Steven in Missouri

August 15th, 2007

I wanted a transportation alternative to my four-wheel drive Nissan Pathfinder — for short trips to the store and running around town. My goal was to find something for under $1,000 that was easy on the environment and at the same time gave enough cargo space for about six bags of groceries.

I started my research by renting a motor scooter to see what driving a scooter for a day would be like. As long as the engine is under 49cc’s, there is no insurance and no license needed in Missouri and the scooter had pretty good gas mileage (reported to be 90 MPG).

Although the scooter was fun to drive, I felt very vulnerable competing with automobiles and trucks for space on the road. And although it is possible to buy a slightly used scooter made in China for about $1,000, I was told by informed sources that it is difficult to get parts and repairs for this lower end of the scooter market.

Searching the internet, I explored the possibility of electric hub kits for bicycles. These electric conversion kits were very interesting and certainly a possibility for what I needed, but they didn’t seem to have quite the range or power I was looking for. If the batteries ran low, it would be “pedal power” all the way home. There was also the issue of down time between charges.

I then came across Golden Eagle’s website.

The converted bikes on their website didn’t look like clunky do-it-yourself jobs and the 200+ miles per gallon seemed almost too good to be true. I read every review on their website. The 4-stroke Robin-Subaru motors seemed to fit my needs and addressed the concern of reliability, replacement parts, and repair support. The motor is also extremely low on emissions (rated 1.33 on a 10 point “Air Index” scale), I could use regular gas straight from the pump and the cost was also in line with my budget …so I took the plunge and ordered a kit which arrived in 5 working days.

While waiting for the kit to arrive, I purchased a $180 Mongoose mountain bike from K-Mart. I wanted a bike with at least 2-point suspension to handle pot-holes and provide for rider comfort. When the kit arrived, I was surprised at how light the box was that contained the entire kit (about 19 pounds). It took approximately 2 hours to assemble. The only modification I needed to make on my bike was to drill one small hole to accommodate one of the brackets for the motor.

When I did have a few questions, my calls to Golden Eagle were returned immediately. Customer service was very friendly, helpful and efficient.

My first ride on my new bike was a blast! The motor started after a couple of pulls. It was extremely easy to ride and I was amazed at how little pedaling I needed to do (35cc motor). Because I could ride on the side of the road (as opposed to riding in traffic when I rode the scooter) I no longer needed to compete for road space with cars and trucks. Other drivers also seemed more respectful of a bicyclist than they were for a “motor scooterist”.

I was also surprised at the tremendous interest people expressed when they saw my bike. I didn’t get any negative reactions. I went to REI to purchase a cargo rack and the sales representative who worked there thought my bike was extremely cool. He was also amazed at how little the entire bike cost. A young customer at the store (probably 14 years old) just kept staring at my bike and asking me all sorts of questions.

To accommodate my trips to the grocery store, I purchased at Containers and More a collapsible plastic crate that is 14″ by 21″. This removable cargo space carries at least 6 bags of groceries. I also use a small carrier on the back cargo rack (see photo).

In summary, this bike provides the following:
Energy efficient – up to 200 MPG, low emissions
Can carry 6+ bags of groceries & other cargo
Adequate range between fill-ups
No oil-gas mixture needed
Can be used both on-road and off-road
Safety: About as safe as riding a bicycle
Economical: Entire project cost less than $900
I could not be more pleased with the investment I made in this bike.

P.S. — We currently have the technology to produce low-emission vehicles without sacrificing convenience (Toyota’s Prius is a good start) but there is enormous economic pressure from the oil industry to maintain the status quo (see the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?”). It does not need to be this way. I encourage everyone to lower their “carbon footprint” by creating alternatives to vehicles that contribute to global warming. A very fun place to start is with a bicycle conversion kit from Golden Eagle!

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