Looks like I'm getting over 150 mpg :)

Discussion in 'Travelling, Commuting & Safety' started by bluegoatwoods, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I'm using my bike for commuting to and from work.

    A little while back I went and bought a gallon of fuel. Pulling away I wondered, "When was the last time I bought gas?" It was more than two weeks. So I guessed about three.

    After I go to work and come home today I'll have finished three work weeks on this gallon. I'm estimating this (and I might be a bit short) as 144 miles. There's still a bit of fuel in my tank and a bit more in the gas can.

    Even with fuel prices as they are I have no need to budget for it. A work week only costs me about 2 bucks.

    Can life get any better than this?

    2 side issues; last night a guy at work asked me about my bike. He said he had a bicycle and he was getting very sick of spending so much money to drive to work. I got the feeling he was serious. So I wrote down this web address. We might see him around.

    I got my lights set up just this past Saturday. Just in time. Heavy rain (very heavy, poor visibility) Saturday and Sunday. Heavy fog this morning. My lights are two 55 watt automotive aftermarket lights. Rear is an automotive LED tail light. Dont' know the wattage, but it's not much. I could tell than no one had any trouble seeing me in the fog this morning. The whole thing is powered by a 14 amp/hr ATV battery. On board, auto-shutoff battery charger. Plug it in when I get home and it charges while I sleep. And added benefit; spliced in a cigarette lighter socket. Now a 12 volt air compressor will take care of flats for me. Just this morning I checked air pressure. A bit low. So I aired them up in a flash without needing any help from anyone.

    Life just keeps getting better and better.

    Happy riding!

  2. SirJakesus

    SirJakesus Guest

    Very cool about the electrical system you set up. Sounds heavy but if it works for you thats fantastic. I believe most MBers neglect the need for good lighting.
  3. ozzyu812

    ozzyu812 Member

    Love the cig lighter!
  4. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I think you're right about "lighting neglect" Sir Jakesus. And I think it's a mistake. Being hard to ignore is being safe.

    It is heavy, but the battery rides in my cargo trailer. So there's no handling or bike-balance issues.

    And the cigarette lighter is really, really handy. Another tire top-off this morning. Done in two minutes at most. I'll never ride under-inflated again.
  5. Pad

    Pad New Member

    Sounds like a sweet setup, 2-55 watt bulbs, 'let there be light!'
    Now maybe get some cigars to light up with your cig. lighter, high-rollin' gas sipper, as you do the 'nah-nah' thumb-to-nose wave to the people stuck in traffic.
  6. ibdennyak

    ibdennyak Guest

    Nice.....but needs a cup holder. :roll:

  7. MotorMac

    MotorMac Member


    Hi Bluegoatwoods,can you show a picture of your setup and where did you get the lights from?Also where do you have your battery on the bike. Sounds like the setup I need too!
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  8. Chain theory

    Chain theory Member

    Jump starter

    This sounds like the same type of electrical system I'm setting up on my bike Bluegoatwoods. The jump starter I am looking at is a Black&Decker 400 watt. 18 amp/hr. How long will it run your two road lights?

    It's nice to see someone else trying the same type of setup. The jump starter has built in utility light, accessory plug, (cig lighter) and of course jumper cables. I will be able to jump start cars. I'm also looking at a 5 watt trickle charge solar panel to charge it, for now I'll just plug it in at night. This version (kinda heavy) has a built in compressor. There are smaller versions that are lighter but they have less amp/hr. What I like about this set up is you can take it inside and charge it so it wont get stolen. You can hook up the lights to the accessory plug or to the jumper cables. What would be really cool is if I could figure out how to get it to start the bike. I don't think you could retrofit a starter onto a Dax Titan.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  9. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    The jump starter is an interesting idea. I can see that that would have some advantages.

    I've run this setup as long as (about) 70 minutes with no noticeable loss of battery. but I haven't measured my total time yet.

    And I have no working camera at the moment. So I can't post photos. My set-up won't win any style points, by the way. I've achieved functionality and safety (wiring fastened down, so that it doesn't get caught in moving parts, for instance), but I sacrificed looks for economy.

    I can describe it well enough for you to decide whether to imitate or improve. No time at the moment, gotta get ready for work. But I'll post a description in the morning.
  10. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Good morning everyone! My weekend is starting, the weather is good (and holding), I'll either have or I'll find some reason to do some riding and life feels pretty sweet right now.

    I can't post a photo of the light set-up, but I ought to be able to describe it well enough that you can follow (and likely improve) it.

    this setup is for a bike with trailer. (I think a trailer is a necessity, anyway. If you can't carry a decent amount of cargo, then it's not really practical transportation.) But if you don't have a trailer, you'll be able to figure out the mods necessary to put it all on a bike.

    The wiring of the set-up is 12 gauge Romex. The switches are regular household on/off switches. The main advantage of this is that it's easily replaceable when needed. I don't doubt that 14 gauge would be heavy enough. But 12 gauge is what I had on hand.
    (one of the members here has a signature that says, "If it's broke and you're broke, you use weird stuff to fix it." I've changed that a bit; "If you want it, but you can't spend money on it, then use weird stuff to make it". This lighting system is a good example.)

    The Romex can be fastened to bike and trailer frame with hose clamps and zip ties. Being stiff, it can be "looped" over or under places where some room is needed and it will hold it's shape.

    The battery is a "spill proof" ATV battery that I bought at Advance Auto. I cut a piece of fairly stiff foam rubber about and inch thick to place the battery on for buffering against jars that might break the case. Another sheet of foam rubber on top (across posts) for a bit of weather protection. Added to it a 1.5 Amp, automatic off, onboard battery charger. This is a battery charger that is meant to be mounted in your engine compartment (on a car) and permanently attached to the battery posts. The idea is that you plug it in in winter to keep the battery charged and warm. I got mine at Harbor Freight. Lashed these two items together and to the trailer bed with lashing straps.

    You start with a bit of flexible electrical wire. (Though I suppose you could just strip the outside casing and ground conductor from a piece of Romex) Running away from the battery you wire in a tail light (I used an automotive tail-light from Wal-Mart) and a switch. (This does mean that you must dismount to turn on the rear light. but to me that seems preferrable to running a circuit all the way up to your handlebars and back)
    Somewhere in the vicinity of this rear light circuit, you splice in your Romex for the forward circuit. I used red wire nuts. They hold tight. So far no tendency to vibrate lloose. And your circuit is always open for moderations this way. Then you start running your Romex along the trailer. Use hose clamps as much as possible for strength, but zip ties are adequate in those places where a hose clamp is not convenient. Loop the Romex over the axle so that it's not in the way when you have to change a tire. (Or similar loops in similar places, depending on your equipment. You get the idea, I'm sure)
    Romex straight up to the trailer hitch. At this point, naturally, you'll want a splice. So that you can unhook the trailer. This is a good place for the cigarette lighter socket. I used a cheap one with a plastic cap for weather protection. It'll eventually get rusty. But they only cost a couple of bucks.

    Now my trailer hitches to the bike on the left side (of bike) right at the rear axle. so the Romex continues from there on the underside of that frame member there. (that's called a chainstay, isn't it? Then this would be the left chainstay.) Then a small loop under the crank in order to clear any cables running through there. Then up the downtube toward the headset. Keep it away from the exhaust, of course. Now you wire up to an on/off switch hanging from the handlebar by a zip tie. Flexible wire from there to the lights (or light. You're going to have options on that.).

    The lights I bought at Wal-Mart automotive electrical department. They have 3 or 4 different ones available for 15 to 20 dollars. A few of them are rather cool looking, bullet ttype lights. These lights seem to be meant to be used as fog lights (though the packaging does not call them that.) The instructions even say that they should not be mounted more than, I think, 30"inches high. Apparently blinding oncoming traffic is a concern. (I believe it. These things are BRIGHT). For me, this was no problem; my brake bosses were available. The reason is that I've removed my cantilever brakes. Not willling to deal with difficult adjustment. I've replaced them with old-fashioned side-pull brakes. So my brake bosses were available. If your's aren't, then I'm sure you'll be able to figure something out.

    I've always figured that when the day comes that I want to mount a battery on the bike I'd get some aluminum strips. Perhaps 3/4 inch wide by 3/16 inch thick. could probably get enough for the job for 10 or 15 bucks. make a cage for the batt. and figure out some way of bolting it to the bike frame maybe a bit above and forward from the rear axle, left side likely. A battery that is large enough to give any running time will be heavy enough to affect bike handling, but it shouldn't be a huge problem.

    Probably don't need to explain anymore? This is pretty simple and I'll bet you've got the picture.

    It probably sounds a bit weird and, maybe, extreme. But I'm telling you, it's a great feeling to look at heavy rain, fog, dead of night and say "so what?". With a set-up like this, everyone sees you and they see you plenty early in the game. I've been commuting in a bit of bad weather and quite a bit of dark now and it's obvious that being seen is no problem at all.
  11. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Chain theory,

    That jump starter looks like a very good idea. My battery cost $80.00 and my charger was about 16 or 17 bucks. So your charger is just about exactly the same cost. But it also has a case that looks like it's pretty tough and weather resistant. If I were to do it all over again, I think I'd go that way.

    You will not regret the light you get out of the deal. Go for it!
  12. Chain theory

    Chain theory Member

    fog lights

    I was looking at some of those same fog lights at Wal-Mart. Which ones did you get? I'm also looking for turn signal control switch like the ones on scooters. I think that I'm going to use those LED trailer lights for turn signals, they wont use allot of juice. All we need after that is GPS, blue ray DVD, low jack.... lol
  13. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I chose the ones that are a small oval (perhaps 1.5 inches long by 1 in. wide). The lenses have a "rainbowish" hue to them. Sweet lights. They really light up the night.
    I can go out on a country road and see everything I need to.

    If I remember right, I chose these over the cool chromed ones because it looked as though bulb replacement would be easier. I think they didn't have the replacement for the chromed ones on the shelf.

    And you're thinking along the same lines as me on the turn signals. I'll just get small LED tail-lights plus flasher units from an auto parts store. I'll use two because it'll be simpler to just build two separate circuits than to try to patch them through one flasher like they do in cars.

    As you can see, this setup is $100.00 plus. But it's so important to be seen. And this'll do the trick.
  14. ozzyu812

    ozzyu812 Member

    You know you can take pics with a webcam. They are crude but real cheap. They say a pic is worth a 1000 words and you just proved it. LOL
  15. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I know. :)

    And a basic digital camera is cheap enough. I just usually have more important things to spend 30 bucks on. But in the interest of being helpful to my fellow motoredbikers, to whom I do owe a debt, maybe I ought to move it up a bit on my list of priorities.

    But there is another reason I'm in no hurry to show off my bike; it ain't gonna win no beauty contests. If you picture an MB version of the Clampett's old truck, you've got the idea.

    For the most part, that's ok with me. I want to be able to do anything I want to that bike without worrying about scratching paint or ruining the "overall look" of the bike.
    Now don't get me wrong; for those who want their machine to look like something, I understand. I even agree. I just choose to sacrifice that for economy and practicality.
  16. mongoose

    mongoose New Member

    This is a very interesting discussion. I noticed recently that Advance Auto parts sells LED driving and fog lights. They should cut down on the need for large batteries. Also look into www.candlepowerforums.com and www.flashlightreviews.com for information on lighting. Hope some of this helps!
  17. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    It might be time to go LED. Carrying enough lighting capacity is do-able. But more efficiency would be nice.
  18. mongoose

    mongoose New Member

    Forgot to mention before, the lights I saw at Advance were available in blue and white, between $25-30, and had 6 to 7 LEDs. Oreilly had one too, but it was a 'driving light' in amber only. I don't think any of them were marked DOT compliant, rather 'off-road use only'. I don't know if that really matters to you. :shock::grin:

    Just out of curiosity, how many hours of use are you getting out of your current set up?
  19. MotorMac

    MotorMac Member


    For those of you that live in Canada and have a Princess Auto nearby they have a sale on now for 12 volt 4.5A/H batteries for $9.99 each (in the surplus section) and 55watt driving lights for$4.99 each ( not a pair) I bought 2 of the batterys, each one lasts a bit more than an hour, and I just switch batteries when one goes dead.works fantastic, lights up the night and as powerful as a cars headlights!
  20. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods Well-Known Member

    I'm running 70 to, perhaps, 80 minutes on my commute. That's both ways. Most times my lights are running strong when I get home. There's been a few times when they've seemed to have dimmed a bit by that time. Makes me think that I'm just about at capacity. I'm thinking of going down to one 55 watter instead of two.

    but I'm not sure of that yet; I like having all of this light.