While motorized bicycles aren’t yet incredibly common, traditional biking has enjoyed a swell in popularity in recent years. This is largely due to the benefits that biking has over driving a car, including avoiding traffic jams and difficult parking situations, saving money on gas, and reducing your carbon footprint. However, riders can enjoy many of the same benefits on a motorized bicycle.
What is a Motorized Bicycle?
If you’re not entirely sure what “motorized bicycle” means, you’re not alone. Though they’re becoming slightly more common, many people have yet to be exposed to this mode of transportation. Basically, a motorized bicycle refers to a regular bicycle (with pedals) that also has a motor and transmission.
Despite it’s motor and transmission, a motorized bike, or motor bicycle, can be ridden like a regular bike, by pedaling, with the engine off. However, whenever you feel like you need additional help—for instance, going up a steep hill, or if you’re too tired or sore—you can start the engine. As you ride, you can seamlessly start or stop the engine, still getting the exercise of regular bike riding, but with the aid of an engine when you really need it. Additionally, some bicycle motors are entirely electric.
Bicycle Motor Kit
Do you have an old bicycle lying around that no one seems to use anymore? Then you might be pleased to hear that instead of shelling out for a brand new motorized bicycle, there are plenty of at-home bicycle motor kits available to convert your old bike to a motorized one.
The biggest benefit of purchasing a kit is that rather than needing to research and buy all the different motorized bicycle parts, a one time purchase of a kit can provide you with everything you need. If you’re a mechanically inclined person, using it should be a relatively simple task; if not, there are plenty of resources available to walk you through the step-by-step, so don’t get discouraged.
Before selecting a bicycle motor kit there are a few decisions that you as the rider will need to make about the kind of motorized bike you’re looking for. In order to make sure all your needs are met, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Terrain: What type of terrain will you be riding your bike on? If you live in a relatively flat place, you’ll likely be okay with a smaller motor. However, if you live in a place like San Francisco—where you’ll frequently be climbing steep hills—it’s probably wise to seek out a bigger motor, as you’ll need the extra power.
- Weight of rider: This may seem obvious, but lighter riders will not need as much power as heavier riders, and therefore could do with a smaller engine. Generally speaking, it’s best to choose the smallest engine possible for your weight and riding needs.
- Torque: To decide the level of torque that you need, you’ll need to consider the above to factors: terrain and rider weight. The heavier the rider and the hillier the terrain, the more torque you will need; and the larger the engine, the greater the torque.
Kits are available from numerous places online, including Live Fast Motors, BikeBerry.com, and GasBike.net, to name a few. There are even kits available that include electric bicycle motors, allowing you to really save on gas. Those are sold in a variety of places, including Clean Republic and GeoOrbital.
Motorized Bicycle vs. Moped or Scooter
You may be curious about how much a motorized bicycle differs from a moped or scooter. The short answer is: quite a bit. While a motorized bike and moped or scooter could hypothetically serve the same purpose transportation-wise, there are a few notable differences between them.
First, a motorized bicycle allows you the opportunity to pedal, rather than rely exclusively on a motor—as is the case with your typical moped/scooter—giving you the opportunity to get some exercise in during your rides as well as consume less gas. Second, a motor bicycle is typically smaller and more transportable than a moped, giving it a bit of an edge in the convenience department. Lastly, riding a motorized bicycle usually doesn’t require specific licensing or insurance, unlike mopeds.
Though something to keep in mind is that motorized bicycles are regulated differently depending on the location—and in some places are treated the same way as mopeds, so be sure to check your local regulations.
If you think a full-fledged motorcycle is beyond your needs or comfort level, but a plain old bicycle i