WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Vectrix Electric Scooter

By James - 4/26/2007

I recently got a press release from the Vectrix Scooter company and while I generally ignore press releases, this one excites me. I am trying to build an electric motorcycle and have been struggling with the speed vs range limitations. The Vectrix seems to have solved this problem and may offer an alternative to a build it yourself electric scooter.

The Vectrix Super-Scooter: Electricity Moves Fast
The electric motorbike that performs like a petrol model is here

- Vectrix is green - but it accelerates from 0 to 50 mph in just 6.8 seconds
- No petrol, no emissions, no noise, no Congestion Charge - just twist and go
- Simultaneous world launch takes place in London and Milan this month

Got a green-minded conscience but don’t want to be left at the traffic lights? The Vectrix is the answer. The first electric motorbike to perform like a petrol-fuelled machine, Vectrix is set to transform the way we look at green commuting. It’s emissions-free and quiet but - vitally - it’s designed for motorcyclists rather than simply for environmentalists. The first speedy, good-looking, reliable and fun alternative to the petrol bike, Vectrix hits London’s streets on April 30th.

Equivalent in power and size to a 400cc maxi-scooter, the Super-Scooter runs equally on innovation and electrical current. Conceived by former members of Lockheed Martin’s aerospace division and developed over ten years by Vectrix, the Super-Scooter is packed with pioneering features such as DAaRTT throttle technology, whereby twisting the throttle towards you allows smooth acceleration and twisting it away from you allows you to slow down smoothly. Regenerative braking recycles energy back into the battery as you slow down, extending your ride. The innovation is backed by solid performance - the Vectrix’s torque is as strong as that of a Ducati 900, enabling riders to weave swiftly through stationary traffic and overtake with confidence. With a top speed of more than 60mph, you’re looking at life in the fast lane - and, when you’re finished riding, parking is a breeze with the slow-speed reverse function.

Convenience is fitted as standard. You can ride the Vectrix for 68 miles on a mere two-hour charge from a standard electrical socket. There’s free meter and pay and display parking in many city areas and, for a nominal yearly administration fee, London Vectrix owners will receive unlimited recharging at any of the 300 recharging points that are set to become fixtures on London’s streets by the end of 2007.

It’s not just the earth that benefits when you switch to a Vectrix - you do too, as the Vectrix is exempt from road tax and the dreaded London Congestion Charge. And, maintenance-wise, we’re looking at few moving parts - which translates to less repairs and an extended vehicle life.

Alex Bamberg, MD of Vectrix UK says: “Vectrix is a global first; an electric vehicle like no other. Its speed, long range and responsiveness give it all the benefits of a traditional motorcycle without the noise, pollution and excessive maintenance.”

Vectrix is:
- No gimmick: Ten years in the making, Vectrix is built with world-class components from manufacturers like Brembo (suppliers of brakes to Ferrari), Getrag Gears (suppliers of transmissions to Mercedes, Audi and Porsche) and Pirelli, the Vectrix Super-Scooter holds its own on the road.

- Cheaper to run: see running costs below.

- Convenient and reliable: ride for 68 miles on a two-hour charge from a recharging station or any regular three-pin electrical socket. An electric brushless air-gap motor means minimal maintenance - and the battery is designed to last for a minimum of ten years.

- Green: Vectrix is emissions-free if you buy your electricity on a green tariff. The quiet electric motor is the answer to a city choked with smog and noise and a way to combat climate change. A Vectrix Super-Scooter has by far the lowest carbon footprint rating of any similarly-performing vehicle.

Vectrix Running Costs - it makes sense to your pocket

20 pence’s worth of electricity at home gives you enough charge for 68 miles

That’s less than 1/3 of a penny per mile - or 1000 miles for less than three quid.

Vectrix is exempt from road tax and the Congestion Charge, and you can park it for free in electric vehicle parking bays - more of which are appearing all the time.

Free meter and pay and display parking in many city areas

Unlimited recharging at London recharging points for a nominal yearly fee

Vectrix hits the road on April 30th with simultaneous world launches in London and Milan. To see the future of city transport for yourself, come along to New Spitalfields Market where you’ll have the opportunity to watch the Vectrix Super-Scooter in action and to take one for a spin (or enjoy a pillion ride) on a specially constructed indoor track.

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In a crash, the motorcyclist is always at fault

By James - 4/24/2007

A recent verdict in a civil injury case awarded a biker $17.7 million after a accident that left the biker with permanent injuries. The case was not out of the ordinary, sadly people turn in front of motorcycles all the time. What struck me as outrageous was that the jury found the biker somewhat at fault, which reduced the amount he was awarded.

“Anytime a plaintiff is on a motorcycle, the jury will find them somewhat at fault, just because they’re on a motorcycle,” Mallabo lawyer David M. Ring said in explaining the jury’s decision he was 5 percent at fault.
To state that because I ride a motorcycle, I am automatically at fault in any crash is grossly prejudicial and unacceptable. I ride defensively. I wear all the safety gear, almost all the time. I do not see why I am at fault when another vehicle violates my right of way. Most people are driving vehicles that are too big for them to control. Why should they be protected for a poor choice of transportation? Why am I penalized for riding a motorcycle with limited capacity for injuring and killing others? I am writing a letter to my representatives right now. I suggest you do as well if you want to be protected in the event of a crash.

Full article below:

NORWALK, Calif.- A Taiwanese shipping firm must pay $17.7 million to a motorcyclist severely injured when the wife of the company’s U.S. president struck the bike with a company car.

Wen-Ting Tai turned a Wan Hai Lines company car into the motorcycle’s path on Oct. 23, 2004, four days after she made at least 16 mistakes and flunked the California driving test.

The Superior Court jury deliberated two days before deciding April 19 on the $18.6 million award. The panel said the motorcyclist, plaintiff Joyson Mallabo, was 5 percent at fault.

Mallabo, who was 23 at the time of the crash, was riding his motorcycle in Cerritos when Wen-Ting Tai turned left in front of him at an uncontrolled intersection. He suffered massive injuries and must now use a cane to walk.

“Anytime a plaintiff is on a motorcycle, the jury will find them somewhat at fault, just because they’re on a motorcycle,” Mallabo lawyer David M. Ring said in explaining the jury’s decision he was 5 percent at fault.

Wan Hai Lines attorney Douglas D. Cullins was out of the office in trial this week, a receptionist said, and a voicemail message left Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.

The jury decided Wan Hai Lines must pay Mallabo $3.6 million for medical bills and lost wages and $15 million for past and future pain and suffering.

Tai’s husband Ching Tarng Lin was transferred to the company’s Long Beach office and his wife moved with him from Taiwan.

California law allows drivers to rely on foreign licenses as long as they don’t move permanently.

Tai attempted to obtain a California license four days before the accident but failed the road test. Failure means a driver made at least 16 mistakes during the test, Ring said.

“If you can’t pass the test, you shouldn’t be driving here,” Ring said.

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Mailbag: Are cheap helmets worth the risk?

By James - 4/14/2007

Steve wrote:

Are KBC helmets any good? How come they’re so much cheaper than Arai and Shoei? Should I go straight to an Arai to protect my melon? The KBC’s are tempting because of the price.

The price of a helmet is generally related to the quality of the materials and features; liners, graphics, shields, the noise levels and venting options. You get what you pay for. KBCs have a reputation of wearing out sooner than some of it’s competitors, but if you are replacing your helmet every 3-5 years the helmet should last unless you are an everyday rider.

You may be concerned about safety, but if your helmet is certified by DOT, Snell, ECE or BSI you can be certain that it will protect your head as well as any other helmet. There has been an informal trackday study from Roadracingworld that shows that Arai and Shoei helmets prevent concussions (32% and 34% of crashes resulted in a concussion, respectively) a little better than AGV and HJC (35% and 36% of crashes resulted in a concussion, respectively). KBC was not on the list.
What stuck out to me was that the difference between the “best” and “worst” is only 4% better prevention of concussions while the price can be 300+% higher. I agree that you should pay more to protect your head, but it seems that the crash standards are pretty consistent across brands, so safety is not an issue when choosing a helmet.

The single most important aspect to choosing a helmet is fit. Some people have KBC-shaped heads, some have Shoei-shaped heads and I have an HJC-shaped head. You need to go to a store that has a lot of brands and try them all on. Find what feels best and get that one. Happy riders are safer riders so get a helmet that fits, regardless of brand.

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Underinsured Motorist Coverage and Health Insurance

By James - 4/12/2007

Ralph was recently in a motorcycle accident and had a question about what happens when you need to use your underinsured motorist coverage.

I was in an accident and Blue Cross settled with the other guy’s insurance company but didn’t give a full and final release. Now, they want to recoup more from my UIM coverage. Can they do that? They collected $15,000 (policy limit) from the driver of the truck that hit me. Blue Cross paid the hospital a total of $33,000. I have $30,000 in uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. My agent told me how to file the claim but now Blue Cross has filed a lien with my motorcycle insurance company for $18,000. I thought they could only go after the third party.
This is quite common. Your health insurance wants to be paid back and assuming that the driver has nothing to sue for, they will get it from your underinsured insurance coverage. That is what it is for. In some policies, they would be going after you if you did not have UIM coverage. Had you gone after the guy in civil court your heath insurance would want part of that. Remember to file a claim for lost wages as well. That is a commonly overlooked source of relief for accident victims.

I suggest you talk to your insurance agent and ask if your premium will increase; it should not. They will inform you on the next steps and let you know your options. But as with every insurance company interaction you will want to be informed so check the internet for more resources. Keep all your receipts and make sure to document every doctor visit and expense.

I hope you heal up and are able to get back on the road soon.

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Flip Flops and an Arai

By James - 4/9/2007

People’s rational amazes me sometimes. I wish I had a camera to document what I came across today but I left my phone at my desk. But first a word about gear.

I come from the ATGMOTT school of dressing for rides. “All the Gear, Most of the Time". There are the ATGATT nazis, “All the Gear, All the Time” and there are squids, who wear flip flops and wife beater shirt. I am in between, although closer to ATTGATT than squid. I don’t care what you wear when YOU ride, but if you are riding with ME, or ask MY opinion I will tell you to wear ATGATT. Do as I say, not as I do.

So on the way back from lunch I saw a scooter chick donning her gear. Suede jacket, capri pants, flip flops . . . and an Arai helmet. I understand protecting your head but it seems like you are putting all your eggs in one basket with that get up. If you get hit, you may save your head with an expensive helmet but your arms, legs and especially your feet will be badly injured. She had a million dollar smile so I can justify it a little, but seriously; get a decent HJC at half the price and spend the money you saved on overpants. You need to protect yourself proportionately. A $500 helmet and $5 flip flops is not better than a $200 helmet and $100 overpants.

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Perimeter Rotors

By James - 4/5/2007

Cyril Huze had a post on his blog called “Perimeter Rotors. Beautiful And Powerful.” about perimeter rotors and I think there is some misinformation being presented to the general public, most likely from the people using perimeter rotors on their custom bikes. Cyril states that perimeter rotors give you . . .

An evident powerful braking due to the diameter of your rotor matching the size of your wheels.

I am not saying in any way that they are bad or should not be used, but once you look at the physics you see why they are less efficient when compared to rotors located close to the hub. Perimeter rotors place the rotor, the piece of metal that the brake pads press against, along the outside of the wheel. Traditional rotors are mounted at the hub. Moving that mass towards the rim will increase your rotational inertia, so you have to use more torque to get it moving and need extra HP to keep it moving. Leaning the bike will take a little more effort too. And with all things motorcycle you should be worried about getting on the brakes when you really want to stop. With more rotational inertia, your brakes have to work harder to get you to stop.

The real advantage to a perimeter rotor is the heat dissipation. There is more surface area and there is more airflow around the rotor allowing it to cool faster. This allows the rotors to be thinner although no weight is shed since the the rotor has a longer circumference. The rotor is also moving slower, being further from the rotational axis, which leads to less heat buildup in the first place. Because of this, many only use one rotor, saving weight on a system that uses two hub-mounted rotors. This is where drum brakes really take a beating and one of the reasons why perimeter rotors are still more efficient than drum brakes.

Most rim-mounted rotor proponents bring up the notion of leverage. That you gain leverage as you move the rotor out from the hub. It is a logical and tangible notion, since it is easier to get leverage when you try to turn a bolt with a long wrench rather than a short one. Unfortunately leverage only comes into play when talking about static friction, or when the wheel is stopped. While the rotor is spinning, the brake pads do not care about leverage since they are just “squeezing” the rotor laterally, not applying a directional force to the rotation. Think about that long wrench you I mentioned a second ago. Will it help you turn that bolt from the side?

This is a controversial subject judging from the comments on a post by the Kneeslider. For most bikers, this won’t matter that much. If your bike is a show piece, I encourage you to make it unique and perimeter rotors are a good way of doing that. If you ride your bike on the occasional weekend, to bike night at the bar, and to the shop for it’s service, you won’t notice a difference. Now if you are commuting on your motorcycle or riding track days, where inches really matter, use a traditional rotor, close to the hub. It will give you the best performance.

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