Thursday, April 2, 2015

Electric Moped: Somebody built our napkin-sketch dream bike!

I drink coffee with the Scooter Workshop Night guys on most days. Over coffee we have built many dream vehicles. Mind you, we don't actually build much, but we do plan lots of builds on napkins and envelopes and tabletops. One of my favorite dream builds has been the unholy marriage of a two-stroke European moped with an electric motorcycle powertrain. And I have gotten close to the dream. I did build a Velosolex with a hubmotor for a good friend. (Hi, JG!) And I did purchase the running gear out of an early Zero motorcycle. (I am terrible at minimalism.) And that running gear has dustily resided in a box since it came into my possession. (The current plan is to install that motor in one of the ElectroPigeons. But there's a lot of tuition and taxes to pay first. So, I will keep designing on napkins.)

Not this Magnum,

nor this Magnum,

this Magnum!

Back to the moped plan. My favorite mopeds are the top-tank models, the ones that look like undergrown motorcycles rather than overgrown bicycles. One of the coolest and most adaptable is the Puch Magnum. I have kept an eye open for a cheap Magnum for years. But I never actually found one nearby.

Yesterday on Autoblog Green, the Bolt Motorbike showed up. And I recognized it from my coffee napkin sketches. Some intelligent and ambitious mopedders (Mopedders seldom get called either of those words.) must have made the same sketch. Lighter than a motorcycle, sturdier than a bike, and powerful enough to climb San Francisco hills with ease - the Bolt is a very cool bike, and it appear to have a Puch Magnum frame.

Check out that ultra-cool bolt logo!
Lots of nifty features and a pretty impressive range - 30-50 mile depending on your power setting of choice. I am surprised to see such a low-voltage battery pack, but it looks like the Bolt crew invested their money in amp-hours rather than volts - a good way to increase range. The price is not far away from what it would take for you to build one if you had the time, the tools, the skills, and the ambition.
It is definitlely a cool machine, and at $5000 for a turn-key American-built electric moped, you could do a lot worse. (I am now picturing my Mesquite Hugger journalistic dream - the opportunity to have a head-to-head-to-head comparison: Fido vs. Boxx vs.Bolt. I would be in blogger heaven!
May your napkin sketches become reality and make the world a better place!