While electric motorbikes are creeping steadily into the marketplace, most of the ones we’ve seen here on Gizmag have been designed either as commuters, racers or for some weekend fun in the dirt. What we haven’t seen so much are electrics made for haulin' – something motorcycles are relied on heavily for in many parts of the world. How did you know I was going to say “until now”?
ZEV, which lays claim to the world's fastest electric scooter, has released a Trail and Utility model billed as a dual-purpose, on- and off-road electric scooter. ZEV calls it “a two-wheeled pickup truck,” and suggests it can be used for carrying things such as “deer and other large game.”
The Trail was originally intended to be a delivery and police-usage vehicle, but park rangers soon took a liking to it because it didn’t have a hot tail pipe that could cause forest fires. Hunters also reportedly like the fact that its quiet motor makes it stealthy, and allows them to access land that is closed to traditional combustion-engined vehicles. The first bikes sold went to residents of the Rocky Mountains, who appreciated how it didn’t lose power at higher elevations, unlike gas-powered vehicles. ZEV also suggests it could be used as a runabout for yacht and RV owners who don’t want to deal with transporting flammable gasoline.
There are two models of the Trail, the 5100 and the 6100. So, what makes the bike rough n’ tough, apart from an optional camo paint job? For one thing, there’s a big-ass lithium battery - 4.32 Kw on the 5100, and 5.04 on the 6100. These batteries give the bike the maximum range of any electric scooter according to ZEV. The 5100 can travel up to 70 miles (113 km) on one charge, while the 6100 manages 85 miles (137 km).
It’s also big on cargo capacity. The back seat flips up and locks in place to reveal a large cargo mount (see the earlier-mentioned dead deer), plus there are two lockable storage boxes on either side. With its “unusually large” 2.5 inch tubing and long wheelbase (60.62-inches), the bike’s frame can support a load of up to 250 pounds (113 kg). The seat can also be slid forward about 6 inches to accommodate different riders and there's an option of semi knobby tires for the rough stuff. Obviously the off-road capabilities of the scooter will have limitations – for example there is a bashplate fitted but the unspoked wheels are still small compared to a dedicated off-road motorcycle, which means fairly low clearance.
Both models have an 11.8 inch (299.7 mm) OD (outside diameter) hub motor. When tested at 100 amps, it yielded 183 foot pounds (248 Nm) of continuous torque. According to the company, the motor’s unusually-large OD gives it the ability to produce a lot of torque at the lowest possible current draw. Even at 302F (150C), ZEV claims, the motor runs at 82 percent efficiency. A three-speed Electronic Transmission controller allows riders to vary the voltage and amperage, so they can choose between maximizing power or range.
The 5100 travels at a top speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), while the 6100 goes up to 58 mph (93 km/h) - with an optional high speed motor, the 6100 can squeeze out another 5 mph.
The Trail and Utility is available through ZEV’s website. The 5100 has a price of US$5,991, and the 6100 sells for US$7,526, although US buyers will get ten percent back in federal tax credits. ZEV also advises checking for local Alternative Fuel Vehicle incentives.