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.