Scooter. Over there, a new one is only about $1500, but I don't know what scooters cost in the USA. It would be a lot more useful than a motorized bicycle. Very easy to handle at anything less than 40 mph and can easily go faster than that if you want.

But you would need a license and liability insurance (which are presumably very low cost for a scooter). Another difference is that maintaining them is super cheap in Thailand because everyone has them, a repair store on each corner. But I am guessing it is more of a hassle in the USA.

Kramer

Here are some numbers, cost per mile w/o initial capital, as I own all three. I just spent $900 of my scooter for its 12000 mile service, includes all fluids changed, new tires, new drive belt.

Auto = .19cents
Scooter = .07cents
E-bike = .03 cents (includes $500 battery replacement after 1200 charges[20miles ea.] @ .10cents per charge)

e-bike comparison to scooter
Pro's
> Is considered a bike, 20mph limit(USA), and can go anywhere
> Battery can be removed and charged easily
> No license/insurance/excise tax
> It can be brought on to a train or bus
> Short learning curve - everyone in the family can use it
> RV/Boat full timers it can be easily transported with no real weight consideration
> Can be recharged with a battery re-charging solar/wind panel
> When the charge is expired you can realistically peddle - with 18 to 21 gears
> Re-introduces older/injured people to healthy life style choices
> Quiet
> Low environmental impact
> Qualifies for the 10% EV low speed tax credit, from what I have read, USA Only
> Cost can be recouped if your employer is in the bike to work program, $20/month and Bike voucher, USA only

Con's
> Limited range - 20miles goes by fast
> Takes 2.5 hrs to charge, mine does w/ 3.5 amp charger
> 20mph limits Bike to non highway type roads - my scooter is a 250cc and can hit 85mph - I drive on the highway with it - something I try to avoid
> Can be noisy
> Produces 75% more ozone depleting chemicals then a car

Check this YouTube video in China - San Fransisco has been the first city that I have seen with dedicated bike lanes. If cities want to be cleaner and more pleasant they need to enable this and other forms of mass transit from a greater range, to include nearby suburbs.




Just my 2 cents
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Old 05-03-2010, 05:31 PM   #12
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How can a 12K tune-up for a scooter possibly cost $900?? Is that a typo? In Thailand, to get both tires replaced and the intertubes is less than $20 USA, while you wait. Presumably, fluid replacement and belt replacement would run you maybe $15 to $20 more, total, including parts and liquids. I would not even think a scooter engine rebuild would cost $900 in the USA.

My last 60K mile tune up for my car (admittedly a few years ago), including tearing the engine apart, replacing the timing chain, new water filter, new fluids, plugs, filters, fixing a leak, checking everything according to the manual, was like $650 in one of the most expensive cities in America. Say, $800 now with inflation.

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Old 05-04-2010, 07:54 AM   #13
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How can a 12K tune-up for a scooter possibly cost $900?? Is that a typo? In Thailand, to get both tires replaced and the intertubes is less than $20 USA, while you wait. Presumably, fluid replacement and belt replacement would run you maybe $15 to $20 more, total, including parts and liquids. I would not even think a scooter engine rebuild would cost $900 in the USA.

My last 60K mile tune up for my car (admittedly a few years ago), including tearing the engine apart, replacing the timing chain, new water filter, new fluids, plugs, filters, fixing a leak, checking everything according to the manual, was like $650 in one of the most expensive cities in America. Say, $800 now with inflation.

Kramer
A tune up in this instance included, new tires, drive belt, new break/radiator/oil fluids, new filters, typical for 12k. I could not get all that for my car @ $900. The timing belt alone costs that to replace. I agree that it sounds expensive but even a 49cc scooter is going to need the same work and all motorcycles and scooters need new batteries every 2/3 years and their $90 bucks. These are costs in Massachusetts. I would also point out that in other countries where this mode of travel is common costs are driven down by competition. It is also not thought of as a persons primary mode of travel in our area as our winters are 4 months long and you really can't ride safely. So costs are, I think, escalated as it is considered more of a luxury item.

There are few people in my area who would trade in there SUV for a scooter or e-bike. However when the price of gas was approaching $4/gallon everyone was selling scooters, and people where buying them. Now that gas is ~$3 the scooters are all stored away and on craigs list at huge discounts.

Amazing how short sighted people can be.
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Old 05-04-2010, 09:26 AM   #14
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Man, if scooter maintenance is that much, I might as well keep a used honda civic as a second vehicle in FIRE. Maybe it is the Mass. prices, because down south, a timing belt plus 100k maintenance package for DW's accord was around $900 total at an independent shop (probably $1100 at dealer).
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Old 05-04-2010, 10:07 AM   #15
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Man, if scooter maintenance is that much, I might as well keep a used Honda civic as a second vehicle in FIRE. Maybe it is the Mass. prices, because down south, a timing belt plus 100k maintenance package for DW's accord was around $900 total at an independent shop (probably $1100 at dealer).
The reason that I started this tread was to encourage people to add an alternate, lower cost, form of transportation. Replacing auto miles with e-bike miles. Keep your civic and add an e-bike to the equation and you would extend the life of your car and get all the benefits that I mentioned above. Check out the Bionx system made in Canada - very nice! This is just one of many options.

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Old 05-04-2010, 11:08 AM   #16
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The reason that I started this tread was to encourage people to add an alternate, lower cost, form of transportation. Replacing auto miles with e-bike miles. Keep your civic and add an e-bike to the equation and you would extend the life of your car and get all the benefits that I mentioned above. Check out the Bionx system made in Canada - very nice! This is just one of many options.
Yes, I think an e-bike could still be a viable money saving option vs. a second car. But it sounds like scooter maintenance costs may be up there with car maintenance costs.

I'm not worried about reducing miles on my car, since I only put 7,000 miles/yr on it right now, and most of those are commuting miles and business miles for work (which won't happen in ER). Lots of car related maintenance tasks end up being necessary/recommended based on time and not mileage for me.
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Old 05-04-2010, 11:13 AM   #17
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I'd love it if there was a bigger push for friendly bicycle lanes all around. I win-win to get fit, save money and help the environment too. The two biggest drawbacks I see are first, in many areas, there are few if any bicycle lanes and two what do you do if while biking bad weather (such as a downpour hits) except having to wait it out? I see that can add a lot to a commute time if one just wanted to get home from get stuck in the rain.
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Old 05-04-2010, 12:00 PM   #18
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The reason that I started this tread was to encourage people to add an alternate, lower cost, form of transportation.
Maybe try to do this via your own blog?...

If you want to sit out in the elements riding a high-speed electric bike or scooter, arrive at your destination looking like a third-world businessman smelling like diesel exhaust, with the wind in your hair and bugs on your teeth to save a few bucks on gas, please feel free to do so. I'll stick with my comfortable old LBYM truck over the gimmick of the month. It fits my needs, a bike or scooter doesn't.

The problem I have with the thought process regarding these issues is when "encourage" becomes "mandate"... I want to be able to make my own personal transportation decisions, without any "encouragement".
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Old 05-04-2010, 01:30 PM   #19
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I'd love it if there was a bigger push for friendly bicycle lanes all around. I win-win to get fit, save money and help the environment too. The two biggest drawbacks I see are first, in many areas, there are few if any bicycle lanes and two what do you do if while biking bad weather (such as a downpour hits) except having to wait it out? I see that can add a lot to a commute time if one just wanted to get home from get stuck in the rain.
Most roads (at least in the western US) are safe to bicycle on, dedicated bike lane or not. There are almost always safe alternative roads for those that are not. As for rain, even downpours, you just keep riding and change clothes when you get there. I grew up doing paper routes and riding to school in western Oregon. If you waited for the rain to stop you might have to camp out for a while.
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Old 05-04-2010, 02:45 PM   #20
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I think you got seriously ripped off on the scooter maintenance. A quick google search of such services in my hometown turned this up:

Services
We use only Amsoil Synthetic Scooter Motor, and Gear Oils in all Services!






Our recommended preventative maintenance services include:
  • Oil change Service & Inspection $35*
  • Install Surf Rack $20 and up
  • Valve Adjustment $55*
  • Tune up $65*
  • Tire replacement $35 and up*
  • Brakes with fluid flush $45
  • Carburetor cleaning $55
  • Air filter inspection and replacement $25*
  • Transmission gear box oil change $15
  • Drive belt replacement $75*
  • Cooling fan and shroud inspection $10
  • Throttle and brake cable inspection $20
  • Battery and charging system testing $20
  • Electrical issues diagnoses $65 an hour
* includes cost of associated parts

I am not trying to be critical. But I think driving a scooter may be cheaper than indicated on this thread. Also, much of this maintenance is trivial and can be done by oneself (air filter, fluids change, etc) and a lot of the other maintenance is on a more as-needed basis.

Kramer
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