ADA — Paul Crabtree says his motorized bicyles are his way of retaliating against big oil companies and high gas prices.

“I’m not sending my money to Saudi Arabia anymore,” Crabtree said.

Stopping in Ada on his way east, taking the scenic route through Crater of Diamonds and the Natchez Trace in Louisiana and Mississippi, Crabtree is headed back to his home in Joppa, Ala. Crabtree rode his bike to Denver, Colo., to attend a May 19 concert with a friend.

Why all the hoopla about a motorized bicycle? Crabtree said it gets up to 250 miles per gallon, has no problems with the hilly inclines, gets up to 30-32 miles per hour, and costs about 40 cents to fill up, and it’s all American made including the Golden Eagle engine. The engines are manufactured in Lansing, Mich.

Crabtree said Koreans are buying nine out of 10 engines built there for bicycles, which are a primary means of transportation in Asian countries.

“When gas prices hit $5 they’re going to be prepared, and we’re going to be playing catch-up,” Crabtree said. Not only that, he said riding motorized bikes brings one back to taking in the scenery, from commuting to work to leisurely trips in the countryside.

Some motors have been installed on bicycles built for two, and he has plans for developing a sidecar for a bike in the future. He is spreading the word as he travels from town to town, contacting bicycle shops, police departments that might find a use in neighborhood patrols, and others that might consider grant money available in building bike trails. He said farmers have replaced their trucks using the bikes to check on their cows.

Crabtree has been energy conscious, having sold storm windows in the past and raising purebred Kiko goats on his farm. In June 2005, he began looking into motorized bikes as a way to conserve energy. Because of the small size of engine, 25cc, the bikes, do not qualify as motorcycles and no license or insurance is required. He said a rider can even pedal the bikes, saving wear and tear on the belt when starting off.

The bikes start by pulling a cord, much like a chainsaw, and sound like a weed-eater. A throttle on the handlebars controls the engine power and a kill switch is mounted on the front pole beneath the handlebars.

“The kits are designed for nearly any 24 or 26-inch bikes, but cruiser bikes with bigger tires work better than mountain stubbies,” said Crabtree.

He said a seven-speed model has the right combination of durability, power and comfort. A Kevlar belt turns a gear attached to the spokes.

Crabtree breaks in the assembled bikes, which he says is crucial to the long-lasting and top performance. “I break in the engines, re-torque the nuts and bolts and get everything adjusted right. Then it’s ready to go,” he said.

Crabtree said his goal was to see how many state boundaries he could cross and photograph. “If Americans used the bikes just for their running around town, gas would drop to a dollar a gallon, not to mention weight loss from the exercise,” he said.

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