Desperate times call for desperate measures!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by Byrdie, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

    Okay, so that's a little dramatic - but still.

    I'm here as a result of a really unfortunate commuting situation. My way around it - a bike. A better way around it - a motorized one!

    So I got all excited and ordered a kit. Poking around in here over the last week or so I'm seeing that I already did like 801 things wrong - bought a coaster way too big for me (like .5" between my crotch and the top tube) with zero consideration for brakes. Ordered some caliper brakes to hopefully make things better. No clue what I'm going to do about the frame situation - I should buy another frame... buuuuuttt I think I'll try and get through very first build before deciding what to do about it being too big.

    I'm also trying to fix my sad little scooter...

    Me? In over my head? Naaaah...

    Looking forward to learning from you all and shedding my dunce cap soon!

  2. professor

    professor Active Member

    Hi Byrdie, welcome to Motoredbikes!
  3. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member


    So maybe you can tell me, is the only way out of a frame that leaves me on my tip toes buying a new frame :-\
  4. darwin

    darwin Well-Known Member

    What size wheels? I'm 6ft and find a 17-1/2 to 18in frame is the best fit for me in a hybrid/comfort style frame with 26in wheels. Keep in mind where you want the seat to be also. With a suspension seat post it will be higher than a standard seat post. I like to sit on the bike and both feet to be flat on the ground then I'm good to go.
  5. butterbean

    butterbean Well-Known Member

    One option is to buy smaller wheels. You can buy 24" wheels and they will lower the frame an inch. You can also chop the seatpost tube down some if necessary. If you bought your bike at wally world, you may want to upgrade your wheels anyway. Caliper brakes are ok, but you have to realize that no matter what pads you buy, they will wear a lot faster at motorized speeds, especially in stop and go traffic. The easiest way to upgrade to stronger brakes without having to make any modifications or spend an arm and a leg is to find a front wheel with a drum brake. The brake arm attaches to the frame exactly the same way the coaster brake arm does. A front drum wheel may cost you up to $120, but a disk brake setup is going to cost $150 for the fork alone, and then you need a wheel that takes a rotor and a caliper for it. By the time you are done, a disk brake is going to cost you near $300, and that's for a cheaper setup of debatable quality. I run a front drum and rear coaster, and I hardly ever even use the coaster (for those who will probably comment, I've got a shimano coaster and the shoes grab so hard it makes me uncomfortable. I've greased the entire hub very well, and the shoes still grab and stop really hard). My bike will do 30 easy, and the drum is plenty adequate. To chop the seat tube, I recommend a hacksaw, sawzall, or angle grinder and chop 1/2 inch at a time until the height is comfortable for you. But get smaller wheels first.
    Byrdie likes this.
  6. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

    Hi, Darwin. 26" wheels 17.5" frame. But I'm 5'7" - I'm on my toes even without a suspension seat post.
  7. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

  8. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Myself, I'm more comfortable when riding if my seat is at a height where it's a little difficult to reach the ground when I'm sitting on it. Granted, that's a little inconvenient when I'm stopped. But I'm riding much more than I'm stopping. So, if you find that you agree, then perhaps your frame is no too tall.

    One other piece of advice for bike commuters; have a spare bike. There'll be times, especially when you're new at it, that you come out to go to work and find that there's something wrong. Having a back-up makes this a lot easier.

    Good luck and have fun.
    Byrdie likes this.
  9. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

    Good idea on the backup. Right now my back up plan is walking, which isn't the best.

    Not that you asked but:

    The funny thing about all of this (and you'll probably laugh), long story short, is that this is all so I can park (free!) a mile away from work and still get there at a reasonable time and not be sweaty and gross. The walk is not HARD but frankly, I can't afford the time to do the walk. And again, trying to avoid sweaty and gross. I change my clothes at work anyway, but I can't add needing a shower to that equation. The biggest issue for me is time.

    Parking a regular car at work requires a parking permit (which are INSANELY limited and I lost the lottery). When I'm allowed to drive and park at work, it takes me 15 minutes, 30 minutes on a bad day. Because of the parking issue, the assorted options leave me paying $4.75 a day to catch a shuttle from a pretty sketchy location a few miles in the wrong direction. Going past my office (in any number of ways, be it metro or driving to a commuter lot) it adds at least 40 minutes to my trip. And last month, I was robbed at the sketchy location :-\ I'm not really keen on having to go back there. $1,200/annually to feel unsafe and add 40 minutes to my commute? No thanks.

    Riding a bike at work doesn't require any permit at all. It's all about the functioning pedals. Motorcycle permits are easier to get but still not a sure thing. And even if I went down the (significantly more expensive) road of getting licensed and insured and buying a motorcycle etc, I don't have the intestinal fortitude to ride a motorcycle on I-95 during rush hour. Which would probably mean leaving this hypothetical motorcycle overnight a mile away from work - which seemed overkill given the cost. So a bicycle seemed the best option - with the exception of sweat. So then I started looking into eBikes and gas bikes. Taking a bike requires going up a kind of steep hill with the cars to access the bike rack (different than pedestrians). All of the eBikes I checked out in my pretty low price range require substantial peddling on hills (sweat). That's how I wound up here :) Plus, I like to tinker and this seemed fun.

    If this all fails, I guess I'll up my eBike price range and go from there. But I'm hoping this all works out!
  10. butterbean

    butterbean Well-Known Member

    The thing about the kit engines is they don't make a lot of torque at stock gearing, especially if you are overweight. You may end up pedal-assisting anyway. Ways around this are to gear lower in the back, which lowers top speed and can make it more difficult and dangerous to travel sketchy roads. Or you can get a bike with gears and install a shift kit. But for what you'll spend on that, you can use a non-kit engine that makes the power you need. Small engines can usually be had for relatively cheap, and even cheaper used. If you open up your budget to about $800 or 1,000, you have a lot more options. I built a 98cc cruiser from the bare frame up for $800, and it does moderate hills with ease.
  11. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Yes. And without spending money you're going to have to deal with at least some sweat.

    But if you're changing clothes at work, then you're okay. A small spray bottle with rubbing alcohol cleans you up pretty good. Yes, you do smell like alcohol for a bit. But it goes away. And most co-workers understand.
  12. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

    I'm starting to think I just need to start over. I paid $350 for bike and motor (including shipping). The bike a $100 Men's Kent La Jolla cruiser. Replacing one wheel is going to cost more than the bike. Rookie mistake, I guess. :(

    I guess I'll just build this one out as a learning experience. Maybe I'll be able to sell it. I wasn't expecting perfection first time around, but very bummed that I just flushed $350 on something I'm not even going to be able to use.
  13. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

    I've never heard of that trick! Man, you guys are knowledgeable for all kinds of stuff!
  14. Byrdie

    Byrdie New Member

    Thought I'd update, because, why not. Not sure if I'm supposed to just keep posting in the introduction - I guess I'll find out.

    I got myself used to the size of the bike. It's not perfect, but it's okay. At least for this first one - lots of scratches and such showing just how new I am to this! I've got the engine, gas tank, and throttle mounted. I broke the clutch so a new one is on the way. Feeling better about the whole thing and having fun.

    I've also given it a name (I like naming things)... but I'm going to wait until I'm done and can post a picture to share. :)