Electric bike zips up Berkeley hills with ease
An ex-girlfriend of mine placed great diagnostic weight on the following question: Would you rather have one cookie now or two cookies later? I am generally a two-cookies-later person, and she … well, now that I think of it, she was more of a two-cookies-now kind of person, which explains …
I digress. The point is that if you have been reading all the recent news about the Tesla and the Volt, and now Think is coming to America, and apparently Project Better Place is going hook up everyone in Denmark and Israel — and you are perhaps pissed at the oil companies, and food riots are scaring the shit out of you, and the rocketing price of gas makes you wonder if the peak oil kids are right — well, who can blame you for wanting an electric car right now? Unfortunately, you are kind of screwed. I mean, the Zenn is kind of cute, but 35 mph? Tesla takes reservations, but a reservation doesn’t really get you to the grocery store, does it?
Enter the Vectrix. Nickel-metal hydride batteries provide for 62 mph and a range of 40-60 miles. As far as I can tell, in terms of speed, power, and range, it is the most vehicle-like electric vehicle currently available on the market. Last weekend, I checked out a bike that belongs to XO (pronounced Zo, but maybe his friends call him Hug-and-Kiss?), who lives on the top of the Berkeley hills and commutes into San Francisco every day. Yep — rides it across the Bay Bridge. Then back. And up Marin Avenue.
Now, for those of you that don’t know, Marin is ridiculously steep. If this weren’t Berkeley, you’d suspect that the road planning department was infiltrated by brake pad and clutch repair corporate interests. There’s just no reason for a street so steep to go up so straight for so long. Check out Google’s streetview to get an idea.
XO rode me on the back, and the bike had no problem making it up Marin. That’s with nearly 400 lbs of electric-vehicle enthusiasts on board. Quite impressive.
Batteries take about 4 kwh to fill up. If you take the low end of the range (40 miles), that means you are scooting on 1-2 cents per mile. Compare that to 15-20 cents/mile on gas.
So, if you want your cookie now, you are in luck. This is your cookie.