Hello all, I am brand new to this forum but was hoping to get some advice.
I live in Ann Arbor Mi, and commute about 7 miles to work (if anyone is familiar with Ann Arbor that means there's a lot of hills). With gas costs skyrocketing I want a cost efficient alternative way to get to work. Besides the hills, the problem is that I am a stockroom manager for pottery barn (or will be soon) which means 8 hours of heavy lifting, climbing ladders, etc. etc., so riding a traditional bike home after that long day would be somewhat insane for me (I'm not in THAT good of shape). First I will list what my requirements are and then what ideas I've had, hopefully there already exists a solution that I need.
Speed: I know there are laws about this, so I'm gonna say the max 20mph (it already takes me 20 minutes to get to work with all the traffic signals, I'm not sure I'd like a 45 minute commute)
Range: at least 15-20 Miles (in case I can't charge it at work)
Cost: I was hoping to keep it under 600$, because of snow I would only be able to use it 50-75% of the year, so the gas savings paying for itself is far less efficient than say a similar project in California (where gas prices are higher and you can ride it almost all year baring crazy rain)
1. Electric Bike: All but one of the commercial electric bike's I've seen are very very pricey for me
2. Electric Conversion: I've seen a lot about this, but I don't own a bike anymore (since I moved to Michigan) so the cost of a new bike is a factor as well.
3. I've also thought about an electric or biodiesel moped (something that runs on vegetable oil)
I'm not terribly mechanically inclined (or at least trained) but I love to tinker and learn new things. Any ideas on how to build an affordable commuter vehicle that will not set me back more than I can feasibly save in gas in a year would be GREATLY appreciated. Thank you.