Thursday, March 11, 2021

I Have a (Bike) Dream

Mentioning my daydream of re-building my old Trek 7000 as an electric bike turned it into a more detailed dream. Here's the bike when I first bought it in very, very, very used condition, for $100:

I rode the hell out of that bike, but other than perhaps mounting lights, I think replacing one tire, and initially taking it to a bike shop for a going-over and "tune-up," I didn't invest money in it. And it needed investment -- new derailleur and probably, to be honest, a new rear hub/cassette.

What I want to do with it, time and money allowing over the next few years is:

  1. Strip it completely down to frame and fork and throw everything else away.
  2. Sandblast and re-paint frame and fork.
  3. Rebuild it -- crank set, seat, wheels, tires, etc. -- from the ground up as a single-speed with a great electric motor setup on it.
  4. Add a solar bike trailer (I have a frame that may be resurrectable) -- top and sides all made of tiltable solar panels that power a battery charger inside the trailer so that I can carry extra batteries and have them be charging while I'm riding or parked in daylight.
This would make it into two things:

  1. A trip bike. With the ability to carry two or three extra batteries and get at least some charging done on the road, I expect I could go from nursing 30+ miles out of one battery to having a 100+ mile range. And I'd get a kit that either doesn't have a speed governor built in, or that I can disable the governor on. Most e-bikes won't do more than 20 mph or so by intentional design because local governments don't want a bunch of electrified speed demons on the streets (I've measured my Nakto at 22 miles an hour with a considerable tailwind). I'd like to be able to get 30-35mph when it makes sense (e.g. riding down a reasonably good, not very busy two-lane country highway). So if I got it into my head to visit Jacksonville or even Orlando, I could make it in four hours or so (and, after a few hours of plugging my charger into a wall, come back). The trailer would have room in it, even with charger and batteries, for some clothing and camp supplies.
  2. My last bike. Really. I love that 57 centimeter frame on 700c tires. It's comfortable. With the right saddle and handlebars, I could bear to sit on it and move for hours at a time, especially not having to pedal so much. If I get it right, I'll just maintain it and keep my eyes off of other rides.
My guess is that I'm looking at $1,000 or so (not including the trailer and extra batteries) to make this happen. Maybe even more. I haven't started costing it out yet. But that expense would be spread out over time, as I'd pick up a saddle here, a crank set there, etc. and build it slowly. First step is getting the frame stripped. I have a friend with sand-blasting and painting equipment I can use, which would be the second step. Then start putting stuff on the frame.

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