Published Date Written by Tom EastmanCrazy Bikes offers sales, rentals and customized motorized bicycles
CONWAY — In this day and age of $3.55 per gallon gas prices, there's a new mode of transportation in the valley: custom motorized bicycles.
Not mopeds — but customized beach cruiser bicycles, outfitted with two- or four-stroke gasoline engines that are capable of going up to 20 mph and which get 150 miles to the gallon.
The two-stroke engines are 48 cc and the four strokes are 49.
The Skyhawk engines are manufactured in China, where motorized bicycles are among the modes of transportation. The bicycle frames are made in California.
They are jump-started with a clutch, or they can be operated under pedal power. They use a simple foot brake.
Proprietor Dan Cormier sells and rents the bikes at his Main Street “Crazy Bikes” shop in North Conway Village. He also outfits private bikes brought in by customers.
It's such a new mode of travel (in this area, any way), that when he first opened his shop in mid-May, the Conway Police Department and Cormier had to come to terms on rules of the road.
“They had a motorized bike, the Wizard, in the '40s and '50s, so it's not entirely new — they're in California and Florida. It's just new here. I don't know of anyone renting them anywhere else. As for regulations,” said Cormier, “it depends who you talk to, whether the Registry [of Motor Vehicles] or police. We've worked in conjunction with Conway police, so we've worked it out, that they are basically like mopeds and you do need a license.”
That assessment was backed up by Lt. Chris Perley of the Conway Police Department.
“What you're talking about is to lawfully operate a motor-driven bicycle you must have either a valid operators' license or greater, or a moped license,” said Perley this week.
Perley said he believes the new mode of transportation fits in overall with the valley's array of tourism amenities.
“They're clean; they aren't noisy like a dirt bike ... they lower everyone's carbon imprint,” said Perley.
Some say they emanate a noise that is similar to a small, relatively quiet lawn motor or putt-putt motor boat.
After a somewhat bumpy start regarding rules, Perley said things have been resolved.
“I would not call them problems — there was some generalized confusion over what they were and what they were classified as, and what the registration, inspection and licensing laws were because it's a new conveyance we have never seen in the valley. So I would characterize it as start-up difficulties,” said Perley.
“We cooperated with Mr. Cormier,” added Perley, “and the Division of Motor Vehicles to get the most accurate information. It all appears to have been worked out.”
The motorized bikes must be registered, at least in New Hampshire, according to Perley and Cormier.
“Every state is different regarding registration. But here in New Hampshire, I am abiding by their request, even though in my eyes, that is not the law, but I am registering my bikes to comply. We are working on that to clarify it,” said Cormier.
He said his initial registration costs are $4 for vehicle plates, $3 or so for registration and $50 for a VIN number for each bike. Thereafter, it should cost approximately $3 a year per bike, he estimated.
Originally from Massachusetts, Cormier has been coming to the area for most of his life.
He enjoyed his weekends in New Hampshire as a child at his parents' second home in Sandwich.
In Massachusetts, he worked as a builder in the construction business for over 20 years and as his children got older he and his wife Christine decided to move to New Hampshire to raise their family (they have three children: Monique, Rachelle and Eric).
When the recession hit the valley, Cormier struggled to find steady work in construction and knew he needed to come up with a different business concept.
As an entrepreneur, Cormier always had a vision of starting and owning a retail store.
After a lot of research, he decided to open up the custom motorized bicycle shop.
“It’s a great addition to the green lifestyle, with the bicycles averaging 150 miles per gallon as well as providing a way to sight-see and enjoy the outdoors. The bicycles are also useful to the elderly clients that might not be able to pedal a standard bicycle,” said Cormier.
Helmets are provided for rentals. Insurance waivers are required for rentals.
“We plan to come up with some maps to direct people to local places of interest,” said Cormier.
He says he soon will add to his fleet of rental bikes for a total of 20, as well as some for sale.
Rates are $45 for a four-hour rental and $75 for eight hours. Prices for motorized bikes start at $800. To customize a bike, the price range is $500 to $600. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (closed Tuesdays). The shop is located next to Peach's. For more information, call 452-8104.