Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Electric Bike For The Petite (and up!)

As some of ya'll might know I don't drive a car for medical reasons (lame seizures!) but love to ride my bike the 'cajun knuckle' in search of some freedom. Only problem is my health doesn't really lend to making long distance trips up steep hills here in the mountains... usually I can make it to the Big Sandy Mush Community Center and back for some WWF style wrestling (about 3 miles round trip) and I am exhausted! I have saved up money to buy a riding donkey, but will have to be getting a new place to live where I can put it first... (that would be one eco friendly ride-No gas just grass!)
During the limbo period of not being mobile my mom kindly offered to purchase an electric bike she saw in the Real Goods catalog as a super thoughtful and generous holiday gift!!! WOO-hooo! (((My lucky month!))) I contacted Real Goods right away but found out the bike they sell called the Urban Mover was not suitable for my size or needs.
After scouring the interwebs I learned that not all electric bikes are created equal- just like a scooter, car or regular bike each one has a specific purpose, terrain and size person it is made to fit. I decided to write several companies and find out what electric bike could handle a steep ride and small person. Only one company wrote me back so far this week (if others finally do I will post it here in the comments section.)

"My mom has offered to buy me an electric bike for the holidays, but I don't know much about them.
My question would be this:::
What kind of electric bike would i need to get to travel in the mountains. I would not be taking it off road much (possibly will have to get down a gravel driveway to get to a road) - but the hills here are intense and steep! I live in the Smokey Mountains of North Carolina.
Also I am tiny, about 5 ft 3inches tall and 100 pounds, so i want to make sure the model bike i choose isn't too huge for me.

Thanks so much for ya'lls help!
Leslie "

"Hi Leslie,
We have a couple of bikes that will do the job. Our best hill climber is the Bionx kit. We install this on the Montague/Swiss folding mountain bikes but they might be too large for you (5"4" to 6'4"). If you have a mountain bike that fits you, it isn't hard to install at Bionx kit on it.
However, being tiny is a plus when it comes to electric bikes. You will go faster and further than larger folks. I think a good option would be the Ecobike Vitavio EBFOLD. This is a smaller bike but it has a pretty beefy motor. The tires should handle gravel fine. If not, the tires are standard 20" so you could put some knobbys on it. The smaller wheels also give you better tourqe and hill climbing power, plus at 100 pounds, you will fly up the hills.
Electric Cyclery
949 715 2345"

If any of my readers out there know anything about electric bikes, I really would love to hear some thoughts, reviews, and see some links to more info about them. Everything I have read makes them sound like a dream come true for anyone who has transportation limitations like I do, to people who want to zoom past morning traffic, don't wanna pump gas (that's you MCS'ers), and to those who simply want a more environmentally friendly set of wheels. Oh, and all ya' naughty peeps who got DUI's and got your license to drive taken away... an electric bike might be the answer for all of us... that is if you can't have a donkey. :)



Blair said...

LOVE to see that you're getting into bikes ... :-)

Anonymous said...

Check out the Pedego Umbrella bikes at The 16" model would be perfect for your needs. It has 6 speeds, a 36 volt lithium battery and a 350 watt motor. For someone your size, it will have no problems going up hills.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Blair -
Do ya have any friends who ride electric ones? I know you have no prob taking on long long trips just pedaling away! I have loved bikes since I had my pink tire dirt bike that made pink skid marks on my mom's sidewalk. :)

Anonymous -
Great info! Those bikes are really cool :) Thanks for taking the time to post the stats and link.

***For those interested***
Here is a direct link the the Umbrella bikes:::
And here is a description:
"Product Details:
Get into the fold with this unique, one button, click and fold electric bike that is perfect for commuters, campers and city folks who have limited space but are looking for something that is fun, easy to ride and that will easily store in a closet or tuck into the trunk of a car. Speed: 16-18 miles per hour for about 20 miles."

Price wise it is very similar to the one recommended by Kevin of Green Speed.

Blair said...

Hi Leslie, no .. no 'electric' friends .. will keep my ears peeled though. The new trend up here is mopeds .. cute office girls buzzing down the city streets dressed to the nines and wearing a helmet of course ... i know helmets look dorky, but we gotta wear them !! Glad to see you wearing one on your trips with the knuckle. I still think you'd be surprised how quickly your body would positively respond to 'manual' riding .. with maybe a road bike with slightly knobby tires .. maybe a cyclocross bike !!! pedal on .. xo .. B.

Anonymous said...

OK...I have an idea to solve two of your problems.....

Find a bike that can be fueled by Humanure......


Lou Cheese said...

I don't know much about electric bikes, but the man who replied to you was basically right about the physics of it all.

Smaller tires do have more torque, they also get up to speed faster than a larger tire. That's why all the small economy cars with tiny engines, like the discontinued Toyota Echo, had smaller tires. The engine couldn't get to 55 MPH fast enough with regular sized tires and all the drivers would get rear-ended on the entrance ramp of a highway if they had them, but put smaller tires on the weak-engined cars and problem solved. The disadvantage is the smaller tire size will limit top speed.

You don't want to put a bigger tire on the bike because it will draw too much power from the engine, which will reduce your range. Smaller wheels usually hit the bumps a little harder due to the shape of the wheel, it will hit an object more head-on where a larger wheel has a better chance of rolling over something.

Depending on how loose or wet your gravel is, you probably won't need knobby tires. And if it's loose enough that you'll think you'll need knobby tires, the knobby tires won't really do much. They help the driver keep control on loose terrain, like when recreational mountain biking, but they aren't going to pull you out of a hole or keep you from getting stuck in something muddy. Large 4 wheel drive vehicles use the knobbies to clear the mud from underneath the tires, but an elctric bike won't have the power for that. Both knobby tires and fatter wider tires will shorten the range of the bike because they have more rolling resistance than regular tires. Knobby tires give a rougher ride on pavement, wider tires a smoother ride.

The reason why the electric bike company uses the montague is probably the light weight. They're what the paratroopers use.

I don't ride my bikes anymore because of the fibromyalgia pain and because Provigil causes my feet to fall asleep when riding. When I did ride, as I rule I wouldn't ride on the highways because of everybody texting and potentially running me over. You may not have the option of avoiding the highways so make yourself visible by getting a Planet Bike Superflash. It's the best bike safety light for the money. It's not a blinking red light, it's a multi-bulb strobe that's programed to flash in a certain order and it's easily seen and attention grabbing, even in broad daylight. Many bike riders who go on the highways also get a helmet cam to record road rage drivers, which happens surprisingly often. Helmet cams are fairly cheap now.

I used to know a guy with a Whizzer who was looking to sell it. They are gas powered bikes on a classic Schwinn frame. They are collector's items and very expensive, but they can't be beat in terms of style. Plus, this particular Whizzer was modified by a Hell's Angel and it can go over 45 MPH, so you wouldn't have any problem getting up a hill. And in some states they are classified separately from motorcycles and don't need a license to operate it. You'll probably want to see how NC classifies an electric bike, due to it having a motor it may require a license.

Panne said...

all the folks in NC drive "DUI choppers", which is any gas scooter with signals and lights under 50cc. no license required. in your case this won't work due to gasoline.

there are many electric assist motor companies that sell kits to add to most bikes. the problem that exists is finding the kit with the right type of battery pack. different types of batteries require different charging methods. most advanced batteries that aren't lead require you to fully discharge the battery before recharging to prevent it from developing a memory, which will shorten that range and life of the battery. find out what a replacement battery costs.

there is also another thing to consider if you're wanting to be fully mobile. snow and ice. this easy to build custom would solve that issue>

the hammerhead design can be built with different types of bikes and you can also mix and match tire sizes as long as the geometry is kept close to originals. what often looks cool can be a total pain to ride.

i'll call my friend that owns Recycled Bicycle in Lafayette and see what he'll recommend as far as engine kits go.

to check out some of my pieced together rat bikes>


Dear Leslie,
Because of your size I would suggest our 36" folding bike, model 636. Cost is $1275 plus $50 shipping.

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

I am sure someone somewhere (most likely a genius hippy) is working on that.

Lou Cheese-
Thanks for explaining all that so clearly, because just yesterday I was wondering why the bike wheels on the powerful uphill bikes were so small! Limiting speed does not bother me because speed is one of the problems I have with riding in a car - the faster the more likely i have a seizure or get extremely car sick... slow is good. Plus when ya go slow, you end up seeing so much more detail around and that is something I really enjoy about life.
Thanks for letting me know about the tires also, so that I dont spend money and confusion on changing them without really needing to. Most likely the amount of gravel I would have to go over would be not too much and I can always push the bike down anywho if it's wet or dangerous.
I will certainly be getting the superflash light too - I do not want to be hit by a redneck out here in a big truck- ya know how they like to aim at small things, like possums! lol
BTW- I do have a license to drive still, so luckily I wont have to worry about being a registered driver. I read that if you are on a bike and under 20mph you dont count as a "driver" (over 20 mph i think means you are now a scooter/motorcycle)... but it may not be true in every state.
I feel bad that you can't ride your bikes right now, I hope you can get off that medicine after not too long and ride again! You have more bikes then anyone I ever knew... and all of them so cool.

I considered a kit but havent been into them yet for a few reasons:
1. I am not so mechanical in putting together things of that sort.
2. The bike i own (the cajun knuckle) seems like maybe it's not just my size, maybe it's for someone smaller then me, a tween perhaps.
.... but I should probably look more into them.
I am not too concerned with style or how they look - being that I have not been able to drive regularly for over 3 years now, I could give sh*t what my ride looks like when I arrive! ha Those hammerhead bikes rock out - it made me think about how it would be cool to haul some thrift store finds or groceries on the bike. A small rack is a major bonus when it's your main form of transport.
OH- and your Rat Bikes are AWESOME! I love the funky pieced together style and the seats! If I lived in the flatlands I would so be riding a girly dirt bike with white or pink tires.

NOTE: would it not be cool if someone made a electric bike replica of Pee Wee Herman's Bike in his Big Adventure!!??!

Wild Canary said...

Leslie, I have been having mind fog lately but your discussion about electric bikes caught my attention and I started straining my brain. Awhile ago I saw an ad for an infinity electric mountain bike. It came in camo and other colors and they were advertising to hunters...quiet, goes over rocks, through creeks and up mountains, powerful. It suggested that it was so quiet it could sneak up on game (like deer and turkeys and stuff) It sounded just like what I needed, as I have some of the same interests as well as problems as you do...the only was 15,000 dollars...I have generous friends and family, but so far no one said they would by that for me and I don't sell my goat milk...egg money won't cut it...I will try to find the site, but google it, maybe you will find it faster...I still think your donkey is a good wethers are supposed to be able to haul me around, too, but I just don't have the confidence yet, though we play and ride a little now and is fun!

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

Kurt's info followed the price and type of bike trend as the rest of the gang ... folding bike, with small tires, for small people, to get up a hill under $2,000.

Wild Canary-
Girl! I think that is about $13,000 ova' the price range my mom was thinking of! ha ha...I could build a tiny house for that much money. :)
but it is so tempting to think about having a camouflage bike, in fact that gives me ideas about how I can decorate my electric bike for fun - maybe using colored tape? There is a better chance no one will steal it if it looks crazzzzzy. ;)


(here is another email I got in response to my note...wish they had given a little info!)


Thank you for contacting us. We have found that offering service over the phone is a much better experience. You can call us for assistance on our toll free line: (877) 284-2453 - select option 3 or directly to (818) 435-0430 during our normal business hours (Monday-Friday 8am-12pm and 1pm-4pm PST). If you would prefer for us to contact you, please provide a phone number, we will be glad to contact you. We appreciate your understanding and look forward to assisting you.

Thank you,

James Pineda

Currie Tech. Internet Sales

Office#: 818-435-0430

Toll Free: 877-284-BIKE (2453)

Mon-Fri 8am to 4pm (PST)

Leslie wears organic clothing and plays in dirt said...

12 " Umbrella Bike Specs (REAL)

Motor Hub Motor on Rear wheel
Power 250 Watt
Gears & Speeds Single Speed
Batteries Lightweight Lithium in a Removable Pack
Shifter Shimano SIS Index® Shifter
Charger Smart Charger Included
Amps 10 AMP Hour
Volts 36 Volt
Tires 12.5" x 2.25" Street Tires
Speed 10-12 MPH using motor power Only
Distance 15 - 30 miles per charge(depending on rider weight & terrain)
Throttle Type Twist Throttle Variable Speed Control
Frame Type Carbon Steel Alloy
Handlebars Lowers for Storage
Braking System Front V-Brakes - Rear Drum
Drive System Rear Hub Motor (Motor is in rear wheel)
Measurements Folded -Wheel to Wheel -25" W-13" H-34"
Seat Adjustable Seat Height 27" to 33"
Bell Standard
Battery Indicator On Handlebars
Warrenty 1 Year
Weight 42 Pounds
36Volt, Lithium Powered Folding Bike
Frame: Aluminum alloy, folding
Handle Bar: Aluminum alloy, folding
Wheel Size: 20 inch
Derailleur: SHIMANO 6 speed
Motor: 350w geared, brushless
Brakes: Front & rear V
Working Style: Pedal assist & throttle control
Battery: 36V/10ah Lithium
Charging Time: 6-8 hrs.
Range: 21-24 miles
Speed: Up to 14 mph
Weight: 49lb. plus 9 lb. battery
The EBFOLD290 folding electric bike
Size Fits riders from 5' to 6'5"
Folded Size 35"x17"x29"
Frame Aluminium Alloy 6061/T6 Giant
Brakes SRAM Avid V-Brake
Pedals Nylon dual-compound folding pedal
Shifters REVO twist shifters
Derailluer Shimano Tourney
Rims / Tires 20 inch double walled / Kenda K-Sheild 1.75" Thorn-Resistant
Motor 290 Watt (600 Peak), Brushless, geared, rear hub direct drive
Riding Modes Pedal, Pedal Assist or Throttle Only
Handlebar Steel with 2" rise
Stem ZOOM with adjustable rise
Saddle Cionilli Velo
Seat Post suspension shock seatpost
Battery 36V 8Ah lithium ion, Li-MnO, 8.4 lbs
Extras Front and rear full wrap fenders, front and rear lights, cargo rack, elastic rack straps and kickstand. 36 volt lithium batteries for a range of up to 20 miles at speeds up to 18 mph. Ecobikes use a Zero-Smart-Start™ twist throttle, giving instant power from a stand still.

javieth said...

Electric vehicles is a great alternative specially to save money and don´t waste a lot of money in fuel. Added to this help the evironment to keep it clean. I started in
costa rica investment opportunities
and i like the idea because it a country without too much pollution.

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