By Paul Scott
It was with sadness that I heard of the apparently imminent bankruptcy filing of Vectrix. Whether they go Chapter 11 or Chapter 7, it's a loss to those who championed their bikes to the world.
When I first rode the VX-1, I was completely amazed at the performance of the bike. The acceleration was strong, the handling well balanced, but it was the regenerative braking that I found most appealing. The fact that I could essentially drive the bike with only the right hand, rarely ever using the Brembo brakes, gave me much pleasure. Just as in my Toyota RAV4 EV, or the Teslas and AC Propulsion e Box I've had the pleasure of driving, the regen braking increased range, but more importantly, it gives you the wonderful feeling that you are conserving energy each time you brake rather than throwing it away through the waste heat from your brake pads.
Having two EVs, I found that I developed two distinct driving styles. With the RAV, I drive for efficiency. While it's got better acceleration than the gas RAV, it's still not what you would call exciting. Since there is no thrill to be had in hard acceleration, I try to eke out as many miles as possible per kWh. I'm still getting a good 120 mile range even though I'm coming up on 7 years and just over 72,000 miles.
The Vectrix, on the other hand, is exciting to drive. I've experimented with it to see how far I can go on the 3.5 kWh the NiMH packs holds, and 50 miles seemed very doable. However, the bike is so much fun to drive hard that I rarely think about efficiency when driving it. California law allows lane splitting, the practice of driving between slow moving, or stopped, traffic. This allows me to get to the front of the line at traffic lights where I sometimes find a young buck behind the wheel of a BMW or similarly fast car. Knowing to watch for the yellow light indicating my green light is near, I'm always first off the line with nothing more than a quick flick of the wrist. The raw power of a large ICE revved to 5,000 rpm often will allow them to catch or even pass me, but as soon as their transmission shifts, I can usually take the lead again.
Sometimes this sparks a conversation at the next light about the bike. They are always surprised and impressed that a little electric scooter is capable of such performance.
Whatever happens to Vectrix itself, I sure hope some enterprising company buys their intellectual property and incorporates that regen into more e-bikes. It's easily the coolest part of the experience. We need more scooters of varying sizes as well as full sized highway capable electric motorcycles with a 90+ mph top speed and 70+ miles of range. After the performance of the Brammo and Mission Motors super bikes at the Isle of Man race last month, it's clear the technology is ready. It's now only a matter of making enough bikes to get the economies of scale to kick in so we can get the price down.
As for my Vectrix, I'll keep riding it till something better comes along.
VP - Plug In America
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