Considering cross country this summer - questions

Discussion in 'Travelling, Commuting & Safety' started by Cutwolf, Nov 24, 2007.

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  1. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    I'm very new to cycling but while I have time before I start law school, I want to do this. I've always been the "escape" type; I love making the twice yearly 20 hour drive from home to school by myself. Whenever I see a passing cargo train, I wish I could just hop on it once and randomly get off in a random place with not a care in the world.

    Biking across the country is kind of a combo of those things (albeit a bit safer and more legal than the train thing).

    1. As I'm not in shape, I'm considering using an engine. I'd bike part of the time and when I'm tired, use the engine to make up the difference between how far I pedaled and the amount I want to do that day. Another consideration is time. I'll only have from June 1st until approximately August 10th to do the trip. That's 10 weeks. That'd be enough to pedal, but I wouldn't have much time to stop and smell the roses.

    I asked this at a biking forum and they all said it's a bad idea. They're most likely purists, however, so I kind of want to see it from the perspective of those who do have engines on their bikes.

    So, general thoughts?

    2. What kind of bike and what kind of engine kit would best serve my cross country needs? I was considering a Surly LHT or Trek 520, but I'm open to other opinions. My price range is $500-$1000 for the bike. I'd prefer on the cheaper end, but I don't want to skimp cost if it's just going to make the trip harder than it needs to be.

    3. What are the legalities of this? Would I be able to follow the TransAm path with an engine on my bike?

    I'm a newbie to biking and I'm also not very mechanically inclined, so forgive me if I get easily confused :)

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2007

  2. azbill

    azbill Active Member

    you should make an intro post and say HI !
    there are a few long distance riders here who should be able to give good advise
  3. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    Oops! I'll do that!
  4. Skyliner70cc

    Skyliner70cc Active Member

    I'd rule out a happy time motor (2 stroke frame mounted) for your trip and suggest a rack motor such as the Dax one when it comes out. You will need something that his reliable and allows pedalling without much drag or requiring removal of belts. The 2 stroke frame mounted engines vibrate too much and will numb your hands after 20 mintues of use.

    I'd use a comfort bike instead of a mountain bike and tow a small trailer that carries extra gas, parts, and camping equipment.
  5. dbigkahunna

    dbigkahunna Guest

    I would not recommend buying the bike, engine and taking off. The GEBE and Staton Chain Drive are proven performers. You could pick, pull or drive the stripper. If you follow Bamabikeguy, he has made some long distance rides with the GEBE set up. I am sure somebody has doen it with a Staton, just has not reported to the forum.
    Dont worry about being in shape, the motor assist will help you through it. This will be more mental than physical. You are going to have flats, mechanical breakdowns, and be by yourself a bunch. It sounds like fun!
    Keep doing the research and asking questions.
  6. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    What would you recommend then?
  7. azbill

    azbill Active Member

    I think he meant not doing the long ride until you are familiar and comfortable with whatever setup you decide on
  8. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    Oh. Of course not. Right now I'm concerned with getting opinions on reliability and all that stuff.

    Basically, what bike/engine combo would be ideal in terms of reliability and performance for what I'm trying to do (with the bike itself not costing much more than $1000 max)?

  9. azbill

    azbill Active Member

    read as much as you can about the different setups
    there are many types here and you will have to decide which suits your needs/wants best
  10. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    Oh I plan on reading but it's a lot easier when you have a few specific engines and bikes to read about than a totally open ended assignment :)

    And nothing beats hands on honest user opinions.
  11. azbill

    azbill Active Member

    hows this then,
    IMHO any distance riding will definitely need a rackmount setup then
    the frame mount chinese engines are just to unreliable for any distance
    that narrows it quite a bit for you :lol:
  12. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    If I had any clue what you were talking about it would probably be quite helpful :D

    Thanks though.

    In all seriousness, I have a couple bikes in mind (the typical touring ones; Trek 520 or Surly LHT). I just don't know what engine or if an engine would even work well with either bike.

    Where is bamabikeguy when you need him?
  13. uncle_punk13

    uncle_punk13 Guest

    From what you say your plan is, as far as pedaling part time and using the engine part time, I will say from experience that the Whizzer is NOT an option. The bloody thing is just too heavy and what with having to slip off the belt to pedal then put it back on to ride, well that's just too much hassle.
    Seriously, read Bamabikeguy's threads about his cross country adventures with his GEBE rack mount engine system. After seeing one of these perform in live technicolor I really think it's the ticket you're seeking. Steer clear of the Happy time for this application...
  14. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    Not sure what that means... Lol
  15. gone_fishin

    gone_fishin Guest

    ok, will get in shape as you learn where the right mix of you and engine me when i say you're gonna truly enjoy that part of makes you feel like superman!! :)

    for the details, browsing and searching is best, but i'll fill you in on what i personally know. imo, rack-mount systems are the simplest mechanical choices, and all of them combined will accept a pretty nice selection of engines.

    you want a modern, above-average-quality engine, no matter your final choice of drive-style. i think a general concensus would be that a 2-stroke will run all day while a 4-stroke would need more breaks.

    i have a tanaka 32cc pure-fire utility engine with a GEBE drive. if you decide to go with a 2-stroke, you could do much worse...this line of engine is as "compliant" as it gets at the moment (i think) seems to me that this label would be a pretty good thing to be sportin' on a cross-country trek, it might could make the difference should you encounter any "curious" law-doods :)

    ps-the "happy-time" is our name for the generic chinese 2-stroke kits, great for what they are, but far too cheaply made for your consideration.
  16. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    The problem with some engines from what I see, is that in order to stop using the engine you have to stop the bike and detach something. When you want to use the engine again, you have to reattach. This could be a pain. Are there any quality (and compliant) engines that allow to just hit the kill switch and just keep on pedaling without removing anything?

    You mentioned the Tanaka engine.

    Is the one you have? How hard is that to install onto a bicycle? When I want to pedal without it, do I have to remove anything? Top speed? MPG?

    As for the bike itself - would any typical touring bike that I'd use if I was going cross country without an engine work (Surly LHT or Trek 520)?

    That's like 5 or 6 questions right there. Should keep you busy for a minute or two!
  17. locoWelder

    locoWelder Guest

    well let me say Welcome to MBc ! now let me add my two cents in here, Its all what you want ,you must be comfortable with what you ride , this is the key to riding 100 + miles a day, now that being said rack mounts are the only way to go stay away from friction drives and go with gear&chaine (staton kits) or belt (Gebe kits).for me you cant beat a Staton inc kit(I have posted photos for you to look at of Staton kits) IMHO,they are the best, now I prefer to ride "Bents"(recumbent) long wheel base(LWB) by far the best bike I have ever riden in my life! so go test ride some bikes at your LBS (local bike shop) and find the bike you want and then we can help pick a motor setup that will fit your needs .

    P.S. you will most likely want to pull a trailer so get one and load it with 7cender blocks and pull it around frist befor you get the motor to let you know what you are geting into if the motor goes south and yes sometime even the best breake down

    Attached Files:

  18. Cutwolf

    Cutwolf Guest

    I really like the bike in picture 4. What kind of bike is it and how would it be for cross country? I know, I know, any bike can do cross country if you really want it to, but I want the typically least hassle, most suited to XC bike (within my price range).

    The bikes I'm currently looking at, Loco, are the Surly LHT and the Trek 520. Granted, these are from forum recommendations and I'd still have to try them out, but assuming I go with one of those what motor setup would be ideal?

    To summarize, here are my 2 major concerns at this point in my planning phase:

    - Engine: GEBE and Statons have been mentioned. GEBEs require you to remove something from the bike when you don't want to use the engine. What about Statons? If Statons require you to remove something, is there any engine that allows you to seamlessly transition from motoring to pedaling without, ideally, even getting off the bike?

    - Bike: Like I said, I want something generally felt to be suited for looooooong distance touring. I'm going to go to some bike shops and try bikes out, but I'd like some models in mind to take a long hard look at.

    Thanks again everybody for your help and patience (I know dealing with newbies gets frustrating over on forums for things I'm knowledgeable about!)
  19. Alaskavan

    Alaskavan Guest

    If I was going to do a long trip with "stock" equipment, I'd look for a used recumbent (Hive recently sold (I think) a beauty for a good price). I'd want something like the Honda GX50 and a Staton chain drive. The recumbents are sooo comfortable. The Honda and the Staton drive are said to be reliable (I've never heard of a problem with them). Not the cheapest choices perhaps, but....

    The bikes you mentioned have no suspension. In the old days Id be with you on that. But I've gotten used to the comfort of suspension. I wouldn't want to do a cross country on either of them. I ride an Aluminum Trek with front suspension (you can look at it in the Picture Gallery).

    The Staton has a freewheel where the engine chain drives the wheel. Nothing to disconect if you want to pedal.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 25, 2007
  20. stick

    stick Guest

    I see that you made it over here from Bike forums. Fist off, the thing you remove is he drive belt. This operation takes me less than a minute. You also can just disengage the belt tension-er and just peddle this way. I do this all the time when I go onto the local bike path as motorized vehicles are not allowed.

    GEBE recommends that their motor be used with 26" wheels. Do any of the bikes you mentioned have these or do they have 700c (centimeter) wheels? I personally would recommend a rear rim with 36 spokes. I tried it with 32 spokes and was replacing spokes about every three days (I kept breaking them one at a time) . This really begins to s*** after a while, but now I can replace one in about 30 minutes. Even if you cross country without a motor, being able to replace a spoke on you own is just a feather in your cap.

    Loco welder said that you will probably want to pull pull a trailer. I agree with him completely. If you already have your weight and a 20# motor on that rear wheel, I don't think I would add another 50# of gear on top of that. He was also correct in saying you should pull it around with out the motor to see how much of a beating it would be without the motor.