relative newbie looking for reccomendations for reliable transportation


Local time
9:35 AM
Aug 28, 2019
Hello, I've been browsing the forums and would like to ask everyone's reccomendations for my (technically) second vehicle.

About me/my sitch: I live in DC, a city where traffic isn't very fast. My job is about 2 miles from my house and i'm looking for a vehicle/solution to getting there. I've been using a very cheap electric bike for the past month or so but the bike path I normally use just had a boom of nearby construction and the many diversions coming with it has added a lot of frustration and time to my commute. There's an alternative way to get there but there's no bike path and the sidewalks are very narrow and not all that trustworthy, nvm the risk of running over one of my neighbors, so I'd have to ride with traffic. I'm looking for a vehicle/kit that will help me make that commute five days a week.

I'm not mechanically inclined with engines (though willing to learn/put in effort) but have a functional level of bike knowledge.

I had a cheapo 2 stroke when I lived in Austin, purchased from a crazy old man who runs a backyard dealership (I know, I know, I was seduced by the picturesque weirdness of it and totally new to this kind of bike). It had many problems, mostly due to the guy who sold it to me cutting corners (no rim tape for instance, causing flats until I realized the problem).

I don't have a license so a regular scooter is right out, due to DC laws, tho a moped with pedals may fall under the category of "motor-assisted bicycle" ( Non-traditional Motor Vehicle chart_0.pdf )

My priorities, in order:

1: Reliability. I don't mind checking before and after every ride but I do want a bike that won't break down. This will be my primary means of transportation to and from work.

2: Budget: my budget max is about 400$ (minus the bike, which are cheap on craigslist here). I can go a bit higher if the bike is included. I'm willing to put in effort to make something within that budget work but again, reliability is a priority.

3: Accomadating of a rear rack so I can install a seat and give my GF rides, assuming this is legal and safe.

NOT priorities:

1: Speed. Like I said, neighborhood traffic in DC is pretty slow. 20 mph should get me there and back just fine.

2: Looks: The uglyer the better tbh, something fancy looking just invites unwanted attention.

Possibilities I'm looking at:

1: Axle drive kit from bikeberry

Out of stock but i'm willing to wait if there are advantages to it

2: Friction drive kit:

Seems easy to install and reliable BUT DC frequently has wet weather. Will it still be functional? Was there ever a consensus on whether the b****bee kits were worth it?

3: Belt drive kit:

Seems reliable and less prone to the alignment problems my chain-drive 2 stroke back in Austin had.

4: Old moped with pedals

Hey I know everyone's a motored bike partisan here, but I *think* a moped that can be pedaled falls under our definition of "motorized bicycle" here. I can't quite tell tho and don't wanna invest money and time into a vehicle that'll be grounded if I ever get stopped. Any way to find out for sure?

I'm open to suggestions tho. My heart's not set on any one kind.
Still one rule man... Don't get caught. For real though I'm not sure how bad traffic is in DC but a nice regular pedal bike may be better for a 2 mile commute. Can you ride a pedal bike on the road there?
if your going on a 2 mile commute you might be better off with a regular bicycle (not a Walmart bike, but a quality name brand, trek is a good one imho)

personally, id go with a 4 stroke kit and keep it quiet (ie dont be a jackass on the road)

last thing you want is a big fine, so make sure you arnt breaking any laws, how are the cops in your area? do they care or are they ticket machines?

also, you dont need to get it inspected or pass emissions,

remember, your limited to 20mph (almost all stock kits go around 30, so you need to be easy on the throttle)

Silent, with pedals, with lights & horn, drum brakes, moped wheels and tyres, 23.5mph top speed, 25 mile range, rear folding huge rack🤭 can also be a passenger seat with cushioned backrest. And it's ugly. 😃
It won't go up mountains, hub motor has no gears. Its heavy.
The batteries are SLA but it would certainly be possible to upgrade. Battery box locked to frame.
The springs in the rack and track stand need to be stronger, that's why parts are tied.
Anyway it's a suggestion. ☺

In the background is the smallest church in the world. :coffee:🧐
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what is the specs of your electric bike now? I mean 2 mile commute... by the time you warm up the engine you coulda been half way there on an ebike. LOL. there could be a chance to upgrade your ebike engine and battery to hit that 20 mph cruise.
Since it's such a short drive I'd just either upgrade your current electric bike or build a basic 36v 10ah hub motor bike. It'll be more reliable, more discreet, you'll be allowed to bring it inside buildings (no one lets a stinky 2 stroker into anywhere), cheaper to run and overall better for your requirements. Does it do 20mph? Check. Reliable? Check. Budget? Check. Rear rack? Unfortunately, not checked.

If you are damn determined to go the gas route and really want to be able to accommodate your gf, all of the kits you listed are a no go. You'll want to be running a 79cc predator. This will be as reliable if not more so than those other motors, you can get replacement engines at harbor freight for roughly $100, it'll have the torque to get 2 people moving from a dead stop, and you can do it for under $400.
$259 to be exact:

Nevermind, I just read this part of the DOT rules for your area

A motorized bicycle is a two or three wheeled vehicle with all of the following characteristics:
(a) A post mounted seat or saddle for each person that the device is designed and equipped to carry;
(b) A vehicle with two (2) or three (3) wheels in contact with the ground, which are at least sixteen inches (16 in.) in diameter;
(c) Fully operative pedals for human propulsion; and
(d) A motor incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than twenty miles per hour (20 mph) on level ground. A motorized bicycle shall be a motorcycle when operated by motor at speeds in excess of thirty miles per hour (30 mph) and the operator shall be required to have on his or her possession a valid motorcycle endorsement. A motorized bicycle shall be a motor-driven cycle when operated by motor at speeds in excess of twenty miles per hour (20 mph) and the operator shall be required to have on his or her possession a valid driver license.

Technically, all of your engine ideas are capable of propelling a bike to greater than 20mph on level ground. Not too sure how they would test or determine this. Also, anything that is classified as motorized cannot use bike lanes, this is another point towards building a better electric as they tend to not be obviously motorized.
Yeah I'm 95% sure this rule is never enforced and with the amount of traffic in DC, opportunities for breaking it on neighborhood streets are probably few and far between.
Then I'd go with the crossed-out suggestion then. A 79cc 4 stroke will be far more useful when trying to move you and your gf than any of the ones in your original post.