Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Getting Older, Listening to Your Doctor, Climate Change, and Harvey

I had another birthday this week. I haven't been too excited, but it's not the birthday. It's the flooding.

No, my house is not flooding. Yes, I live in Texas, but not anywhere near the coast. Here in Lubbock we've been having the wettest and mildest August I ever remember. We are looking downright tropical. It's raining a lot in our desert. Our morning temps right now are in the high 50's and the days are hardly hitting ninety. Everything is green and there are mushrooms everywhere. This is not normal. This is not Lubbock.

Of course, Hurricane Harvey is not normal either. Or at least it wasn't in the past.

Yes, tropical storms and hurricanes are normal phenomena, but not with this intensity. The same can be said for droughts. We are still having the weather we've always had, it's just massively more intense.

I  listened to my work colleagues yesterday asking how anyone could know about or prepare for Harvey, but scientists have been warning us strongly for a decade now that this will become normal. It's pretty simple - if you over-indulge, you start paying for it somewhere. We have been gluttons for carbon and we are paying for it.

Our planet is suffering from the same types of things that we humans suffer from. If you consume too much sugar, or drink too much alcohol, or inhale too much smoke, symptoms will start to show.

So the next time a scientist tells you that we need to cut back on plastic and gasoline and coal, remember that it's no different than your doctor telling you that you need to cut back on calories and carbs and salt.

May we start listening to people who know what's good for us, and may our planet, our kids, and all the creatures we love thrive.

Remember those suffering from Harvey in your prayers and your actions. We are at our best when our hearts and our hands are serving others.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Fossil Free Friday: Electric Honda Cubs [Updated for the DIY Crowd]

[Updates can be found in light blue at the bottom of the page.]
Here at Mesquite Hugger, our favorite electric vehicles are the ones that used to run on gasoline. Scooters, cars, trucks, boats...they're all welcome here. If the budget is low and the creativity is high, well, that just makes them better. So, today, let's talk about conversions of the most-produced gas burner of all time - the Honda Cub. Yep, the humble little Honda that has trod roads all over the planet is none too sexy, but it has been an amazing success and a durable workhorse.

The Off-Road Version CT90
Groovy, baby! (Be sure to check out the rare cafe racer version at the top of the ad.)

And lately, it's also been a very cool platform for a number of electric conversions. Even Honda has gotten into it and has been been showing off an electric version they will apparently produce:
AutoEvolution: Honda E-Cub Concept

The electric Honda E-Cub is cool and sleek and all kinds of good stuff from the company that  brought the Cub to us in the first place. And, to keep me from burning any gasoline, I'd definitely ride it (and I'm sure I'd enjoy the ride), but it sure doesn't call to me on a deeper level. (Maybe that's a good thing.)

But there are some conversions out there that do light a little fire. Recently, a conversion from Shanghai Customs has been making the eco-news rounds. It's very minimalist flat-tracker cool. Check it out:

So clean and simple - that big rear hub is the electric motor.
The gauge cluster is now a smart phone.

The old petrol tank is now the battery pack

When I first saw the Shanghai bike, I thought it was the Australian Deus Electric Cub showbike that was making the rounds a few years ago. When the Deus first appeared I did a lot of drooling and dreaming. Sure, I'd want a substantially puffier seat, but, man, that thing is cool!

Look, Ma - no rear shocks!

Okay, I hear a few of you grumbling about living in the real world and all that good stuff, so here are a few more Cub and CT conversions from They both give a better view of what us down-to-earth types might build if we found ourselves with a Cub, a hacksaw, and a dream. (I think these are pretty cool too!)

In case you are now feeling inspired, finding a hub motor for your build shouldn't be too hard...
...and somewhere near you there is a sad little Honda Cub or CT sitting in the weeds just waiting for an ambitious tinkerer like you to jump in:
[Updated area 8-28-2017]
I should've done a little more research. For those of you who (like me) really, really want to build your own E-Cub, Inside EVs posted an article about the E-Cub last week explaining that Shanghai Customs will be starting a Kickstarter campaign to sell you an E-Cub electrification kit which contains a motor, a controller, wiring, a battery pack, and a custom-made swingarm. If you've never tried your own conversion project, trust me, this would be an awesome way to start your project! More details in the link below the IEVs logo:

May you get your motor running, and may it be fueled by wind and sunlight and electrons!
PS. Here're a few more things to inspire your electro-conversion dreams:

A few more electrics from Shanghai Customs

Another take on the Cub from the EmpiDog blog

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fossil Free Friday - Cheap(er) Electric Vehicles on Lubbock Craigslist today

So you find yourself sitting in Lubbock (or your town) dreaming of carbon-free transport, but you're not quite ready to drop big money for a new electric car. What are you gonna do? One possibility is to head to Craigslist to do a keyword search - in this case, we'll try ELECTRIC.
You never know what'll pop up!
First on the list - a 250-watt/$500 e-bike

Next up, a 1000-watt/$760 Roadmaster e-bike with GPS. Hmmm.

Then we have a Gem - more than a golf cart, less than a car...

The most tempting thing (for this Mesquite Hugger) is a real-deal GeoOrbital Wheel.
Midland is about two hours south of here and that is some pretty immediate gratification at $800. If you have any interest in owning an electric bike, this one is worth some investigation. If it were the 26" version, I'd be extremely tempted. Lots more detail below:

The GeoOrbital Website - check it out!

This is super-tempting for a DIY-wannabe like me. It's like popping open a Lego box and dreaming of the possibilities - I'd want to build an electric scooter, an electric motorcycle, and a solar carport/charging station.

And here's the wildcard in the bunch - great specifications and price, but who's heard of Yadea?
There's no mention of battery type, so I figure it's got heavy and short-lived lead-acid batteries rather than one of the lithium-based battery packs. More info below:

So, there's your Fossil-Free Friday search for today. If your dream EV is not listed here, try next week or try other nearby towns - whatever it takes to stop burning those nasty carbon-based fuels. May your search be fruitful, inspirational, and occasionally laughable!
PS. teaser: I did get to ride a GenZe 2.0, see several Chevy Bolts, and sit on a Zero DS this week. More info to come.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Rad Wagon or Euro Wagon? Another Saturday Ramble

The post is colored bittersweet green. It's because I have green-car envy.

It doesn't help that I keep parking the Vespa at work, looking around, and noticing all kinds of green cars parked around me. (Woohoo! More green cars around!)

Since the truck broke down (and went away), I've been two-wheeling it on the scooter and the bicycle. The electric bike broke down too. And I've been fighting bronchitis. So, it's mostly been scootering and catching rides.

I'm missing having weather protection, and I'm missing being able to haul stuff about. So, even worse than usual, I've been dreaming about a new ride.

Look what popped up on Craigslist this week:

How that for some serious Euro-Dork street cred?

I have a weakness for wagons - they make sense to me and it's a little easier to dream that I'm buzzing about in a space shuttle. And this one could easily shuttle my people about and haul a kayak and dogs and bikes and all kinds of groovy stuff. It could even haul the little guy to school in all weather. But this one has some serious drawbacks - it's old, it'd be expensive to maintain/register/operate, and it's definitely not green.

(Also, the good doctor's latest climate study hit the presses this week, and let me tell you, we need to be taking green action now - not later.)

The other wagon in the same price range (not on Craigslist) is the $1599 (with free shipping) RadWagon electric cargo bike. Instead of a space shuttle, this one'd help me feel like I was buzzing through the trees of Endor on a speeder bike. And it'd haul many of the same things (less conveniently and less far). It'd even take the little guy to school - weather permitting. And it would be very green (and orange) and would be super cheap to maintain, (not) register, and operate. Weather protection, though, is sold separately.

And both are a little beyond this lower-middle class income at this point. So, it looks like it's time to fix the electric bike, tackle a DIY cargo bike frame, and keep pinching the pennies.

But it sure is fun to dream about all these sexy wagons cruising about.

May we find greener ways (both big and small) and make healthier choices, no matter how tough.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Electric Euro Cycles We Can't Have #4: Super SoCo

Yep, this electric cycle popped up on the internet this week. It was a bit of a surprise, but not really. I've been waiting for somebody to start building this bike - it just makes too much sense. You take a fairly simple frame, put the electrical components and battery in the center of the frame, and use a hub motor in the rear wheel. It's the same concept as the Motorman Cycle from last week's post, but on a larger scale. No chain. No gears. No problem.
I ran across the Super Soco in a techradar article. It's intended to be an urban commuter, not a hardcore sportbike. Really, its closest competitors will be scooters, not motorcycles. Let's say that you're that person who loves the idea of a scooter but does not love the idea of being seen on a scooter - the Super Soco could be your machine.

60 volt, 1200 watt Bosch powertrain - nice!
Ready for the entire European market - hmm...

Pretty simple - I like it!

You can find the owners manual on their site

Yep, it's another of those green vehicles you just can't get over here.
But not being able to buy a Soco may be okay. You see, the Super Soco, while pretty darn cool, doesn't make much financial sense over her. Looking at conversion rates (and ignoring import taxes) this bike would cost around $3000 here in the states. And it would need to be registered and insured. And most states (like Texas) would require a motorcycle operators license to ride it. Pretty soon this little eco-friendly money saver would cost a fair amount of cash but would barely outperform most electric bikes. It is limited to 30mph. Here is John Porter's conclusion in the techradar article:
While this particular patch of grass may look a little greener, I'd rather have a Karmic Koben S e-bike or something similar (that we can have over here). But then again, if the Soco were a 50mph cycle, I might have to reconsider.
May your quest for green transportation be a joyful one, regardless of which side of the Atlantic you find yourself on.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Fossil Free Friday: 6 Compact Cargo Bikes

Since getting to sit astride a Yuba Mundo, I keep looking toward smaller cargo bikes. That thing was huge!

So I take notice every time a new one pops up. Which happened this week. The Tern GSD is making the e-bike rounds, and it's a very cool bike, but they haven't posted any prices yet and it may be a little while before we can get one over here. So I got to thinking about what is available over here...

Ariel builds some pretty nice bikes and they don't skimp on the parts: Tektro hydraulic disc brakes, Samsung battery pack, and Shimano Altus running gear. The C-Class can be had as a 250 watt or a 500 watt and can run up to 30mph. There's a lot to like. Prices start at $2099 and don't go up much.


In a world of mass production, the CycleTrucks stand apart as handmade works of very useful bike art. They build the Beavertail, the S.U.B. (sport utility bike), and some racks and custom work. Prices start around $1300 and that seems a bargain for what you are getting. (And they can fly!)

Tern GSD

Tern is a Taiwan-based manufacturer of some pretty nifty folding bikes, and they have just launched a new cargo bike (that does not fold but is also pretty nifty). It's not much (if any) bigger than a standard bicycle but it has cargo capacity like the big boys. It also has a Bosch mid-drive motor system that will help tern the hills into childsplay. I am excited to see more details on this one.

ExtraCycle Cargo Node

Speaking of Tern, the Cargo Node is what happens when you team the Tern builders up with the Xtracycle builders. If you don't know XtraCycle, be sure to check out the EdgeRunner, the Leap, and the FreeRadical - all very cool. The Cargo Node folds, it hauls (up to 350 pounds), and it's small enough to be the junk in your trunk! The non-electric Cargo Node starts at $1800.

Bike Friday Haul-A-Day

Much like the Tern GSD, the Haul-A-Day is a non-folding cargo bike from a folding-bike company, but it does have some built-in shrinkability. The non-electric starts at $1250 - BionX electric system can be added. The Haul-A-Day can weigh as little as 33 pounds. Bike Friday is based in Oregon and offers lots of options and custom possibilities. Cool stuff!

Juiced Cargo Bikes

I keep going back to the Juiced bikes. If you want to ride a long distance on a proven hauler, check out the U500. It's available with three different battery packs with ranges from 40 miles to over 100 miles. The U500 has a lot of higher end components and 500 watts of power. The U350 is a stripped down version that'll still make a great two-wheeled truck for $500 less. [Juiced U350 ($1499) and U500 ($1999) 100+ mile version $3199!] Bargain hunters, be sure to check out the refurb page on the Juiced website. There are some cargo bike bargains lurking there.

Republic Bikes Kids Cargo

Hey, it's $349 and too cool for words. What else could you want!
May you haul your stuff around without burning gas and may you not need an acre to park your hauler.