What could be better for getting to broken-down cars in a big city than a bike? But you'd never be able to carry enough tools - or would you? The has a fleet of bikes for city work, including this new Vectrix electric scooter. Here's how the 'Very Nice Men' work on two wheels
Words: Ian Dowds Pies: Roger Phillips
Anyone who's ever broken down in their car (or bike) knows what a faff it is. And if you break down in the middle of a busy city centre, it's all much worse. So it's no surprise that the Automobile Association has set up a fleet of bikes to deal with breakdowns in town. The fleet is made up of some pretty conventional machines - Honda's NTV700 Deauville and Silver Wing scooters. But there are also eight of these Vectrix electric scooters, for use inside the very centre of London.
AA Patrol man Pepe Mongiovi brought his Vectrix into our studio, and took us through its features. Surprisingly, the scooter is remarkably stock. This is a deliberate policy, so if one is damaged, it can be replaced with an off-the-shelf bike in double quick time. So the basic machinery is standard for a Vectrix scooter - you have a pretty large maxi-scooter, about the size and weight of a Suzuki Burgman 650 or Honda Silver Wing. Most of the weight and space is taken up by the large battery pack that lives between the rider's legs. The drive comes from a compact electric motor that's mounted directly onto the rear wheel. The chassis is conventional enough - aluminium frame, aluminium swingarm, with dual shock rear suspension and conventional front forks. Brakes are Brembo calipers front and rear, and even the dashboard is remarkably normal - apart from the big battery indicator you're more likely to see on your mobile phone. The headlight is a normal 12v halogen unit, but all the other lights are LEDs, to save electricity.
Riding the Vectrix won't surprise anyone who's ridden a big scooter too much. You twist the throttle, and the bike pulls away - with an alarming lack of sound at first. You soon get used to your silent running though, and apart from feeling decidedly on the heavy side, the Vectrix is remarkably nimble. The brakes are powerful Brembos front and rear, and the big scoot hauls up in a hurry, should you need it to. There's also a surprise in >
Nothing exceptional, except the locking-wheel-nut removal tool Ibluck box, right) and breaking-in tools (stiff wire, airbag, wedges). Battery puck I left) lives in an IXS tailpack, and the puncture repair kit is down the front. Folding axle .stand adds security when using a cur's standard jack: they can collapse in an instant, according to Pepe. Eek! Universal replacement throttle and clutch cables tcentre) arc also very handy.
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