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Soon it will be cool enough to ride without tires melting.

Tuesday, 19 September, 2006
Vintage Schwinn 3 Speed Cruiser – $145
Yep, it’s the self-same one that was $210 or so buck a little while back. I told myself that if he’d take $150 for it, this classic late 70’s Schwinn Traveler would be mine. However, I don’t have $150 to piss away even on the pinnacle of American city bikes made when the fad was Japanese “10-speeds”. Very, very original although the seat may be a replacement. Solid classic ride. Bike thieves think it’s not worth anything

vintage beach cruiser – $30

Don’t know a thing about it. One not-intimidating gear. It’s thirty bucks.
Silver Surfer 48 cc -Never Seen Before!- 40 MPH! Street Legal – $750
I post this primarily as a curiosity. I will clumsily assume the internal-combustion-engine-equipped bicycles I’ve been seeing both around Craig’s List and around town are all the products of this same fellow who may be K. Osman Benouis about which I know little else.

It is an interesting idea, and similar vehicles are quite the rage in Australia whose suburbia-based culture is not that dissimilar in many logistic aspects to our own. While neither a proper moped, nor a motorcycle in the modern sense, this vehicle is called a cyclemotor in the UK and if it has a name down under I am not aware of it. Typically kits are sold to fit specific bicycle types and installed by professionals at your bicycle shop much in the way they might install non-OEM gears or accessories. In the states, however, this never took off and as far as I know, this type of vehicle, a “motor driven cycle” according to the DOT, is not well addressed by the law with regard to use on American thoroughfares. That is, getting one could open up a can of worms should a peace officer suddenly decide to investigate without regard to the legality of the vehicle.

According to references to Texas law, which I have recently investigated in regard to electric bicycles, these vehicles appear to be unlawful for use on the road. Upon the assumption that “proper” motorcycles, including motor scooters which the law makes few distinctions above 50cc, are presumed to be type approved federally, a machine operated on the roads of Texas must be certified, inspected, type-approved locally and licensed when utilizing an engine of over one brake horsepower or over 30 cc . This would include having a full lighting system, brake light, headlight, turning lamps and brakes far more powerful than bicycle-type caliper brakes.

    Texas 541.201 excerpted:

  • (9) "Motorcycle" means a motor vehicle, other than a
    tractor, that is equipped with a rider's saddle and designed to have
    when propelled not more than three wheels on the ground.
  • (10) "Motor-driven cycle" means a motorcycle equipped
    with a motor that has an engine piston displacement of 250 cubic
    centimeters or less. The term does not include an electric bicycle.
  • (11) "Motor vehicle" means a self-propelled vehicle or
    a vehicle that is propelled by electric power from overhead trolley
    wires. The term does not include an electric bicycle or an electric
    personal assistive [sic] mobility device, as defined by Section 551.201.
  • (24) "Electric bicycle" means a bicycle that:
    (A) is designed to be propelled by an electric
    motor, exclusively or in combination with the application of human
    power;
    (B) cannot attain a speed of more than 20 miles
    per hour without the application of human power; and
    (C) does not exceed a weight of 100 pounds.

Under the conditions outlined above, this vehicle and the others like it (50-80cc engine affixed to a standard bicycle) would qualify as “Motor-driven cycle”. Such vehicles require: “Every … motor-driven cycle … shall be equipped with at least one and not more than two head lamps which shall comply with the requirements and limitations of these regulations … The head lamp on a motor-driven cycle … may be a single beam lamp.” Such lamps are required by other sections to be US DOT approved, with markings to that effect.

It goes on like this, but these vehicles are also required to have specific reflectors and a rear-view mirror. The Silver Surfer does not feature a DOT headlamp or a mirror. It may, but this is not known, lack other type-specific features. I have never seen one of these with registration plates. The cops may or may not hassle you, but the vehicle is not legal in Texas.

With this in mind, could one build, and market an inspectable, approvable vehicle using a combination of bicycle-type and motorcycle-type components with a centrally mounted 30cc engine with lights and such for use in Texas and elsewhere. A hybrid of sorts with top speed of, say, 20-ish MPH. It appears possible, but would the final product, produced commercially even as a hobby, cost more than the $1300 or so one would expect to spend on a non-toy electric bicycle?

Just thinking in type.

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