Can electric motorcycles make scooters cool and is it time to get on your bike?

There are too many problems with mopeds, scooters and whatever else you want to call those pseudo motorcycles ridden by people who lack the coordination to change gears to list here. As a  proper, manly motorcyclist I am almost contractually obliged to loathe them, and to point out that riding something with your knees pressed together makes you look like a nun, or at least a virgin.

The fact is, of course, that there are many people who love the convenience, fuel economy, ease of parking, traffic-splitting ability and mild excitement that riding a scooter provides, whether I understand, or respect them, or not.

Fortunately, as the world of motorcycling moves towards electrification and thus changing gears goes the way of riding horses for transport, new and surprisingly cool options are on the way, like the Maeving RM1. 

Now, obviously, compared to every scooter ever made, and the electric ones in particular, you can see from the photos that the Maeving is a genuinely great looking bit of retro British goodness. Like an MG, but desirable (and not Chinese, these things are genuinely made in Coventry, UK). But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to hate it.

Maeving RM1 electric motorcycle
Maeving RM1 electric motorcycle

My previous experiences with both electric motorcycles and scooters have been so awful that it was with some hesitation that I climbed aboard the narrow but surprisingly solid machine in front of the bloke who’s set to start importing the Maeving brand into Australia. He wanted honest feedback, and I prefer to be mean in writing rather than in person.

Fortunately, the Maeving RM1 (it’s meant to make you think of ‘maven’, which means ‘an expert or connoisseur’, while RM1 stands for Removable 1, and that refers to the batteries) isn’t just a nice piece of design. 

I love the idea of giving an electric bike what looks like a fuel tank, and then tucking one of the removable batteries – cool looking little units, with timber features – in there (the other  battery, which is actually the main one goes in a kind of pop-out side pod if you want to double your range – each battery gives you 65km, and buying two is optional). And while it wouldn’t normally appeal to me, I really liked the retro bicycle-style soft seat, which was quite comfortable.

The best thing about riding the Maeving is that it feels like a proper motorcycle to throw into bends. While it feels tiny between your legs it doesn’t feel thin or rattly on the road, nor is it thrown about by bumps, as scooters, with their much smaller diameter wheels (these are 19-inch), can be.

On the down side, there is a moment where you crack the throttle open – around the middle of its travel ,after its given you the initial burst to get away – and nothing happens. Then some power comes back again, happily, but it just doesn’t have a miid-range punch to speak of. 

For a motorcyclist, this is almost as disturbing as the lack of sound. I believe that some of the things a bike really needs to have is enough acceleration to get you out of trouble and enough noise that people can hear you coming. Take both of those away and you’re going to struggle to get a traditional motorcyclist interested.

I have come to realise, after meeting some recently, that there are people who want a bike like this purely for inner-city commuting. Throw in the kind of people who love a style statement and would really enjoy pulling up at their local cafe on something as retro stylish, and green credentialed, as the Maeving and there’s definitely a market for a bike like this.

Personally, I’d be keen to try the more powerful versions that are coming down the line. 

Maeving RM1 electric motorcycle
Maeving RM1 electric motorcycle

In terms of popularity, however, an even less powerful variant, with a top speed of 50km/h, might be in the wings, meaning people could ride one (at least in some Australian states) on their car licence, without going through the considerable trouble of getting a bike one. That would be a potential sales machine.

The “full” powered version I tried (with a dealer plate on) makes 4.4kW (yes, really, that’s not a typo) and 160Nm and can hit 72km/h (I saw an indicated 80), which is… not a lot. Think of it as being somewhere between a 50cc moped and a 110cc actual motorcycle.  

The more powerful RM1S that’s being rolled out in the UK now will be able to exceed 100km/h. Just. 

For now, you can express your interest in buying one (pricing is TBA, but I’m guessing around $15k) as the homologation process is still under way.

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