The bike shops are missing a good bet..


Well-Known Member
Local time
3:22 AM
Mar 23, 2008
central illinois
Why not sell these motors and accessories?

They have their clientelle, it's true. The Lance Armstrong wannabees, the mudbiking crowd and the skateboarders.

But they could also bring in the mixed bag that you find in any neighborhood. And keep them coming back for upgrades, new motors/bikes, etc. And sell them some accessories along the way.

I'd thought of motorizing a bicycle perhaps twenty years ago. Even tried it with a lawn mower engine about fifteen years ago. (didn't work very well.)
And I would've bought one of these motors if I'd known where to find them. Even when I realized that I could find one online, I hesitated. I wanted to see one, to touch it and see what it was made of. No opportunity. So I finally decided to take the plunge. (No regrets)

If there was one of these in the local bike shop, then I'll bet all sorts of people would have a look, think about it and some of them would come back and buy. It would seem like a great opportunity to expand their business.

Why don't they do it? The only answer that I can come up with is elitism. The feeling that those of us who put a motor on a bike have "adulterated" the bike experience and are deserters.

Could this be the whole story? That would be sad.
a bike shop owner has enough headaches without adding the complications of adding motors (internal combustion or electric) to the mix. ****, bike owner barely know how to take care of their own rides-can you imagine customers coming in to ask to change the sprocket to a larger or smaller one? No way they would do HT engines.

I also think they have enough going on and don't NEED to think about motorized bicycles to be successful. Now, a Harley dealer would be better suited to add a MB line to their inventory-more than a bike shop.

but seriously, if you don't regularly ride a bike without an engine you are missing out.
You're right. One must do a lot of pedaling. I have two bikes at the moment, one motorized one not. Though I'll admit that I cut down my pedaling during July and August.

But I have a hard time seeing bike shops shy away from MBs for fear of the mechanical work involved. They're already doing it.

And perhaps motorcycle shops could make use of MBs as well. I wonder if the H-D crowd woud want to mix with the MB crowd. They have an elite self-image, too.

Perhaps my question could spread a wider net. Couldn't someone make a killing if they offered these in shops, off the shelf. I'm puzzled about why it's not happening.
Great post. I'll chime in...
I've had the EXACT SAME thoughts as you. Why don't bike shops offer MB? They don't around here in So. Oregon and I've looked in Portland, Oregon and other places in Oregon and found nothing!
The only reason I could think of besides what you already said is that they may fear the liability. Since MB is unknown to them, they, like most people, will automatically fear it under the common belief that: unknown = dangerous.
My guess is that most bike shops are making good money now because of gas prices and the Tour de France, etc. The recent demise of the housing ATM phenomenon may slow down some of the Lance Armstrong wannabees who will buy everything in the store regardless of price.
But, the gas prices probably have brought in a new batch of buyers to the local bike shops. When I go in to a bike shop, it is always busy.
I'm not saying the liability issue is a killer, just that it's scary to a shop owner who is making good money to take on a new product like MB.
My guess is that there's money to be made with MB and, thus, entrepreneurs will eventually step in. It may just be that you and I are WAY AHEAD of most people at this point.
As you say, until you ride a MB, it's hard to believe how cool it is. It will take a while for the masses to catch on. Once that happens, it's almost scary to think of the consequences. For now, people will first think of a motorcycle or a scooter since they are more familiar with them as ways to save gas money. Once they realize they don't have to insure, license, register, etc. a MB, they will get interested. At that point, THE MAN will step in and screw it up by regulating the heck out of it and killing it.
I read yesterday that an Oregon legislator has just proposed a new bill to require ALL bikers to wear helmets instead of the current rule that only those under 17 years of age must wear them. When asked why he proposed this change, he replied that high gas prices have caused so many Oregonians to take to bicycles that he feared head injuries from biking accidents would skyrocket. I have no doubt that, once someone like this legislator hears about MB, he'll be only too eager to save us from ourselves and regulate them to death.
Regardless of the wisdom of the Nanny State mindset displayed, it shows that gas prices are starting to have an effect and MB interest is sure to go way up. At that point, MB shops will appear.

Just my 2 cents today...
Have a great day!
Steve G.
Grants Pass, Oregon
Well, I talked with the owner/operator of the biggest/best/oldest (46 yrs in biz) bike shop in this area Tuesday this week. We discussed what I'm looking to do, and while he is perfectly willing to give advice, order parts for me, etc, he isn't interested in getting into motored bikes again. Said he has a man he refers that work out to. I asked why, and he told me that there were several reasons, but mostly it is economics.

He told me that the margin on the small engine work is so small that it just isn't worth what it costs to equip a shop, get the required permits, and mostly. buy the required insurance. Seems he got into aftermarket friction drive kits in the 70's, was selling them, installing them, etc. He's a pretty sharp guy, and told me he checked carefully what his potential liability to a customer who bought such from him was, and his attorney told him to get a waiver signed by the buyer each time. So he did just that.

Sold an engine equipped bike to a customer, who let his 14 yr old son take it out, and promptly get run over on it. Despite his insurance, his attorney, the waiver and all, the guy sued him and won. Told me he spent almost $60.000 over three years in the appeals process before the appeals court threw the verdict out. Meanwhile, on his attorneys advice, he quit having anything to do with motorizing bicycles.

He's happy dealing with pedal powered machines, does pretty good business, has two knowledgeable techs/mechanics (one is paraplegic, with the most RAD motorized wheelchair I've ever seen) who have been with him for many years, and while he'll order bike parts, install bike parts, service the bike itself all day long he won't touch the engine or anything to do with the engine on a bike.

Can't blame him, really.
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Hi, SS
Thanks for the info.
Yep, that's about what I figured. The liability is scary with MB.
I see the day when MBs are very common (imagine a typical Chinese city image you've seen where all the people are riding bicycles in crowds) in America because of the price of gas and other issues.
Once there are THAT many bicycles, then the odds of getting hit by a 2 ton car go way down and the liability becomes more manageable.
In the past, there was no need for people to ride MB - it was just for fun. It was a novelty and a bike shop owner didn't lose any business if he didn't offer MB.
Once the masses see MB as a form of commuter transport, then the bike shops will see more and more people going elsewhere to find a MB after being told "No, we don't deal with MBs." At that point, they'll deal with the liability issues just as they do now with bicycles.
Sadly, as I said earlier, that is also the point at which government will step in to regulate it so as to make money from it. This is especially true since gas tax revenues will continue to go down as the number of gallons of gas sold goes down.
As an example of this last concept, in Oregon, there have been several proposals and even a pilot program to put a GPS in your car to measure the number of miles you drive and send you a tax bill for 'road repair' taxes. This was prompted by fears of hybrid and other alternate fuel cars NOT paying gas taxes.
And, people have been fined for making and using their own biodiesel because they are NOT paying the gas taxes because they don't go to the pump. In most states, it's illegal to use a fuel that hasn't been approved by THE MAN.
Watch out! It's coming. The MB craze is fun right now but, if it ever catches on widely, it will be regulated to death.

Steve G.
Grants Pass, Oregon
as a bussiness owner/oper. i think it is several reasons, most of which have been mentioned allready. first i would be concerned with being sued. i would'nt want to sell something that has to be tinkered with so much, as it would overwhelm most people. as someone said before thats just a big headache. plus to be able to make any money, you would have to jack the kit price up, or else you would lose money on "backcalls". unless you charged 200.00 or more on installs, & made at least 50.00 kit markup. when i had my sheet metal & HVAC bussiness i had a cnc plasma burner. i had all these customers wanting parts fabricated. no one could understand why i had no interest in doing this.well i allready had more than i could do in heating & ac service, my machine cost 50,000.00 , so i would not even turn it on for less than 50.00, that was enough to turn most people away. my bussiness consumed my whole life, i guess my point is, sometimes it looks a lot different from the bussiness owners view, than the customers view.
I agree completely, Steve. I'm a natuve Oregonian, and I love the PNW. I haven't actually lived there since 1981 - came to Texas back then for work (I lived in OC then, and local unemployment was over 30%) and to continue my studies. I was in Texas until 2004 (started or helped start three businesses, sold out of each), then came here to Shreveport for family reasons after my wife's murder in 2001 in Houston. Couldn't stay there anymore, and was so utterly disgusted with the Texas courts that I wanted out of the entire state.

For me, these motorized bikes are fascinating - so incredibly versatile and such great potential personal expressions of creativity and talent that they are irresistible. Not too mention, the potential savings to the users are mind-boggling. Unfortunately, the nanny-state mentality will end up regulating them to mass conformity.
There's a new little bike shop that opened here this year. The owner is into electric bikes, recumbents, etc. He's asked me to build some motoredbikes for him to sell, but I would have to take time off from playing with my toys to build some.
Hi, again, SS
Thanks for the support!
I'm very sorry to hear about your horrible experience in TX. I can't even imagine what you must go through every day. Again, very sorry for you and appreciate and admire your obvious will to continue and contribute.
Also, FWIW, I ALWAYS read your posts carefully because they are so thoughtful.
You said it very well and captured my feelings exactly as to my fascination with MB.
To me, it will be a sad day when MBs are wiped out by THE MAN's regulations, taxes, etc.
At any rate, it's a blast now and I'm sure glad I found this site!

Thanks again for ALL your great posts!!!
Please keep them coming as you're able!
Steve G
Grants Pass, Oregon