ROCKY MOUNTAIN GREEN
MET THE SAIETTA ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLE YET?
It's a rare moment when motorcycling features in the non-sport pages of national newspapers, especially the 'broadsheets', but in a recent edition of the Independent, on the news pages, a picture of a motorcycle drew my attention.
Not a motorcycle as we know it, but the very futuristic Saietta electric bike conceived and made by Agility Global, a London based technology company headed up by Lawrence Marazzi, who cut his automotive teeth in Formula One with the March team.
In the story I read that the Saietta was heading west to Colorado as part of a trade mission comprised of sixteen British companies under the banner 'Clean and Cool Mission'; and supported by UK Trade and Investment and the Technology Strategy Board. Apparently Colorado is one of the fastest growing centres in the US for emerging clean energy technologies.
Saietta, is an Italian dialect word meaning 'thunderbolt', and while the existence of the bike is not new to motorcycling, the fact that it is being accepted in business circles as a viable product and possible export opportunity is certainly a new concept for a completely UK made motorcycle. The only other example being a small batch of new Norton's recently shipped across the Atlantic.
The debate around the future or otherwise of electric bikes centres around claimed performance figures and the range covered before a fresh charge is required. For the Saietta a claimed 0 to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, and a top speed of 105 mph is not easily dismissed, and is borne out by test riders. More controversial though is how far you can go on a full charge, and how and where can you recharge on the road.
First among equals
Mile range quoted is 130 to 150, but this is always with the proviso of 'it depends how you ride it'. So presumably as with other electric vehicles, if you want to be first among equals at the traffic light grand prix, or if riding hard along twisty A and B roads is your thing, then the mileage range will drop considerably.
Lawrence Marazzi is keen that people should consider this as both a high end very high tech product, which it undoubtedly is. But one of his strong sales pitches is for the medium distance commuter and urban rider, eg: a seventy mile round tripper, who can recharge the bike while at work. And the figures he quotes in terms of finance and savings to be made once the £13,750 purchase price has been made are credible. Are there enough charging points available at the moment? In London, prime bike commuter territory, a rider invariably has to seek out a bike parking slot some distance away from the workplace or plug in facility.
The automotive world is changing. It is by no means inevitable that electric powered vehicles will develop to the point where driving or riding them becomes the norm: but when companies such as BMW sink significant amounts of investment and marketing into new electric powered vehicles, notice must be taken.
One of the aims that Agility Global had in joining with the other companies in the 'Clean and Cool Mission' was to raise investment in a country that offers potential rewards for those who can be among the first to demonstrate that their product is going to capture a slice of a lucrative market.
Most of us are conservative when it comes to radical change, and motorcyclists are no exception. We know what we like and we stick with it. But in years, perhaps generations to come, the idea that you sit on top of a very explosive substance (petrol), mix it with air, burn it at an incredibly high temperature and push it through metal will seem ludicrous.
Go to: www.agilitymotors.com
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