Monday, 10 May 2010

Making an electric cycle using a conversion kit

With one rechargeable electric bike already in our family, we have been thinking about purchasing a second one---this one for me.

Since electric bikes require a fairly large cash outlay, we are considering the possibility of converting my old pedal type bike into an electric bike rather than purchasing a regular one.

I like my old bike a lot. The problem is that my old legs rebel after a mile or two and I must admit that seeing my husband sail along on his electric powered one has made me a bit envious.

He assures me that it would be no problem at all to convert my old bike and, after searching for online information on the subject, I think he is probably right. He could do it-if he would. We have a table at one end of the living room that holds a model airplane he has been working (?) on for at least 3 years. The truth is that I haven't actually seen him touch it for the last 6 months, and maybe for even longer than that. How would I know that he wouldn't take my old bike apart and leave it that way for the next 3 years? Not a happy thought.

According to my research, the conversion kits, which run about ¾ the cost of the lowest priced electric bikes, are so simple a child could install them. If what I read about them was true, if the conversion project on my old bike got stalled, even a mechanically inept person like me should be able to finish the job. And, as a last resort, I have a 16-year-old grandson, but he is so busy with sports, I would probably have to put my name on a waiting list.

After checking out several kits, I found that the basic components provided by most of them were"

1. A motor wheel. (Most kits offered a number of wheel sizes to choose from.)
2. A battery. (Some of the kits required that you buy the battery separately from the kit.
3. A battery mount and cables.
4. A battery charger.
5. A console.

Most of the items were pretty self-explanatory, except for the last one, and I was pretty sure that would be explained in the manual, or that I would be able to get at least an explanation, if not a helping hand from my husband---who by that time would probably have decided that half-built model airplane in the living room suddenly needed his urgent attention.

Actually, I love my old bike. It has coaster brakes that don't try to toss me over the handlebars when I make a sudden stop like hand brakes do. (Don't try to tell me differently-I have the scars to prove it.) The old bike has a speedometer that is almost ready to turn over to 5000 miles. Would I have to take that off? Could my old bike be restored to its original state if I didn't like the conversion? Would I find using battery power so enjoyable that I would never pedal at all any more, losing the health benefits of riding a bicycle in the first place?

So many questions. I don't know anyone personally who has done an electric bike conversion on their old bike. I would like to talk to someone who has. If any of my readers have tried it, comments at the end of this article would be welcome.

In the meantime, maybe I'll head out to zoom around the neighborhood on my husband's electric bike for a while just to see if I can get used to the feel of it.

Jeanne Gibson writes from her home in Springfield, OR. Check out her Rechargeable Electric Bikes blog to learn more about her family's experience with electric bikes.

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