Archive for November, 2014

Electric Motorcycle for the kid(s)

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

I just took delivery of a Kuberg Start for my son’s 3rd birthday. His birthday is a month away, so it is going to be a long wait for me. I am so tempted to put him on the bike right now…Yes, I am not the most patient person.

We already have a CRF50 for the kids, but at 23″ seat height, it is still a few years off before I see him riding that thing. Never mind some of the other issues that I have had with the bike…especially the fuel delivery. Anyhow, this Kuberg is the second of the “real” electric bikes to come out for little kids. The first is the Oset, and I am actually on a list to get one of those, and in fact I was 90% sure that was the bike I was going to get. I got to reading about the Oset (the 12.5 model) which is basically a miniature trials bike. I saw some videos of 3 year olds learning to ride that bike in grass fields and parks, all without training wheels. They basically did what you do on a balance bike -keep your feet as outriggers and putt around. Something like this is not possible on a gas bike for a number of reasons. First off is that while the CRF50 in particular has a throttle limiter screw, all that really does is take away the ability to open the throttle WFO. Even if you limit throttle to 1/8 turn or even less, all you do is slow down your rate of acceleration. You can still get up to some pretty high speeds, which means they can hit things pretty hard. I totally see this happening with little ones like my son. Tripp is not even 3 years old, and when I let him handle the throttle duties on the CRF50, he goes straight to full turn and does not let off…even with me on the back, we hit more than 10mpg. Second, if he falls on that 50, the thing weighs almost 100lbs. If it traps him, he is stuck until I can get there. If he is not stuck, but the bike is stalled, he is once again stuck until I get there as even most 6 year olds will have trouble starting a 50cc four stroke. Then there is the issue of the pipe…and that thing WILL burn a little one, and it is not a matter of if, but when.
I am sure that there are those thinking that perhaps starting a kid out before he is 3 might be too early, and I agree -unless that kid happens to be hooked on bikes. (I currently have 5 bikes at the house and he is constantly wanting to go for rides, or to work on the bikes with me.) In that case you simply want to make sure that he is as safe as can be, and encourage them. I won’t go into the bonding etc. that takes place, as those who do not ride simply will never understand. Suffice to say that I cannot wait until we go on our first ride together in the trails.

Back to the e-bike. This thing weighs all of 45-50 lbs. I have ridden bicycles that are this heavy. My daughter went with me to collect the bike, and she dropped it in the parking lot (you should have seen the look on her face)!!! I calmly instructed her pick it back up, which was no problem for her (she is only 4 -and a small 4 at that). All afternoon she wanted to take that bike out…she was begging me all afternoon while Tripp was napping. (I was working on the bike, checking nuts and bolts, chain, brakes, etc. Needless to say it is going to be a long month.

Speaking of the kids. I ordered this Kuberg Start 3 weeks ago. A large part of me thought that this would be how I get Tripp, and possibly Madison, to ride a bicycle without training wheels. I had already removed their training wheels, along with the cranks on one of the bikes. This left just one bike with pedals and cranks, the one with the cranks removed to be used as a balance bike, and an actual balance bike that we also happen to have. So last week (Saturday) my kids want to ride bikes, which means my son on the balance bike, and my daughter on her bike without the pedals and cranks. But when we went out, she grabs the only bike with pedals. So we go out, and I hold her while we get to the paved area we will ride on…all the while I cannot help but notice that I am holding her but actually doing nothing. Once we get to the paved street, I basically let go and she is off. 10 minutes later she is trying to skid the rear wheel while braking. We rode that afternoon until dark (about 2 hours).
The next morning sees me getting up and putting her bike back together so that she can pedal around on her own bike -which has the preferred pink paint that is necessary for a 4 year old girl. Once done with her bike, we head back out and this time Tripp (who is over a month away from turning 3) grabs the same bike Madison was on the day before (which is his bike). So I now feel like I am hearding cats, trying to get two kids down the road so that I can try to teach my son how to ride (Madison still cannot start on her own). Long story short, it took all of 30 seconds to get him going without holding him up…he heads down the street and even turns around and comes back!
What does this have to do with the Kuberg? Well I seriously thought that the motorcycle would be the start of one or possibly both riding bicycles without training wheels, and it turns out that now they will already have enough confidence in their balance that the e-bike is likely to actually be “ridden” from day one.

Here are images of the bike without the seat in “trials bike” format along with images of it with a seat mounted for more standard trail bike ergonomics and taller riders…
Seat comparison
With the seat…
With Seat
I included these two images for a couple of reasons. The main reason being that I had a heck of a time finding images of the Start without the seat. All the good pictures show the bike with the optional seat on it, so these are for anyone who might be wondering the same things that I was.
Where the CRF50 has a throttle limiter to control acceleration, as mentioned previously, the bike can still get going a pretty good clip. The e-bike is so much different in that you can adjust the electronics to control the top speed. This bike has basically 5 different speeds, with the lowest being around 2-3mph. This means that even if he happens to target fixate early on, I know that he is not going to hit something at high speed like I fear on the CRF50. Big plus. And it makes NO NOISE. Now I happen to be one of those that likes the sound of a finely tuned motor, and I have bikes to prove it, but I do like the idea of being able to go into stealth mode so that neighbors are not offended, and even the kid is not distracted or intimidated by a motor revving out.

I will update more after the first shakedown, and after I make some adjustments to the driveline to my liking. But so far, I like the value proposition that this bike offers.