Vandwelling Survivalist: Riding a Bike or Electric Bike

I believe we are at the sunset of civilization as we know it. What happens if the lights of Blythe, and every other city, go out? Living in a van is a huge advantage and and a few simple things will make it even better.

I believe we are at the sunset of civilization as we know it. What happens if the lights of Blythe, and every other city, go out? Living in a van will be a huge advantage and a few simple things will make it even better.

I’m doing a series of posts on how I’m preparing to survive an ongoing recession and an ever-increasing price of oil as a result of Peak Oil. Chances are you have an idea in mind of what a survivalist is and they are mostly negative opinions. Before we look at the specific actions I’m taking I want to first tell you what I am NOT doing to prepare and how I differ from most of your ideas of Survivalist-Prepper.

What Prepping is Not to Me

Prepping does not mean living at any costs. Unlike most preppers, I’m not afraid to die. When people start to die as a result of Peak Oil and Climate Change, I’m hoping I‘m not with the very first, but I fully expect to die and not ride it through to the very end. That’s fine with me, why suffer and fight through those terrible times! My spiritual beliefs totally convince me that death is not a tragedy or the end; it’s just a transition to something else. I’ve had a great life and whatever is waiting for me on the other side will be fine.

Prepping, is not giving away the present for the future. If you’ve read my blog for long you know that I insist on being happy now and think that (speaking for me and only for me!) sacrificing the present for a distant future is a mistake. So when I am making a decision about actions I might take to prepare for Peak Oil, I only do things that make my present life better (or at least don’t make it worse) as well as help me prepare for a difficult future. For example, an electric bike or motorcycle is perfect for Peak Oil and also saves me money and makes me healthier today. Why wouldn’t I have one if I can afford it?! Another example is homesteading. I‘m aware that owning land and growing my own food is the only way to survive long-term. However, homesteading doesn’t make me happy. Only vandwelling makes me happy. So I’m going to keep living in my van

Prepping, for me, is not getting ready to go to war. While I do believe in the importance of self-defense, I’m not stocking up on a huge amount of guns and ammo to protect myself from the marauding hordes. If I have to kill a bunch of people in order to survive, I don’t want to survive; it’s just not worth it to me. I do have guns and ammo I carry for common sense self-protection. If someone directly attacks me, and it’s kill or be killed, I’m ready to do that. But if things get as bad as I think they are going to get, I’m not going to fight and kill for my food stores. If someone asks me for food I feel it is my moral obligation to give them some, not shoot them.

I bought this bike for $5 at a garage sale in Anchorage. It was an REI bike and cost $400 new. After a tune-up it looked and ran perfectly!

I bought this bike for $5 at a garage sale in Anchorage. It was an REI bike and cost $400 new. After a tune-up it looked and ran perfectly!

Now let me tell you in one sentence my intention in prepping and for my whole life:

My goal is to live as well as I can, for as long as I can, and do the least harm to the earth I possibly can while I am alive, and through my websites try to do some good.

First Step: Alternative Transportation

We all know too well that the price of gas has gone up drastically in the last few years and there are no signs of it coming down. So no matter what you think about peak oil, it seems like a very reasonable idea to have a second cheap method of transportation. I believe that prices are going to keep going up, but even if they don’t I won’t regret having a way to save on gas today. You and I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by having a second method of transportation!

This chart shows the price of gas in different European nations LAST MONTH!  (January, 2014) What makes us thing it can't happen here!?

This chart shows the price of gas in different European nations LAST MONTH! (January, 2014)  What makes us think it can’t happen here!?

Imagine if gas keeps going up to $5 a gallon, or $7 a gallon, or even $10 a gallon. That idea may be inconceivable to us right now but in truth it is not unrealistic at all. Look at the price of gas in Europe, there is no reason to believe the same thing can’t happen here. Many of us are getting 10 mpg (or less!) out of our vans or RVs and very few of us are getting more than 18. Even worse the majority of us are already on a very tight budget—what are we going to do if gas keeps going up? Here is what I see as our best alternative choices :

  • Bicycle or Electric Bicycle
  • Scooter or Motorcycle
  • Living in an economy car and a tent
  • Towing an economy car behind your van or RV

Today we are going to look at owning a bicycle. I think we should all at least consider the possibility of carrying a bike with us. Their advantages are amazing:

  • You can laugh as you drive past the gas station and think to yourself, “So long suckers!”
  • You can buy a used bike for next to nothing. I once bought a good quality REI brand bike at a garage sale for $5. I took it to a shop and got it tuned up for $40 and it worked perfectly! You can almost certainly afford to buy a good used bike.
  • Riding a bike costs you nothing except a squirt of chain lube every so often! To keep it going for a long time all you need to do is buy some extra tires and tubes and store them under your bed somewhere. Storing gas for long is extremely difficult, and since bikes don’t use any gas, they’re ideal for survival!
  • Bikes give you great exercise and are very good for your state of mind. There is something about the rhythmic and meditative nature of bike riding that calms and soothes me. You will be better off physically and mentally if you ride a bike.
  • If you break down or your van is in the shop, a bike lets your ride for help or ride it while the van is being repaired. I love having that piece of mind!

I know most of us haven’t ridden a bike since we were kids and I remember the first time I got on one as an older adult; it felt very awkward and strange; and then I took it for a ride! Man, that was hard work and my butt hurt!! So I am not going to kid you, relearning to ride a bike is hard. At first, just riding around the block will be a challenge, but if you keep at it you will build up your stamina, and you can make it around two blocks!! Just kidding, but honestly, nearly all of us can get to the point where we are comfortable riding some pretty long distances.

This is the Currie TrailZ electric bike I bought last year. It sold me on the practicality and usefulness of electric bikes!

This is the Currie TrailZ electric bike I bought last year. It only costs $450 on Amazon! It sold me on the practicality and usefulness of electric bikes!


But what if you have some reason that you can’t ride a bike or just can’t build up your stamina? For example, I’m not sure my bad knee is going to tolerate riding a bike for long. That’s where an electric bike comes in. They have motors that assist you so that you ride as far as you can by pedaling and then the motor takes over. That’s especially important when you come to hills or if you are carrying a load.

As you may know I bought a very inexpensive electric bike last year. I knew when I bought it that it was so cheap that it wasn’t the bike I would own long term, I just wanted to get an idea if it would work for me. If I didn’t like it I would get rid of it, and if I did like it I would upgrade and get a better bike. I have the money to do that but most of us don’t. If this is all you can afford it will still be a great bike for you. However, I would buy the next model up that has lithium batteries if i did it again. Amazon has the model I bought on sale for $450 now: Currie Technologies eZip Men’s Trailz Electric Bicycle And the model with a lithium battery is $609: Currie Technologies eZip Skyline Men’s Electric Bicycle

I’ve decided I like it! But I learned some important lessons that will determine what I buy to replace it.

  • The most important thing I learned is I have plenty of solar power to charge an electric bike. So as long as my batteries last, I can ride a bike forever without any gas.
  • One thing I learned was that I MUST have a full-suspension bike (that means it has shock absorbers at both the front tire and the back tire). I camp in remote areas and the bumpy roads were pounding me to death. In the future I won’t own anything but a full suspension bike!
  • Something else I learned was that I had to have lithium batteries and not Sealed Lead Acid (SLA) batteries. The SLA batteries were so heavy they made riding unpleasant and the lithium will last much longer and give me a far greater range.
  • Finally, I need a trailer to make a bicycle practical. Remember that I want a bike to replace my van and that means being able to carry enough freight like food and water.

One difficulty you may have is how to carry a bike. It’s easy to carry one on a bike rack but if you are a city vandweller that may ruin your stealth. I have a friend with a folding electric bike and she has no problem carrying it in her van. For boondockers, carrying a bike is no problem, you just put it inside the van or carry it on a rack or on the roof.

To me its a total no-brainer, owning a bicycle is a win-win-win for everybody:

  • it makes me healthier,
  • it frees me from the tyranny of gas stations,
  • it saves me money,
  • it saves the planet and it costs me next to nothing.

Most of all, one day, it may be essential for survival.

This is my friend Linda's new electric bike. She just got it so she isn't real familiar with it yet. I looks like a great bike!

This is my friend Linda’s new electric bike. She just got it so she isn’t real familiar with it yet. It looks like a great bike!

My friend Bryce is a retired boondocker who camps nearby. He bought this high-quality electric bike and slowly gained stamina with it. Now he routinely rides it into town for supplies all over the desert just for the fun of it. Notie it has full-suspension, you just have to have full-suspension which makes it much more pleasant to ride! For all practical purposes it has replaced his truck and he rarely drives it anymore except to move camp.

My friend Bryce is a retired boondocker who camps nearby. He bought this high-quality electric bike and slowly gained stamina with it. Now he routinely rides it into town for supplies and all over the desert just for the fun of it. Notice it has full-suspension, which makes it much more pleasant to ride! For all practical purposes it has replaced his truck and he rarely drives it anymore except to move camp.

My friends bike up close. It is expensive but will lat him for a very long time. Often you get what you pay for and this is one of those times.

My friends bike up close. It is expensive but will last him for a very long time. Often you get what you pay for and this is one of those times. Notice his fancy seat! It aint pretty, but his butt doesn’t hurt!


I've been a full-time VanDweller for 12 years and I love it. I hope to never live in a house again!

109 comments on “Vandwelling Survivalist: Riding a Bike or Electric Bike
  1. Avatar Rob says:

    “Vandwelling Survivalist”, a buzz word title if I ever heard one!

    Some good points today, much to think about! That gas price chart, they pay the same price for oil that we do, the ‘extra’ is the tax they pay to their different governments.

    Every now & then I’ll look at how much I drive and compare that to my income, then I’ll play ‘what if” with the price per gallon and see how traveling I can or can’t do… With your piece of land Bob you have a place to vandwell even if it gets too spendy to do much driving.

    What brand/model of e-bike does Bryce have?
    Rob recently posted…Mistakes & other things that just happenMy Profile

  2. Avatar Openspaceman says:


    Inquiring minds also want to know…

    How long does it take to charge with solar and more importantly how far could you travel on a charge over rough roads like in the photo?

    Also when your pedaling is it being charged?


    • Bob Bob says:

      openspaceman, I just plug the charger into the inverter so it takes the same time it would take at home. I never watched how long took but I think the manual said about 3 hours, I’d guess 3-6 hour is pretty typical.

      How far you can go on a charge is determined by how much you pedal. If you pedal 100% of the time, the battery would never run down. If you use the battery 100% of the time and never pedal, most of them won’t go very far. Most decent bikes will give you about a 20 mile range if you reasonably mix them and pedal the whole way and just use it for an assist with hills and weight. really good bikes will give you longer range with less pedaling.

      Charging while you are pedaling is called regenerative charging and is just now coming to electric bikes. I bet in a year there will be lots of them.

  3. Avatar Tom says:

    Bob, vey sensible. Survival but not over the top, more like what we use to call “common sense.”

    I’d like to ask, because you have experience with solar, do you think it’s possible to carry and charge an electric bike with solar without your main system?

    I asked because this would first, free up the main system resources. Second allow you to charge on location, say while in town at a library. And third provide a complete and separate back up system.

    Of course some of the best charging might be when you want to ride, afternoons. But if you rode somewhere in the morning, stop when it was at the hottest part of the day, and rode back early evening, I think that part might be doable.

    I’ve been looking at some expensive flexible roll up solar panels. They come in 12 volts both in 9 (600 mA) and 14 watts (900 mA).

    I think most electric bikes are 24 or even 36 volts, and although these panels say they can be linked together, I think this would be in “parallel” not “series” if I remember my science class. So to get 36 volts you would need 3 connected in series (I think) to get to 36 volts,,,, and would still be at at 9 or 14 watts depending on which you’re using.

    The unknown is what it would take to realistically charge a bike battery because I don’t know it’s capacity.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Tom, I doubt that carrying portable solar and charging the bikes batteries is practical. How would you set it out without them getting stolen? It’s not something i would try to do. Buying a portable setup would be very expensive while buying a system for the van would be cost effective and useful for your whole life.

      A better solution is to buy extra batteries and carry them with you or have them at home charging.

      Most lithium batteries for bikes are 36 volt and a good battery will be 12 amp-hours.

      • Avatar Tom says:

        Thanks Bob, I really trust your judgement on this, based on what you’ve said I’ll go a different direction. I won’t forget your comments on lithium battery either, they sound like the way to go. Thanks agin.

  4. Avatar CAE says:

    Bikes are great!

    I think that in a lot of European countries they put about a 100% tax on a gallon of gas in order to help fund public transport.

    • Bob Bob says:

      CAE, that’s what I hear, but it’s something I know little about.

      Yes, bikes are great!

    • Avatar dan says:

      The high tax is to help fund the total social agenda, as well as to discourage the use of gasoline and oil products. The social healthcare agenda of the Europeans costs PLENTY. Being free, it’s like anything that is undervalued, it get overused, and costs a truckload. Since the US provides the defense costs for Europe, et., al., they don’t have to pay for that, they can allocate even more to social stuff, like healthcare and public transport.

      Don’t get me going.


  5. Avatar Stephen says:

    Wonderful post Bob, thank you!

    You did a great job explaining my disagreement with most “preppers” I’ve talked to or read about. I’m not saying other people shouldn’t live however they want.

    I’ve spent most of my life sacrificing the only moment there ever is–i.e., NOW– for my mind’s idea of something better in the future. I just don’t want to live that way or live a little longer at someone else’s expense.
    Stephen recently posted…Amps and OhmsMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Stephen, we think exactly alike on that!

    • Avatar warm says:

      Ain’t that the truth. Go on with ya bad self. I used to get so fuzzied up ( and still can if provoked) about our country’s ideals being trifled with. With age, though (56), I’ve come to understand that there is a plan – just stick to it on your own and you will be fine.

  6. Avatar Mike says:

    Say, what are the brand names of your friends’ electric bikes? I can’t make those out in the photos. Thanks.

  7. Avatar Peggy says:

    I really like the idea of an electric bike and was intrigued when you originally wrote about buying one. I’m glad that you updated us on your experiences. I have a crappy old bike that I ride around here on the logging roads and trails but it isn’t electric and I should could use some juice to get up the hills around here, we have so many of them. I really like the idea of a fold-up electric bike but haven’t investigated them much yet.

    As usual, you’ve given me lots to think about, Bob. Thanks!
    Peggy recently posted…Foggy Forest HikesMy Profile

    • Avatar Vern M says:

      My vote is for the sensible, sturdy eGo electric bike ( Is a dedicated electric with replaceable batteries positioned low in the cast aluminum frame. Belt drive and 25 mile range at full speed. Re-charges easily overnight. I owned one for years and it is still out there with someone else on it now since my doctor grounded me.

      Rode it from Gulf Coast to 8000 feet in the Rockies and never a problem after an initial front wheel bearing loss which they quickly replaced for me UPS to a campground in Colorado. Street legal and out-accelerate a motorcycle for the first 100 feet or so. c(;

      Think outside of the flimsy bike conversions!

      • Bob Bob says:

        Thanks for that info Vern! I checked out their site and they don’t give any info. How much does one cost?

        • Avatar Vern M says:

          You and any others who come across such a well-made piece of transportation, especially us older folks with peddle-disease, should look into this vehicle. Unfortunatly it appears they are out of production and struggling to get a parts supply re-established among other frustrations of an entrepreneur, owner Vince Pacifico wrote to me a while back. I bought mine, apparently at the heyday of enthusiasm and enthusiastic sales people. That was back closer to 2000. As I say, mine is still going somewhere in the Branson area where its second owner lives. I wish I were as sturdy.

          Keep on keeping on. It’s my goal to get my van out there again some day.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Peggy, the main advantage of electric bikes is on the hills!! It is so great to just roll the throttle and have it push you up!! I loved that the most!!

      the fold-up electrics work well and are surprisingly cheap. You can get one for $1000 pretty easily. Here is a good one from Amazon with free shipping for $1000:

  8. Avatar RoadRunnerFX says:

    Hi Bob
    As a part of your prepping article, it looks like you are in a good position to handle what could be on the horizon following a little publicized event in California. I have included the link (not sure if it will publish here). If you read this article closely you can can see that certain facts of the incursion point to a highly trained team probing the power grid vulnerabilities. A team of Navy SEALS certified that the incursion was in fact conducted by a trained team. Considering that this same team is out and about in the USA (no arrests have been made) one can be sure that something is on the horizon. To inhibit copy cat atttacks this news never hit the media and by design was kept low key.
    here is the link below:

    • Bob Bob says:

      Roadrunner FX, wow, that is scary! If there really are sleeper cells all over the country a unified attack at all the critical places would appear to be very easy. Coming up with the guns, ammo and a place to practice would be simple. It seems like it would be very easy to bring down the grid like that.

      It’s a frightening thought!

      • Avatar RoadRunnerFX says:

        Hi Bob
        Here is a link that you might have use for. Not many people understand what the results of a cascading blackout are. But we do have a real life example that shows the sequence of events resulting from such a blackout. In 2003 a software bug at First Energy Ohio caused a cascading blackout in the Northeast that put 55 million people into the dark. In NY city forty thousand police officers and the entire fire department were called in to maintain order. Sewage poured into waterways (good to know – rivers can become compromised). Gas stations could not pump gas and the trucking infrastructure was seriously disrupted.More than 600 subway and commuter rail cars were trapped between stations. Manhattan, including Wall Street and the United Nations, was completely shut down, as were all area airports.

  9. I like visiting cities and want to be able to stealth camp in them. I don’t want to use an external bike rack because that sort of ruins whatever stealth factor my plain white cargo van has. (A passenger van would be a different matter. A bike rack wouldn’t look out of place.) I wouldn’t want to keep the bike IN the van because I want to be able to live/sleep in the van without needing to unload anything or climb around stuff. I don’t want to tow a trailer to keep the bike (and other stuff) in because I want to be able to park anywhere. Now, what might work is some sort of utilitarian-looking box on the back of the van — as long as it swings out of the way so I can open the back doors.
    Al Christensen recently posted…Welcome to the desertMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      Al, your right, it really is only practical for boondockers. My friend took out her front seat and I think the folding bike goes in there okay, but it does take up a lot of space. There are plenty of boxes like you describe that go into the reciever and have arms that go out so you can swing the box out of the way. I don’t know how that would affect your stealth. In many places you would have a “just passing through” look which is usually good enough since you really are just passing through. Long term it might be a problem.

      • I looked around the web and I didn’t see any rear-mount boxes that looked large enough for a bicycle. I guess something could be custom made. That would really be a commitment to cycling.
        Al Christensen recently posted…Welcome to the desertMy Profile

      • Avatar George Kowal says:

        Transporting an OHM electric bike that is easily accessed and stored was one of the reasons I ended up in small box truck with barn doors. The bike is totally concealed in the rear utility room. 12 foot box length with side door avoids DOT regulations and was designed for around town delivers and/or small moving vehicle. Chevy 3500 with 6L V8 isn’t a gas sipper but is reliable and easily maintained.

  10. Avatar Calvin R says:

    Bob, thanks for the update on the electric bike. I will add that kits and powered wheels exist for the low-budget person. Bicycles are easy enough to work on that I might use one of those.

    I have used and researched trailers for bicycles. Probably the best ones are owner-made from plans or are high-end production models from a few specialists, but almost anything is far better than nothing. Usually the maximum cargo weight is at least 100 pounds, which is a lot of groceries, parts, or laundry. Much information is available from Internet searches.

  11. Avatar warm says:

    This is so encouraging. It will happen.

  12. Avatar warm says:

    Too much! I think folks in Europe have the idea that we really have the option as much as they do. For instance, when the Oil Embargo took place in the 70s here, Arkansas was exempt from the huge taxes due to the average distance that folks had to drive to get to their jobs. I used a bike, but it was pretty rough on that gravel road into town. I look forward to progress.

  13. Avatar john gallagher says:

    Hello Bob I totally enjoy your site and look forward to meeting you someday
    Bicycling has been a part of my adult life for many years and I have owned several bike at different times in my life. Nothing beats the freedom of Cycling. One point I would like to make is that one should always ware a helmet! No matter how skilled you are at ridding, accidents occur.

  14. Avatar Bill from NC says:

    Good morning Bob, I have bern out of pocket due to intetnetbissues so just found you new post. Wow you nailed the description of what kind of prepper you are!!!! I agree wholeheartedly with your positive view on helping the environment, saving money, having fun!!!!

    The bike review is the bomb too, I just got a used Ezip Trails bike like your ebike. I love it and with my.prosthesis I feel good about being able to go a reasonable distance to get to campground offices, attractions and town!

    Thanks for the “prepper” definitions and philosophy. I hope lots of folks read this post. Have fun, Bill
    Bill from NC recently posted…Down out of the mountains!!!!My Profile

  15. Avatar margo miller says:

    Love hearing about your bike! I recently bought a 3 wheel bike that is a 3 way–electric–electric and pump — and just pump. it is heavier than a conventional bike but it does have a large basket in the back-got a 3 wheeler because i need a knee replacement (to happen soon then i’ll be back on the road again)and i am older and i don’t know how my balance would be. one nice thing about it is that it is made in the USA. I don’t know if the motor is, i seem to remember that it has a currie motor, but that could be completely wrong. it’s supposed to get around 12 miles before recharging. it folds (not to small) but it’s pretty heavy so one has to find a good way to haul and lift it. i love it and i will find a way to carry it and lift it easier than having my sweet daughter (shes tough)load it for me. loved hearing the info about charging!!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Margo, that’s great about the electric trike! I’ve often thought a trike would be ideal and an electric one even better. I would have got one but I don’t know how to carry one in a van. With the cargo trailer I have a lot more room than most but I still don’t know how to carry one.

      I wish you the best with it! Keep in touch I’d like to know how it works out for you.

  16. Avatar HoboHounds says:

    “When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” ~ H.G. Wells

  17. Avatar Calvin R says:

    My next step: I just ordered a trailer from ebay for my bicycle. It weighs 22 lb., carries 110 lb., and folds for transportation. The wheels have quick-release as well. This fits the approach Bob described in that I’ll get plenty of use from it regardless of what else happens. The same seller has one that carries 180 lb., but the trailer weighs 13 lb. more, and what are the chances that I’ll really want to pull more than 100 lb.? Not much.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Calvin, that sounds like a great choice! Can you send a link to the one you bought? I’d like to hear back about how you like it!

      yeah, I’m never going to carry anywhere near 100 pounds!!

      • Avatar Calvin R says:

        I think this link will work. More notes: this seems to have gone on sale since I paid $100 for mine. This particular trailer has a steel frame, which is heavier than aluminum but easier to repair if it ever becomes necessary. Also, the hitch on this one requires a quick-release rear wheel. A youtube video I watched seems to show the bike-mounted part of the hitch replacing the quick release. It didn’t look difficult to do but it’s a new idea to me. If necessary, one could probably improvise another hitch from a hose clamp with a piece of inner tube for a liner on the frame and a wire or whatever to attach to the trailer. Another video I watched showed the assembly process for a child-carrying bike trailer of the same brand. That looked easy.

  18. I have to call BS, The information is old and completely out of date… But just me…

    Steve and Zeke…

  19. Avatar Calvin R says:

    Postscript: Since this thread began, I have seen a cardiologist. He told me that my habit of riding bicycles or walking for transportation has improved my heart health. I have seen other doctors lately, and each of them seems to mention this in the same way. For someone with no exercise program, this apparently helps.

  20. Avatar warm says:

    I agree. Light cardio cannot be overemphasized.

  21. Avatar Karl says:

    Hey man, you got a nice little market for those things should you start producing them.

    Go green 🙂
    Karl recently posted…Top 10 Motorcycle Gifs of 2014My Profile

  22. Avatar warm says:

    So good and informative folks. Hope we can stick together and keep learning. Hallelujah. Love and peace.

  23. Avatar John says:

    Great attitude towards prepping and alternative transportation methods. Haven’t seen many electric bikes before. Maybe they aren’t that popular around here yet.

    John recently posted…Gamo Silent CatMy Profile

    • Bob Bob says:

      John, electric bikes are still in their infancy although they are becoming more popular all the time. They excel in cities because they are great to commute with. You can get to work without being sweaty and tired and you can plug it in for the ride home. Many cities have great bike paths making getting around safe and easy. They aren’t as good for rural areas because of the distances, but as they get better and can handle 20-30 mile trips then they will really shine.

  24. Avatar xprtmrksmn says:

    I converted a bike to electric a year ago(36 volt w/geared motor).On level,paved roads I can easily make the 22 mile round trip to work without taxing the battery.For boondockers who are more likely to ride off road and/or haul cargo an ATB set up with a direct drive(gearless)motor and 48 volt system might be the way to go.A front wheel conversion is simplest but there may be traction issues on steep upgrades and in wet weather.I prefer the rear wheel setup as the motor is part of the drivetrain(More efficient?).

  25. Avatar Calvin R says:

    I am not sure whether I posted the update here about my bike trailer. It had fairly cheap construction quality, which I expected. I replaced a tube on the curb-side tire because the rim strip was not installed properly, and a friend pounded a tab into place with a hammer to make the folding side pieces fit with the removable ends. When I got a good health and weather day, I went shopping about two miles away. I put $80 of the cheapest groceries in town (Aldi’s and Walmart) into the trailer and pretty much filled up the bed, which is 27″ long . 16″ wide x 9″ high and not covered. The trailer rode just a bit better loaded and the load (say, 40-50 lb.) added very little work to my pedaling. I have since used the trailer for a couple of trips to the laundromat and will be getting more groceries with it.

    Conclusion: I can carry much more weight with the trailer than I ever could by attaching it to the bike. Even though I did not spend the money for a quality unit, this is a very useful item.

    • Bob Bob says:

      That’s good to hear Calvin. If your health lets you ride the bike it really could be an alternative. Especially in a place lile AZ where you can realistically ride a bike to totally different weather in just couple hundred miles.

      Was it you that had problems with allergies here, or do I have you mixed up with someone else?

      • Avatar Calvin R says:

        I have less allergies in the desert, not more. That must be someone else. also, I have cardiac catheterization a couple of days ago and it did not find anything wrong, so that’s a health hurdle cleared.

        More on the bicycle-as-vehicle front: after some checking around the Internet and the arrival of the CPAP machine, it appears the draw of the CPAP will be less than 2 amps per hour. A single motorcycle-sized battery would handle storage for that and a few electronics. Such a unit is available as a lithium ferric (LiFePo) unit. Those have many advantages if one can afford the steeper up-front cost.

        Also, bicycle camping would not be a pioneering effort. I have found Facebook groups that include people who have been traveling the world for years in this mode, mostly with trailers. On one of my lists, someone yesterday celebrated being five years into a round the world trip and stated, “I have not yet reached my destination, luckily.”

        I will note here that the bicycle-tent setup is not my first choice. I would rather have the comfort and convenience of a van. However, this is shaping up rather nicely as a Plan B.

  26. Avatar Msbluebells says:

    How exciting to find someone else sold on electric bikes. My husband and I ride electric trikes! They are so much fun and we ride all over our community. We get to know everyone and it is so easy to pull over and start a conversation. We can ride on the sidewalks and cut through alleys to avoid the busy roads. We are on our second pair of trikes as we upgraded to the lithium batteries and other features. We have large baskets for groceries. The use of trikes solves my balance issue. Some caveats for those thinking about eTrikes. Have a tinkerer in the family as that my husband is all time time fixing or adjusting something. Trikes are better on the streets, sidewalks or gravel paths. Trikes are good for relatively flat areas from my experience. Thanks for sharing our passion!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Msbluebells, I love the idea of an e-trike but I could never figure out a good way to carry it in my tiny space. I’m glad it is working so well for you!

  27. Avatar Chip says:

    Cool idea. I also considered carrying a couple electric bikes with me when I fulltime (4 years from now in a TT towed by a F-250) but the limited range and speed discouraged me. Instead I decided to get a pair of 100 mpg 125cc motorbikes (for my DW and I)- basically a clone of the old Honda trail 70s, but updated with disk brakes up front, 12v elec. start, better suspension, etc. to handle the higher 60 mph top speed. Let’s say I decide to boondock say 20-25 miles outside of town and want to make a quick trip to the store to pick up some bread, milk and eggs, but I have to travel down a 55 mph speed limit highway most of the way to do so. (a realistic scenario) It won’t be a problem with my little motorbikes – even with $10/gallon gas, as the trip would only cost me about $5 vs firing up the diesel and burning $45-50 in fuel. However I wouldn’t even consider such a trip on a bicycle and an electric bike wouldn’t have the speed or range, especially in hilly or mountainous terrain.

    Maybe having one electric bike for around town errands and a small motorbike for longer trips might be a better idea rather than having 2 electric bikes or 2 motorbikes – best of both worlds so to speak.


    • Bob Bob says:

      Chip, you and I are thinking in exactly the same way! I ended up with a Honda Rebel 250 for all the reasons you mentioned and it has been wonderful! It only gets 70 MPG but I can live with that!

      The old Honda Trail 90, 110 and 70 are still so popular I’ve wondered why nobody has copied it with a clone but more modern.

      Do you have a link for your bike?

      • Avatar Chip says:

        Only 70mpg? You poor baby! 😉

        Here’s a couple pics of my little bikes:
        I swapped out the stock 19mm carbs with a couple 22mm ones from a Honda TRX/ATC 125, put on a better air filter (a UNI sock) and upped the front sprocket 2 teeth, now that I have more power to pull the higher gearing.
        I’ve hit 62 mph with my heavy 250lb load. I also added a couple quickly detachable bicycle baskets I got from Walmart to the rear rack for grocery shopping, etc.
        Here’s a link to the place I got them:
        They only cost $995 (about $1,100) each with shipping. The best part is that they are fully street legal, even in CA (they have tiny catalytic converters in the exhaust pipe) and they only cost me $99/yr to insure the pair through GEICO.

        They are powerful yet quiet, and for the survivalist, many of the parts are interchangable with the old Honda CT70s that these are cloned off of. Honda manufactured these little bikes from 1969-1994 so there should be plenty of used parts available if you can’t get new ones – even frames, fuel tanks swingarms and the like. Plus there are many aftermarket suppliers making inexpensive replacemant parts for these bikes. There are even entire replacement engines available from
        $249 for a 125cc Lifan (a quality company that also makes scooter engines for Yamaha) to fire breathing 150-170cc 4 valve head race engines,(some as much as the entire bike cost) if speed is your thing.


        • Bob Bob says:

          Thanks Chip, they look great! They are so popular that they will still cost $1000 for a 30 year old bike. Ad they are still worth it.

          You did really good!

  28. Avatar FrancisYork says:

    How do you transport your Rebel? I ride an 1985 and can’t tell you how frequently I end up overestimating its fuel consumption. It doesn’t get much better than handing the clerk at a pre-pay petrol station $7, going out and pumping the gas, and then walking back in to get something like $2 in change! My best mileage ever on the Rebel was 91-mpg. That was traversing an easy-going 100 miles of highway on a blistering hot day last summer.

    • Bob Bob says:

      Francis, I see you found the answer so I won’t answer it. 91 MPG!!!!!! I am totally jealous! I get a very steady 70 mpg but never better.

      However, my 1996 only has 2,000 miles so it isn’t even broke in yet! Hopefully it will improve with miles driven.

      If you aren’t towing a trailer putting on a bike rack on back will be a one-time deal and very easy. With mine it is very simple to get the bike on and off.

  29. Avatar FrancisYork says:

    Ahhhh, the issue of transporting your bike turned up with the search bar–go figure! So please do scratch answering that question from your list of important things to do :p

  30. Avatar FrancisYork says:

    Well, that 91-mpg ride was something of an anomaly. The heat, a tailwind, an my 140lb weight all combined perfectly. The bike averages in the low 80s, and on a few rides I’ve had as little as 63. It’s largely dependent on riding style (including posture) and terrain I reckon–just as with any automobile. It seems to me, however, on a motorcycle the spectrum of performance with regard to mpg is greatly exaggerated over that of a passenger vehicle.

    Another potential factor is my air-breather set up, which the previous owner fashioned using a straight rubber hose attached to the carb intake, and an air filter shoved on the other end. I’m not the best person to ask when it comes to the black magic of carburetor adjustments, but I suspect that set up may have something to do with the mileage. Additionally the bike is stripped down cosmetically… It looks more like something from Mad Max and is barely recognizable as a Honda Rebel :p

    I’m going to look into a rear mounded rack. Thanks for the cool site by the way. I’ve been lurking, off and on, for quite some time now!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Francis, I’m glad that Rebel is working so well for you. I’m sure Honda is very grateful for the day they started making it! It’s essentially unchanged since 1985.

      They made a Rebel 450 for awhile, and if they made it again I would buy one in a hearbeat. The 250 is just a little too slow for the freeway. Mine is fine at 55-60, but is working hard at 65-70. But if I hit a hill, it struggles.

      I’m really glad I’ve got one! There are many accessories for them, you should find a rear rack very easily. Plus, if you know what you want, any welder can make one to your exact design. I never carry a passenger, so I had a rack made that went over the back seat and I could lean back against the box I put on it.

  31. Avatar FrancisYork says:

    Your bike is gorgeous! Pristine! You scored quite nicely.

    I meant a rack to haul the motorcycle on my truck. For hauling a payload on the bike I use a fork-bag, a homemade single-side saddle bag, and an old military-surplus satchel strapped to the tank. That usually allows for simple runs for coffee and cream and a few other essentials; however, for me coffee and cream are damn near the epitome of essential. The backpack option remains to further increase hauling capacity.

    Also, I forgot to mention something that may provide you a substantial and observable benefit. You might consider changing the sprocket so as to increase gear ratio in favor of top end. That’s what I did, and this could also play a role in MPG. I can cruise at 65 and the engine isn’t wailing. Nevertheless, the lack of power is a factor on the freeways for me as well, so I tend to avoid them whenever possible, which is most of the time. Besides, those old two-lane roads tend to be more scenic. She can be pushed to the mid- to upper-80s but that’s screaming. If you have a little mechanical ability you can do this in an afternoon.

    I picked up an 82 Honda CM400 for $500 a few weeks ago from a woman who had been storing it for twelve years or more. It had belonged to her grandfather and she just couldn’t part with it until now. Something like 6000 miles. She sold it to me cheaply because I was wearing an old western shirt that was exactly like one she had purchased for her grandfather as a teenager in the early 70s.

    It’s definitely faster, but I have yet to ride it enough to determine MPG, as it has a few minor issues that need to be sussed out first. I disassembled and cleaned the carbs, as they were quite dirty, and found the gaskets were shot. I’ll replace those soon and then start looking for a new home for the beloved Rebel. The CM400 has racks that will work out great… With the right basket, it might even be able to serve as a mushroom hunting machine!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Francis, one of the reasons I bought this Rebel is the previous owner had changed the sprocket for faster cruising on the freeway. It cruises right along at 65 until you hit a hill and then you are down to 45 or you are downshifting at 55. Where I am there are lots of hills!

      There are lots of good racks to carry the Rebel or the CM400. I bought one that’s able to carry 600 pounds so I could get a bigger bike later if I wanted to.

  32. Avatar april says:

    I got an ebike a few years ago, one that looks like a scooter or moped, and after somoene ran a stop sign and hit me, i eventually got back on the horse again, this time with a newer, shinier gold one with a lithium battery. I blinged out the helmet and covered the bike with jewels; crystals, rhinestones and pearls, and added a few tacky gold butterflies and flowers from the dollar store.

    I absolutely LOVE my bedazzled blinged out bike,and i think it’s pretty amazing for a few reasons;

    1. someone would have to be blind to hit me this time

    2. ebikes are great for the planet

    3. it’s impossible to stay in a bad mood bc i can’t ride one block without people smiling and taking pictures when they see me

    4. i put a business card holder on the trunk to advertise me travel blog

    5. I only have a driver’s permit right now and a license is not needed for ebikes

    However, ebikes are actually not legal in NYC where I’ve been riding it until last week when I finally bought a vintage 1971 Shamrock trailer in Forida that I’m now renovating (yay!). Eventually I’ll decide if I’m going to reside in NYC or Florida, but once I save up $ for a car/van or truck and get a license I can move around anywhere, and take my ebike with me. 🙂

  33. Avatar Erik Boxell says:

    I rode a Sondors ebike last week and was quite impressed. Resisting the urge to buy one without researching other options…looks cool and rides great. My friend claimed a charge would last 8 hours but I don’t see any such claim online anywhere. 20 mile capacity without pedaling seems to be the most common response. Close to $700 including shipping from LA. Long wait but seems to be worthwhile for the right person.

  34. Avatar Link Shadley says:

    Greetings. I’m an old vet with bad legs living in a mountain cabin near Sandpoint, Idaho and just purchased a Volton Alation 350 Mid-drive electric assist bicycle. Love it. Have about 100 miles so far testing and training and it allows me to return to the back country. I am setting up a solar panel charging system but will try to plan routes that include a plugin every 25-30 miles. Lightweight camping gear in panniers will allow me to bivouac most anywhere when needed. I’ll do the Trail of the Coeur d’Alenes this May and look forward to many more bike trips. I’ll keep you posted.
    Bike $2400
    GoalZero 20w panel $200
    Drok DC booster $12
    Probably another $200 in bike luggage, bivy sack and other small lightweight gear
    Ability to get off road again – PRICELESS!

  35. Avatar J Dutreaux says:

    Hey Bob! Do you ever fish on kayaks? There’s plenty of fish in the sea. Love your blog…it inspires me….anything that helps one to live off the grid. There’s so much out there.. Thanks for the post!

    • Bob Bob says:

      J, I’m not a water guy so I’ve done very little fishing and no kayaking. But I know many people who carry kayaks on their vans and swear by it! One friend of mine took up kayaking after she retired and committed to kayaking all 50 states. On her 70th birthday she few to Hawaii and kayaked he 50th state!

  36. Avatar Kathleen Dittmer says:

    Bryce’s full suspension bike looks great. I checked the company website to try to find out which model he bought. Are you still in touch with him, Bob? Would love to know which one so I can see the cost. Also, did he make that seat?? Looks much more comfy than those awful hard bike seats. Thanks for your help!

    • Bob Bob says:

      Kathleen, I’m afraid I don’t know which bike that is but it is an outstanding bike I would highly recommend it. Yes that is a homemade seat. He just put some foam and taped it on but he says it’s the best seat he’s ever had.

  37. Avatar phil says:

    Dear Bob,

    I just thought a note should be under your comparison chart of gas prices per gallon. Europe and UK uses gas (or petrol) as a major way to tax people.

    By itself in comparison, it seems a little unfair; but when you figure in road repairs, it may be representative of costs when usage from Eastern Country traffic and small (US) State or (US) County size Countries are being overwhelmed.

    Atlanta, GA recently tried to double land tax rates, but it was virtually impossible to double rates at one point in time. Roads, especially in the SE USA, are in great supply in the USA. Land, all over the USA, except large metropolitan areas, is relatively cheap. And now our POTUS wants to raffle off all public land??

    I just came back from 5 years in LA, CA and I almost forgot how green trees are or how mountains grow them. (I have come to believe that the vendors during the Western USA expansion just blew up ALL mountains West of GA looking for gold.) And now Western governments still haven’t realized you need tree roots to retain water and trees to produce rain cycles-?)

    Anyway, you are the Best Bob and thanks for your constant editing work and nurturing hopes.


  38. Avatar CraigL says:

    Bob, what’s your current status with the ebike?

  39. Avatar Max says:

    Hey Bob
    Great Post!!!
    I’ll do that. I will make up a review after a week or two of use. It should arrive next week or thereabouts.

  40. Avatar ChrisK says:

    I bought my wife a 3 speed 26″ IMortor electric wheel for her bicycle that she already owned. It is a 36 volt, 250 watt pedal assist unit that operates with a push throttle on the hand grip. It is all self contained, with an included battery and controlled by her phone, that is mounted on a provided mount. Once you have the phone app up, and running, you can remove the phone (not ride with it), and it will remember the last speed you had it set for. It will easily go 15 miles on electric alone at about 15 mph, or will go 25+ miles at 20 mph while pedaling. I paid $299 on Amazon earlier this year.

  41. Avatar Ramees says:

    Great ideas to find your article post. All info is really valuable and helpful. Thanks for sharing.
    Ramees recently posted…Dropping ByMy Profile

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