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Greg & Helen's DIY e.Bikes.

 

Paula goes the e.route

When life throws a spanner in the works, what do you do? If Greg & Helen are anything to go by, you make a plan and keep on riding.

For a number of years, this adventurous couple had been exploring the lengths and breadth of Aotearoa on their pedal powered bicycles, discovering new trails long before they even became trails. But in 2015, out of the blue, Greg suffered an illness that weakened his heart. It looked like the end of the road for their lifelong passion…

Then Greg had a lightbulb moment. Electric Bike! After the initial excitement, he soon realised that buying an e.bike was simply out of their price range – remember, this was 2015, when the technology was still relatively new. So Greg did what any self-respecting ex-electrician would do, he decided to build his own.

After extensive internet research, he decided the best way to go was importing a conversion kit and transforming his old bike. “The kit was around $350 and the battery $380… which was pretty reasonable at the time.”

The build became a true labour of love, fuelled by Greg’s determination to get back in the saddle again, and Helen’s excitement at enjoying the trails together again. So what did the build entail in layman’s terms? “Basically, I had to replace the pedal drive shaft and cogs, modify the handlebar configuration, then install the connecting wires and adapt a carrier to handle the battery.”

In true No. 8 Wire style, Greg also improvised for the battery carrier. “I spent many hours trawling the aisles of my local hardware store trying to find something the right size to house the battery. Then I discovered a toolbox that was perfect for the job.” Add various other parts like a carrier rack to support the battery box, plus clips, tape, cable ties, plywood and fixings – all coming in at around $100 – and Greg’s custom bike was ready to be put through its paces.

Helen paints a picture of the trial run, “Our first foray was from Little Waipa Reserve to the Arapuni Dam, along one of the first sections of the Waikato River Trails to be opened. I was still riding my old push pedal bike. Greg made it look easy on his pocket rocket, so let’s just say by the end of the ride, I had put in my order!”

It was a revelation to the couple that they had been cycling so hard for years, when all the while they could have been cruising the trails and laughing their way up the steep hills. Helen admits that there’s even a kind of guilty pleasure that comes with whizzing by conventional bikers straight into a strong oncoming wind.

Thanks to the switch to electric, Greg and Helen’s passion for cycling has only grown stronger. Not only that, Greg is now a complete e.convert, and has started to borrow his daughter’s Nissan Leaf for errands around town. Maybe a little too much, according to the family. What’s next for this inspiring e.revolutionary? A car conversion? We wouldn’t be surprised.

 

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