Build a Better Bike

If your commute is too long for pedal power, just add a little juice to your ride. by Jason Cozens, as told to GOOD I've been an on-and-off bike commuter for about seven years. I enjoyed riding and being outside-not being confined inside a car-but I always showed up to work covered in sweat and beat..

If your commute is too long for pedal power, just add a little juice to your ride.

By Jason Cozens, as told to GOODI've been an on-and-off bike commuter for about seven years. I enjoyed riding and being outside-not being confined inside a car-but I always showed up to work covered in sweat and beat up.I read an article about a man in Africa who built a motorized bike. The picture in the article showed this bike that looked like it was from another era. It was delicate looking, but it could get him from village to village, and it transformed his life. So I started doing some research and discovered that the motor I had seen in the article is generally known as a Happy-Time motor. They're two-stroke motors, made in China.So I ordered one.They make these kits 49 cubic centimeters for a reason. If it's 50 CCs or more you're required to license it, to register the bike, and to license yourself. Those things might deter a do-it-yourselfer. It makes the project bigger, and it kind of takes the renegade aspect out of it as well.

When the kit came in the mail, I was shocked to find it came with no instructions. It was just a box with Chinese characters printed on it and a bunch of parts inside. The parts were all shiny and vaguely resembled the parts of a motorcycle or a car. I googled "motorized bike"-that's what they were calling them in the article I had read-and found this community of people who make these bikes. Without the help of this nation-wide community, I wouldn't have even attempted to make it.I probably could have put it together in about a week, but I customized it a lot. I wanted the bike to be eye-catching and have a bit of character. I've always had character cars. I'll be at a gas station with my beat-up 1976 Celica, or my beat-up 1967 El Camino, and people will come up asking how much I want to sell the car for. I love having a car you don't see anywhere else on the road, and in the same respect I love having a bike that nobody else has. It's kind of like a Pee-wee's Big Adventure complex. He has his ridiculous bike and I have my ridiculous bike. Pee-wee and I were born on the same day.It's about a one-horsepower motor, which means it's like riding a horse. It is a very natural amount of power to have. I don't have a speedometer, but people have pulled up next to me and said, "You're going thirty miles per hour." I'd say around 30 mph, 35 mph, is my top speed on flat ground. Since it's just a one-horsepower motor, on hills you have to pedal just like you do on a bike, but when you pedal you feel like Superman because you're barely touching the pedals and you actually feel yourself relieving strain on the engine.Now that my engine is broken in, I get about 150 miles to the gallon. I have a half-gallon tank, which I usually don't fill up all the way. There's nothing quite like the feeling of going to a gas station and telling someone I'd like 75 cents on pump two, and then seeing the shocked look on his face when I come back in for change.

The two-stroke motors from China are EPA-approved, but to really comply with the law you need an EPA-approved muffler also. There are similar, four-stroke motors that are actually green. They have very low emissions, they get over 200 miles per gallon, and they are extremely reliable. A lot of those motors come from Japan and they're more than twice as expensive.The quirks are what really endear me to this little machine: the fact that you have to pedal from a dead stop, or that you go faster downhill if you pull in the clutch and stop gassing-those things are unique to this form of transport. Also, the ability to use it as a regular bike is probably underemphasized in what you read about these bikes.I spend a lot of time at The Home Depot. There are plumbing parts in and around this bike, as well as plenty of things from the 99-cent store, pieces of jewelry, and leather bracelets. You start to see the possibility of anything making its way into your own custom vehicle. Something like a doorstop becomes a fantastic way to hold a gas-tank in place.I live a block off of Skid Row, and so many homeless people come up with a general interest. A lot of homeless people rely on bicycles for transportation, so I'm sure the gears are turning in their heads: "Wow, I could get out of town on one of these if I had a motor." When I tell them I got my kit for $130, they're usually blown away.My current commute is about five miles through an older, industrial part of Los Angeles. It's kind of miserable to sit through in traffic. But on the bike it's actually a fantastic experience; it becomes transcendent.

LEARN MORE Want to buy a motor? spookytoothcycles.comPhotos by Will Etling

via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

The show is loosely based on an alternative history novel by Philip K. Dick that postulates what would happen if Nazi Germany and the Empire of Japan controlled the United States after being victorious in World War II.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

RELATED: The 1975's singer bravely kissed a man at a Dubai concert to protest anti-LGBT oppression

In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

RELATED: Alan Turing will appear on the 50-pound note nearly 70 years after being persecuted for his sexuality

Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?


Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

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The Planet
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) dropped a bombshell on Tuesday, announcing it had over 900 emails that White House aide Stephen Miller sent to former Breitbart writer and editor Katie McHugh.

According to the SPLC, in the emails, Miller aggressively "promoted white nationalist literature, pushed racist immigration stories and obsessed over the loss of Confederate symbols after Dylann Roof's murderous rampage."

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via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

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