I get asked a lot
to build motorized bicycles for people... so frequently in fact that it's tempting... flattering though it is, there's a couple few problems that prevent me from even considering it.
It's the classic issues ofc, time & money... but not mine so much as theirs.
Don't get me wrong, I don't consider myself a "master fabricator" who's every second is worth the equivalent of my own body weight in gold, but there's really only two options when building these things, the one most likely to sell is ofc the least expensive - cut every corner w/the cheapest components available, a box store bike that costs $100 or less and using no more than what comes in the $150 kit. After tax, S&H and w/e little things you simply hafta get to make it work - lets say you've about $300 into it. Add in labor and some profit margin and you're looking at selling the thing for somewhere around $450+ at a minimum... lets say $500 just to make this easy - mebbe ya got better grips and a comfy seat *shrug*
So, $500 for a motorized bicycle built for you & ready ta go - sounds like a good deal right? Is it though? It might
a good deal for the builder... but is it really such a good deal for the buyer? Let's think for a moment what they're getting for the money. The cheapest
new bicycle money can buy with the cheapest stock kit that could be found, bolted together w/o a thing done to either of them to rectify any
of the issues that comprise most of this forum - not even the problematic break in period as that takes time (hours = money), built by someone who probably isn't
the most skilled as otherwise they'd have charged more.
What kind of person would be interested in this "good deal"? Odds are, someone without any mechanical experience or even the inclination to tinker - else they'd not buy such a simple machine from someone else, they'd just have slapped it together themselves. Problem? They will
think it's just like a factory moped, that it'll be a gas & go w/o a worry in the world.
This is a recipe for disaster.
As anyone who's built one for themselves know - there's some... teething pains even with the simplest build. Take a mo and peruse the thousands
of "help me" posts throughout every
section of this forum to get an idea... and that's mostly folks that had the wherewithal to actually try and build it themselves. Sure, you can build yourself
a pretty sweet machine for about $500, but buy one?
There's only three likely outcomes for those that would - they'll get frustrated and trash the thing, be nickel & dimed by the builder to fix all these issues as they develop, or both. Even if
they persevere and pay someone to dial it in, odds are it'll be after
things have broken - which means not only paying to fix it, but replacement parts as well. Which means even if, IF they don't loose all hope - even after
everything is finally sorted as much as it can be, what did they end up with? Just another Walmart bike with a HT kit for almost exactly the price of a brand new Tomos moped
- but without the warranty.
I can't in clear conscience advocate that, let alone do it myself.
these cheap crappy kits - I really do. I don't even begrudge those that would seek the least expensive bike to build 'em with. Why?
Because they're an incredible opportunity for an exemplary learning experience no matter your background. Young and old, mechanic or not - building these bikes for yourself encourages innovation and self
expression with what really is the simplest mode of mechanized personal transport there is. It's a stepping stone, an introduction to what could lead to so much more, these cheap kits provide far
more than their cost in education, let alone the satisfaction of riding something you built yourself
. It's so not about the bike, it's about the build & if you don't build it yourself you are
getting ripped off plain and simple - if not the money, the experience... most likely both.
We've some fabricators building unique works of art that I would recommend to those that haven't the resources to do it themselves, sure they cost the same or more than a moped, they're also not stock HT kits on a wallyworld bike. Sure, there might
be a couple of builders out there offering good builds for about that price, for the love of building or just trying to support their own habit - but I'd not bet on finding one.
If truly all
that's wanted is inexpensive, basic transportation - get a moped, there isn't a motorized bicycle out there worth the money if that's all that's desired.