Friday, December 8, 2017

Bikes and Ebikes

I put together this electric bike about a year ago. At the time, I lived on a mountain about seven miles from downtown. I didn't have the energy to bike into town often, and I seldom rode in the car: I had no driver's license, and I am somewhat sensitive to the dirty/dusty interior of cars. As a result, I usually stayed within a mile or two from home and was somewhat isolated from the usual 21st century bustle.

So I decided to get my driver's license, with the intention of riding around a 49cc scooter. The scooter would make it much easier to get in and out of town. I took the written exam to get my permit. I started to practice driving a car for essentially the first time in my life, and I didn't enjoy it at all. I understand this is a common experience for people who don't start driving until they are older.

To boot, a car was not my vehicle of teenage liberation as it is for many people. I found freedom when I was about 12 on my sister's ruby-colored 650b road bike, which was a spritely little sled:

There were many other reasons the idea of getting around on a scooter became sour, but eventually:

I saw the guts of this bike on craigslist for $100. My dad bought the Bionx conversion a few years prior for his Catrike, which was sitting unused in the garage. The rack, lights, and panniers were just sitting around too.

While nowhere near as powerful as a scooter, it was powerful enough to enable me to get into town a couple times a week. I basically haven't touched the car or the scooter since that bike was built. I could carry anything I wanted on it, my extremities didn't get numb in the cold, I wasn't legally required to wear a massive helmet which fogged up constantly, and best of all I could easily afford it!

A year passed, and I moved to the downtown area with my girlfriend. She, who also doesn't have a car, needed to get to school and work every day. My transportation needs were greatly reduced at this point since I now basically lived at my destinations. I let her borrow the electric bike a few times, but after about two weeks it was gone all the time. I had just built a bike for myself, too:

I didn't expect to be riding it a whole lot, but I did. The generator lighting has been really nice. It's a fast bike though, and I began to miss the electric bike for carrying my tools and grocery getting.

So I built myself a new one! It was somewhat complex. I had to machine an axle torque arm for the front, and many parts required modification. Here it is carrying my tools to fix some kitchen equipment:

It has an Ezee geared front hub, Ezee controller, Hailong DT battery, and f/r lights powered by the main battery. I got all the ebike parts from Grin Tech (, who have incredible customer service.

The front hub motor and rear-mounted battery make it much more balanced than the bionx bike. It also actually fits my spindly self. Below you can see the wooden adapter I made to mount the battery atop the rear rack (see below).

I really like the handlebars. The sweeping bars and fork gave it a flying-ace aesthetic to me, so I put a snoopy sticker on the battery.

Here is the rack adapter made of hard maple. I made a similar part not long ago using a table saw and drill press in a proper shop, whereas this part I made quietly in my apartment mostly using hand tools. I used the taig lathe to mill the slots. I think the method was symbolic of the bike: practical, steady, quiet, and affordable.

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