Posts Tagged ‘panasonic’

The Perils of Electric Moped / Scooter / Bike Ownership – A2B “Bicycles” are Back in Business

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

I think I saw an ad for these A2B bikes just today in the SF Weekly.

They were never very popular but I did my best to discourage purchases, to the dismay of the Ultra Motors people.

These days, Ultra Motors is gone but A2B bikes are making a comeback aided by more realistic pricing.

Thusly, as seen with a flat tire:

Click to expand

IMO, you’re better off with a regular bike, one with puncture resistant tires and theft-hardened parts.

But that’s just me.

That Horrible Ultra Motor Ltd Company is Still Around, Still Selling Their Crummy A2B Electric Scooters

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Now don’t get me wrong, I think test-driving an A2B electric scooter in Golden Gate Park can be fun, but the problem is that these rigs don’t really make sense for the vast majority of people, that’s the problem.

Anyway, this is the past weekend in GGP here…

Click to expand

…and this below is from the past.

Sometimes you spend money on an idea and it doesn’t work out.

Oh well.

Well well, has it really been a half-year since an example of the ridiculous, overweight and overpriced A2B electric bike / moped thing has been spotted on the Streets of San Francisco? Yes.

Here’s the one sighted yesterday. It’s a rental of course, but actually, that’s not a bad thing. Assuming you don’t run out of juice, renting an A2B for 69 bones doesn’t appear to be a bad way to spend a day exploring the 415 . You could easily haul on over to Sausalito (remembering to pretend to pedal – the Golden Gate Bridge people actually require this) and back without breaking a sweat.

See?

(Take care it doesn’t get stolen, though, else they’ll charge your credit card an arm and a leg.)

O.K. then.

Now I’ll tell you, most of the people who comment about the posts made about the A2B on this website actually work (or worked) for Ultra Motor.

For example, here’s a bit from Ultra Motor Co-Founder and President Jon Bowman from earlier this year:

“Wow. You really have nothing better to do than attack what appears to be a good idea and an innovative product.”

Does that make sense? He’s berating me for criticising one of his P.O.S. products from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t work for Ultra Motor, yet he works for Ultra Motor. (Reminds me of when people at the San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper would make comments on SFist claiming to work full-time for MUNI or something. They weren’t really fooling anybody…)

Anyway, a newer product Ultra Motor has is called the Excel and it’s being marketed as a $5000 electric scooter. O.K., if it makes you happy.

The big problem with all these bikes is that they don’t sell. The fact that you have to fork over $2200 plus tax, minimum, to buy one (unless you get a deal through Craigslist ) is merely the first problem. It’s not the only problem, not at all. (Now, they have this newer model, the Velocity (Velociti?) but I ain’t never seen one of those – maybe it’s closer to being an actual electric bike…)

Oh well. Even the people who like these things don’t really like these things.

If you want an electric bike, get a Trek or something else.

The Mean Streets of San Francisco are No Place for an Ultra Motor A2B Electric Scooter Moped Bicycle Thing

Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Maybe it was a chuckhole or maybe it was going around the open car door and onto the train tracks that caused this fellow to take a tumble on his crappy Ultra Motor A2B electric moped on Market Street yesterday.

You see, them wheels is too small – it’s a styling thing, apparently:

Click to expand

You know, on their website they tell you everything but how much these contraptions cost…*

*Too much**

**A-waaaaaaaaay too much. Oh well.

Ultra Motor’s A2B Electric Bike, the Worst Consumer Product of 2009, Spotted in 2010

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Well well, has it really been a half-year since an example of the ridiculous, overweight and overpriced A2B electric bike / moped thing has been spotted on the Streets of San Francisco? Yes.

Here’s the one sighted yesterday. It’s a rental of course, but actually, that’s not a bad thing. Assuming you don’t run out of juice, renting an A2B for 69 bones doesn’t appear to be a bad way to spend a day exploring the 415 . You could easily haul on over to Sausalito (remembering to pretend to pedal – the Golden Gate Bridge people actually require this) and back without breaking a sweat.

See? 

(Take care it doesn’t get stolen, though, else they’ll charge your credit card an arm and a leg.)

O.K. then.

Now I’ll tell you, most of the people who comment about the posts made about the A2B on this website actually work (or worked) for Ultra Motor.

For example, here’s a bit from Ultra Motor Co-Founder and President Jon Bowman from earlier this year:

“Wow. You really have nothing better to do than attack what appears to be a good idea and an innovative product.”

Does that make sense? He’s berating me for criticising one of his P.O.S. products from the standpoint of someone who doesn’t work for Ultra Motor, yet he works for Ultra Motor. (Reminds me of when people at the San Francisco Chronicle Newspaper would make comments on SFist claiming to work full-time for MUNI or something. They weren’t really fooling anybody…)

Anyway, a newer product Ultra Motor has is called the Excel and it’s being marketed as a $5000 electric scooter. O.K., if it makes you happy. 

The big problem with all these bikes is that they don’t sell. The fact that you have to fork over $2200 plus tax, minimum, to buy one (unless you get a deal through Craigslist ) is merely the first problem. It’s not the only problem, not at all. (Now, they have this newer model, the Velocity (Velociti?) but I ain’t never seen one of those – maybe it’s closer to being an actual electric bike…)

Oh well. Even the people who like these things don’t really like these things.

If you want an electric bike, get a Trek or something else.

Jay Leno-Approved A2B Electric Mopeds Appear on the Streets of San Francisco

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

It took a while, but this photo is clear evidence of an A2B electric moped from San Francisco-based Ultra Motor USA apparently being used by a regular San Franciscan. Heretofore, I’ve only seen A2Bs being borrowed by tourists for short-term rentals, or by riders on test drives, or by employees trying to promote the brand, stuff like that.

So this is progress, of a sort.

Let’s see here, yes, that’s an overweight, overpriced A2B Metro being used as designed in San Francisco. Finally.

And here’s something else that’s new – an endorsement from Jay Leno. Check the short video with dressed-for-success(!) (in a camo tank, Daisy Dukes* and high-heeled boots) Ultra Motor “Sales Manager” Shelby Nielsen at advertising-choked JayLenosGarage.com:

Let’s see here. Jay Leno:

Clearly doesn’t understand the concept of voltage. [Conferre this huge 6-volt lantern battery with tiny 9-volt battery next to it - which has more power do you s'pose? Discuss.] 

Thinks the weight of 73 pounds (or is it closer to 90 with the optional $650 battery you can see behind the seat?) ”isn’t bad.” [Actually, it is bad.]

Thinks it’s practical to pedal a moped.

Thinks it’s practical to carry a moped up and down stairs on a daily basis.

Doesn’t care about the price

Believes in helmets for people on motorcycles but not on mopeds, despite the fact that he needed to wear a helmet during his test drive on public streets under CA law.

Here’s the thing – A2B mopeds, like all mopeds, are basically manifestations of  license-and-registration scams. Moped owners don’t have to deal with all the hassles involved of owning a scooter or a motorcycle – that’s the reason for the ridiculous design compromises.

So that’s how it’s going for the first year of these mopeds in the 415.

And to close, let’s review The Law: 

Motorized Bicycle, Electric Motor: Safety and Equipment Requirements

24016.  (a) A motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406 shall meet the following criteria:

(1) Comply with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. 1512.1, et seq.) or the requirements adopted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (49 C.F.R. 571.1, et seq.) in accordance with the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 (15 U.S.C. Sec. 1381, et seq.) for motor driven cycles.

(2) Operate in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or operate in a manner such that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function.

(b) All of the following apply to a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406:

(1) No person shall operate a motorized bicycle unless the person is wearing a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet that meets the standards described in Section 21212.

(2) A person operating a motorized bicycle is subject to Sections 21200 and 21200.5.

(3) A person operating a motorized bicycle is not subject to the provisions of this code relating to financial responsibility, driver’s licenses, registration, and license plate requirements, and a motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle.

(4) A motorized bicycle shall only be operated by a person 16 years of age or older.

(5) Every manufacturer of a motorized bicycle shall certify that it complies with the equipment and manufacturing requirements for bicycles adopted by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (16 C.F.R. 1512.1, et seq.).

(c) No person shall tamper with or modify a motorized bicycle described in subdivision (b) of Section 406 so as to increase the speed capability of the bicycle.

Added Sec. 3, Ch. 804, Stats. 1995. Effective January 1, 1996.

Safety Helmet Regulations

27802.  (a) The department may adopt reasonable regulations establishing specifications and standards for safety helmets offered for sale, or sold, for use by drivers and passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles as it determines are necessary for the safety of those drivers and passengers. The regulations shall include, but are not limited to, the requirements imposed by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218 (49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.218) and may include compliance with that federal standard by incorporation of its requirements by reference. Each helmet sold or offered for sale for use by drivers and passengers of motorcycles and motorized bicycles shall be conspicuously labeled in accordance with the federal standard which shall constitute the manufacturer’s certification that the helmet conforms to the applicable federal motor vehicle safety standards.

(b) No person shall sell, or offer for sale, for use by a driver or passenger of a motorcycle or motorized bicycle any safety helmet which is not of a type meeting requirements established by the department.

Amended Ch. 163, Stats. 1985. Effective January 1, 1986.

*In the “accepted vernacular

Best Buy Sends a Parade of Electric Bikes Down San Francisco’s Market Street

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

This is how outbound Market Street appeared in San Francisco this morning as Best Buy sent a parade of expensive $2500 A2B electric scooters (the Worst Consumer Products of 2009) and also inexpensive E-Zip bikes up the street. E-Zips went for $350 last year at some Wal-Marts (not that I could tell, having never set foot in one) and now $500 (and up) at Best Buy.

E-Zip in the background, A2B in the foreground. Were there a dozen or so riders in this mini, corporate Critical Mass? Something like that:

IMG_0042 copy

Click to expand

What do you get for you $350? Well, you don’t get high tech batteries, that’s for sure. But that’s part of the reason why it’s cheaper than the obscenely overpriced A2B and the Trek Ride+, which is being tested out these days by some of San Francisco’s elected officials. Costco also has a few dogs in the e-bike hunt, upon occasion.

Will you say “Engine*, yes. Gas No”?

Only Time Will Tell.

*Not an actual “engine” – the marketing cookies of Best Buy mean motor, but oh well.

Worst Consumer Product of 2009 – the $2700 Ultra Motor A2B Electric Bike / Moped Thing

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

Reports are positive so far from those San Franciscans taking extended test drives of Trek’s new electric bike.

Having said that, let’s award Worst Consumer Product of 2009 to another kind of electric bike – the $2700 (or so, some people sell them new for $1700-something) Ultra Motor A2B Electric Bike / Moped Thing.

If you want to check things out, they’re on sale now at the Best Buy and you can even rent them for 79 bones per day

But hey, look at this guy on Market Street near the failed Octavia Boulevard. He just might be an owner/operator of an A2B - the first I’ve seen. Maybe he works for CNET or Engadget or someplace. This early-adopter certainly seemed outgoing and happy though, like three-tabs-of-Ecstasy happy, so good for him. And he was actually pedaling the thing for a bit, amazingly.

IMG_8173 copy

Click to expand.

But for the average person, the A2B is way too heavy and expensive. Why does this electric moped, a “commuter bike,” need full suspension and why does it have tiny wheels? Styling?  

Let’s get some input from an A2B person (employee?), who saw fit to offer this blog his comments here. Read his pearls of wisdom in bold:

Brent Meyers says:
July 17, 2009 at 10:18 am  

“Just curious to know if this ‘blogger’ has ever ridden an A2B.”

See the word “blogger” in quote marks? That means me. Like, what else could I be with my bone-stock WordPress blog? A blogger wannabe? A shill for Trek or some other outfit?   

Chances are he has not.

Chance are I have, ’round about April 5, 2009 – see ”Test-Driving the Overweight, Overpriced “Ultra Motor” A2B Electric Moped

If he had ridden an A2B, he would know that it’s quite easy to pedal,

Is a moped easy to pedal? Maybe, but do you ever see people pedaling around on mopeds?

…and the wide tires combined with the full suspension gives the A2B a more comfortable feel and provides much better handling on urban roads.

“More comfortable”? “Better handling”? Compared to what? Is this a sales pitch?  

This blogger…

Ah, no quote marks this time. Hurray!

…should do his readers a favor…

Automatic for the People, baby. I give and give and give, 24-7…

 and properly research something before he writes about it.

Is it possible a multi-thousand-dollar, 73-pound “bike” isn’t for everybody during this particular recession?  

Check your facts Serpico.

“Serpico”? Whoosh! Right over the head with that one. 

O.K. fine. Feel free to test drive the thing, but expect to be harassed by A2B employees if you don’t like it enough to fork over your hard-earned green.

And the prices? Well they’re coming down, both in the shops and on the Craigslist.

Jul 30 – ULTRA MOTORS A2B ELECTRIC BIKES – $1750 - (SACRAMENTO) pic

Jul 28 – Electric Bicycles That Ride Like a Scooter – $1750 - (Arroyo) pic

Maybe if Ultra Motor had built an electric bike instead of an electric scooter, then things would be different…

Oh well.

Trek’s New $2200 “Ride+” Electric Bike Costs About $500 Too Much, It Seems

Thursday, July 16th, 2009

Well, here they are - they’re the new (to America, anyway) Ride+ electric bikes from Trek.

First off, check out the SF Streetsblog to see yesterday’s scene of San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu and Supervisors Ross Mirkarimi and Eric Mar test driving these rigs at City Hall in the presence of Marin County biking legend GaryBury My Heart At Pine Mountain” Fisher.

17449006

Via Gary Fisher’s Twitter

See? It looks exactly like an electric bike, right?

EuroElectricBike2_LRG copy

So let’s talk about what this Trek E-Bike is not. It’s not a ridiculous, overweight, overpriced electric bike from Ultra Motor. Witness that yellow full-suspension rig on the left in this photo from Golden Gate Park? That’s an A2B:

img_8241-copy

The A2B is, basically, an electric moped. That means the whole concept is kind of an insurance/regulation scam where the pedals are mostly there to show regulators how this thing is not an electric motorbike. So, the A2B is limited to 20 MPH under Da Law.

“Electric Bicycles are defined by the California Vehicle Code. In summary, electric bicycles are to be operated like conventional bicycles in California. There are several exceptions to this. A person must be at least 16 years old, and anyone riding an electric bicycle must wear a bicycle helmet. The e-bikes must have an electric motor that has a power output less than 1,000 watts, is incapable of propelling the device at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour on level ground, is incapable of further increasing the speed of the device when human power is used to propel the motorized bicycle faster than 20 miles per hour, operates in a manner so that the electric motor is disengaged or ceases to function when the brakes are applied, or operates in a manner such that the motor is engaged through a switch or mechanism that, when released, will cause the electric motor to disengage or cease to function. Driver’s licenses, registration, insurance and license plate requirements do not apply. A motorized bicycle is not a motor vehicle. A motorized bicycle shall only be operated by a person 16 years of age or older. Drinking and driving laws apply. Additional laws or ordinances may apply to the use of electric bicycles by each city or county.”

So, most people using an A2B would never really pedal. Personally, I’ve never seen an A2B in the wild, being used by somebody for something more than a test drive or a day rental. Oh well.

But the new Trek bike is different in that it requires you to pedal – it will kick in power based upon how much work you yourself are doing. So, select the switch on your handlebar-mounted dashboard to have it add 50%, 100%, 150%, or 200% more power – just like the $899 electric bikes they sell at the Costco. And yes, the Ride+ has regenerative braking.

But here’s the thing – the bike itself, a 7.3 FX, costs $600-something and the electric bits from Bionx or someplace similar go for $1200 retail, so why doesn’t this ebike cost $1700 instead of $2200?

The World Wonders.  

Is this bike 140% better than a Costco eBike? We’ll see.

In other notes, the 32 x 700c Bontrager Race Lite Hardcase tires will probably keep you relatively free from flats on the mean glass-strewn Streets of San Francisco but you might want to get rid of those quick-release skewers. And no front (see comments) fender and no disk brakes, Trek? For $2200, really? (And what would a new battery go for, pray tell? Well, I s’pose we’ll get all the deets soon enough.)

Let’s leave the last word for Gary Fisher:

  • The new bata bike will go on sale in only a few shops in aug for $2200. This bike hauls ass and can be Luged up stairs.5:41 PM Jul 14th from Twitterrific
  • Perhaps you could “luge” it downstairs, but certainly not up. As far as lugging is concerned, GF is correct. Unlike the heavy A2B, the new Trek is luggable.

    All’s that left to do is to see how many supes buy these things when the test drives are over.

    Stay tuned…

    Test-Driving the Overweight, Overpriced “Ultra Motor” A2B Electric Moped

    Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

    Get up to speed on the Ultra Motor A2B electric moped here. They were offering free test drives to all comers in Golden Gate Park over the weekend, so why not try it out, right?

    The thing weighs 72 pounds and it costs $2700. Ouch. The yellow one I tried out felt like an electric motorcycle, except for the on-off feel of the throttle setup - that didn’t feel like a motorcycle throttle at all, no sir/ ma’am. And the full suspension seems there mostly for looks, but with all the squatting and diving (just like your dad’s old Datsun 280ZX) you’ll never forget it’s there.

    Click to expand

    Would it be a hard job for some people just to put it up on its kickstand? Yes. And then where would you park it?

    The A2B is the Segway scooter of mopeds, it’s the Tesla Motors Roadster of mopeds. It’s not undesirable just because it’s expensive, it’s undesirable because it’s heavy (primarily, there are other factors as well). So, the people at Ultra motor might consider this product a high-end bicycle, just as the people at Tesla consider their Roadster a high-end exotic sports car. O.K. fine.

    In short, two thumbs down.

    But hey, if it makes you happy….

    $899 Electric Bikes at the Costco – They’re New, They’re You

    Sunday, April 5th, 2009

    Let’s start first with another electric bike that’s been making news in the bay area: the Ultra Motor A2B. Now, the problem when you listen to CEOs (who are really just cheerleaders without pom poms) talk about their products is that they seem to think everybody wants and needs their products. O.K fine, you’re selling a $2699 electrified bicycle – who’s going to buy it? The same people that bought Segway electric scooters?

    Does anybody need full suspension on an motorized city bike? No. having dispensed with that, what about the UrbanMover UM 44 USprite? As you can see, it’s more of a regular bike with a battery and motor attached.  

    Click to expand.

    Can you feature yourself lugging one of these things up and down the stairs? It’s a tad lighter than the 73-pound(!) A2B, so that’s something to consider.  

    And the UM44 is less than 1% of the cost of the abysmal Roadster from the abysmal Tesla Motors, you know, that bay area company that the feds aren’t exactly bailing out, but… Anyway, your money is going into Tesla Motors -will you ever see it again? Mmmmm.

    Choose wisely. See you on the bike path!

     
    All aluminium 6021 hybrid alloy frame
     
    26” all alloy wheels with stainless steel spokes
     
    Shimano Tourney 6 speed derailleur gears
     
    Shimano Tourney thumb shift gear change
     
    Kenda® K series puncture resistant tyres
     
    Kenda® self seal inner tubes
     
    Suspension seat post
     
    Sealed headset and crank bearings
     
    Tektro® V-type brakes front and rear
     
    VPAC – Variable pedal assist control
     
    UK & AUS26V 200W high torque brushless motor
     
    Europe & USA26V 250W high torque brushless motor
     

    26V 9Ah Panasonic® Lithium-ion battery
    - 20% more range (than NiMh)
    - 50% lighter (than 8Ah NiMh battery)
    - Up to 50% longer life v NiMh

     

    Lithium Polymer option (26V 12Ah)

     

    Maximum range using VPAC
    - Li-ion     30km (18.5m)
    - Li-pol     45Km (28m)

     
    Maximum range using throttle* 16km (10m)
     
    Maximum pedal assisted speed – 25kmph (15mph)
     
    Patented locking side release battery mechanism
     
    Handlebar mounted charge indicator
     
    Saddle – UM-V Sprung Gel Comfort – with quick release locking mechanism
     
    Integrated side stand
     
    Chrome ABS corrosion proof mudguards
     
    Integrated rear wheel lock with chain
     
    Rear alloy parcel rack
     
    Optional UM rear panniers (pair)
     
    VPAC Torque sensor controller
     
    Weight 19.8 kg (inc Battery)
     
    Colour – metallic royal blue
         
     
    *
    Only available in countries where the law allows use of direct throttle power