Strength in NumbersAugust 15, 2016
Use it or lose itAugust 27, 2016
If you were born before the year 2000 (and for most of us thats a lot before the year 2000), electric vehicles were the stuff of sci-fi TV shows or the early morning milk float.
But in the year 2016 we find ourself on the cusp of the electric revolution. Electric powered bikes are on the rise, powered by early adopters who are prepared to take a leap and become part of the eGeneration. Herts TRF member Rupert Jordan reckons his Electric Motion trials bike is the perfect way of improving skills without upsetting the neighbours. But is it any good for Green Roads?
To tell you about the Electric Motion EM 5.7 I feel I need to go back in time a bit. Imagine some wibbly wobbly lines.
A slightly younger me joins the TRF and goes on some organised rides. One of these rides involves negotiating a horse stile (it’s not supposed to be there, but the council can’t be bothered to remove it). Most of the riders in the group trundle up it, awkwardly get their front wheel over it and then sort of rock the rear wheel over.
The last rider pretty much jumps over it and lands both wheels together on the other side. I’m impressed. I need those kind of skills.
The kind of riding...
...we can do when we are dreaming
Now the problem with enduro bikes is there isn’t really anywhere you can practise this sort of thing (at least not near me in north London/Hertfordshire). A trials ground would be perfect, but enduro bikes aren’t allowed. I needed a trials bike.
I wanted to make a properly informed decision, so earlier this year I booked myself on a one day trials course at Tricks in the Sticks
in Kent (very good). Jason - the owner - taught me the basics on one of his Beta Rev 3s. I left exhausted but excited, and more importantly well informed.
I had the chance to ride the Electric Motion
bike at a Torque Racing
open day early in 2015, so I knew a little about it. I spent a bit of time weighing up the petrol vs electric thing. The biggest barrier for me was the price. I could spend what I liked on a petrol bike, but I had to buy the EM new (£5695). No one seems to sell them used (probably a good sign).
Obviously I went with the EM, and I love it. More experienced riders than me tell me it’s closer to the latest 125cc bikes in terms of power, which might put you off, but it’s perfect for me. It’s ridiculously easy to ride. No gears, no clutch (the clutch lever just cuts the power like a switch), but with the rest of the controls in usual places. There are different power levels on the battery and there’s a map switch on the bars. There’s also a regenerative braking button, but the battery lasts so long I rarely feel the need to use it.
the Electric Motion EM 5.7
Yep - there are no problems with battery life. Last weekend I took the bike to Nash Mills (Berkhamsted MCC’s trials ground) for a play and to take some photos. I took a friend along and let two other club members have a go on the bike. It was used almost continuously for three hours and the battery was on 70% when I left. It’s also guaranteed for a thousand recharge cycles.
So no battery problems. What else? Well, you don’t have to kick start it. Sounds obvious, but I’m going to say that again - in capitals - because it’s important. YOU DON’T HAVE TO KICK START IT. I spent six months kick starting a KTM 625 SMC every day when the starter motor died. There’s a knack to it, I know. But on a bike you’re constantly having to restart, it’s a massive pain. Switch on, ride off. On the EM it’s that easy. And it doesn’t stall. Which means you don’t have it rev it, which means traction is rarely lost. It’s cheating, really.
Are there any downsides? You might consider it a little heavy - about the same as the 250 Rev 3 I used at Tricks in the Sticks - and about 4 kg more than the latest Beta 125. You could also argue it diminishes your skills - especially if the idea is to transfer them to an enduro bike. But I thought of that and I fitted a Rekluse clutch to my KTM. Build quality seems fine - apart from the battery charger. The cooling fan died and they had to send a replacement, which took over a month. There aren’t a lot of things to go wrong; it’s a simpler machine than a petrol bike. Suspension, bearings and the chain will need the usual care and maintenance, but there’s not much more than that (cheaper to own, then).
The reaction at Berko Trials has been mixed. I’ve let anyone I’ve chatted to about it have a ride. Some take its very existence as an insult; as if they have petrol pumping through their veins. The younger members take to it straight away - I might even be responsible for one or two extra sales. I reckon it’s the future of trials bikes as the technology is only going to get better (Oset and Mecatecno are rumoured to be bringing out adult electric trials bikes soon), and children are getting their first taste of trials on little electric bikes.
But what about electric trail riding? Sadly, I think we’re a long way off. I know KTM have something suitable (the Freeride E-XC) but the range isn’t great and it’s very expensive (£10,299). Maybe in five or ten years - when we have a good network of electric vehicle charging stations - they’ll become more popular, and the price will drop. I think it’ll be good for the TRF and trail riding. A much quieter bike means one less thing for our critics to complain about. Although having said that, I do miss the sound. To compensate I’ve removed the baffle from my Africa Twin’s exhaust. It now sounds like I’m ripping the universe a new arsehole.
The jury's out... what do you think?
Photos courtesy Rupert Jodan & Mark Holland
You don't need an electric bike to enjoy Green Roads. In fact it's probably better if you don't (for the moment anyway). The TRF can help you learn how and where to ride in the UK.