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Tag Archive: bicycle sidecar

How to keep riding if you work from home

As you may know, life tends to throw us a few changes here and there. One of the major changes I’ve had to deal with was having to work out of my home. My office used to be about 8 miles away and I’d commute there with my bike. But now that my commute is literally a few steps away from my bedroom, I surprisingly get more riding done now than I did in the last 4 years.

Not sure if you know what it’s like to work from home, but you can get a bit of cabin fever. I know for myself I need to get out once in a while, interact with people, breath fresh air and get some sun. If you can relate to any of those, then here’s some things that I do to help me get my bike “fix” on.

1. I often have meetings at Starbucks about 2 miles away. I’ll hop on my bicycle and ride there. In fact I once took the sidecar to my meeting and my client was so impressed by this machine. However, I couldn’t convince him to go for a ride with it.
bicycle sidecar on bikecommuters.com

2. I go out for lunch. I’m in between Downtown Brea and Downtown Fullerton, so that means I’ve got plenty of choices to eat at. I also will arrange lunch dates with various friends who work or live in the area.

3. I run errands with my bicycle. If I’m out of ink for my printer or need more coffee beans or have to run to the bank, the bicycle is much easier than having to use my motorcycle or car. I actually use my motorcycle quite a bit. I do so when I have to run longer errands. But doing so poses it’s own challenges. With a motorcycle, I have to get on all my riding gear, get it out of the garage, make sure there’s gas and by the end of it, I smell like fumes…but it’s still better than having to take the car around town.

4. Just get out. Sometimes you don’t need any other reason to get out there and ride. Many times I find myself stuck…you know like writer’s block. So to get my mind flowing again, I get on the bike and ride around for about 10-15 minutes. It’s kinda like how dryer sheets help Tina Fey’s writing…

So if you work from home, you can still be a bike commuter. Just find ways to use your bicycle when you have to get out of your home.

Sidecar Update

If you’ve been following this site over the last few years, I’ve mentioned sidecars more than a few times. You see, I grew up in the Philippines and for the most part, families that didn’t have a car usually would have a sidecar. It basically acted as a form of transportation. In addition, you can hire a sidecar for a few pesos to get you from point A to point B.

Now that I’ve been in America for a few decades, I’ve been daydreaming about a sidecar to add to my collection of bicycles. So, when my mom decided to visit the Philippines over the summer, I asked her if she could see about bringing back or at least shipping a sidecar back to the U.S. During her trip I received messages from my uncle who was overseeing the project. He sent a message with just a photo:
sidecar
The next message I received was from my aunt who stated that when my mom arrived back in the U.S., someone will need a van or a truck to pick her up because of the sidecar. At first I thought they were just pulling my leg, but sure enough my mom had come through!

So when I received the sidecar (thanks mom!), it looked liked this:
sidecar
I then mated it with my daughter’s old Manhattan Hotrod:
sidecar bikecommuters.com
There’s one problem with the sidecar setup; if you’re the driver, it’s wicked tough to pedal. It’s doable, but it’s hard. The small cranks on the hotrod didn’t help either. In fact, when Jack was in town for Interbike, we rode it around the neighborhood and he too felt the weight of the beast. So then I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if this was electrified?!?” So I contacted Bike Mike at Leed Bicycle Solutions. He provided the project with a custom made 8Fun electric motor mounted a 20″ wheel combined with a 10.4 Ah Li-Ion Battery powered by Samsung.
samsung electric bike
Then I equipped the sidecar with a set of matching LED spoke lights by PBLights
photo
The modifications didn’t stop there. In fact, I was far from over. One thing I wanted to do was make sure that the sidecar/bike had matching colors. Since the Hotrod had a great orange color to it already, I decided to go with that same scheme. So I took it to Specialized Powder Coating in Huntington Beach. I chose “Safety Orange.” About 10 days later, this is what I got back. Not bad eh? The color came out so nice, I couldn’t believe my eyes!
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When I got home that morning, I started reassembling the machine. Pressing cups, tightening bolts, etc. In about 2 hours, the bike was complete! Oh but before I show you the final product, I have to mention that our very own Jack Sweeney sent me a large roll of vinyl as my Christmas present. So I went ahead and redid the upholstery on the the bike seat, seat pad and back rest on the sidecar.
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Ok so here’s the fully assembled sidecar/bike, sans the battery pack:
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We’ve done a number of projects on BikeCommuters and MtnBikeRiders.com over the years, but I have to say that this has to be one of my favorites that we’ve done. Anyone who rides the sidecar immediately falls in love with it. Not only was it fun to work on it, but my own daughter and I have had countless hours riding this thing around. In fact, she loves taking her friends on it and cruising the neighborhood. Heck, just this afternoon, we rode up to the local school and I asked the kids who were there if they’d like to have a drag race.
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These kids didn’t have a chance! Ya I know that I’m a grown man and I was riding a sidecar with an electric motor, but still, I won!
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For now the sidecar project is done…well not really. Now I’m focusing more on accessories. I want to get cup holders and possibly building some sort of canopy for it or even a wood floor.
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Leed Bicycle Solution: Custom made E-bike wheel for the sidecar

You all may have seen photos of the sidecar project that I have going on. One of the complaints I have with the sidecar is how heavy it is to pedal. As much as I wanted to try and find some sort of multi-geared solution for the bike, that option just can’t be executed due to the way the sidecar mounts on the rear axle. So I was stuck with a single speed configuration. But it gave me an idea after I saw an ad online for Leed Bicycle Solutions. I then got in contact with Mike Merrell over at Leed and we began talking about creating an e-bike solution for the sidecar.

After a few emails, photos and text messages, Mike got all the info he needed to make this happen. Mind you, the sidecar uses 20″ wheels. So this meant Mike had to acquire a 20″ rim and build a motor into it. The whole process took about a week and once it arrived at the Wold HQ of BikeCommuters.com, I immediately went to work to install it.

Before we get on with the rest of the article, here’s some tech info about the kit I received: 30k powered by Samsung Li-Ion Batteries. The kit is everything you need to convert any bike to electric. The online price is $699 and MSRP is $799.

Here’s more technical info about the kit:
30k E-Bike Kit powered by Samsung:
http://www.e-bikerig.com/products/30k-e-bike-kit-samsung-li-ion.html

8Fun Planetary Motor:
http://www.e-bikerig.com/24v-bike-hub-planetary-motor/

10.4 Ah Li-Ion Battery powered by Samsung (Leed 30k):
http://www.e-bikerig.com/products/30k-extra-battery-samsung-li-ion.html

Ok, now that we got all that technical stuff situated, here’s what the finished installation looks like. That clear, square box in the spokes are LED lights that I’m also reviewing. Notice the fork strut? I had to make a small cut in order to open it up to fit the larger sized axle. This also meant that I had to drill out the strut a bit bigger so it will fit. Once I got the strut on, I just snugged it up on both sides.
ebike side car

The “throttle” is a basic On-OFF Switch. You just push it to make the wheel go. Can be strapped on either side of your handle bar.
electric sidecar

Wires can be neatly zip tied to the frame.
bicycle sidecar

I originally wanted to install the battery pack under the seat board of the sidecar, but the way the wiring worked out, this was my best option. Besides, I was able to secure the pack to the frame of the sidecar with the velcro straps that it came with.
custom electric sidecar

Voila! All set up and got a max speed of 12mph. That’s including my weight, the bike/sidecar and my daughter. That’s a pretty decent speed considering the weight of the sidecar itself.
leed bicycle solutions

Here are those PBLights (LED) that I mentioned earlier. The Leed Bicycle Solutions e-bike kit makes the sidecar even more fun to ride. We have a whole series of articles that will pertain to this project build. We plan on getting the sidecar either powder coated or painted and finish up the upholstery as well.
photo

Here’s a couple of short clips of the e-bike kit in action. Forgive the quality, not sure what happened there.
The motor has enough torque to where you don’t have to pedal just to get it going. Here’s my daughter riding it.

Then it was my turn.

Cargo Bike, Philippines style

When I was a kid in the Philippines, my family owned a sidecar that attached to Randy’s bike. These things were normally used to chauffeur family members to the market, movies, or anywhere you needed to go. It was great for cruising the neighborhood with.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted one here in the US. The thing is, these side cars are usually hand made by some welder in the Philippines, and they are made out of steel. You can pretty much find them at any LBS for as little as a few hundred pesos…remember, the US Dollar is about fifty pesos there…

So why did I bring this up. Well for one thing, I love any bike that has more than one function. I really dig my Xtracycle just because its so practical. Bakfiets are cool too because they are the ultimate in cargo bikes. But as I think about the side car back in the Philippines, I saw how practical that would be here. The only problem is, getting one sent here. Luckily I’ve got an uncle there that is looking into sending me one. Not so sure how much it would all cost, but I think it would be so cool if we did score one!