Author Topic: Motor Bicycling?  (Read 8890 times)

dancedancekj

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Motor Bicycling?
« on: March 15, 2012, 12:49:17 AM »
As much as MMM has covered biking, I recently stumbled across the idea of the moped/motorized bicycle.

http://motorbicycling.com/

This looks pretty cool to me (the DIY nerd in me is freaking out) and while not as totally Mustachian as regular man-powered biking, it would still be better than a car in terms of maintenance, fuel consumption, and money. Kind of a compromise between the two (although heavily towards the biking side IMO).

Do any of you fellow Mustachians have any previous experiences with them? Thoughts?

Matt K

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 06:48:40 AM »
The engines used in these are usually small two stroke engines with no emissions controls (and very often no sound control either). I used to live in a neighbourhood that had more than its fair share of them. They were loud and smelled (both results of using old chainsaw engines). I seriously question the safety of them, as many use the crappy thirty year old caliper (or worse, coaster) brakes that originally came on the donor bikes.

So, I'm not a fan. The one redeeming feature of them in my old area of town was that the riders were fairly responsible on them. They didn't blow red lights, and they stayed to the right of their lanes. This is in stark contrast to the local E-Bike population who do their best to imitated the driving habits of 12 year olds ...

I'm of the opinion that if you want a petrol powered vehicle, just get a four-stroke 50cc scooter. You use a similar amount of gasoline (100+ mpg). The vehicle is designed to operate at those speeds safely (tires, suspension, and brakes are up to task). And the exhause is much cleaner (having to go through a catalytic converter on newer bikes). They are also really easy too wrench on and maintain. They are after all designed to be sold primarily in asia where first rate repair facilities will be few and far between. If it can't be repaired with a simple set of tools, it won't be repaired.

Here's an interesting ride report of two people riding 125cc scooters around the world:
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=716979

CptPoo

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 11:25:07 AM »
I second the 50cc Moped.

I bought my first one last June for about $610 delivered, and have put about 2,000 miles on it since I purchased it. I estimate that I save the cost of the scooter about every 1,400 -1,500 miles vs. driving my car. Since last June, i figured up that I have saved somewhere around $200 on gas alone. It gets about 100 mpg which means that I have to fill up my 2 gallon gas can about once a month.

The cheap Chinese scooters are exactly that, cheap. But if you have the ability to learn some basic maintenance, they are a breeze to take care of. So far I have only spent about $100 maintaining my moped, and that includes replacing some parts as well as regular oil changes. Most of the Chinese scooters are based off the same design and it is pretty easy to find parts online.

On top of that, in most states you do not need a special license or insurance. The only thing my city requires is a $30 registration sticker, but most places don't even require that.

My wife and I have decided to use our tax return this year to buy a second moped and just leave the car at home all summer except when we go out of town. I am planning to have saved most of the cost of this new moped by the end of this summer. She doesn't like to ride in the cold, but I was able to ride my moped all winter just by getting some warm clothes and bundling up.

I would recommend the moped over a bike modification for the sole reason of safety issues. Most bikes are not designed to handle the kind of speed and power you will get from one of those engines. Not to mention that it will most likely be illegal to operate without lights. With a moped, you can feel more comfortable knowing that it is designed to go faster (mine will go about 45 on flat ground with no wind,) and you have the added benefit of having all of the necessary lights.

HumanAfterAll

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 05:45:39 PM »
2-strokes are terrible! 

I built an electric commuter bicycle for my 22 mile one-way commute. 

It goes 30-35mph for about an hour with the battery I built up.  You could spend less if you're not looking for that much range or speed.  You can also buy complete bikes, but they're limited to 20mph by federal law. 

I see e-bikes as something between an electric car and a standard bicycle in terms of cost and commute time (and freedom from traffic, transit schedules, etc) without polluting.  They're really fun to ride.  They pull you along so quickly & quietly!
« Last Edit: December 04, 2018, 11:35:14 PM by El Beardo Numero Uno »

CptPoo

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 06:22:08 PM »
That is awesome! I have looked in to building an electric bike at some point too, and I've seen some of those conversion kits for cheap on Ebay. I'm sure the quality isn't as nice, but for shorter commutes they would probably work.

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 09:43:26 AM »
Timely post!  I was just looking at a used LX 50 Vespa today.  A little pricier, but all metal, no plastic, so should last longer?  Gets 90 mpg, max speed 39 mph, and I would not have to get a special license/registration for that in my state.  I am not enough of a badass to ride a non motored bike to work every day (well, 3 days a week--I telecommute Mondays and Fridays). 

My 11-year-old Echo is slowly developing issues, and I'd like to have a fun, fuel-efficient alternative.  Also, I got hooked on scooters in southern Thailand. 

Anyone have a Vespa?

CptPoo

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2012, 10:18:10 PM »
I've heard that Vespas are pretty nice, and I imagine they are. The biggest problem I have had with my moped is that fact that everything is plastic. I have yanked the rear fender off once and the seat off twice, and there are numerous cracks all over the body. It doesn't really bother me because I would rather have my $600 moped getting beat up than my $3,000 car, but I could definitely see the benefit in having a metal body and higher quality parts.

Although if it didn't break down as much, I wouldn't get as much experience repairing things. I have actually enjoyed all of the repairs that I have had to do so far, it has been a good learning experience for me.

MMM

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2012, 10:51:42 PM »
Whew! I'm glad the idea of the noisy homemade motor bicycle was shot down, because the ones I've seen around here should definitely be illegal.. way too loud and thus inconsiderate of any neighborhoods you ride through.

But the ELECTRIC assisted bikes are awesome. There are all sorts of commercial models out there with impressive stats.

Of course, for shorter rides they can be counterproductive since you're giving up perfectly good exercise, but in El Beardo's case, the e-bike allows him to do a bike ride that would otherwise require a motorcycle or car. I almost wish I had somewhere to go regularly that would justify one of these e-bikes, but most of my life is within a 10-mile radius - old-fashioned legs are good enough for that.

arebelspy

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2012, 09:55:40 AM »
But the ELECTRIC assisted bikes are awesome. There are all sorts of commercial models out there with impressive stats.

Of course, for shorter rides they can be counterproductive since you're giving up perfectly good exercise, but in El Beardo's case, the e-bike allows him to do a bike ride that would otherwise require a motorcycle or car. I almost wish I had somewhere to go regularly that would justify one of these e-bikes, but most of my life is within a 10-mile radius - old-fashioned legs are good enough for that.

I agree.  The wife and I have them, and it's great to get rid of complainypants excuses, because how hard is it to ride when you have an electric motor assisting you?

And they're not just great for longer trips, but for beginners looking to ease themselves into bicycling.  In the "biking my way to health and wealth" thread: http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/throw-down-the-gauntlet/biking-my-way-to-health-and-wealth/

Someone posted:
The thing is....I hate biking. I hate having to make sure that I have a big enough bag to carry everything I need between home and work....and I hate that going up a hill is so slow that I feel I could walk it faster....and I hate that if its raining there's no place to put the bike to keep it dry....and...and...and....

Anyone else have this problem? How'd you get past it? Also, what types of clothing do you suggest for commuting in the rain?

And I responded:


Electric bicycle.

Hardcore bicycle riders will mock or smile, depending on their personality, but it's a good way to transition to regular biking, handle hills, etc.

I'm not a fan of the noisy ones, vespa-like scooters, etc.  But the (nearly) silent electric bicycles are pretty neat, and a great bike for someone who won't be able to go a mile on a regular one, to start with.

Ideally, however, one would eventually sell that off and transition to a regular bicycle (assuming their use was to ease into bicycling, rather than use it for longer rides, as MMM suggested).
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Parizade

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2012, 10:08:18 AM »
Has anyone here tried the Ridekick trailer? I saw it on the local news recently as part of a bicycle commuting promotion. It's a cargo trailer with an electric motor that pushes any regular bike it's hooked up to. At $700 it is significantly cheaper than motorized bicycles I've seen, and you get a cargo trailer as a bonus!

http://www.ridekick.com/

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2012, 11:53:59 AM »
On top of that, in most states you do not need a special license or insurance. The only thing my city requires is a $30 registration sticker, but most places don't even require that.

As a motorcyclist I have to recommend that anyone buying a scooter should consider the health risks you are taking on one of these. If you're driving down the street and get hit by somebody else, will you be covered by any insurance? Keep in mind that a strong majority of motorcycle accidents are not caused by the motorcycle or the motorcycle rider, but external factors, primarily other drivers not seeing them or just making a mistake. Be safe out there.

That being said, I'll put in my own 2 cents. For safety (and fun :P) I do recommend a motorcycle over a scooter. More power leads to more safety as you can get out of a dangerous situation quicker. Think of a car merging into your lane, or think of needing to speed up to get away from a stray dog. The possibilities are endless. More power can be a good thing. BTW, you can still get 50 mpg on a 600 sport bike, and at least 75 mpg on a 250 cc sport bike. A nearly new Ninja 250r can be had for between $2-3k. Insurance should be no more than $350 a year.

R62

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2012, 07:00:46 PM »
But the ELECTRIC assisted bikes are awesome. There are all sorts of commercial models out there with impressive stats.

But I would add that they are heavy (at least my eZee bike is at over 60 lbs. with the battery).  It can be a real haul should you have a battery failure far from home.  Also not the easiest thing to haul up the front steps (should you need to do that).  If I had a better set up for storing mine (a ground level garage, perhaps?), I'd be more inclined to keep it, but as it is i'm selling it (and regret the original purchase).

Mirwen

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #12 on: March 19, 2012, 10:53:32 PM »
I have a 2007 Vespa LX50 for my "second car" and I love it for commuting.  Any short trips where I don't have to take the baby, I take my little scooter.  In my state I only need a class C license.  No registration, insurance or special license required.  Vespas are a good deal if you buy used.  I bought mine for $1200 and it has saved me $200 in parking and gas costs over using my car in the first year.  Although I wouldn't touch a car (yet), I feel very comfortable looking up how to maintain and repair my bike.  Plus, it's just a heck of a lot of fun. 

I admit, I'm too much of a wuss to ride a human powered bike, or even to ride my scooter more than about 6 months of the year, but it's still a good deal for me.  It gives our family a lot of flexibility without having two cars.  If I were single I would probably still have a scooter as my primary transport like I did before.  The key to safety is to dress and light your bike appropriately and to only drive on streets with little to no traffic.  I take great pains to plan my routes so I don't have to drive on any streets with a speed limit of more than 35 mph.  I also drive very defensively and get out of everyone's way.  I've only had one rude driver in 6 years of scooting in a major metro area.

aconway76

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2012, 10:54:36 PM »
Does anyone have suggestions for brand/model for a 50cc moped?

I have heard SYM or Honda are the best, and then GTX are a step down

Thanks,

Alex

Matt K

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2012, 08:25:17 AM »
Does anyone have suggestions for brand/model for a 50cc moped?
I have heard SYM or Honda are the best, and then GTX are a step down

Any of the big Japanese branded bikes will be very reliable and easy to maintain (Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki). A number of the Tawainese bikes are made by the same factories that make (or used to make) Japanese branded bikes (I don't think any scooters are actually manufactured in Japan anymore). Sym seems to be well regarded (the link I posted above about a round-the-world trip are on Sym scooters - if it can make it around the world, it can probably handle your commute). Hyosung's motorcycle has a lower build quality than the Japanese motorcycles, but I've never played with one of their scooters.

Piagio/Derby/Vespa as also all very well made (european) bikes, but cost more around here.

In the motorcycle world, Chinese bikes (build without the oversight of a Japanese or European company) tend to be far more miss than hit. Even Lifan, which is one of the biggest (and use old Honda designs) tend to require a lot of work upon delivery. There tend to be a lot of bolts which haven't been tightened at the factory. PDI is *really* important on a chinese built bike. If you aren't getting it from a motorcycle shop (say getting it from Pep Boys instead) I'd have a friendly mechanic go over it with you first.
This is a really good reason to buy a used japanese/taiwanese/european scooter - cheaper and initial kinks (if any) have been dealt with for you.

If I had to recommend a specific bike it would be either a Yamaha BWS or a Honda Rukus. Both are super reliable and very fun.

James

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #15 on: April 18, 2012, 09:05:58 AM »
If I had to recommend a specific bike it would be either a Yamaha BWS or a Honda Rukus. Both are super reliable and very fun.

Both my dad and my brother have a Yamaha Zuma, which they both love.  (I think that's the same as the BWS?)  Very solid and reliable for them, and both purchased used for $900-1000.  I'm hoping to get one soon, but want to knock off some debt first.  Based on my limited distance commute it would take a few years to pay for itself, so I decided to wait til I was debt free.

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #16 on: April 26, 2012, 10:26:13 AM »
Does anyone have suggestions for brand/model for a 50cc moped?

I have heard SYM or Honda are the best, and then GTX are a step down

Thanks,

Alex

A lot of people seem to dislike the Chinese scooters, but I have not had to much trouble with mine. I will have had it a year in June and I have currently put over 2,600 miles on it. I have had to do some minor repairs so far, and it has not been to challenging to find parts. Most of the Chinese brands are based off the exact same model (I believe it is an older Yamaha model) and there are a lot of sites that sell parts since everything is so generic. I even found a repair manual for generic Chinese mopeds and it covers most of what I need.

If you are totally against doing your own maintenance, then I would avoid the cheapo mopeds, but if you are willing to learn and get your hands dirty they can be a great deal. From what I understand, most mechanics don't touch the cheap brands, but for me that isn't a problem since I can do maintenance myself.

The only issue that I have run in to is that I can't get theft insurance since it is not an officially recognized brand, but with the ultra-cheap price it won't be to hard to replace it if it does get stolen. Of course, the best way to prevent this is just to use some anti-theft devices. I use a super heavy duty bike chain to lock my rear wheel, making it impossible to move the moped without completely lifting it off the ground.

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2012, 10:10:21 AM »
Has anyone here tried the Ridekick trailer? I saw it on the local news recently as part of a bicycle commuting promotion. It's a cargo trailer with an electric motor that pushes any regular bike it's hooked up to. At $700 it is significantly cheaper than motorized bicycles I've seen, and you get a cargo trailer as a bonus!

http://www.ridekick.com/

I'm considering buying a ridekick for bike commuting.

Rich M

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2012, 05:41:50 PM »
I loathe non-renewable fuel powered travel for short distances--that includes electric and I will change my opinion when the day comes all electricity is renewable. 

Thus, I feel I need to refresh the benefits of riding a human powered bike.

--Cheap
--Good for your health and that translates into money in health costs.
--Good for the mind and spirit too.
--Good for the environment
--Quiet
--You can ride them off the street.  Most trails are closed to bikes that have motors or engines.  Be aware of this.
--You can save money on the gym because exercise in built into the commute.

I look at it like this.  If you are mustachian, like MMM has suggested, you don't half-butt do things, you do them in big scoops.  So why nibble at reducing driving by going to a mediocre powered vehicle?  Go all the way and power it yourself.  It's not just about all the money, it's about the fundamental philosophy.

« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 05:46:07 PM by Rich M »

arebelspy

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #19 on: April 29, 2012, 06:59:30 PM »
I look at it like this.  If you are mustachian, like MMM has suggested, you don't half-butt do things, you do them in big scoops.  So why nibble at reducing driving by going to a mediocre powered vehicle?  Go all the way and power it yourself.  It's not just about all the money, it's about the fundamental philosophy.

I vary slightly on that.  I think doing some thinks halfway and some full force is acceptable.

Making change is hard, and I would make allowances for someone who's trying to change.  An electric bicycle is a step along the way, just like reducing your giant $150/mo cable bill to $40/mo is a step (to hopefully eventually having no cable bill).  Would be better to go whole hog?  Absolutely.  Am I okay with people going whole hog on some things, but half-assed on others that are more difficult for them?  Absolutely.

Punching in the face is good and all, but true change often comes in increments.
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CptPoo

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #20 on: April 29, 2012, 07:50:57 PM »
I look at it like this.  If you are mustachian, like MMM has suggested, you don't half-butt do things, you do them in big scoops.  So why nibble at reducing driving by going to a mediocre powered vehicle?  Go all the way and power it yourself.  It's not just about all the money, it's about the fundamental philosophy.

I vary slightly on that.  I think doing some thinks halfway and some full force is acceptable.

Making change is hard, and I would make allowances for someone who's trying to change.  An electric bicycle is a step along the way, just like reducing your giant $150/mo cable bill to $40/mo is a step (to hopefully eventually having no cable bill).  Would be better to go whole hog?  Absolutely.  Am I okay with people going whole hog on some things, but half-assed on others that are more difficult for them?  Absolutely.

Punching in the face is good and all, but true change often comes in increments.

I have to second this notion. My scooter is a fantastic way to get around town, especially on days when I have to travel 30 or 40 miles to get to class, my job, and any other errands I need to run. My city has absolutely zero bikes lanes, and there are some areas that I would not even consider riding my bike because of the traffic.  I still do enjoy riding my bike though, especially as the weather gets nicer. During the warmer months, I try to do about half of my traveling by bike.
I loathe non-renewable fuel powered travel for short distances--that includes electric and I will change my opinion when the day comes all electricity is renewable. 

Thus, I feel I need to refresh the benefits of riding a human powered bike.

--Cheap
--Good for your health and that translates into money in health costs.
--Good for the mind and spirit too.
--Good for the environment
--Quiet
--You can ride them off the street.  Most trails are closed to bikes that have motors or engines.  Be aware of this.
--You can save money on the gym because exercise in built into the commute.

I look at it like this.  If you are mustachian, like MMM has suggested, you don't half-butt do things, you do them in big scoops.  So why nibble at reducing driving by going to a mediocre powered vehicle?  Go all the way and power it yourself.  It's not just about all the money, it's about the fundamental philosophy.



I would prefer a more sustainable method for transportation, but where I currently live, my moped provides just about the best sustainability other than my bike. Most energy used in Indiana is coal powered, which is far worse than gasoline. Considering that I only use about 2 gallons of gas a month, my impact is very small on the environment.

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Re: Motor Bicycling?
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2012, 08:53:24 AM »
Keep in mind that a strong majority of motorcycle accidents are not caused by the motorcycle or the motorcycle rider, but external factors, primarily other drivers not seeing them or just making a mistake.

All of the research and statistics I've seen indicate the exact opposite.  Well over half of all motorcycle accidents (as well as the majority of bicycle accidents) were the fault of the motorcyclist.
(as much as 70%, in least in this example: http://www.timesnews.net/article.php?id=9014719 )
As a group (at least in the US), people who ride motorcycles tend to be young males with no fear and wanting to show off their baddassity (and not by being frugal!).   The statistics for speeding, drunk driving, driving without a license, reckless driving, etc are much higher for motorcyclists as a whole than car drivers, which leads directly to the higher accident rates.  In a study that compared only motorcycle cops to car driving cops (thereby controlling for driver demographic) they found the motorcops accident rate to be lower.  I suspect the same would be found for motorcycle couriers compared to other delivery drivers.

When the car driver is at fault, it is usually due to poor visibility.  This can be mitigated with a white helmet, reflective jacket, reflective tape on the bike, and head and taillight modulators (which make them flash) as well as riding predictably and in the center of the lane.

Quote
More power leads to more safety as you can get out of a dangerous situation quicker. Think of a car merging into your lane, or think of needing to speed up to get away from a stray dog. The possibilities are endless. More power can be a good thing.

That's a popular theory, but studies/statistics disagree: there is a definite and consistent correlation between power/engine size and fatality rate.  The bigger the engine, the higher the statistical accident risk. 
If people really could accelerate out of trouble, sports cars (with their superior handling, and braking, in addition to the acceleration) should have lower accident rates than, say, minivans, yet the exact opposite is true.

Quote
Be safe out there.

I couldn't agree more!


Regarding motorized / electric bikes specifically, you have to be extra aware that other drivers will not be expected you.  You have motorscooter like speed, but bicycle level viability (smaller than a motorcycle, plus no headlight, taillight, or turnsignals)  If I was on a motorized/electric bike, I'd want the brightest bike headlight and taillight available, and I'd run them during the day.

Take the lane whenever possible (if your electric bike goes 25mph, then ride in the center of the street, like a motorcycle would, on any road with a speed limit below 30mph).  This is legal, and most importantly, much more safe than hugging the shoulder, because you are more visible and move with the flow of traffic.