The 'V' and Me
By Dave Cutter
Palm Springs was the ideal location to take my first ride on 'the world's first high-performance maxi-scooter'. (That's me on the 'V'). Powerful torque off the line was exhilarating; fine engineering guaranteed a smooth and flawless performance at all speeds, and the ‘almost like flying feel’ was positively superb. Already hugely popular in Europe, Vectrix plan to have their first production models available in the USA by summer 2006.
In early November, I was very pleased to hear from Jim Plagenhoef, Director of Sales for Vectrix North America. Jim and his colleagues from Vectrix were to be attending the Fuel Cell Seminar in Palm Springs (November 14th-16th, 2005), and Jim was writing to invite potential dealers to meet him there to sample the delights of the Vectrix, and also to discuss with him the possibilities of becoming an authorized dealer.
My traveling partner, Joe Welsh and I were each looking forward to trying out the Vectrix for the first time, and we were able to do just that on what turned out to be a beautiful warm sunny day in the famous palm desert resort far from the maddening crowd.
Following a quick bite at the Bikers Café on Palm Canyon Drive, we later met Jim at the Palm Springs Courtyard Hotel parking lot, where we found him unloading two Vectrix prototype maxi-scooters and a third concept vehicle which had 3 wheels, (two in front and one in the rear). Jim explained that one of the Vectrixes (or is that Vectri?) we were looking at had been the company’s demo for the past two years. The second newer Vectrix featured the latest refinements and improvements most likely to be included on the first run of 50 production models scheduled for sometime in 2006 (July?).
It is a natural thing to want to make some early comparisons with other similar looking and equally large gas-powered scooters, i.e., Piaggio’s X9. Jim pointed out although they might look very similar in appearance, there the comparison must end; for the Vectrix can outperform its fossil fueled competition on most points, and that, without dispute.
The Vectrix Scooter Outperforms |
a Gas Scooter in Every Way
|Operating Costs||Very low||High|
Jim told us that 80 per cent of all scooter sales are in Rome, Italy, and that Vectrix will focus their primary sales objectives in that part of the world where scooters are traditionally sold in large numbers. Italians discovered long ago that urban travel on busy crowded city streets is best done on a scooter. Ain’t that the truth, I ask you?
Vectrix is Not for Kids, Silly Rabbit
I was the first to get to check it out, riding ‘passenger’ so that the controls could be explained to me by Jim without any noise from an engine to distract. Whoa! Swift acceleration on this baby is breathtaking! As we took off from a standstill, I braced myself by holding onto the rails located at the back of the bike, but soon found I needed to hang on to something a bit more solid; like the driver. Going 0-50 in 6.8 seconds is pretty impressive anytime, but on the back of a bike with nothing but open sky above and blurred pavement below, it felt more like flying! Scooters are different to motorbikes and motorcycles in how they move and feel, and that’s why I compare riding the Vectrix to flying. Whoo-woo!
As we made our first right hand turn, we were able to jet away from pursuing traffic and I had to marvel at so much power coming from the ‘Flying V’s’ 125 Volt electric drive system. At the same time, I reminded myself that the Vectrix is equipped with front and rear Brembo disc brakes in case we needed to stop as quickly as we’d started. I hoped we wouldn’t need to find out about that any time soon. (I think anyone planning to drive a Vectrix (or any fast moving 2 wheeled scooter) would be well advised to think about taking some professional lessons to improve their personal driving skills before attempting to ride for the first time).
My white knuckle ride around the block at an end, it was my turn to operate the scooter on my own in the parking area, where I would not need so many defensive driving skills because there wasn’t any traffic to look out for. Once I’d switched on and taken off, it was instantly clear to me that it would be quite easy to get attached to this machine. It felt good, it felt solid, and it felt peppy, with a capital ‘P’ for powerful. Twist the throttle forward and it will take your breath away. Exhilarating is another word that comes to mind. It was quiet too, and you’ve got to try it to find out how special that is.
The instrumentation and controls on the Vectrix are nicely arranged, revealing an array of useful and *colorful displays, all nicely laid out and designed to keep drivers informed about the vehicles performance and capabilities while they move silently along at speed.
*LCD’s display speed, odometer, battery charge, estimated range, and system status
The Bluetooth wireless systems diagnostics and communication system is a welcome addition to an already awesome electric vehicle, and this I understand will come standard with Vectrix.
In particular, I really liked the DAaRT™ regenerative braking feature on this bike. Cleverly, the design engineers have implemented a patented multi-function throttle* with regen for braking, (that operates by simply twisting the throttle in a forward rotating motion), and additionally allows you to reverse the bike at a slow-speed. There are no gears to worry about, and all the controls worked flawlessly.
Agile, easy to handle and capable of a top speed of 62 mph, the Vectrix 2000 Electric Maxi-Scooter offers a level of superior technology, total comfort and is richly endowed with special features and accessories. Once out of town, it's able to shift character and open up to wide open spaces with remarkable ease.
With an anticipated price tag of $8K, it may be beyond many peoples price range. However, I don’t think you can put a price on excitement or classy good looks. For me, the Vectrix is the ultimate in ‘Scooter Commuters’ . I had a blast trying it out. Jim didn’t mislead anyone by referring to riding this bike as the ‘Vectrix Experience’. I’m experienced (and got the T-shirt to prove it).
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