Friday, June 18, 2010

The first e-bike

Well just after our car accident I needed to find a way to get home from work. Thankfully, I could get there by bus, but the buses around our old home stopped running after about 9:30 at night. Since I tended to get out of work no later than 11:00 I was on my own getting home. At that time I lived about 11 miles away and was not up for a three hour walk every night. A taxi home would cost $30 and that adds up fast.

I figured a bicycle would be faster and cheaper, but i also didn't want to spend a lot of money on something I didn't know would work. So searched the best classified I could find, criagslist. While searching the listings I came across a simplistic post that said "electric bicycle $100" Intrigued, i replied, got some pictures and $100 later and a favor from a friend of the family, I had myself an e-bike. Researching brought more light about my purchase. I had a Schwinn Sierra with electro-drive. Basically it was a 21 speed 26in mountain bike with a 400 watt electric motor attached to the rear wheel. The previous owner said the batteries were dead as they wouldn't hold a charge. So after a trip to "Batteries Plus" and another $120 later I had a functioning e-bike. Gave it a test spin and it was a surprise to say the least.

Up until that point I had not biked in almost 12 years. I was surprised at how fast that little motor could push me about 20mph on flat roads. Satisfied I took my bike with me to work. Another great thing is that this bike fits on the bike racks all the buses have in front. That night i crossed my fingers, knocked on my new bike helmet and started home.

I'll be the first to admit I'm not in shape and I had to pedal up two steep hills that would have overwhelmed me if where not for that little motor. I also found out it was great for moving from a complete stop till i could pedal up to speed. After some daunting traffic and other assorted road hazards I was home. It only took me 45 minutes, and so began my nightly commute home. I later upgraded the home made flashlight bike light with a purpose built one, added a more comfortable seat, changed out the worn tires, added a rear rack to carry stuff and put slime tire sealant in the tire tubes. So much for a stop gap solution, but i started to enjoy my nightly rides home, it let me relax after a sometimes stressful day at work and I no longer had problems falling asleep at night.

The past 7 months . . .

I almost forgot about this blog. Well since it's been seven months since my most recent (and very first) post, I figure some updates are long overdue. First I still do not own a car. Instead I have purchased two electric bicycles off craigslist. More about those later. Second, after a long discussion with the misses, we decided it was best to move out of the suburbs and closer to our places of work and our daughter's school. So we ended up settling just outside downtown San Antonio. We use the local public transit system to do most of our traveling. We're still working on balancing time and number of errands we can do a day in this fashion. I do miss the get up and go whenever convenience that a car allows, but I think I'll manage. So far i have been carless for about 9 months and counting.