One of the newest trends in the sustainable transportation field is the bicycle moped conversion kits sold on the internet. These aren’t the electric assist versions that have been around awhile. These are 4-cycle engines, 49cc or less for California. They aren’t supposed to be able to go more than 25 mph. Originally they were marketed to skater boys without a drivers license. No insurance or registration requirement was also a plus for people in the under 25 years old bracket.
However, markets have a way of defining themselves. These kits have turned into must have items for people who have lost their licenses due to DUIs or permanent impairment. Most of these geezers buzzing down the street look like they’re making a sortie between Social Services and a meeting with their parole officer. This isn’t me. I have a Class B with Passenger and Motorcycle endorsements. As a long time motorcycle and bicycle rider I became interested in this cheap thrill because its a loop hole that pisses off authority types. The Highway Patrol will pull mopeds over then realize they can’t do anything above what they can hassle a bicyclist over. No license, registration, or insurance? No problem.
Obviously I had to add a noisy moped to my repertoire of things that I own or do that are just barely legal. I bought a bicycle with the the kit already installed. After a terrorizing the residents of Kelseyville on a round trip to the hardware store I was ready for my first double digit trip. I decided to go around the North Shore.
I left around Noon, taking Big Valley to Soda Bay to Lakeport. As I roared down Main Street at 20 miles per hour pedestrians stared warily. After all, this person must be more dangerous than a Harley rider. He has no license. He has nothing to lose. I took the Lakeshore tour all the way to the Nice Lucerne cut-off. Truly scenic views thru the Rodham Slough can be enjoyed more at slower speeds.
Unlike traveling high speed roads on a bicycle I did not have to worry about cranked out SUV drivers or red necks in pick-ups blowing their horns at me. This boorish behavior startles bicyclists but my rig was making so much noise I could barely hear them. It was like flashing a blind person. No effect whatsoever. I continued on thru Nice and Lucerne still working on my half gallon tank of gas.
Then I discovered the weak link in the conversion system. Power is transferred from a belt drive by several shafts and bushings to a chain and sprocket. Apparently this arrangement got a little loose and the belt and fittings went flying thru their cover at Bruner Road. Oh well, that’s why you still have bicycle peddles on a moped. Being a bicyclist in good condition helps. The problem is that the engine and conversion hardware tripled the weight of this one speed bicycle. Peddling was like running a 50 yard dash with a fat lady on your back. Any grade at all required me to get off and push. I stopped and had a smoothie at the Catfish in Clearlake Oaks then began the long push over Sulfer Banks Road but it was fun going down.
I road into the Clearlake Catfish at 4:45. The usual freaks there dug the whole idea even though the moped beast was injured. It was great to have a plan B when the motorized power train system failed. Part of that Plan B is to not live a sedentary life. Of course it would have been better to know what needed regular adjustment and having the right tool on me to make the adjustment on the spot. But now I am wiser.
A future area to explore of rebel sustainable transport, that’s just outside the long arm of the law, is taking short, single hull boats to the middle of the lake at night. “Single hull” means no registration or mussel inspection sticker is necessary. A deputy confirmed that there is one deputy on call at night for the whole lake. So no one will be cruising on the water looking for suspicious people. No neighbors will be complaining about an after 10 pm party on their street because there is no street and no neighbors. Lash your small boats together and have a party. Or stick a trolling motor on a piece of floating dock and push out far enough from shore to do the Cleopatra barge thing. Just one more precious gap in the closing net of big brother.