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  1. #1
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    Putting a motor on a bicycle

    thinking about putting a lawn mower motor or something on this bike? anyone know the laws for this? FL and NY? how big of a motor can i put on it before i need a motorcycle LIC? http://img686.imageshack.us/img686/5470/1002312.jpg do they sell kits ? how would i keep the pedals?

  2. #2
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    A bicycle with a gas engine attached is illegal in NY:

    http://www.nydmv.state.ny.us/DMVfaqs.htm#MOPEDS

    Motorized Scooters, Mini-Bikes, Dirt Bikes, Go-Karts, Motor Assisted Bicycles

    You cannot register any of the motorized devices from the list below in NYS. You cannot operate these devices on sidewalks, public streets or highways in NYS. These devices are motor vehicles, but they do not have the correct equipment or design for operation on roadways.

    • Motorized Scooter - a device with a motor attached and a handlebar for a standing rider. An example of a motorized scooter is the device called the Go-ped®.
    • Mini-bike - a small, motorized device with two wheels and created for off-road use. A mini-bike does not qualify as a moped, a motorcycle or an ATV.
    • Dirt Bike - a motorized device like a motorcycle, but created for and used for off-road use. Some "dirt bikes" qualify as an ATV. These vehicles can register and operate off-road as an ATV.
    • Go-Kart - a small, motorized device with four wheels, created for off-road use. You cannot register a go-kart as a motor vehicle or ATV because a go-kart does not have the same equipment.
    • Motor-assisted Bicycle - a bicycle to which a small motor is attached. A motor-assisted bicycle does not qualify for a registration as a motorcycle, moped or ATV and does not have the same equipment.

    These devices are not allowed on any street, highway, parking lot, sidewalk or other area that allows public motor vehicle traffic. You are subject to arrest if you operate one of these motorized vehicles and do not have a registration, driver license, inspection, insurance or correct equipment. The DMV can not provide any information about operation of these devices on private property. Contact the local authorities and property owners.

    And you can't post on bike forums any more

    A.
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 01-06-10 at 06:16 PM.

  3. #3
    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Things which should not be spoken of.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

  4. #4
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    Adam: Do you know how bicycles with electric assist are evaluated under that law?

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    what about FL? and what about electric?

    I thought about building a chopper.... with a 600CC + motor...

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    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    Adam: Do you know how bicycles with electric assist are evaluated under that law?
    E-bikes also cannot be operated legally on public roads in NY (it's the only state with an outright ban on riding e-bikes on public roads). There is legislation pending in the NY Legislature that would repeal the ban (at least in part, the Senate version of the repeal would continue to ban e-bikes with motors over 750W and/or that can travel over 20 MPH). The Assembly has passed it's version of the legislation; the Senate bill is stalled.

  7. #7
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    A new law is being passed (already passed?) to allow "electric assisted bicycles" as a motor vehicle.

    http://open.nysenate.gov/openleg/api/html/bill/S4014

    It must be manufactured to certain safety standards (DYI ebikes are still not allowed), have functional pedals, two or three wheels (4 wheels is a no) no more than 1000W of power and be limited to 20mph, helmet required and be operated by 16yo or older. I'm not sure if it's in effect though. I see a lot of delivery people using electric bikes though and no one get hassled by the cops.

    It won't require registration but like a class C motorcycle/moped (20mph) it may require a drivers license, I'm not sure here, the above bill doesn't mention that.

    Also, electric bikes are not frowned upon by cyclists.

    I don't know about FL.

    Adam
    Last edited by AdamDZ; 01-06-10 at 07:40 PM.

  8. #8
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    Thanks Adam. I was wondering since the prospect of converting my cargo bike to an e-bike had crossed my mind.

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    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    Thanks Adam. I was wondering since the prospect of converting my cargo bike to an e-bike had crossed my mind.
    Actually, the Senate bill has stalled. It's not clear whether the Senate will take it up without some pressure from constituents. I'd suggest you contact your state Senator. The Assembly passed it's version of the bill last year.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AdamDZ View Post
    ...Also, electric bikes are not frowned upon by cyclists....
    I don't know that is so certain. I've seen a lot of bad remarks about either type around here.

    I'd also question the logic of only allowing e-bikes: they are the most-expensive type, yet they have the least power and the least useful ranges. How is limiting the public to a "crippled" alternative form of transportation doing them a favor?

    -------

    I will admit however that if all are totally prohibited where you live, an e-bike is far stealthier than any gas-engine setup.

    As to it being illegal, who cares?

    It's a dumb law, and no cop is going to want to become famous for causing a fatality wreck while trying to catch a fleeing e-biker. Lay out the cost for a beastly setup ($1500+) and go have fun.
    ~

  11. #11
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    Yeah, like I said a lot delivery people ride those. But it's luck. All it takes is one overzealous cop trying to make his ticket quota at the end of the month. Like tinted windows on cars: it's illegal to have tinted driver and passenger side windows but many people do. A friend of mine just got a ticket for that after driving with tinted windows for many years.

    Adam

  12. #12
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    The legality of motorizing a bike in Florida, seems to be open to whoever wants to pull you over. Many here, including myself, have gotten away with it for years. Some riders, though, are pulled over & cited. Who knows, really ?? If you ride the motorized bike at high speeds, if it is super loud, expect problems.
    Here is a site you may like.

    http://www.motoredbikes.com/
    Last edited by Esteban32696; 01-07-10 at 06:03 AM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Doug5150 View Post
    I don't know that is so certain. I've seen a lot of bad remarks about either type around here.
    I'm personally not concerned about the approval of cyclists. Does it work for me? Is it going to piss off me and everyone around me (like a lawnmower engine probably would)?

    That said, I'd playfully mock any acquaintance that rode an e-bike that wasn't a cargo bike. An electric commuter? That's cheating, and missing part of the point to boot!

    I'd also question the logic of only allowing e-bikes: they are the most-expensive type, yet they have the least power and the least useful ranges. How is limiting the public to a "crippled" alternative form of transportation doing them a favor?
    I'm guessing it is either a safety concern, or a noise concern, or both.

    Edit: Or maybe it's a question of a power-assisted cycle vs. a fully motorized conversion? How difficult/feasible is it to use an internal combustion engine as just a power assist mechanism on a bike? If it's impractical, that would make a bicycle with a gas engine little more than a really poor do-it-yourself motorcycle or scooter. That would explain why they wouldn't want to allow gas-driven "bicycles".

    I will admit however that if all are totally prohibited where you live, an e-bike is far stealthier than any gas-engine setup.

    As to it being illegal, who cares?

    It's a dumb law, and no cop is going to want to become famous for causing a fatality wreck while trying to catch a fleeing e-biker. Lay out the cost for a beastly setup ($1500+) and go have fun.
    ~
    TBH, I doubt the original banning is a "dumb law" in the sense that someone went out of their way to ban power-assisted bicycles. It's more likely that power-assisted bikes were rare-to-nonexistent when the law was created so it didn't occur to anyone to try to make a distinction between a power-assisted cycle and a fully motorized vehicle.
    Last edited by Arcanum; 01-07-10 at 07:34 AM. Reason: Another idea about gas motors vs. electric.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Retro Grouch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Esteban32696 View Post
    The legality of motorizing a bike in Florida, seems to be open to whoever wants to pull you over. Many here, including myself, have gotten away with it for years. Some riders, though, are pulled over & cited. Who knows, really ?? If you ride the motorized bike at high speeds, if it is super loud, expect problems.
    Here is a site you may like.

    http://www.motoredbikes.com/
    Yup. I think it's the "second issue". Lots of things are "deminimus violations". While technically illegal, you can get away with them for years. Add a second issue however, even if the second issue is an irritant that's not technically illegal, and the deminimus violation will get you written up. Too dark window tint is an excellent example. There's a lot of wisdom in knowing when to say: "You have a point, officer."

    Cruise around quietly on an electric powered bike = OK. Frighten an old lady in the process = ticket + "I better not even catch you riding that thing home."

  15. #15
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by turtlemilk View Post
    thinking about putting a lawn mower motor or something on this bike? anyone know the laws for this? how would i keep the pedals?
    Addressing this mechanically, it's probably not a good idea. Bicycles are made for human-power, or typically less than a half-horsepower. A three-horse motor would put a lot of stress on it.

    Second, you'd have to offset a lawnmower engine by quite a bit in order to get the crankshaft to align with the gears on the bike.

    Third, rotation. You'd probably be looking at a roto-tiller engine, made to run upright, rather than a lawnmower engine made to run lying down.

    Finally the mount. Unless you're welding to an old gaspipe cruiser, welding a motor mount to a bike is going to be an iffy proposition.

    That's not to say it can't be done--there's a guy around here running a chainsaw engine on an MTB. Stinks like hell and sounds like a chainsaw. Annoying thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    That said, I'd playfully mock any acquaintance that rode an e-bike that wasn't a cargo bike. An electric commuter? That's cheating, and missing part of the point to boot!
    Back in the summer, while stopped at a light on Clover St, I came across an old couple riding their e-assists. When the light changed, I told them to go ahead since I wasn't gong to be able to beat them. They laughed and let me go first.

    Tuesday I came across a guy on a BMX with an e-assist on the front wheel, with the battery bouncing around in a paperboy basket on the front. Thing rattled like crazy over every bump.

    He was a real engineer too. The bike had no brakes. You should have seen him trying to stop Flintstones-style on the ice and snow we had that day. And he was out in a snowstorm without lights or reflectors. I guess you don't need those things when you're young and have a few hundred watts on tap.

    He decided the sidewalk might be a better idea, but didn't have studs, or even knobs, because he couldn't get the bike from the street to the sidewalk without spinning the wheel like crazy. Power without traction is useless.

    He went by me climbing Cobbs Hill on Winton, wobbling and weaving in the slush. I said hi as he went by. Surprised him, I guess. He nearly fell off the thing turning to say hi back. But dammit, he was faster than some old guy on a cross bike with studs!
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    Back in the summer, while stopped at a light on Clover St, I came across an old couple riding their e-assists. When the light changed, I told them to go ahead since I wasn't gong to be able to beat them. They laughed and let me go first.
    Hah! There's a decent chance that was the RIT president and his wife! I know they both ride e-bikes around some! Let me tell you, being overtaken by an old guy in a suit going uphill is disheartening until you realize he's on an e-bike. Then you just think "bah, he's cheating!"

    Tuesday I came across a guy on a BMX with an e-assist on the front wheel, with the battery bouncing around in a paperboy basket on the front. Thing rattled like crazy over every bump.

    He was a real engineer too. The bike had no brakes. You should have seen him trying to stop Flintstones-style on the ice and snow we had that day. And he was out in a snowstorm without lights or reflectors. I guess you don't need those things when you're young and have a few hundred watts on tap.

    He decided the sidewalk might be a better idea, but didn't have studs, or even knobs, because he couldn't get the bike from the street to the sidewalk without spinning the wheel like crazy. Power without traction is useless.

    He went by me climbing Cobbs Hill on Winton, wobbling and weaving in the slush. I said hi as he went by. Surprised him, I guess. He nearly fell off the thing turning to say hi back. But dammit, he was faster than some old guy on a cross bike with studs!
    Well, I give him credit for the ingenuity, but you wouldn't catch me on that thing. Call me crazy, but I like being able to actually steer and, you know, stop without wiping out. Hybrid with 40C studded knobbies for me.

  17. #17
    tsl
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
    Well, I give him credit for the ingenuity, but you wouldn't catch me on that thing. Call me crazy, but I like being able to actually steer and, you know, stop without wiping out. Hybrid with 40C studded knobbies for me.
    There's the tires issue (I run 35mm Nokian W106s) and the brakes and lights matter too, but I was thinking about how cold it would be on the thing considering he's just sitting there in the breeze doing nothing. For me, climbing that hill the other day was a welcome opportunity to make some serious BTUs. It finally knocked the chill off me and I was warm all the rest of the way.
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by tsl View Post
    There's the tires issue (I run 35mm Nokian W106s) and the brakes and lights matter too, but I was thinking about how cold it would be on the thing considering he's just sitting there in the breeze doing nothing. For me, climbing that hill the other day was a welcome opportunity to make some serious BTUs. It finally knocked the chill off me and I was warm all the rest of the way.
    40mm Kenda Klondikes here. Cheap, but they work. You've got a point about the BTUs though. Just pedaling my 7 speed on the knobbies is enough to take the chill off for me, but just sitting there would be kinda cold. Still, control first, then comfort.

  19. #19
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Actually you can purchase engine kits designed to bolt on to a bicycle. I believe that they are available in three different sizes.
    I had one that I had intended to install on my Xtracycle, turned out it wouldn't fit in my frame. Ironically, I wound up selling it to a bike shop.
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    Go to the Motorized Bike Forum:

    http://www.motoredbikes.com/index.php?

    And all your questions will be answered. There are discussions of legalities in each state, sections for gas and electric motors, kits, etc.

    Many states allow under 50cc engines to be classified as "mopeds" and may be used with little or no restriction. (other than highway operation)

    There are a variety of companies selling kits, entire bikes, and so forth.
    (also, plenty of stuff on YouTube)

  21. #21
    Senior Member nwmtnbkr's Avatar
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    In 2001, the US Congress enacted legislation that allowed consumer bicycle safety standards promulgated by the Consumer Product Safety Administration to apply to "low speed," ready-made electric bikes (defined as having a motor under 750W and speeds under 20 MPH) sold in the US rather than require these bikes to meet more rigorous standards set by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. (Public Law 107-319) However, Congress left the responsibility for promulgating safety regulations for more powerful ready-made e-bikes (defined as electric motors over 750W and speeds over 20 MPH) with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Those bikes must meet moped/motorcycle safety standards, meaning beefier components and more safety features, including better brakes and lighting systems (headlights, tail lights, turn signals and brake lights).

    At present, conversion kits aren't covered by these safety standards. As more and more powerful hub motor kits from China keep entering the market, I expect to see that change. As an e-bike enthusiast, I think we early adopters may do harm if we're not careful about safety when converting our own bikes. Attention to the adequacy of all components, from the frame to the brakes, needs to be considered when a conversion build is being planned. Careful operation on the roads as well as adherence to rules of the road are probably more important to e-bike riders since the addition of hub motor, and the attendant increase in the cyclist's speed, isn't something the average motorist may recognize and adjust driving behaviors to accommodate. Personally, I don't want to go faster than 17 MPH. Some of the descents down the mountains here are steep enough that my speeds go well over 30 MPH. My speed hits 36 MPH on of the hills close to my house. I can tell you that I'm pulsing my brakes on those descents and wishing the hills weren't as steep.

  22. #22
    Human Powered Vehiclist
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    Now why would you want to ruin a perfectly good bike with a motor?
    Specialized Tricross Singlecross

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay D View Post
    Now why would you want to ruin a perfectly good bike with a motor?
    My cargo bike has a rated capacity of over 400 lbs. not counting the rider. If I were to load it anywhere near that, I'd want a little help up hills. And by "want a little help" I mean "probably wouldn't make it otherwise".

  24. #24
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    Can't say for NY, but in FL in order for a bicycle to have motor and still be classified as a bicycle the motor has to be electric and not capable of propelling the bike faster than 20 mph.

    The electric motor requirement changed in the last few years. Used to be a gas motor was also acceptable.

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    As noted, laws vary wildly. Here in Missouri, it used to be that anything with a motor was a "motor vehicle" and subject to licensing. However, the gas crunch of 1976 gave some of the folks in the legislature the idea to loosen up and allow "mopeds" which were narrowly defined. Later, they expanded the definition, which was a big mistake as it made all those silly "pocket bikes" legal...

    As to why....In addition to being a dedicated cyclist since the 70s, I also like mechanics and building things in general. There's a certain "cool" factor to some of these motorized bikes....Take a look at some of the pics on the site I mentioned and you'll see some remarkable machines.

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