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.

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