Thursday, March 27, 2014

Petroleum-Free Transport - So, you want to build an electric bike...

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It is spring time. We are getting the rain (pray for more!) and the wind. The trees are budding out. The seasonal birds are arriving. It's a very nice time to be outside. What a great time it would be to have an electric bike to get you around.

My first electric bike was a revelation. It turned my commute to work into a very enjoyable time, a time for creativity and adventure. I had been freed from sitting at lights or racing to fight my way onto the loop. And I found myself taking different paths to work each day. On days when I wanted adventure, I went off-road. On days when I was in a hurry, I would take the faster and straighter roads. I would show up with a smile on my face that would last for hours. And I knew that I could do it all again at the end of the work day. All of this happened on a bike that, by most standards, was a pretty crappy electric bike. It was a 24 volt system with lead-acid batteries, poor brakes, and weak spokes. But it did not matter.

[A sidebar about being middle-aged: (skip this part if it does not apply to you)
The roughest part of being middle-aged is reaching a point where you feel like you are responsible for holding the whole world together. The generations above and below you keep looking to you for guidance and support. Your peers keep going through rough patches. You realize that your physical capabilities are slipping and your mortality becomes a very real thing. It's why we have blood pressure medicine, Prozac, and Viagra. It's why we come to think of golf as a sport. That first electric bike was for me 25 minutes per day when all of that disappeared and all the weight lifted, and I felt free.]

A few days ago, I ran across an article by Spinningmagnets, one of my favorite contributors to the Endless-Sphere electric bike forums. In the article, he outlines some of the more popular and functional kits for converting a standard bike to an electric bike. If you have any interest in owning an electric bike, this article will help you make that transition with a lot less trial and error.

Excellent article about available kits from mild to terrifying
(Now, if I can just figure out how to afford the 750W Bafang crank-drive setup...)

May you know a bit of freedom this spring!