Monday, August 9, 2010

It took two weeks after the closing before I had my first bike ready to sell. It wasn't great but the kit was easy enough to assemble. It was designed so almost any idiot could have done it without ruining either the kit or the bike. Yes I managed to get it set without wrecking either kit but it was a close call. Even so I was very proud of myself.

I had the good bike rack mounted on the sedan left to me by the Marshal service, so I tried my first ride. I drove the bike to Wrightsville island. I removed it from the bike rack while parked in the lot of Johnny Mercer's pier. The bike went about ten miles before the battery warning light began to blink on and off. To get the ten miles, I had to run up and down the island several times. It got some notice but not as much as I would have liked.

When I got back home, I began researching signs. Since the bike was the draw, I began looking at signs to hang from it. As usual there was nothing being sold that seemed up to the task. So I designed my own.

Designing the sign was more about designing the sign holder, then writing a few words on a piece of cardboard. I knew I wanted something with movement but not something that would get in the way of the bike's normal operation. I settled on a weather vane kind of mount, It was no more than a clamp over the seat post, with a one foot high pole set back about six inches from the post. the post could move inside the holder when the wind blew it. It was supposed to wave side to side.

I envisioned a sign with just the name of the company and my new web address. Con men are pretty adaptable, so designing a website using the host freeware was pretty simple. Since I didn't want to be tied to the site too much, I required the buyer to contact me by phone. After that everything would be done on the phone or by mail or even email. On line sales were by paypal only, for credit card purchase I required telephone orders, checks were to be accepted through the mail, so I had everything covered. I didn't expect to sell anything on the net or by mail but it was an option that would help account for the extra money flowing through my account. I needed a few real purchases to hide the fake ones.

Where I was located the land was flat and the ebike was great. It was a tourists dream. One could convince themselves that they were getting real exercise without breaking a sweat, as my daddy would have said.

I had the second bike with the hub motor finished, when I got my first business call. "Rhino bike company," I said into the cell phone.

"Hi, I saw you on the beach yesterday. I think that is just the coolest thing. How far can I go on a charge and how fast," the woman on the phone asked.

"You aren't going to set any land speed records, but you can probably do about twenty miles an hour. Here at the beach you can probably get ten to twenty miles on a charge, depending on your choice of batteries."

"Do you rent them. We are going to be here a couple of weeks. I would love to have one of your bikes to use while we are here."

I had never thought about a rental, so I had to do some quick tap dancing. "Twenty-five dollars a day. Just leave me your credit card number, like you do at the motel. We will make the charges after you return the bike. Now that is with a lead acid battery pack. If you want the fancy lithium pack it will be forty dollars a day." I explained the benefits of the lithium pack but she decided that she and her husband would need only a few miles a day so they were willing to go with the lead acid pack.

I delivered the two bikes to them. I was surprised that the man didn't demand that I remove the front fender sign, but he seemed to be okay with it. I did take the more expensive rear sign away. When I left they were climbing on the bike for a quick ride down the beach. I saw them ride off like a couple of kids and knew I needed a better battery system. I needed something that could be easily switched out. It would be best if one battery was charging while one was being used.

The answer came from the Internet of course. With the hub motor the 12ah battery pack was good for about five to seven miles at the beach. That is on the flat ground and with a little pedaling, just enough to get it moving from the at rest position.

The three 12ah batteries would fit almost perfectly into a plastic shoe box from the dollar store. It wasn't going to be a problem but to make the batteries an easy change I needed to build trailers for them. It wouldn't look as cool, but it would be the answer for the lead acid batteries. The lithium could still fit on the bike since they were smaller and lighter.

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