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Motorized long bikes

There was a bit of long bike discussion on the blog recently in response to a couple of posts about the Fisher El Ranchero concept. Frequent commenter bikesgonewild was the first to mention that the El Ranchero would be “the perfect vehicle for Trek’s electric project.” After seeing those posts, a reader named Bob sent me a couple of interesting long bike images. The first is a Kona that was spotted at Eurobike. It appears to be a Ute with and electric motor and supposedly it will available in 2010. Maybe someone who was at the show can fill me in on some details about this bike.

The second image is a homemade long bike with a 35 cc 4-cycle engine. As Bob pointed out in his message, “electric motors aren’t the only game in the long bike lineup. Gas motors are much cheaper and at upwards of 150 mpg, they are quite economical. Running 1.6 hp through a gearbox provides plenty of get up and go for even the most loaded long bikes.”

As we see a greater variety of long bikes on the market, we will surely see several different models with some sort of motor assist. For bikes that are intended to carry heavy loads, it makes perfect sense. I assume that most will be electric, but what do you all think of the idea of a long bike that gets a bit of assistance from a gas-powered engine?

Updated 1:30: As Dolan pointed out in the comments, I should have at least mentioned the Stokemonkey electric motor kit for bikes with an Xtracycle. That would be your original electric assist cargo bike.

Posted in Commuter, E-bike.

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19 Responses

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  1. erik k says

    I hate the smell of gas fumes in the morning.

    I did however ride an electric townie (with ebike motor) this weekend up a wicked 1000 ft climb with up to a 15% grade. My first thought when I got to the top was, I’ve got to rig this thing up to a Ute

  2. dolan says

    No mention of the Stokemonkey? For shame ;)

  3. James says

    Good point Dolan, I went ahead and updated the post.

  4. -p says

    Gas may have a bad name right now, but small engines are so good that you can’t deny the huge power to weight ratio you can get out of even a weed-wacker sized engine. Not to menion that a fill up takes 30 seconds at any street corner as opposed to 6 hours at an electrical outlet. Plus, maybe a little diesel engine could run on french fry oil?

  5. Bike_Boy says

    Is this the same ‘Dolan’, spam poster in the RBT forums?

  6. dolan says

    No, can’t say I’ve ever spammed the RBT? forums. Can you show me an example of this? (just curious)

  7. Bike_Boy says

    Excuse me then. Just so you know, there is a jerk going by the same name who spams every week with drivel. Just google ‘Dolan the great’, the first few results will give u an idea.

  8. dolan says

    Ah, I see what you mean! Haven’t been on the usenet in ages. This guy’s last name is Dolan (quite common). It’s my first name (very rare), but I’ll keep an eye out.

  9. Nathan says

    Ever since I got wind of SUBs I’ve been trying to figure out a way to circumvent the high price tag on the complete electric assist set-ups. It’s the most viable car replacement for those of us with longish commutes.

  10. m e l i g r o s a says

    i think these are interesting, although could be a bit noisy. I don’t think I’d ride one, but I could see my mom jumping on one of these. Of course per-her preference, with a cruiser style saddle for sure.

  11. C says

    A small gas engine could be good though I can think of a few negatives:
    1) Noise. Most of the small engines I’ve seen are noisy. Really noisy – louder than a car. Lawnmowers, weed whackers, scooters, compressors, etc. Do they make small yet quiet engines?

    2) Vehicle regulations/licensing. If you stick a gas motor on a bicycle does it start to qualify as a scooter/motorcycle when it comes to licensing/insurance requirements? I know that can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

    3) Smell. Again, most of the small gas motors I’ve seen tend to belch nasty fumes.

    I’ll plead ignorance to the current state of technology with regards to small gas engines. Some sort of assist mechanism combined with a long bike would be a great form of urban transportation. My other concern would be cost. A Surly Big Dummy with a Stoke Monkey can end up costing more than a decent used motor scooter. I just checked my local Craigslist and there’s a bunch of used Yamaha and Honda scooters for under $2000.

  12. dolan says


    You’re thinking of two stroke motors. Modern four strokes are actually quite quiet and clean, but also heavier, more complicated, and more expensive.

    As far as Stokemonkey setup being more expensive.. yes, the market is tiny and Todd is pretty much putting together those kits by hand. Give it a few years; I expect in the next ten we’ll see a range of electric scooters hitting the market, an expansion of the electric bike market, and lots of things in between.

  13. jimmythefly says

    Who makes those front-wheel electric assist motors? Basically you just replace your current front wheel with this one and add a battery pack to your rear rack. A few days ago I was wondering why I kept getting dropped by some guy sitting bolt upright on a full-suspension Kmart bike with knobby tires, and it turns out he had an electric motor in the front hub! Not that I’m racing on my commute….I always ride this fast..swear…

  14. bikesgonewild says

    …reader bob & -p have some good points…tempered somewhat by c's truthful comments, but yes, dolan is quite right also, in that 4 stroke engines can be both efficient & yet baffled (muffler-ed)…

    …& ultimately, electric is still costly & not pollution free…the cost & waste just come at a different point "in the cycle", if you will…

    …& jimmythefly…i used to laugh at the "need" for electric assist…'til i rode one…

    …sitting bolt upright, in casual clothes, on my way down for a pot of tea…the hard-core boys on their 'nagos were looking stressed out 'cuz this old guy just should not have been sitting at the end of the group…hard on their ego's & i guess just not proper…eh, what ???…

  15. bikesgonewild says

    …post script: james…interesting that you happened to put this up on the day that chevy’s “volt” was introduced…

  16. Anonymous says

    electric, yes – specifically, hybrid, where the motor kicks in in response to torque rather than throttle. gas, no.

    why? every state I've looked into distinguishes IC-driven from electric/human powered bikes and nowhere is IC legal to operate on MUPs (multi-use paths), sidewalks, or even in some cases, bike lanes on roadways.

    and here in the PNW, hydro & wind power means, yes, you can buy clean battery charging. so, look again at Todd Fahrmer’s StokeMonkey and an Xtracycle and skip that third-world two-stroke b.s. (those little two-stroke weed-whackers pump out more pollutants than any new car sold in the last decade or two).

  17. reb1 says

    I have looked at several options for power assist on our tandem. During the first 12 years of our marriage we used it to haul the children in carts and do the errands and shopping. We are know back to the point where this is more practical. The stokemonkey is underpowered for two people and a cargo cart. I am looking at the EcoSpeed if I choose electric. It is allot cheaper to go with a gas motor. I am considering a cargo cart that has a gas motor and brakes on it. Lightfoot cycles makes these. I would like to travel cross country and this may be a better choice for the tandem when hauling two or more weeks of groceries or camping out.

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