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Riding clean tech

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I have a very nice red 1000cc Honda Fireblade sportbike in my garage, but since I got the latest Volt 6 electric scooter, at the beginning of this year, I think I’ve used the Fireblade twice, hmm, what’s going wrong?  I love riding the Fireblade! Here’s the 50,000 ft view as to why I think it might be.

I live in Hout Bay, Cape Town and every day I find myself riding the electric into work, town and about because it’s ridiculously fun to ride and much easier and cheaper around town than my car or sportbike.

Great Range – This little scooter can do up to 155 km, if I ride 50-60km/h, which I don’t. I like the fast acceleration for overtaking and use all of the 100 km/h top speed. Even riding like this, I easily get 80-100 km range, which is enough for my day.  However, because I can, I do top up at work. This bike charges from flat in 3 hours from any normal plug point, so pretty much every time I come to it it’s full. I can plug in in local cafe’s and malls but I find that with this electric bikes range I usually don’t need to. For three years I also rode the smaller Spark 3 electric scooter as a city runabout, which was fine for when I lived in Sea Point, but for living in Hout Bay I need the Volt 6.

No going to the petrol station – I really like this. All I typically do is plug in my bike in my garage at home. Load shedding has no effect as it’s typically only for 1-2 hours and the bike is plugged in overnight. It costs me around 5c a km to run the bike in electric fuel vs 50c a km for a typical 125cc bike and more like R1.00 per km for the Honda Fireblade.

Smooth, smooth, smooth – No vibration, no noise and nothing to burn yourself on. Just twist the throttle and away you go at an exhilarating pace.

Practical – The scooter has a box under the seat for storing stuff, useful. The scooter has weather protection for feet and legs, so I can wear normal shoes and clothes. The scooter doesn’t tempt me to go too fast so I can wear minimal biker gear. Gloves, helmet and a smile! It’s also extremely easy to park and handle. Oh and it has reverse!!!  So no more awkward manoeuvring on hills.


Very low maintenance – I’ve nearly done 10,000 km on this one and it still feels like new. It’s due a service at 10,000 km but the brake pads are only around half way worn because the regen does a lot of the braking work, put the energy back in the batteries too. There’s no chain or engine oils to change. No oil filters or belts. In fact the only thing that moves in the drive train is the rear wheel. The rest is solid state. So clean the brakes, check the pads & tyres, plug in the computer, a quick once over and she’s away.

Silence is golden – Just hearing the wind is much more relaxing an calming than engine noise. I have a stereo bluetooth kit in my helmet for calls and music so why would I want engine noise. The headlights are on full, to be seen, and below 30 km/h I just think like a bicycle and use the horn if no-one hears me. Above 30 km/h people hear the tyre noise.

Performance – Did I say that the acceleration and hill climbing is awesome. I haven’t found a hill in Cape Town it won’t climb yet.  The best thing is I can use the power full bore all the time. It’s not like a petrol engine where you feel like you’d killing your bike to have fun. It’s effortless. The low centre of gravity of the Volt 6 means it handles very very well. I often have fun chasing sport bikes around the corners along the Atlantic Seaboard or Rhodes drive routes home.

Safety – I started riding bikes when I was about 9 so for me it’s second nature.  Everyone likes to complain about the drivers in SA, but honestly, I can say there are plenty of idiot drivers elsewhere in the world too, including the UK. If you’re new to biking, get some lessons and safety training and take it easy. Go out on group rides and learn from other riders. I’ll be organising some electric breakfast runs in the new years so come along and find out more some time!

Emissions – It is important to me that I reduce my carbon footprint to do my bit for the planet. Riding the electric scooter means I don’t feel guilty about going out for a blast on the Fireblade or using the car when I need to. The production of the energy needed to power the scooter produces a tiny fraction of car emissions and around a quarter of the Fireblades emissions. Once we finish the house renovations I’ll be charging off solar and be seriously emission friendly and powered by just the sun!  That will be very cool.

So there you go, there’s some of my experience so far with riding electrics.