Bike of the Week: Motorized 80’s Kuwahara MTB

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This week’s bike belongs to a patron who came into Bikeworks North looking for a suspension fork for his motorized Kuwahara.

Normally, I’m not much of a fan of gasoline powered bicycles, but this one is such a tidy conversion that I had to take a picture. Also, the bicycle is a rather nice early 80’s Kuwahara. This winter I tuned up a very similar for sale at the shop, and if it had been a little bigger I’d have bought it for myself.

In the past, I’ve had  a sort of knee-jerk, negative reaction to motorized bicycles of all sorts.    This attitude was exacerbated by often having to patiently explain to  family members and acquaintances that I really DO like riding my bicycle to work and that getting a motorized one would definitely reduce the amount of exercise I was getting. Gasoline powered bikes, in particular are also loud, exhaust producing, and require trips to the gas station.

I recent years, however, I have come to appreciate the utility of the new generation of electric bikes. While I don’t have any plans to get one for myself any time soon, I can see how they are useful for many people. In particular, they let a person make commuting trips of longer distances than they would normally be capable of. My instructor in a solar energy course used his in this way: riding his e-bike he was able to greatly cut down on the number of days he commuted using his truck. He also measured the energy required to charge the battery and determined that he was only paying 12 cents a day to use the bike. That’s a heck of a savings over the price of gasoline for a truck.

Another natural application is in cargo bikes. Adding an electric motor gives a cyclist the option of hauling heavier loads for longer distances. There are a number of electric cargo bikes on the market. At a local bike shop I was recently looking at a Trek Transport Plus, a slick looking machine. The nearly $3000 price tag puts it somewhat out of my reach at this time but I could imagine myself cobbling together a DIY version, as our local RavingBikeFiend did. However, in the near future I already have plenty of bike projects lined up to keep me busy.

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6 thoughts on “Bike of the Week: Motorized 80’s Kuwahara MTB

  1. I can see why people will add a small gasoline engine to a bicycle… 250mpg is pretty attractive and if one needed power assist in the winter it is superior to electric assisted bicycles which experience issues at low temperatures. I have yet to really exploit my Extrabike although fwd in the winter is awesome… I need to replace a bad cell in my battery and until then will ride it without the kit which is something I have been doing for five years without issues.

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    • Oh, sure, there are still advantages to the gas powered bikes. For me, however, I’d never be able to tolerate the stench and most especially the noise that comes with gas motors. I’ve long been a fan of muscle power, be it with bikes, lawnmowers or boats. When I still lived at home in Newfoundland, my Dad was always perplexed that I preferred rowing around the river instead of using his outboard motor.

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      • I’m with you on the noise, but I can really see how electric assist would be handy on a kid-hauler or in a hilly environment. I noticed when I visited Japan that electric assist seems to come standard on the newer mamachari.

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      • Yes, a good point. An electric assist would have been handy for me any number of times hauling my kids and groceries up out of the river valley.

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