Monday, April 17, 2023

San Diego Electric Bike

On Sunday afternoon I dropped off my bike at San Diego Electric Bike in La Jolla.

Ray is the man.
He showed me a Schwinn he built 20 years ago, with a single-cylinder internal combustion engine.
Wow! You don't see one of those every day.

About my Schwinn, we talked a bit about the make and model of the electric motor, how the handbrakes would work, where to mount the battery, how to engage the throttle, adding a five-speed derailleur, and a bell, getting the front fender light to work, and the horn too.

I left knowing my Schwinn was in good hands at last.

It will take a week or so to source all the parts, a few days to put it all together and test-ride it, and then it's all mine to play with.

More stuff to get:
    Front and rear lighting so I'll be legal for night riding.
    iPhone mount.
    Storage cover.
    Clean and detail before pickup.

Friday, April 7, 2023

Electrifying a 1952 Schwinn Black Phantom

Thank you for any help you can offer...

This 1952 Schwinn Black Phantom is a restored original that I've owned for the last 35 years. It's exactly like the one I had when I was 9 years old (71 years ago). I used it on my newspaper delivery route. It was heavy then, and it seems heavier now. 😂

That brings me to my cunning plan...

1. add a chrome electric motor on the front wheel,
2. a black removable battery pack on the rear wheel package carrier,
3. hand brakes, and 
4. some general TLC, etc.

Can you help me with an estimate of the cost for the work
including pickup/return to Del Mar?

Please also include recommendations for 
1. mount for iPhone,
2. helmet, 
3. safety lights, 
4. any other items to get it legal, safe, and reliable... 
As an incentive for you to want to do the work,
please note that I write a bike blog called SoCal Beach Cruiser
that gets very few views, by the way, so no promises of great riches,
but I would like to publish the story of the conversion, with photos,
your contact information, etc. You could link to the story if you want.

If this sounds good to you,
please let me know the details on price and pickup and delivery
and whatever else I should know.

Thank you very much,


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Biking the beach in Del Mar

On the last chance for 2013, I took my new Pedego Trail Tracker for a ride on the Del Mar beach, at low tide.  It handles the soft deep sand with no problems, but you can really get up plenty of speed on the firm sand.

Sorry about the vertical format video.  I'll go horizontal format when I get a better camera mount.  This video was taken using the iPhone 5s, and shake reduced thanks to YouTube.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


How is it possible to leave a bike factory stock?  Not for me!

The Trail Tracker begins life as more of a mountain bike, but I'm a beach cruiser kind of guy, so I'm looking for more of an upright, stretched out position.

This photo shows the modified seating position: lowered to the frame and set back as far as possible. The battery has been moved aft to allow for the seat, and to not interfere with the battery cable.

Also note the Shimano 3 speed derailleur, which takes a lot of the work out of going without electric power.

Next mod: new handlebars...

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The deed is done

The deed is done.
A new adventure has begun.
Long live FastMikie,
Man of Thought and Action.

The Electric (bike) era has begun.
Delivery in a few days,
after considerable custom modifications...

The photo above is a factory stock bike.

The modifications are needed because
I'm starting with a trail bike and
converting it as much as possible
into a beach cruiser.

To make the seating position as comfortable as possible,
the seat will be lowered to be positioned fully aft of the seat post,
and attached directly on the frame.
The seat itself will need to be modified
and multiple hose clamps used to secure it.
This will be a prototype...
It will certainly be the only one like it in regard to seating.

The handle bar position will be raised and moved aft.

Further upgrades include a Shimano 3-speed d-thingie,
1500 lumen headlight, iPhone holder,
and a monster lock that weighs a ton,
but I don't care because any work I don't want to do
will be done by the 48-volt motor.

The first thing you might notice about the bike
is the big fat tires... seriously fat.
A full 4" wide balloon tire that can be run at low pressures
to make the ride seriously comfortable.

Did I make it clear that I want to be comfortable?

I'm looking forward to long rides on the beach,
at low tide, at sunset.

The range of this beast is around 30 miles, they say,
on level ground with no wind and an average weight rider.
I aim to test that, all along the beach.
You can't get much more level than sea level.

Under-inflated tires and sand surface could
seriously reduce the range, so I might want
a second battery, but not right away.

There will be a bracket for my iPhone,
to display GPS track, speed, weather, etc.
I wonder if the iPhone 5s is fast enough
to record video, track GPS, play iTunes,
and talk on the phone (facetime!), simultaneously.
If not, it's only a matter of time.

There is no app that can connect the phone and the bike
or the battery, yet...

The lights don't work off the battery,
and there's no regenerative braking,
so it's not an integrated device, yet...

The technology seems to be good enough for play...

I take delivery in a few days, maybe a week.


Where I got it:

110 West Plaza St.
Solana Beach, CA 92075

Ask for the owner, Art Womack.
Good guy, will treat you right.

Tell 'em FastMikie sent you...

Say goodbye to my old bike:

Monday, November 4, 2013

New bike: Leaning in this direction

I am currently leaning in the direction of this bad boy: The Pedego Trail Tracker...

Motor Brushless Geared Hub Motor on Rear wheel
Power Rating 600 Watt
Gears & Speeds Single Speed
Lithium in a Removable Pack
Smart Charger Included
10 Ah Standard – 480 Watt Hours
48 Volt
Vee Rubber 26″ x 4.00″
20 MPH using motor power only
15 – 30 miles per charge in throttle mode 
                  (depending on rider weight & terrain)
Throttle Type
Twist Throttle Variable Speed Control 
Frame Type
6061 Light Weight Aluminum
Black 5 inch rise
Braking System
Avid BB-7 Front and Rear Disc Brakes
Drive System
Rear Hub Motor (Motor is in rear wheel)
Frame Size 18″
Axle to Axle
Padded Adjustable Seat 
Bicycle Warranty
1 Year
Battery Warranty
3 Year Limited Warranty

I would still need a few add-ons:
Cushier seat.
Cruiser handlebars for more upright seating position.
Security device to lock it up while traveling.
Security device to lock it up in garage.
Electronics (mapping, speed, distance, etc) will be via iPhone 5s.
And probably a lot more stuff I'm not thinking about right now...

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wanted: Electric Beach Cruiser Bike

I have held out long enough.  My bike is not coming back.  I need a new bike.  If I take everything I learned with the last one, and design the perfect bike for me at this time, it would be an electric stretch cruiser, something like this, but with electric drive:

The primary purpose of the bike will be short trips in the Del Mar area, and longer cruises on the beach. So I'm going to need some fat tires for the sand.  And I want the most comfortable seating position possible, upright, low seat and relatively high handlebars (not ape-hangers).  And a big fat cushy seat.

Of course it will be outfitted with iPhone mount, running lights, cup holder, etc. I'm kinda interested in those new programmable LED lights for the perimeter of the wheels.  Very clever.

I have looked at, and ridden, the latest electric bikes from Prodeco and Pedego, but the seating position is uncomfortable. Maybe it can be solved with handlebar adjustments, but I would much prefer a lower seating position, and pedals more forward of the seat (not quite recumbent).

Below is the Pedego Trail Tracker.  I like it a LOT because of the monster fat 4"tires (and 24" wheels) that would be great for the sand, and to run at low pressure to make the ride as comfortable as possible, but the seating position is for trail running, and I want total comfort:

The one below is the Pedego Interceptor II.  I like the power and the traditional cruiser frame design. It's another possibility if the handlebars can be raised, but again the seat is too high in relation to the ground, and the pedals not right for electric cruising:

Prodeco's Outlaw has great specs, lots of power, but again needs a more upright seating position:

Is there someone who can build a custom electric beach cruiser in San Diego? 
All suggestions are welcome!
Thank you.

Please contact me at

Monday, July 29, 2013

It's Gone! Stolen from the garage...


My trusty old beach cruiser is Gone, stolen from my garage just last week.  Reported it to the San Diego Sheriff, North County, case # 13138721.  The bike had been upgraded with a foam seat (black/orange) to replace the one in the photo.  Reward for return.  Contact me at

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Week of Rain

It's been raining for a week here in SoCal.  The ground is super-saturated.  The cliffs along the ocean will be crumbling, the trails muddy.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Free At Last!

For the past year, my beach cruiser has been stored inside the pickup truck, under the camper shell, and firmly fixed to the BedSlide. All this means is that it is a total time-suck to remove the bike, do the minor re-assembly

  • Install front wheel
  • Find tool
  • Adjust seat
  • Adjust handle bars, both ways

And then reverse the procedure to put it away. Needless to say, I didn't use the bike much. And that, of course, is unacceptable. So just this past week, I liberated my bike from my truck, and all is right with the world.

Now I store the bike in my condo, where it is much happier and far more likely to be ridden, thereby bringing good things (joy, fresh air/sunshine, etc).

Monday, January 25, 2010

Beach Cruiser mods

The FJ Cruiser is just not big enough to hold the beach cruiser and all the other stuff I need when towing the Airstream trailer, so I upgraded to a Toyota Tundra.

The beach cruiser is in the shop getting a quick-release front wheel so that I can keep the bike inside the shell, front wheel removed, and fork secured to the BedSlide, and under the camper shell of the new tow vehicle. (Finally!)

See The Adventures of Airstream Mikie for more info on the tow vehicle.

Kickstand Magazine, for beach cruiser fans

I just got my first issue of Kickstand Magazine today, and it's excellent!

If you are at all into the beach cruiser lifestyle, then you probably want to check it out because it's only 9 bucks (ok, 9 dollars and 9 cents, but why the 9 cents, I have no idea). The bottom line is that it's totally worth it, with great photos, neat stories, and even the advertising is slick and informative.

Friday, July 3, 2009

It Fits!

It's tight, but the beach cruiser bike fits snugly inside the new Tow-yota. Now I will always have an escape vehicle inside my escape vehicle which tows my escape vehicle!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The bike gets a couple of big brothers

I haven't been writing much about the bike lately because I've been working on some big plans that will extend my biking adventures by an order of magnitude. I have just started a new chapter in my life with the purchase of a new Airstream trailer plus a tow vehicle. My bike will go along for the ride, in one or the other, haven't quite figured that out yet.

Of course, as a writer at heart, I've started a new blog to document the madness.

Check out the stories and photos at

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Most Important Thing To Do Right Now

It's pretty amazing to me that The Most Important Thing To Do Right Now started off with a bike ride, but it's a fact. You might think that there are many more things that could get to the top of the list before a bike ride, but sometimes, if the circumstances are right, almost anything can be the Most Important Thing To Do Right Now. Check it out:

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A moment in the park

It was one of those perfect days: warm sun, cool air. Begs for a bike ride, solo, just a short one, down to the park and back. Tunes with the iPod Shuffle: piano concertos on the way to the park, Buddy Holley on the way back.

There was a couple groveling in the grass in the park, children climbing in the low brances of a gnarly conifer, and some out of towners playing frisbee, poorly, with a too-small frisbee, but they were enjoying the SoCal experience. What I can do anytime is the highlight of their vacation, possibly something they will remember for their entire lifetime.

I slipped through the park, unremarkably, yet another background element in that moment of Life we were all living together.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Post-ride review

Later that evening, I located my iPod Shuffle, which is virtually weightless and clips on to a sleeve, or belt, whatever, so it saves the weight of an iPod Touch and the bracket (mentioned in previous post). Progress!

On the main GPS tracking device is my iPhone 3G, and I must remember to turn off the phone, 3G, and wireless ("Airplane Mode"), and test if the screen can be turned off/dimmed for greater battery life. A few minutes after uploading the GPS stats, right after the ride, the battery went critical. That was after only an hour plus. I'm thinking I need at least two hours for a decent ride, plus break time and photo taking, etc might stretch requirements to 3-4 hours. More testing (rides) needed to learn maximum battery life per charge (and therefore maximum ride length with GPS tracking). Maybe there are hot-swappable battery add-ons in the aftermarket.

There was a gnarly scratch on the left front fork, a result of the Fiesta Island ride, where my bike rode, flat and loose on top of another bike, in the back of a pickup truck. This sort of damage is avoidable, so I'm getting some devices for vertical mounting. Maybe they have such things where I got my bike: Bicycle Discovery in Pacific Beach (no website, can you believe it?).

The scratch got me to thinking that maybe I want to put together two bikes, one for show, one for go. I was thinking a showpiece painted deep purple superfine metal flake with some ghost-painted flames. Pin striping, of course. Who is the custom bike builder in San Diego?

Another post-ride thought. I still don't have the seat adjustment right. Maybe what my butt needs is some more padding, and the only way that's going to happen is if I put the padding in the seat. I'm thinking of the material I had put in the pilot's seat of my open-cockpit biplane. Very good at absorbing shocks, yet gives relatively good support. It diffuses sudden energy outward, not straight down. Who can build a custom seat? Maybe it's just a case of having mine re-upholstered and padded properly.

I removed the wireless bike computer which I recently installed. After the iPhone 3G GPS tracking software proved such a success, the old computer was redundant. Will donate to good home. And because I no longer have that sub assembly, I no longer need the special screwdriver in the tool kit. Simplicity rules!

The iPhone 3G bike mount worked well. The product I used is from Arkon,
(CM032-ST-AMPS - Bicycle Mount Pedestal). You also need a separate bracket for the iPhone.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Del Mar Beach Homes, Solana Beach east of Hwy. 101

Del Mar

see it all, click HERE.

Today I crossed the Great Divide. It is said that there is no Life east of Interstate 5, but there is no life for me east of Highway 101, the Pacific Coast Highway. If there is anything east of that, I'm really not so interested. I prefer the beach. But being the open-minded person that I am, I went with Mark's suggestion to cross 101 and head into Solana Beach. I have never been through this territory before, and I probably will stay away next time I'm given the chance so I can stay closer to the beach.

The iPhone was mounted securely with a new handlebar bracket. I tuned in with another iPod, the Touch, in my pocket, with ear buds, making this the first, double-Apple tour. It looks like I need another bracket for the tunes-pod, and another for the video camera (coming soon). That may be the limit.

(to be continued)

One of the highlights of today's tour was to visit the marker of good friend Derek Blake, who would have enjoyed the waves we've had for the last couple of days. His marker is in a little known part of Seagrove Park, in Del Mar. I always enjoyed hanging out with Derek.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Fiesta Island Tour

I now have a Used Bike.

My perfect, unmarked bike was unceremoniously dumped in the back of Mark's truck, on top of his, which I guess is better than being on the bottom, I don't know. In any case, it has almost certainly picked up a few dings during the drive to/from Mission Bay.

This trip was intended to be an experiment with the iPhone as a bike computer. Since it is only attached to the bike with Velcro, I wanted as smooth a ride as possible, so we selected Mission Bay as the target.

Temperature, 80 degrees, cloudless, no wind. No better day ever existed in the history of the planet. We toured by the edges of the bay, on wide concrete walkways, with low traffic, and the gentlest, almost unnoticeable, rise and fall in elevation. It was smooth riding in virgin territory. This is the first time I have ever toured Fiesta Island, or anywhere in Mission Bay, for that matter. It was so good, I know I'll be back, with video!

The Velcro mount worked like a charm.

A few minutes after the bikes were loaded back into the truck, I had loaded the trip stats up to the website, via the Edge network on the iPhone. It all went flawlessly.

On the way back we got some lunch at the Torrey Pines Glider Port. I had the Turkey Classic sandwich on toasted sourgough bread with tortilla soup prepared to perfection by chef Miguel Fernandez. There was no glider activity today because the winds are still off-shore.

Check out the stats below. Click on the green "Play" arrow to trace the route. Note elevation stats! This stuff is so cool, considering it was all done with an iPhone!

Fiesta island

Widget powered by EveryTrail: GPS Geotagging

Fiesta island at EveryTrail

Map created by EveryTrail:GPS Geotagging

Monday, January 12, 2009

Looking Forward

I love it. The more I think about the bike computer app for the iPhone, which uses GPS to record where you go with your bike, and how fast, and how steep a grade up/down. That's pretty cool stuff, and its easy to see that it's going to get so much better.

I'm looking forward to what's coming soon, to the iPhone.

It will/must happen soon that the iPhone will have a much improved camera, and video is a natural progression. Memory is getting cheaper and smaller. Vibration and shake correction software will make bike video look like flying low, and I can definitely relate to that. Hi-Def, of course. Continuous, live broadcasting will become commonplace.

Just as every NASCAR racer has multiple video cameras, people will have one as well, the iPhone camera and full-time high speed internet connection. Personal publishing will have arrived at a natural fulfillment. Personal safety will be greatly enhanced by being able to recall exactly what happened. It will be virtually free to record and store and even broadcast continuous video.

Applying that to biking, and some day in the not too distant future, when the weather turns nasty outside, and it's no fun to ride, we can take a virtual tour. We peddle away, the bike securely mounted to a programmable treadmill while we watch the videos other riders recorded on their rides with their iPhones. And then shared with you on the web. Free.

Snow on the roads? Maybe you'd like to take a hill or two of the Tour de France? Too much work for me. But France is OK. I'd prefer a perfectly flat cruise on the Mediterranean sand and through town, at sunset, in Nice and Cannes, during the Film Festival. Now there's an iPhone ride video I could play more than once during the harsh stormy days in San Diego.

For those selling old-style bike computers, the ones that only have a single purpose, like the one I just bought: much thought needs to be given to the business model.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

iPhone app for bike computer

The iPhone App Store shows one app called "thebikecomputer" by GlobalMotion. It records and stores trips on which is a free service that seems to be very well done. It allows other riders to compare trips, photos, etc.

A related app is "EveryTrail" the iPhone app. Not sure yet how "thebikecomputer" differs from "EveryTrail". Click here for more info and user video.

There is another iPhone app called "Trails" which seems good too, but it's not free (only $1.99) so I'll check out the freebie first.

iPhone on Beach Cruiser!

This obvious idea popped into my head, and now I'm looking for a proper bracket to secure (better than velcro) my iPhone to the handlebars.  Also looking for an app for the iPhone which would replace the bike computer I just bought.  I think an app could do a much better job, especially with GPS ability, interfaced with terrain maps could yield vertical climb/descent info.  The only thing the bike computer can do that the iPhone is missing is ambient temperature.

This is a nice setup, especially since the iPhone 3G has built-in speakers, so you can cruise with tunes without the dangly wires of earphones.

It has not been announced yet, but I'll bet that soon the iPhone will have video recording capability, and I'll be able to record the rides and post them here!

The bracket that I would want for the iPhone should allow it to swing from horizontal to vertical layout, and to not block the camera lens in either layout, so I can reduce camera shake in photos by using the bike as a (wait for it) bipod.

There are laws against video players in the front dash of automobiles (too distracting), so I'm wondering if that might also apply to bikes.  In fact, I need to check out all the laws regarding bikes, state and local, if any.

In other work today, I removed the reflectors front and rear, saving 2.6 ounces total.  They were poorly aligned, easily put out of alignment, and the rear one was blocked by the rear fender.  I'm thinking of reflectors which would hang, loose, from the seat, and from the handlebars, so that the natural movement of riding would create a more noticeable reflection.  This setup would also eliminate bracket alignment challenges, and it would be a lot cleaner.

shortcuts to get here

Two easier ways to get to


To Do List

To Do List:
1. trailer hitch and bike carrier for Corvette & truck?
2. check detail costs, tire dressing w/ Bobby K.
3. lightweight combination lock
4. clip on light(s)? for after sunset rides.
black iPhone headset (wires, ear buds)
6. black shoelaces for hub shiners?

Next service:
1. replace chrome nuts/bolts with black
2. red pin striping?
3. seat improvement (cushion), new seat
4. shorten shift cable, additional clamp
5. valve stem caps
6. reflectors, rig to hang?
7. touch up paint

Pre-Ride checklist:
1. sun screen?
2. backpack (water, id, iPhone, earbuds, camera, book?, other)
3. hat
4. sunglasses
5. bike inspection, tire pressure check,
6. iPhone 3G for GPS tracking, phone, web access,
7. iPod (shuffle) and ear buds for ride-along tunes!
8. tool kit:
  • two 9/16" box wrenches for seat angle and alignment
  • one 3/16" hex wrench for seat height adjustment

Post-Ride checklist:
1. clean and inspect
2. (b)log distance, time, route
3. add to To Do List

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Good to be strong

Mark had to go to the post office, so it was a good excuse for a tour on the bike. Tires were clean of sand on this ride, it was all street and sidewalk, and even included two laps of the park. Three miles in all, just a nothing much of a ride, but it was good to get out in the hot sun. It must have hit over 80 degrees during the ride, and amazingly, we fought a head wind in both directions as gusty, changeable Santa Ana winds blew the waves back in a spray. The air was dry and dusty, straight from the desert. Not a cloud in the sky.

We checked out Palmer's old house, completely obliterated and transformed into a McMansion. We checked out other construction sites that seemed to be doing the business of building, so the economy here is still working. On the other hand, the restaurants seem to have more empty tables.

What is known is that in uncertain times, it is good to be fit, good to be strong. The beach cruiser brings fun to becoming strong.

The newly installed bike computer showed a trip distance of only 3.0 miles, which seems reasonable, but it could be off. It would be good to check the calibration, see if adjustments are needed. Tire pressure variances effect accuracy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Even a beach cruiser needs a computer!

No ride again today, but I did make an essential improvement to the bike. I installed the Planet Bike Protege 9.0 Wireless 9-Function Bike Computer with 4-Line Display and Temperature which arrived today from and I installed it tonight.
It was easy. I expect to give it a decent workout tomorrow.

Click on the image to see the specs and reviews of this product on, or to buy it. If you buy it there, I get a tiny commission, and I donate all commissions to this worthy cause.

There is more to life than cruising the beach...

My bike did not touch the beach on Thursday. However, there is more to life than cruising the beach. For example, there is pool (pocket billiards). The weekly Thursday 8-ball tournament, to be precise. I would have won but I had a brain-fart at the worst possible time. For the story, click here. That link will take you to one of my other blogs: Diary of a Pool Shooter - The Adventures of FastMikie.

After the tournament, I crashed at a bud's pad for the night. Right on the sand in Oceanside, and the waves sounded incredible all throught the night.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

I scoff at your cupholder!

Should I have put a cup holder on my new beach cruiser? Dr. Mark (who rides a trail bike) thinks it is mandatory to hydrate continuously during a ride, but I'm not into all that hydration baloney, and I really don't want to start adding a plethora of geegaws on my super-stock ride. So Dr. Mark says how you gonna hold your water?

I show him my backpack, of course. Gotta ride with a backpack, right? Where else are you gonna store your camera, cell phone, Frisbee (can not show up at the beach without a Frisbee!), sun screen, wallet (driver carries no cash!), protein bar, trinkets for the natives, yadda yadda yadda...

It's a complicated world, takes a lot of gear to support a safari to the beach. Man's gotta be prepared...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

First Cruise on the Beach

First touch of beach sand for my new cruiser. Dr. Mark took the photo, shooting into the sun without fill flash, but it's not all about me, it's about the bike, and the beach. Notice all the gulls are completely unimpressed with my new bike. What do they know...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

First Day in the Sun, First Sight of the Surf

First day in the sun, first sight of the surf. In the front yard at 1320 Ocean Avenue, Del Mar, CA. An auspicious beginning. For awesome larger image, see click here!

Monday, January 5, 2009

In the beginning...

Factory publicity photo. Bought new on 1/5/2009. This is one sweet beach cruiser! Ultra-light all aluminum Electra Sparker Special, gloss black, Shimano Nexus internal 3 speed with coaster brake, Fatti-O rear tire (3"x24"), standard cruiser front tire (2.125" x26"), stubby rear fender, alloy bullhorn handlebar, alloy rims, alloy cranks

I bought the bike at Bicycle Discovery, Pacific Beach, CA. They don't have a website, but you can find them on the "Locate a Dealer" link on the Electra Bike website.

Thanks Mike and Michelle for the excellent service!