My husband and I recently stopped by E-Cycle, a store in downtown Vancouver which sells electric bikes and scooters. We had been checking out zero carbon ways of getting around (beyond the obvious ones of walking and biking) for several months , and had test-driven a number of electric scooters. My husband, being the thorough consumer researcher that he is, had discovered through his on-line investigating that E-cycle was one of the few places in Canada that sold electric limited speed motorcycles, which have more power than regular electric scooters. We don’t live in B.C. but we found ourselves with some time on our hands after making the ferry crossing back from Victoria a few weeks ago, and luckily the store was open. Gordon and Lance, who run E-Cycle, were happy to answer our questions and let us test drive their vehicles.
Most electric scooters have a 500 W motor with a maximum speed of 32 km/h and a range up to 40 kilometers. They are fine for getting around town if you live somewhere like the prairies where there are no hills, or if you don’t mind holding up traffic in a place with more hills. We don’t live on the prairies. There are some fairly steep inclines in our town, and we draw the line at looking like eco-nerds driving up a hill at a snail’s pace. So a scooter wasn’t right for us. That’s where the EVT-4000e electric motorcycle comes into the picture. It has a 1.5 kW motor with more power, and it manages hills just fine. Its maximum speed is 60 km/hr, and it has a range of up to 45 kilometers with a standard battery. A lithium battery is available but ups the cost considerably.
We ended up buying a 2009 EVT 4000e. Its specifications are:
- direct drive 1.5 kW 49V 70Nm Brushless Motor (2010 model motors are brushless, 2009 models aren’t)
- Front and Rear Hydraulic Disc Brakes
- 48V40AH PowerGel SLA batteries
We also purchased an optional matching trunk box which hasn’t been installed yet. I should mention that E-Cycle also sold the EVT-168, also a LS e-motorcycle but with a retro look. That’s the one Mark really wanted to buy, but we ended up with the 4000e because it’s a double seater, whereas the EVT-168 isn’t. And I think the 4000e looks pretty cool, too! Now we are just waiting for our license plate to arrive – apparently it has come from out-of-town because our local registration office is too small to have them in stock. Also, our insurance agent is getting back to us about the cost of insuring it. So, much to our disappointment, our zero emissions cycle is parked in the garage until we get those things sorted out. And because we live in northwestern Ontario, that means our window of opportunity for driving it around town is closing for 2010, because the snow could come any day now. It doesn’t come with a heater :), so driving it in below zero weather won’t be happening, although Lance and Gordon assured us it can be done.
I should also mention that to drive a low-speed electric motorcycle in Ontario, you need a motorcycle license. In British Columbia, apparently you need a regular driver’s license but not a motorcycle license. I understand that in both of these provinces an electric scooter does not require any vehicle insurance or any kind of vehicle license to drive.
As for the price, it was around $2500 without the optional trunk box. Shipping was extra but very reasonable and fast. This year’s models are more expensive but come with some upgrades. We have a 6 month warranty (on the 2010 models it was 12 months) but I’m not sure what will happen if we have any problems, being that we live in a small town hundreds of kilometers from the nearest scooter shop, and four provinces away from E-Cycle.
Did I mention it was fun to drive? And very quiet! And we can get around town emission-free. I love it for all these reasons. Now if only we could get the darn license on it.
Anyway, here are some pics: