Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I seemed to have developed a new habit, since my retirement. I spent way too much time researching. I found that there was so much information available on the Internet that I could search out the tiniest bits of information, if I took my time. I managed a search just as I managed a criminal investigation. By the time I made a decision, I had way more information than I needed.

For instance, right after Mary and I had our falling out, I pulled into the parking lot of the mall. I planned to walk there because it was threatening to rain at any moment. I had been caught in the rain on the trail once already. It was not a pleasant experience. I did not enjoy sitting around in wet clothes or wet shoes. Even though, I could have gone straight home to change, I chose to walk in the mall instead.

I had stepped from the car, when I noticed the bike and rider enter the mall parking area. He was risking being rained on, but there was an even more compelling reason to notice him. He was not pedaling the bike. The bike was moving along at parking lot speed, but the rider was merely sitting on the seat for ballast.

Since it was early, there was a good chance he was a walker like me. That being the case I noticed his clothing, so that I might be able to pick him out later. After I was confident that I would recognize him inside, I went on in to walk.

I looked for him as I walked, but alas I never did see him. I did keep the image of him on the bike in my mind as I walked. After my morning walk, and then my morning breakfast, I went to work researching on the Internet yet again.

To my surprise when I entered 'bicycle motors' into Google, the search engine spit out hundreds of entries. I was surprised because the bike at the mall was the first one I had ever seen. At least it was the first one to which I had paid any attention.

If you tossed in small motor scooters the number tripled. It was obvious from the lack of noise that the bike I had seen was driven by electric power. There were also gasoline motors, which could be strapped onto the bikes. From the design of the gasoline motors one got the feel of a very, very early motorcycle. The first ones were actually beefed up bicycle frames with antique motors. That was the feel of the bikes I saw on the Web. I was sorely tempted to rush out to buy one of the two stroke kits for my bike. My habit of careful investigation led me to hold off. Besides I had read on the web about the smoke and noise of the gasoline bikes. They were cool looking but I could remember days when my motorcycle sat waiting for a mechanic to come look at it. The noise smoke and high maintenance issues led me to research electric bikes.

From all I read the ebike was much more dependable. I almost ordered a conversion kit for about half the price of a cheap gasoline scooter, but fortunately I kept to my research habits. I found quickly that the cost of the highest rated kit, with the best long range batteries, was well over a thousand dollars. It didn't sound bad, if you said it very quickly, and followed it immediately with the cost of a car or motorcycle. However it was four times the cost of the gasoline kit. It all just sounded confusing, so I kept on reading. Not all at once but a little everyday then let the new information simmer in my brain for a day or two before returning for more research. The research was intermingled with the camera research. In other words my brain was filled with new information daily.

It was the way I worked a case, so it became the the way I researched a problem. After several days I stumbled onto a forum where one of the members had posted a how to set of instructions. The instructions were about building an inexpensive Ebike. The bike would not be as efficient, or as pretty as the high priced spread, but he swore it would do the job. That is if the job was just local transportation in a limited range environment.

The parts list didn't look too long and the tool list was comprised of tools I either had, or needed to buy anyway. I needed the tools because I was responsible for all the repairs on both sides my duplex. Most of them I might contract out, but I need the ability to change a light switch or clear a drainpipe. Some jobs would just be too small to hire out. With that in mind, I began to look at my thrift store bicycle in a different light.

I took the advice of the old man from the forum. I began checking out Craig's List every day for an electric scooter. According to the instructions on the forum, any scooter over 400watts would do with a little goosing up. One could replace and upgrade parts so I was not to worry about the condition of the scooter as long as the motor would turn, and the scooter had a more or less complete rear end. The basic idea of the DIY drive was to have the scooter rear wheel sit on top of the bike wheel and turn it. You might ask why anyone would want to go to that trouble instead of just riding the scooter. The answer was quite simple, as the old man explained it in his directions. The children's scooter was not street legal but the completed bicycle would be. It could also be made to run almost twice as fast as a man could pedal a bike.

I filed all the information away in the back of my mind as I moved on to other things. I spent my time reacting to things, not really following through on new projects. I had several projects rattling around inside my head at any given time.

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