Does the sound of gas moped scooters bother you? It drives me nuts; let me explain. I recently moved to Spain from the UK and after getting my bearings one of the first things I noticed was the difference in the amount of cars on the road; now you would think that fewer cars would be a good thing, however I have reservations. You see there is a fundamental difference here - the weather is better - some 300 days of sunshine a year, which means that there is a huge proportion of the traveling public using motorcycles, mopeds and scooters. Again I hear you say that must be a good thing as it has to be good for the environment, I agree, however during the summer the noise pollution which occurs at peak times of the day and well into the night can be unbearable. There is also the issue of two stroke engines pumping pollutants into the atmosphere. That got me thinking about how the scooter manufacturers should be introducing alternative methods of powering these machines.
I started to search the big ones such as Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki etc as they seem to be the main culprits for the noise on the streets around my house. I was amazed at the work that had been done in finding an alternative mode of power, such as Yamaha's range of hybrid motorcycles which were launched at motor shows in 2005. The problem is they don't seem to have been brought to market.
It appears that most of the big manufacturers have built concept models and showed them at the major motor shows but few have been have made it to the street. Honda have been a notable exception to that rule with the stunning Vectrix and have produced a good looking electric motorcycle which is packed with technology and is capable of giving a traditional city bike a run for it's money. Compare them like for like, and it is hard to tell the difference between it and a petrol scooter, however when you open up the throttle the lack of engine noise gives it away. Plug it in at night and it will return over 70 miles on a two our charge, It has a top speed of around 65 mph and is extremely comfortable.
One of the cleverest things about the Honda Vectrix is it's "regenerative braking" unlike a gas scooter when you ease off the throttle the scooter does not slow, however you twist it past it's resting point and the brakes kick in - the further it is twisted the more it brakes, and whilst it does so it turns the motor into a dynamo which tops up the battery charge. The down side of this fabulous bike is the price, bearing in mind the age group of the average rider is probably between seventeen and thirty years old, I think $12000 which is about 8000 Euro could be be prohibitive and will take take time for them to enter the pr-owned after market. In the winter when the tourists go home and the town returns to normal the noise subsides and you can hear the birds singing, I only hope that in the coming year the big scooter manufacturers can break down the technology barriers which restrict the development of alternatively fueled bikes and scooters so that we may live in peace.
Copyright (c) 2008 Arnold Hexden.
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