Hybrid cars have become commonplace on our roads. Fully electric cars not so much, but you may have spotted the occasional Tesla silently gliding past. Locally, "ė" cars are still a rarity, something we think of as belonging in the future. Not a concern in the here and now.
What of ė-bikes? Even more distant in the average biker's mind. The spine-tingling bellow of a big in-line four with loud pipes is something many will always associate with ultimate bikerdom. Freedom. Power. Sound and fury.
But a new era is upon us. The Internal Combustion Engine will give way to the electric motor, sooner than most of us realise. Legislation and market dynamics will see to that.
So, what will it be like for bikers when no one makes I.C.Es any more? Will biking become boring?
Opibus are a company that does conversions of vehicles to fully electric. I had a chance to try out an electric bike conversion prototype at their workshop off Mombasa road. It was a small bike, probably a Boxer, with the engine pulled out and replaced by an electric motor and removable battery pack.
No gears. No clutch lever. Digital dashboard. Reverse button. Sport mode. As a prototype, the controls, ergonomics, fit and finish were quite basic.
After a 2-minute orientation, off I went. The bike was quiet, as you'd expect. The sound of the wheels on the road and the mild whine of the motor are the only things you hear. You'll spend lots of time on the horn as no one will hear you coming.
The riding experience: lots of torque all through. In Sport mode, the effortless acceleration was impressive - much better than the equivalent combustion engine. There's real hooligan potential there. It felt strange not having gears to shift, but in traffic this would be very relaxing.
Riding an I.C.E bike is an immersive experience - it consumes all your senses: tightening your line mid-corner by adjusting your throttle input; the joy of a sequential gearbox, clutching in and downshifting a couple of gears as you approach a tight bend; holding on to a gear until the red line just to hear that engine howl - like a wild beast uncaged, celebrating its freedom. The CHOICES are yours to make.
These are elements that make biking so special.
You give up these choices when riding an ė motorbike. But under certain conditions, I can see the appeal of a quiet, stress-free, low input way to ease through the bustling streets or tranquil spaces.
Harley Davidson Livewire photos by Tiki Ndegwa
Don't get me wrong though, mimi ni petrolhead damu. I've got V-power running through my veins, and i'll be among the last men standing. Remember that motorbike scene in the movie i-Robot with Will Smith? Hapo sasa.
But change is coming, nevertheless. As the BORG said, "Resistance is Futile." Trekkies will relate...
I wanted to share something here about an experience I just had today. Normally I’m not one for the silent Battery powered drives-and obviously I thought there is no substitute for the good old fossil fuel burning contraptions that we are used too. But I tried this fully Electric Zero DS today and I was just blown away by everything about it, the throttle response and power is incredible, comfortable for a bike that is somewhat heavier than a conventional bike due to the Lithium Ion Battery packs that puts it at about 180kgs and a top speed of 140Kph there about. But a range of 200Kms on a full charge is just great for city use. For my first experience on an electric it definitely left me wanting one in my stable!!
What ya'll think?
Consumed 2 units of electricity per full battery charge. Top speed 50kmph. It has front and back disc brakes.
Bought from JXB (Jixianbao) shop at Kariakoo, Dar es salaam. A full battery lasts for 70kms. Good for city commute.
Also no need of number plates or drivers license...I jus got it insured for my own safety.