Starting Rickshaw business - PLEASE advise

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by Rezso, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. Rezso

    Rezso New Member

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    Im known to ramble and this is the background info to my questions, which some of you may find unnecessary to read. If so, skip to the next post where I actually ask questions. :D

    I desperately need the advice of the experienced members of the site who are kind enough to share it, as I am seriously interested in starting a rickshaw-style service for my local downtown bar scene.

    Over the last few years, our downtown area has been revived due to a concerted effort on the part of the city leaders and business owners...as well as a local job boom which has boosted the local economy overall. We have a decent number of bars, nightclubs and restaurants which are centrally located, yet spread out over many blocks. We now have decent-sized crowds of people walking between these businesses, as well as limited parking in the immediate area. There are no rickshaw or pedicab based businesses currently in my town, and the closest to it would be paying much more to a taxi.

    I do not have much money. I've worked for myself doing remodeling and landscaping for the past few years. I had a few slow months of business and a few unexpected expenses and I was struggling, but making it. Then I wrecked my truck. It was my fault(I was taking my cat to the vet and became distracted when she became violently ill in her carrier next to me) and unfortunately I only had liability at the time.

    Without my truck running, it's been very hard to continue that type of work. I looked into a temporary, cheap form of transit and discovered motorized bicycles, then realized that I could possibly turn this sad string of events into something positive by creating a rickshaw type business.

    I am now selling my wrecked truck, and I plan to use the money I get from it to build at least one custom rickshaw/pedicab. I would prefer to build 2-3, but I will most likely have to start with one and build more with my profits at a future time. Luckily, my father is an engineer and works for the Texas Department of Transportation. He can build the pedicabs for me to save money and, if he doesn't personally know, he can easily ask co-workers about any issues concerning legally operating the pedicabs on the streets here.
     
    #1 Rezso, Nov 9, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  2. Rezso

    Rezso New Member

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    My questions:

    1. Is there a site where I can find free or very cheap blueprints for building pedicabs or rickshaws? I'm sure this would save us some effort and time spent on trial and error.

    I very much want my pedicabs to have electric engines for a few reasons. I want electric, instead of gas, due to the noise, heat and smell that a gas engine would produce. I believe the novelty of an electric-based pedicab would help create word of mouth and generate more customers, and a little help moving the pedicabs with customers on board would be nice...so my next question is:

    2. What would be the best electric motor for a pedicab?

    3. Would having electric wheels for both of the pedicab's rear wheels make it more effective or should I only have an electric front wheel?

    4. I've read about people creating systems which charge one electric battery while using a separate one for power: Is such a recharging system possible? If so, can you please link me to a product designed for this or (preferably) a set of instructions or blueprints for building it myself?
     
    #2 Rezso, Nov 9, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  3. Rezso

    Rezso New Member

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    (Questions on a different style of build than the one above)

    I may end up delivering newspapers to fund building additional pedicabs and to compensate profits at the start of the business. I have a few questions about a different type of build based on this.

    Basically, I'd like to be able to deliver newspapers on a gas engine motorized bicycle. Due to my funding limits, this would also have to be the base for my pedicab each night. I plan to accomplish this with a trailer-style passenger cab which I can attach and detach as needed.

    5a. Can I have a gas engine driving the rear wheel of my bicycle, as well as an electric front wheel? I would not operate these engines at the same time. One would be for delivering papers, and one would be for operating the rickshaws.

    5b. If I can have both engines on one bicycle, can I use this setup to charge the battery?

    http://motorbicycling.com/showthread.php?t=32246

    6. Would it be better to have a gas engine bicycle, with a separate, electric engine on the trailer-based passenger cab? Am I understanding correctly that the electric motor on the trailer would be able to propel the bike and trailer both?

    7. Would a gas engine be too loud for delivering papers in the early morning hours?

    8. If normal gas engines would be too loud, is there a way to soften the engine enough to make it viable?

    9. Or, is there a certain engine(type, manufacturer etc) which is known to be substantially quieter than others?
     
  4. Intrepid Wheelwoman

    Intrepid Wheelwoman New Member

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  5. Rezso

    Rezso New Member

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    Thank you very much for that, Intrepid. It is greatly appreciated.
     
  6. curtisfox

    curtisfox Well-Known Member

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    I have been thinking about this and I think this will require some heavy duty service power plants,something like gulf carts have. Eather gas or electric,there gas engines are quiet...............Curt
     
  7. bluegoatwoods

    bluegoatwoods New Member

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    My feeling is that you can not do this motorized without pretty serious expense.

    Electric might not be feasible at any price. Maybe that's going too far. Perhaps there's an electric drive train that will work. But I'll bet the price is ghastly.

    Throw in the inevitable breakdowns, with paying customers aboard, and it might not be worth trying.

    But before I start sounding like a complete downer, I'd suggest giving it a shot with good old leg power.

    I'd consider doing that myself. You'll have fun and you'll slow down the aging process measurably.

    And you'll have a much better chance of making a profit.
     
  8. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Active Member

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    On a rickshaw, I would use an internally geared electric hub motor to help you get that heavy vehicle moving. Electric motors provide power without having to "spool up" to a suitable RPM like a gas motor. The hub motor batteries will not provide enough range for continuous power assist, but can be used to help accelerate from a stop. You will sweat less and will be less prone to knee injury.
     
  9. BigBlue

    BigBlue New Member

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    Pedal power Baby! - slow and quiet. That is the attraction. An engine would be a distraction.

    If other people around the world can pedal, so can you - short of any medical issue or disability.

    Not knowing the laws in the State of Texas, I would doubt that you could motorized such a vehicle, especially if your carrying passengers. Also consider that you may not be able to get liability insurance if it is motorized. Carrying passengers from bar-to-bar, I would definitely have some insurance and maybe required by State or local laws.

    Good Luck,

    Chris
    AKA: BigBlue
     
  10. wheelbender6

    wheelbender6 Active Member

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    Neighborhood Electric vehicles, like electric trikes, are legal on suitable roads by federal law. However, I agree that you should do more legal research since you plan to use the rickshaw as a business. Know the law before spending your money.
     
  11. Velodrome

    Velodrome Active Member

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    This would haul some chubby bar hoppers! I knew a fellow who did this for the Tempe / ASU bar scene. He did it strictly pedal power. Used a reg Mtn bike with a ~3 person trailer towed behind. It was attached to the seat post with a U joint to allow for banking / leaning. Depending on location you might want a roof of some type for rainy nights, Dry drunks are happy drunks :)
     

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  12. Velodrome

    Velodrome Active Member

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  13. BigBlue

    BigBlue New Member

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    Found this website that sells Pedicab parts that might help. They even sell frames:
    http://wheelgoods.com/

    How about a billboard bike during the day. Either ride it around or park it somewhere - just an idea.

    Chris
    AKA: BigBlue
     

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