Tim in Washington

September 26th, 2008

I now have approximately 2 months of use and over 500 miles on my Golden Eagle motorized bicycle. The product is absolutely fantastic, and I have nothing but praise for the company and its customer support.

My bicycle is a 2008 Novara Metro purchased at REI. This is a comfort bicycle that was specifically acquired with the intent of adding a Golden Eagle engine kit. It has 26″ wheels, a shock absorbing front fork, and 24 speeds. My wife also has a motor converted bicycle that is the same model type, but with a women’s step-through frame.

The Novara bicycles are a good choice for the engine retrofit, but they come equipped with mountain bike gearing, which doesn’t really allow for peddling at the higher speeds attainable with the motor – you can’t peddle fast enough to keep up with the engine. For this reason, I’m looking into the possibility of changing the crank sets to something with higher gearing … more in line with what is found on road bikes.

On both of the installations, it was my desire to position the motor up high, directly above the tire and perpendicular with the ground (not leaning forward or backward by any amount). In this location, however, I found that the drive belt competed for space with the rear brake boss of the bicycle. To solve the problem, I decided to make a bracket holding a set of 3 small roller bearings to push on the belt and divert its path away from the brake. I have only limited fabrication tools and welding ability, but I was able to get the job done, and the finished item worked exactly as planned. The bracket was fastened to the rear brake boss using the same screw holding the brake arm. Since the fastening point is a single screw that can allow the roller bearings to pivot out of alignment, the bracket design includes a metal rod that rests against the rear stay to prevent any upward movement from the pressure of the belt. With the addition of this bracket and bearings, there is a very slight amount of friction added to peddling in the non-engaged mode of operation. This added tension would not be present without this modification, but it does eliminate any belt flapping that can take place when peddling without the motor. The bracket and roller bearings have worked flawlessly for all the miles we have put on the bicycles.

Here’s a picture of the belt diverting bracket and bearings, as seen on my wife’s bicycle:

We decided to purchase the Robin-Subaru 35cc 4-stroke engine with trail gear, and a Velocity super heavy-duty rear wheel with 105g spokes for each of the bikes. With the trail gear, we find that the bicycles comfortably cruise at 22 to 23 mph on level and slightly up-hill roads. At full throttle, they scoot along at just under 30 mph. Only the most aggressive hills require peddling, while most can be tackled at speeds ranging from 12 to 19 mph with little, or no peddling at all. We get approximately 26 miles to a tank of gas with hardly any peddling to assist the engine. If we slow down to where the bicycle gearing can be used to assist the motor, we can peddle to get even better gas mileage.

These bicycles are so much fun to ride, I’m constantly looking for excuses to go somewhere just to use my bike. I regularly use it for 30 mile round trips that only take a bit more than an hour and a half to complete. The bicycles have also been used for touring, where we have traveled over 100 miles in a day, fully loaded with supplies and clothing.

We have equipped both bikes with front racks and removable touring bags. A rear rack suspended from the seat post provides the right amount of clearance above the engine to allow the use of a basket. I’ve added rear stays to our racks, which provide additional support and extra stability. The stay pieces on the non-engine side of our racks keep a rear touring back from leaning into the engine and wheel, and also provides a place to hook the bottom of the bag, so that it doesn’t lean out while making left-hand turns. The rack stays are bolted to the large engine bracket and provide the additional benefit of supporting the motor while changing the rear tire.

We’ve added fenders, rear kickstands, front and rear lights, bicycle computers (for reporting speed, mileage, trip distance, etc.), upgraded seats, bottle cages, and frame mounted tire pumps. The tires on my wife’s bicycle were changed to a brand and style that include Kevlar fibers for flat protection. I highly recommend doing this, as my bicycle has stock tires and I’ve had 2 flats, yet my wife has had none for the equivalent mileage. I would also recommend tires with a reflective stripe. If you’ve been driving a car at night and had a bicycle cross your path with reflective tires, you’ll know how well they work.

I’ve included a few pictures of my bicycle showing everything but the rear touring bag. In the last picture, I just returned from our local garden center with 2, 1-gallon potted plants, a 4″ potted plant, and a new digging trowel. With all its carrying capacity and versatility, I like to think of my bicycle as the SUV of motorized bikes.

Thanks for a great product,

Vancouver, WA

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