Maiden voyage on my new electric bicycle

blog-electricbike-squareIf you follow me on Facebook, you may know that I recently sold my electric scooter.  There were many reasons for doing this – mostly because when something went wrong with it, it was like a 300 pound paperweight.  I just didn’t have the resources to be able to maintain it with my lifestyle.  My plan was to build an electric bicycle for around $1200.  Because the foundation of the vehicle would be a standard bicycle, that part of it could be serviced at any bike shop.  And because it would only weigh between 50-60 pounds, it could easily be thrown in the back of a truck.

So, my plan was to buy a good quality, and preferably cool-looking bicycle and then order the electrification kit online.  I found one that was really flexible as far as using different strength batteries with it.  Basically you could make the bicycle as powerful as the amount you were willing to spend on batteries.

I had dealt with a really cool salesperson at Village Bikes, so I wanted to order the bicycle from them.  I was literally poised to dial the phone to call them to order the bike, when I decided to check Craigslist one last time.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing… a Liberty 48v electric bicycle – the exact model I had test driven earlier this year.  Jim and I drove all the way to Naples to a flea market just so I could ride this bike.  I loved it, too!  Not sure why I didn’t get it – probably because they’re around $1000 new.

I immediately called the number in the ad and spoke to the owner.  She said someone else was coming to look at it after 5:00 p.m., so I told her I would be there around 4:20 p.m.  She said I’d have to take it to a gas station to pump up one of the tires, but I told her I’d bring my bike pump.  I also brought my helmet because I hoped to ride it home.  Because I didn’t have time to take the bus, I called a taxi to take me there.  We stopped at the bank on the way so I could take out money for the bike ($500) and for the taxi driver.

When we pulled up to the house, the bike was sitting out front.  I was so excited!

The bike was in good condition but not great.  As it turned out, she had not kept it inside, and it had cobwebs on it and some rust.  My heart sunk a little.  I pumped up the tire and she told me a bit about the bike.  Coincidentally (but not surprisingly) the bike came from the same dealer who sold my scooter.  It’s just too bad she didn’t take better care of it.

I hopped on the bike and took it for a ride around the small block where she lived.  It was a bit awkward.  One of the pedals was bent and will need to be fixed.  (I was testing out the pedal assist, which I am sure this model has.)  Also, it didn’t seem to go as fast as I expected.  The “speedometer” is very misleading because it really registers how much “gas” you’re giving it – not how fast you’re actually going.  I will need to buy a speedometer.

The mirrors were useless as they wouldn’t stay in place.  Some paint was chipping off the dash, but all in all, the bike seemed in good working order.  There was no rust on the wheels or the motor – it seemed sound mechanically.

I decided, in its present condition, it was only worth $400, and that’s what I offered her.  I’m glad she took it because I didn’t want to argue with her.  So, in that one transaction, I had just saved myself around $700 – I figure I’ll have to spend around $100 to fix it up a bit.

48 volt electric bicycle

Now came the tricky part – getting home on it.  She said she last charged it 3 months ago, but the dial went all the way up into the green.  It took a while to get home, but I did it!  It got me all the way back to my house, and I wasn’t worried about the battery at all.  I was worried that the battery charger had two lights, both with a label only in Chinese.

The great thing about this bike is that it is built around mostly standard bicycle parts.  The batteries are replaceable.  The charger is replaceable.  And, because it is 48 volts, it should be able to go much faster.  I’m going to consult with an electrical genius friend of mine (yes, Pete, that’s you) to see what he can do about that.

I’m also going to put a bigger trunk on it so I can carry as many groceries as I could with the scooter.  The breaks need servicing for sure, and I’m going to investigate the possibility of a more comfy seat.  After 5 miles, my butt starts to hurt on this!

But, all in all, this was a tremendous find!  I couldn’t be happier.  It just goes to show that perseverance pays!!!

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