Building a folding eBike with a child’s seat for ~$1,000
This is a super-long entry and not part of my usual nonsense about nuthin.
Before all the madness with the pandemic set in, I hit upon an idea during one of my sleepless nights: For the summer, I would buy an eBike, slap on a child-seat, and take the kid all over the city, and potentially, as far as Westchester.
I’d get some exercise, he’d get some fresh air, we’d bond and avoid watching too much TV: win-win-win.
I did tons of research – particularly speaking to CoB and her boyfriend, who manages a Trek bike shop – and figured I needed four major things:
- A bike that folded because I live in a tiny Manhattan apartment.
- A full sized (26″) bike so I could safely use a standard child-seat for maximum protection of my most prized possession.
- Either a front or center mounted motor to keep it as far away from the kid as possible.
- A battery that was also as far away from the kid as possible.
You’d never guess how few options I had. Actually, zero is the answer. No one made anything with those four criteria.
So, I decided to build/assemble it myself (with Chad’s help, in exchange for (copious amounts of) food and rum).
I started by doing some research on inexpensive but well-regarded folding bikes and Dahon seemed to fit the bill. But they stopped making 26″ bikes.
So, I picked up a used Dahon Matrix. Much more on this later.
I also figured out that the simplest option was to get the iMortor 3.0 Wireless Electric Bike Front Wheel Conversion Kit.
Insert worldwide pandemic here.
By the time the wheel arrived, the boy was safely in NJ. So, with Chad’s help, we tried installing it onto the Matrix.
Dude, nothing we did could make the damn wheel fit. We even Dremeled part of the axel. Nuthin. A week of nuthin.
Either the disc brake kept hitting the braking mechanism or the wheel itself couldn’t fit into the fork.
Giving up, we brought it to a pro shop and they cracked the fork. Balls!
So, we bought another fork and that too didn’t work.
The bike shop was so irritated that they told us to get out and never to return.
Him: Get out, get out, get out, get out.
Me: It sounds like you want me to leave.
This whole thing took a total of five months from the time I ordered the wheel to getting kicked outta the shop.
Was about to give up when I eventually figured out that the Matrix had shocks on the front fork – and so did the replacement fork – and the hub was hitting against the shocks.
So, I gave it one more try.
I sold the Matrix at cost to Chad – who is now a NYC biking fool with a brand new fork with shocks – and picked up a Dahon Espresso (also used), which didn’t have shocks on the front fork.
Bam! The wheel took literally 5 minutes to install. (ARGH!)
After weeping in a fetal position for a bit, we were back to work. Chad and I spent the next week learning how to install V-Brakes onto a bike. That’s a whole ‘nother entry.
Good thing I went to law school.
One thing that was puzzling was that there was no throttle.
Chad: How does it start?
Me: I know exactly as much as you do at this point, man!
Usually, with these conversion kits, there’s either a throttle that you press with a thumb or twist like a motorcycle OR, on the higher end models, there’s a sensor on the pedals that sense when you’re moving and kick in for assist.
This thing, nuthin.
Turns out that it kinda combines both types: Once you reach a nominal speed, the wheel kicks in. Now, one time Chad was pushing the bike, it started to go, which freaked him out, but it didn’t do that with me…yet.
Most of the controls are via the fairly sketchy but still functional app that they have for both Apple and Android. It works rather well, connecting via bluetooth; the app just doesn’t look very polished.
During this whole time, I also managed to get an extra battery for $250 on ebay.
So, after five months of insanity, I finally have what I wanted: A folding ebike that could take a standard child safety seat with the battery and motor far from where the kid was gonna be.
Cost a bit more than I planned but it was still worth it.
Honestly, it’s insanely fun. The motor is super powerful and with both batteries, I could easily make it out to my parents on the tail end of Queens. It’s pretty amazeballs.
I’ll put up a video of the bike at some point – this entry’s getting super long as it is. But if you’re thinking about getting it, with the right bike, it’s just great.
I’ll let you know if there are any problems down the line too.
Here’s it’s final form. Just need to figure out where to put the damn thing:
Bike (used): $400
iMortor electric wheel: $500
Extra battery: $250
Accessories and wasted purchases: $100
Location: home, with a fully functional eBike but no kid to put on it
Music: I know I can count on you (Spotify)
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