My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards comes to Salem MA, Current Proves their commitment to the test pilots.

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awilensky
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My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards comes to Salem MA, Current Proves their commitment to the test pilots.

Some thoughts on my early experience as a Test Pilot:

As I am an experienced (read old) e-biker, the owner of an EVD with 3k miles in one year, and now a CUMOCO C130. I am reporting on a mostly positive and enlightening engagement with the company concerning my C130. Any details I disclose as to my personal experience of the program are my opinions, and nothing is implied to portray these events as policies of Current Motors. This missive might help other test pilots if things go wrong, as happens when a new vehicles is brought to market in a testing program. This product is in definitely in flux, and will no doubt change over time with our participation. It is exciting to be connected to the birth process of a new EV. Scooter’s, however, are not the future of high margin electric motor sports.

Up front, I have found that the People who are Current Motors, are committed, true enthusiasts. If you have ever read Tracy Kidder’s magnum opus, “Soul of a New Machine”, you will get it.

My background

I am an EVD SLA owner, a long time, long distance rider of bikes of all sizes, and I do mean many. I have owned one of everything. I call it my 'reverse portfolio' strategy, as I buy new and used bikes, and end up selling them for less, which is not so good. I'm self employed, so I have had ups and downs, and my investing strategy has, I’m proud to report, had a return of negative 30% year after year. The dividend has been a lot of fun.

I have a formal electronics education, what would now be considered comparable to a BSET. I worked in SMR two way radio service, pre-cellular mobile phone, real time controller R&D, and field service for professional audio and laboratory equipment. I taught and supervised audio and video technicians for depot scale warranty service. I am capable as an electrical / electronics person, to the component level, micro-controller single board controller systems, both PC BIOS and Custom Forth language systems with ROM emulators and ICEs.

I was a technical product manager through the 1990’s and then an analyst for technical verticals in the 2000-the present. my magnum opus was the creation of the first multi-user authoring system for technical service reference and training - with the first video on CD-ROM, etc. TekDisc was the product name - that was 1991-1999. So I have been around the technical product service industry and my family is deep into motor-sports finance and automotive re-marketing, wholesale car auctions, where I played a technical role.

I was a e-scooter dealer with a real inventory and a storefront: Currie, Ego, Oxygen, back in 2000-2001, and I worked for an engineering company, no longer in business, who was designing next generation AC propulsion systems for the motor sports, industrial, and military markets - these were modular electric generator motor sets, with DC and AC controllers. They were actually steam gen hybrids based on Russian Torpedo design using an solid state HTP / water system for generating high pressure steam to a micro turbine, turning a very compact AC generator - which was very compact, roughly the size of two six packs stacked one atop the other, with 11.5 KW out of programmable freq AC drive. The designer was a genius, but passed away at age 96, and his son was unable to sustain his father's work. He filed a few EU patents, but his designs worked, and another one bites the dust.

I have some market experience.I owned a PEV dealership, Oxygen, Curries, Ego. currently I own a Martin EVD SLA, and now, I own the Current C130.

The bike has had a star-crossed history, but all is sortedf well for now. I will recount the extraordinary commitment that CUMOCO has brought to this experience - and I will share some thoughts with my fellow test pilots and the company; these might make for a shorter testing program while better aligning the expectations of future buyers who are tempted to participate. Managing expectations of the test fleet needs some refinement. Streamlining field procedure could potentially save the company time and money, improve and centralize the data collection, and make the program more fun for the test pilots. So lets talk about my experience:

The Red C130 was purchased after I drove John Harding bat-shit with chatter and questions before I handed them a dime, as I did with Zerhbach ZEV. They both know the business so it was a judgement call, and I went with the automotive team with VC, the true believers, whereas ZEV was, as I saw it, one man's vision, and a sideline as he puts it himself. I would love to own both, and I may someday as a dealer.

I sent $3k to Current and the bike shipped close to the promised time and was promptly dropped by the shipper, so it went back to Current for inspection and repair. The offer to replace the bike was not discussed, I got the feeling that decision was already made by Current - to inspect and repair, so I made my concerns known regarding swing arm and head bearings, frame alignment, etc. - and they complied. All good. I have shipped and received many bikes that had nearly unrepairable problems after mishandling.

It would have been nice if CUMOCO offered a new chassis, potentially taking this one out of rotation for re-manufacturing, but I understood that these are hand builds, and it would have set us back at least two months. So, it was a reasonable decision to fix the chassis that was assigned to me, and I am reasonably sure that if the damage had been more extensive, CUMOCO would have replaced it. I would have appreciated option to replace . Score: Satisfactory outcome for a test pilot, not a policy that will work for the broad market. Current will not, in my prognostication, be a scooter manufacturer in the future anyhow, but will deliver something more expensive, better researched to fit an enthusiast market. More on that at a future time. All of this is my speculation and opinion, nothing in this report is from the company.

Second time a Charm, not.

The bike was reshipped and delivered, and I was impressed with the quality of the pieces, and the fit and finish. My team and the freight man had trouble with the bike being shipped on a hand built palette that was not up to task, and this may have been one factor that caused the first shipping mishap. The palette couldn't be jacked, and the situation was precarious. I suggest that in the future, CUMOCO use a dedicated MC delivery service that does not need palettes; with a contract and minimum commitments, the price is competitive. Alternatively, a dedicated modular shipping container designed for the bikes would jack-able. Such modular shipping units are manufactured under contract, and at the present volumes, they can be returned and reused. That’s one way that the custom motor-sports, performance tuning, an auction / inventory swapping companies ship their customer’s bikes. CUMOCO could then use R&L, which is fine for a well protected item. Learning curve, etc.

But we took the bike off the palette in the truck, and then perched it precariously on the lift gate, and viola, there you go.

Trouble:

I read the manual and charged the bike - but there were, even before running on the street, many strange things. A relay in the back of the bike was energizing repeatedly each time the charger door was opened, the status LED was flashing in patterns that did not comport with the manual, and although the dash SOC gauge was less then half, the fast charge, fan on, only lasted 20 minutes, and then the LED really went crazy. I sent in my observations to John, and he said (with the scant information at hand) that these might not be deal breakers. I may not have been reporting the LED status correctly, who knows what is a short as a long, to an old Ham like me, as we are jaded in the short long business.

So after the charger shut down in 20-30 minutes, I looked at the LED, its was going crazy but seemed to have purpose? It was not the codes for balance charge, but may have been for the 6 hour ‘can’t get my last cell to balance’.

First ride:

I put on my gear and took off - I was surprised that the bike struggled off the line, really badly. That is a whole issue that I’m just gonna bypass - but I know we can get more...an its a ride-ability problem on these mean streets. We don’t need to burn out, but hey, the EVD has better off the line pull. I just want to keep up a little better on the light change. the bike really was flat off the line stopped at the bottom of a hill, it was really bad, i was getting creamed by mountain bikes, no exaggeration. Ok, let’s put a pin in that.

In the mid band, 15 MPH +. the bike is great, and it seems that if its already rolling past 10mph, it get it. I was around town and about 5 miles into the ride when I went back and the SOC seemed to have travelled from almost full to ¼ in those five miles. Enigma. I went back to charge. The bike entered bulk charge, and kept it up for an hour, and then started to balance, and then it sat for the evening.

Second Ride:

Things got dicey on the second series of rides - I was planning to ride from my house in Salem up to Beverly Farms, and back, which is 5.8 miles each way, says Google Maps. I started out, pulled up and over the steep bridge, and went onto Rt. 127, a scenic but heavily populated historic road covering some of the highest taxed property in the country. The potholes are unavoidable, and its bad all over this area for whatever shameful reason the Town Governments can’t give us good roads. I was using the poor roads as my test for suspension compliance, and trying to avoid the worst of them, which are just killers.

I was accelerating up to 45, 50, and went over a good, dish shaped pothole, the worst kind except for square edged holes, due to the down and up dip. The bike hit the hole and took it straight on and died - it wasn’t the worst pothole, and I probably have hit it before on the EVD, took it on straight and did not (thanks G-d) bottom out. But it was a pretty punchy smack, and dead. Coasted to the side, pushed it to a side street, and out it on the center stand. I am an old hand at this. Did the usual before thinking, looked at the SOC, and turned of the key and on again. Took note of the LED, which was flashing when the side-stand was UP.

No!

Brakes micro-switches? Nope, the brakes were good and the lights were righteous. Put the stand down and what? LED goes off, and propulsion is on!

What the....So, long story short, I took the reed switch out of its holder and tucked it away. LED off, bike enabled. Test for Reed switch, bring the switch near the magnet nubbin, LED Flashes, bike disabled. Its opposite from what it should be, and since its a reed switch (magnet controlled contacts the either close or open when a magnet is near or in contact).

Very strange - cant be the switch - computer? The PIO port? The port is working, its just inverted. I have seen this in my work, were a controller PIO is damaged from static or over-volts, inverts the signal, or an internal pull down resistor gets zorched and the pin become a current sink. it matters not - my side stand sensor was inverted.

After the reed switch was tucked up away and the bike was live, I rode the remaining 4 miles to Beverly Farms. I stopped, noticed the SOC was down to ¾, and I felt sure that I would make it home. I turned around, and rode back to Salem. I was one mile or so from the barn, when I look down and to my dismay, the SOC was almost E, and the LED was blinking a message, no doubt low pack. Funny, I was not even past 7 miles total after the last charge.

Oh no! The bike cut off and was blinking something, so I rolled off, and coasted, and tried the throttle. It was limiting the speed. I needed to get over a steep bridge, there was no other route. I hit low range. I attempted the bridge. Climbing....cut off, blinking.....roll on slow, speed low, comes back, cresting, can I use regen to get anything on the long downhill? Yes, it
seems. Bottom of the bridge, ½ miles to go, cut off, and roll on, home. I had to get the bike up a ramp too steep to push into the 1st floor. No way. Get the AC cord out and plug in.....

The SOC and DC Converter did not come on, but I left the AC connected. I came back in several hours and tried to determine if the SOC came up, It seemed to be rising. Go figure

After more than a day plus on and off the AC with no bulk charge (was the battery already high? Was the balancing current sufficient to raise the level that far? Why was the relay clunking, why why why?

However, with the SOC showing near full, I decided to take another ride. This was the strangest one of all. The Side stand sensor switch decided to go back to normal during a top speed run. Wham! Just as I was kvelling (a Yiddish term for feeling really great), and the machine died. I determined that the side stand input port thought the the stand was down (the reed switch was tucked away, and so....same thing), so...I reinstalled the switch into its holder. No problem. On with the ride, which did not go well, it did the same thing, SOC fell from over ½ to zilch in a bold mile, so I limped limped home, but the bike would not enter bulk charge.

CUMOCO Diagnosis:

Both John and Erik participated in gathering information and talking me through the diag, as well as sending me the diag package to interface with the MCU. Erik was patient, and do not, dear reader, underestimate the man’s forbearance, as I can really test a busy engineer’s patience.

We went over the failure scenarios, I asked questions. and suggested various possibilities. The actual diagnostic picture was mixed, but Erik thought the the MCU was operating and sending data. The inversion of the Side stand port was an enigma, but I had seen these things before in my service and R&D work.

Erik thought and considered that the BCU was operational, but there was a flaky sensor, somewhere, and at any rate the company had found a bike in for repair that was exhibiting similar flakiness. The cause was traced to a bad PC board rivet in the controller shorting a I/O path. The decision taken was to replace the BCU, as further plugging and unplugging of the charger and general mind f-ing would do nothing for a bike with a compromised controller.

Erik offered to send me the parts, controller, harnessing and such, with step by step instructions for this major transplant. It was deep bit of disassembling, which did not concern me. I might have even appreciated a chance to learn about the bike’s innards. But, with time in short supply in my off-hours life, and the bike never having moved without major failures, I opted for Erik’s other suggestion, that they send their field person, Terry Richards, to do the transplant. I was impressed that even in a test program, Current would bear the costs to send a warm body to get the bike into form.

Terry Appears

Terry Richards must be a a linchpin at CUMOCO - I encourage anyone reading this to get hold of his bio and discover, as I did, that he is an EV enthusiast and automotive industry veteran extraordinaire.

Terry was also interminably cheerful and optimistic, and never once showed a trace of negativity or ire. I have more than once had a service person want to kill me, for various reasons, but Terry was all business and took my questions and listened to my long winded stories with polite good cheer. He began the transplant on Thursday afternoon, and worked through the inevitable glitches on Friday for about six hours. We had a few problems with cables and PC system familiarity, all to be expected with service people working on new platforms that are in a state of flux. I learned a great deal about the inner programmed behaviors of the machine, diagnostics, and got a tour of the innards.

It seemed that whatever Terry did in changing the BCU and sundry things helped. The side stand problem is fixed. Its seems to be charging in a normal fashion, but there us a residual problem with the long run balancing. The LED still shows some wild blinking that does not comport with he published codes in the manual.

Overall, the experience was very positive, and the bike is seemingly ok now. have not had a chance to get the total range figures, but I have put on some miles. The weather in New England just went into the toilet, so it might be a while before my next foray.

I have some practical advice for the company regarding remote diagnostics, procedures for shipping, and field service preparedness. Still and all, mission accomplished.

Overall

Other than the service issues with the bike, here are some not so well organized thoughts about my new, very red, C130:
Overall Quality of the ‘bits’ are very good. Good grips. good brakes, good controls, good seat latch hardware - etc. Good call not to adorn the bike with crap throughout.
The Chassis is well sorted, handling wise, even maybe a a bit of a wide runner, tending to push the front wheel slightly wide on fast sweepers. This is a trad off I gladly accept as I like straight line stability, and as I get older, I tend to flog less. It’s not too bad, at any rate.

Suspension ain’t shabby for a first time e-scooter venture. the rear is not too bad at all, the front could be softer with a dual rate spring. Of course, we have special requirements here due to the potholes that go generations without repair, due to the corrupt dastardly politicians in MA. The public works dept. in Salem MA is ripe for a firing squad, and I for one want to know, what to they do with the tax money they collect? There are deep, square-edged holes in Lafayette Street that have been there since ‘04. These are holes that have damaged bikes and caused accidents. I have been dodging these potholes in Salem, Beverly, Swampscott, lynn, etc. forever, some I know so instinctively that my body just moves the bike.
Ground clearance is low, the battery box is completely without protection from road shocks and under strikes.
The seat is too deeply contoured for a long legged rider, and is nasty. I sent mine to an upholsterer to even out the drivers platform so I can scoot back and forth. The upholsterer screwed THAT UP. IDIOTS.
The regen is nice for talking about, there is no meaningful range extension or recovery of energy. The pads might be saved some wear, but continued light braking can warp a disc, and my front is starting to run out and pulsate.

The present charger is an indoor model with a fan and open portals. It is mounted in the rear fender waist well. I cant see how it will survive a rainy ride.
There is a hollow, congo drum knocking when going over bumps. There needs to be some bracing or filling done in the front compartment .
I hate saying this again: The launch is …..oh....forget it.

Some thoughts on Field Service:

I have no complaints about the obviously sincere commitment that CUMOCO has for its machines and the test program participants, in that spirit, I suggest the following:
Consider real time remote diagnostics, the technology and costs are well within reach
When A Field Rep makes the trip, have a standardized set of components, more than what is envisioned for the theoretical repair, such as chargers, BCU, etc. And ship these to the Tech’s hotel or the repair location. Being short a component is penny wise and pound...you get the point.
If there are diagnostic cables and software that are essential to the job, test them before the service call, make sure the tech has the latest connectors, gender changers, and local media copies of the firmware updates, in case an Internet connection is not available .

If you are going to make remote diag a reality, remote firmware updates are a logical next step.

Unify the BCU and motor controller firmware. Or at least make it so that one memory image can be uploaded to one port.

Do not take my editorializing personally, you guys a doing a great job.

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

Awilenski,

As I was waiting for my ZEV 6100 to be built and shipped, I would read posts about the Current Motor test pilot program, and wonder if I made the right decision going with ZEV. Yes, ZEV was a month late in shipping (they waited to give me the latest GBS cells and the latest 8500w motor), but my first ride I knew I had made the right choice. The 6100 is fast off the line and takes a few days to get completely comfortable with. That is why you will read some reviewers say the throttle is torquey. But I like the torque. Would I let my niece ride it - no! Do I enjoy it - yes.

I hope they iron out the rough edges and you end up with a great bike. But mostly thanks for making me laugh so hard (you have a great writing style).

Motorcycles: 2011 ZEV Trail 7100, 84V, 60AH, 60+mph, Cycle Analyst, TNC throttle, modified charger. 2013 Kymco GT300i
Bicycles: 2017 Sondors Thin
Cars: 2016 Leaf SV, 30KWH pack. 2007 CR-V
Solar array: 5KW. Cost per lifetime KWH produced $0.073
Bi

awilensky
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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

I didn't edit it too well. They are both great bikes and Mr. Zehrbach is a very in the know builder. Its a judgement call as to what the future holds for the two companies, but either mount is undoubtedly å good example of the electric art. I think that what makes current special, ignoring the early test program quirks, is the long term scaling, as they have with the access to VC.

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

Hi Alan,

Wow - you get the prize for the longest feedback :-)

Thank-you for the time and effort put into this - your commentary is fair, honest and open. This is exactly what we want to encourage with the test pilot program.

Here's some responses from my perspective (my perspective almost matches CMC's on most days! ;-) )

Up front, I have found that the People who are Current Motors, are committed, true enthusiasts. If you have ever read Tracy Kidder’s magnum opus, “Soul of a New Machine”, you will get it.

Hey, I loved that book! Perhaps one day we'll be compared to some of those famous startups that started in a garage (because I really did start in a garage!)

My team and the freight man had trouble with the bike being shipped on a hand built palette that was not up to task, and this may have been one factor that caused the first shipping mishap. The palette couldn't be jacked, and the situation was precarious.

...

But we took the bike off the palette in the truck, and then perched it precariously on the lift gate, and viola, there you go.

We're looking at various shipping options including much improved shipping crates - possibly re-usable (at the least easily recyclable). I'm not sure which version you would have gotten with your second shipment. However, I'm surprised to hear you say that it wasn't jackable - it was when we put it on the truck...

I read the manual and charged the bike - but there were, even before running on the street, many strange things. A relay in the back of the bike was energizing repeatedly each time the charger door was opened, the status LED was flashing in patterns that did not comport with the manual, and although the dash SOC gauge was less then half, the fast charge, fan on, only lasted 20 minutes, and then the LED really went crazy. I sent in my observations to John, and he said (with the scant information at hand) that these might not be deal breakers. I may not have been reporting the LED status correctly, who knows what is a short as a long, to an old Ham like me, as we are jaded in the short long business.

So after the charger shut down in 20-30 minutes, I looked at the LED, its was going crazy but seemed to have purpose? It was not the codes for balance charge, but may have been for the 6 hour ‘can’t get my last cell to balance’.

As mentioned elsehwere there are a couple of things going on here:
1) The BCU software doesn't do a good job with "end-of-charge" handling - it's getting confused somewhere and I still need to track down that bug.
2) The BCU's human computer interface (HCI) is, shall we say, strained. OK, let me be realistic - it kind of sucks. We went to far on the KISS spectrum and we only put one LED on the dash. The amount of info we try and put through there it would be better to use morse code! But don't worry - the LCD based "smart gauge" that's in development will solve a lot of the HCI issues.
3) The charging process is started by the BCU (it controls the relay that switches on the charger). However, after that the charging process is controlled by the BMS and the BCU just monitors the situation.
4) Because of all the above it's entirely possible that the charging process happens correctly but that it's just not communicated correctly.

Bottom line to all of that is that the charging portion of the overall system needs some TLC. Which is high up on my to-do list

First ride:

I put on my gear and took off - I was surprised that the bike struggled off the line, really badly. That is a whole issue that I’m just gonna bypass - but I know we can get more...an its a ride-ability problem on these mean streets. We don’t need to burn out, but hey, the EVD has better off the line pull. I just want to keep up a little better on the light change. the bike really was flat off the line stopped at the bottom of a hill, it was really bad, i was getting creamed by mountain bikes, no exaggeration. Ok, let’s put a pin in that.

I'm starting to think that you (and one other customer) are possibly having a worse than normal experience with off the line performance. Here's the backstory:
1) All was looking rosey with our settings and performance.
2) Then we started seeing big variations in motors - on further examination it appears that there was major variation (and no change control) in the winding patterns within the motors we ordered. It's frustrating to always order A and sometimes get A, B or C.
3) You (the customer) don't care about our supply issues - you want a reliable bike. So, we made the decision to make the BCU software more sophisticated in it's temperature management and also to dial back the motor controller.

High on Erik's to-do list is to solve these issues. Here's the story so far:

1) We think we've got agreement that the supplier will supply the same motors every time.
2) We're stepping up to a larger motor - it seems that we were caught out by the variability and our test motors were at the "good end" of the spectrum.
3) Longer term we may build our own motors - rather than adapt somebody elses.

Second Ride:

Things got dicey on the second series of rides ...

All of this weirdness is related ot the malfunction of the BCU / PDU / 24V DC-DC combo. There are just two bikes in the field with this (we caught the issue and have addressed it). Yours is one, the other is in NV. We're off to the sunshine next week...

The nature of the issue was that the BCU was damaged and became unreliable. An unreliable brain leads to unexplained responses...

If you are going to make remote diag a reality, remote firmware updates are a logical next step.

Unify the BCU and motor controller firmware. Or at least make it so that one memory image can be uploaded to one port.

Yup, they're already on the plan.

Do not take my editorializing personally, you guys a doing a great job.

Thanks! And thanks again for taking the time to provide this feedback. Unfortunately some folks will use this against us - but that's the nature of open communication it's up to the recipient to decide how to use it.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

John:%

you are in the midst of a grand design cycle, with a quality product that is 95% there. your method of bringing this to market in an open forum is more positive than negative, even with exposure of the very few warts. CUMOCO's willingness to send a tech to the tester's site is way beyond a commitment, its zealousness.. If anyone makes hay over a few reported defects, you don't want them.

I for one, intend to ride this bitch.

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

Where the writer gets the unsuppported and false opinion that our motor vehicle business is a sideline is way beyond me. This is an absolutely false statement. ZEV sold more bikes in its first year than ZERO, Brammo, and Vectrix combined did in their first years. We continue to do put them out. I just finished setting up a dealership in Vietnam and am doing so in India and Switzerland and Austria. We are already in Germany, UK, Norway. We introduced the 7100 watt Trail with 100 mile range this year, now the 8500 is out to dealers, and I am driving a 9,200 watt pre production bike. The 20,000 watt prototype is beating around. 3 new model launches in 5 months and more on the way. Hell of a sideline effort.

Now maybe the writer deems the business a sideline because I also happen to be involved in the aircraft fabrication business and use the welding and test equipment from that shop to make bikes. But that does not make ZEV a sideline. It is absolutely false that I ever said the ZEV was a sideline. That is just a grossly in error misstatement.

Secondly, while you may deem ZEV to be "one man's vision", there are a lot of other engineers in ZEV contributing to ZEV and inputing their vision also (and the distributors and dealers are certainly vocal).

When ever you get your bike running right, bring it for a race. Run me drag, top speed, distance. Take your pick. I will put $1,000 on the table, bring yours. Your bike has a little more battery in Kwh (2 more battery) and volts (4 more) than our top bike. So why is it slower in speed, less quick on acceleration, and has shorter range? There is a good Interstate run from Morgantown, WV up and over the Continental devide at 3500 ft and 65 miles to Cumberland Md. that is a good run if you want to go more daily driver use contest. First guy to Cumberland wins. Not enough prize money? Want to raise the ante? Can do. I read the wise cracks from Current saying they are the big dogs with a big budget (although their website says $400,000 in capital).

DH Zehrbach II

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

We can see that Mr. Z is Setting things straight in a stentorian tone. I would expect nothing less from an industry's leader. My problem with Mr. Z's tone in the preceding article, is that it seems to read as rather mean-spirited. I was a signature away from spending eight grand on the best ZEV model - and I may still do so in the near future, as I seem to be collecting them. So now it's time for me to answer Mr. Z.

First, Mr. Zehrbach is one one of the foremost thinkers, and practical fabricators in the electric motorsports industry. That is acknowledged here now. He has also spent hours on the phone with me and several other prospective buyers educating them about the competitive landscape and what can be had for how many dollars, the foibles of the supply chain, the drawbacks of this nascent market not having a local dealer chain, floor plan financing, and such. I referred Mr. Z to my Brother, who is a motorsports financing systems and funding professional. I want to help the industry, and I want my dollars to fund the furthest thinking and most sustainable innovations in the two wheel EV market.

I was ready to buy, but, the 90 days was too long for me. Now, I am with Current and that does not mean that I am disparaging of ZEV. As to the accuracy of my surmises as to the nature of Mr. Zehrbach's venture - well, who the hell am I anyway - I actually think that its a plus that Mr. Z operates a grand aeronautical engineering business that exists in symbiosis with the PEV venture.

Therefore allow me to apologize to Mr. Z: ZEV is NOT a sideline. It is a peer business that stands alongside a thriving fabrication business. There.

As to one man's vision, let it not be said here that I for one minute was giving short shrift to the participating full time engineers a ZEV - I merely meant to say that Mr. Z is one particular individual with a vision - a great vision. Not a one man operation, a man's lofty, realized vision.

As to the trash talk over Current vs. ZEV - think that the market is just getting started, that the service issues for a real, in the public push is not there for any E-Scooter / Motorcycle. If memory serves, Mr. Z agreed with me on that call that Electric motorbikes are not driven by "green Thinking", but are more sold to technology enthusiasts - people that ask questions, modify, etc.

Current in running an open development program, and they are responsive, and these are not production bikes, and they are incrementally making leaps and bounds getting to a hot hot road bike. The scooter format, in my opinion, as a motorcyclist and maxi scooter enthusiast, is not a sustainable chassis configuration. The future lies in compact longer wheelbase mini electric touring bikes.

who will be the winner, is not the question. Who will establish a serviceable product that the average Joe can buy and try locally or regionally, and get service if needed - and the support behind it. That is the question.

I understand that Mr. Z wanted to set the record straight, but he impugned certain motives to me that were not present, as if I deliberately distorted the facts. Not True. I merely gave my opinion and where I was inaccurate we all know that DH will really set the record straight. Things are going to get very interesting in the EV business in the next few years. Certainly, I may own both marques - what else to do with my cash, buy Gold?

That race between Current and Zerbach ZEV is destined to be an outstanding event - and I for one plan to sponsor a team, and operate a concession selling Kosher Hot dogs - right Terry?

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

Where the writer gets the unsuppported and false opinion that our motor vehicle business is a sideline is way beyond me. This is an absolutely false statement. ZEV sold more bikes in its first year than ZERO, Brammo, and Vectrix combined did in their first years. We continue to do put them out. I just finished setting up a dealership in Vietnam and am doing so in India and Switzerland and Austria. We are already in Germany, UK, Norway. We introduced the 7100 watt Trail with 100 mile range this year, now the 8500 is out to dealers, and I am driving a 9,200 watt pre production bike. The 20,000 watt prototype is beating around. 3 new model launches in 5 months and more on the way. Hell of a sideline effort.

Now maybe the writer deems the business a sideline because I also happen to be involved in the aircraft fabrication business and use the welding and test equipment from that shop to make bikes. But that does not make ZEV a sideline. It is absolutely false that I ever said the ZEV was a sideline. That is just a grossly in error misstatement.

Secondly, while you may deem ZEV to be "one man's vision", there are a lot of other engineers in ZEV contributing to ZEV and inputing their vision also (and the distributors and dealers are certainly vocal).

When ever you get your bike running right, bring it for a race. Run me drag, top speed, distance. Take your pick. I will put $1,000 on the table, bring yours. Your bike has a little more battery in Kwh (2 more battery) and volts (4 more) than our top bike. So why is it slower in speed, less quick on acceleration, and has shorter range? There is a good Interstate run from Morgantown, WV up and over the Continental devide at 3500 ft and 65 miles to Cumberland Md. that is a good run if you want to go more daily driver use contest. First guy to Cumberland wins. Not enough prize money? Want to raise the ante? Can do. I read the wise cracks from Current saying they are the big dogs with a big budget (although their website says $400,000 in capital).

DH Zehrbach II

Hi Darus,

Thanks for an interesting post and I understand your desire to "defend ZEV's honor", so to speak. A few friendly observations and some requests for clarification. I'm not looking to "start a fight" (or make "wise cracks"). ZEV has a different product and a different business model than Current Motor Company. The market is big enough for both of us (along with Zero, Brammo and Vectrix).

1) You've mentioned this before: "ZEV sold more bikes in its first year than ZERO, Brammo, and Vectrix combined did in their first years". Is that their first year of production sales? Or are you comparing ZEV's first year with their first years in R&D? If it's first two years of production then sales of Vectrix sold somewhere between 1500 and 3000 bikes. Did ZEV sell more than 1500 bikes in its first year?

2) When you list all the global markets you are in - is this as ZEV or as some other brand? If it's another brand is it your company or simply your suppliers components? As I understood from PJD's review you perform the mechanical assembly at your facility in Waynesburg (see: http://visforvoltage.org/forum/10045-test-ride-zev-scooters : "Final assembly is in the Waynesburg hanger, so the scooters have a US Manufacturer code (1Z9)on the VIN"). Surely this is not the facility that produces the bikes that ship around the world? As you know, one of the issues with the EV scooter market is the number of copycat designs out there, and also other manufacturers that sell to importers who brand it as their own and then those importers turn around and claim to be highly involved in the production and design process. As you also know - final assembly is critical with the quality of the bike. I know that ZEV is not a "copycat" and that you have some key differentiators (as does Current Motor) - however, when you list such a broad array of markets I (and I imagine others) end up wondering what relationship there is between this global reach and the ZEV brand sold in the US.

3) I've noticed that you have several bikes - we chose to settle with just three for simplicity. We do recognize we need to improve the off-the-line performance. However, we're not chasing increased power (20kW indeed!) because we don't think the battery technology is really up to it. Of course, there are those that want high performance and are willing to sacrifice range. However, we're looking at a different balance and a different market.

4) "When ever you get your bike running right, bring it for a race." Wise crack aside (and one man's wise crack is another's simple comment) - we're not particularly interested in "a race". We're building what is a commuter, an errand runner and fun to ride personal transport that is of appropriate size and power for use on US roads - i.e. a maxi-scooter. If I wanted to win a race I'd build a sport bike. However, I'm happy for a comparison to be made between our products. On another thread (http://visforvoltage.org/forum/10748-uncertainty-scootermc-ev-market-put-or-shut) I've offered to have one of our bikes take part in a side-by-side test by an independent and objective reviewer.

5) "Your bike has a little more battery in Kwh (2 more battery) and volts (4 more) than our top bike. So why is it slower in speed, less quick on acceleration, and has shorter range?" Our largest bike (C130/Deluxe) has a 5.75kWh pack made up of 96V nominal with 60Ah cells. This gives it a "real world range" of 50 miles and a top speed of around 65 to 70 mph. As far as top speed and acceleration goes - as you know it's usually one or the other (a high torque motor produces more back EMF requiring more voltage to go faster). So, I am surprised that you claim a quicker top speed as well as more acceleration - in the same model. That will be interesting in a side-by-side shoot-out. As for range so much depends on the measurement conditions that a side-by-side is probably the only reasonable way to really compare. I'd be really surprised if you have longer range - more likely both products just quote their ranges differently. We choose to be conservative (as a push back on others who use "marketing miles" that quote ranges at steady state speeds etc.). I'm not saying that your range figures are "wrong" I'm just saying they're very likely measured (or computed) differently. I find it difficult to imagine a useful 100 mile range of your 7100 at speeds and with stop / starts etc. Of course to get further range you may be discharging your batteries more than we do - which may affect pack life.

6) "I read the wise cracks from Current " I'm not sure what "wise cracks" you meant - as with the above point perhaps my observations were interpreted by you as a wise crack. I've actually tried not to be outright negative towards you or any others in this space (although like you, I am tempted to sound-off once in a while - but anytime I do it back fires!). The market is big enough for many EVs - in fact what the EV market needs is healthy competition.

7) "saying they are the big dogs with a big budget (although their website says $400,000 in capital)." I think I said we aspire to be the big dog and that we're taking steps to grow and to be in this for the long run. Rest assured I've never said we have a big budget! Oh how I wish that were true! We're very cost conscious - as befits a start-up company. The $400K you mention was the budget for bringing the product from concept to production ready. It is quoted to show investors how capital efficient we have been when compared to those other brands you mentioned (Zero, Brammo, Vectrix all spent WAY more than that - primarily because they designed a new bike from the ground up). We are a privately held company with more capital behind us now (I'm not at liberty to divulge that information - sorry). But I can let you know that Bob Lutz (a luminary in the automotive industry) is an investor and has taken a keen interest in our product and business. There are most definitely interesting and exciting times ahead for Current Motor!

I hope you'll consider providing a bike for an independent review from an established journalist. That would be a good way for potential customers to compare.

Good luck with ZEV and I hope to see posts with more insights into your claims. Perhaps you would care to start a ZEV section of this forum? Rather than post in the Current Motor section?

Kind Regards,
John H.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

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Well, Snap!

I personally am less interested in any manufacturer's sense of indignation and am much more interested in the technical and innovation that each brand brings to market. Throwing down for a race, accusing people of nasty motives, acting defensive, even if it is to set the record straight, is ultimately counter productive. Sure, if I said something about ZEV or Current or Bramo, or whoever, and if I was inaccurate, I expect them to correct the facts.

Now rather than bets and races, or even reviews, I would like to see technical articles from Zehrbach, Harding, and Kaupi, that would enlighten and edify the riding constituency. because technology is all we have. Assembling and designing an electric bike is a challenge of compromises, for we know that electrics can go fast (TGV Trains) and they have torque (Electric winches and the mining shovels used at the tar sands in Alberta are electric), so, delivering a bike, over the long run, that is reliable, that can be SUPPORTED, is of primary importance.

Current may last and become an American Marque, ZEV might be the next great leader of electric motorsports (a category that will be common in a few years). The scooter as the final and most popular configuration? Nah....

I like a little controversy, for if there is nothing to defend, what can it be worth. But really Mr. Z, we are all mostly good people here, putting our money down and taking the ride.

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

As you say, you would expect a manufacturer to correct an inaccuracy. Stating that ZEv is a personal sideline business was inaccurate. Stating that I said so was a gross in accurate statement that would mislead a reader to falsely believe that he or she should not consider a ZEV. Especially based on what was stated as a quote.

Racing proves the points of design to unconditional and uncontestable standards. That is why we race in the electric scooter races in Europe and the 1/4 here in the USA. It just cuts through the hype.

We post our technical information on our web site up to the point of teaching comopetitors how to do it. A reader can go through our website and compare the information against other companies to see the advantages.

I and others in this company stay off of and out of forums unless we see inaccuracy or gross mis statements. Even then we let most of them pass. As you say, counter productive to address most.

We prefer to let our customers post as they have many times on this forum the unbiased accounts of their actual driving in counter to in accurate statements.

DH Zehrbach

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Re: My big ScooterTest Pilot Adventure, Terry Richards ...

Well, I guess we can stick a big electrified pin that selected piece of information: for the record: ZEV is NOT a sideline. Where the hell did that impression come from in the first place? Chalk up to inattention when listening to Mr. Z first time around.

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Time to Chime in

I just too delivery on mu C124 thus Saturday. I rented a 4x7 open-top trailer, drove from Pittsburgh to Ann Arbor and met John Harding for a brief tour of their plant, got the scooter secured on the trailer and headed back the same, long, day. Digressing a bit, downtown Ann Arbor seemed to be a nice lively place on a Saturday evening - a notch above, say, State College, PA for sure, but, with the trailer, there was no place to park, so I couldn't sample the local Michigan brews.

Since Alan's long post probably represented CuMoCo in the worst possible light. I thought that I would chime in based in my preliminary impressions.

First the positive impressions - performance:

I don't have insurance/registration on the scooter yet, so I limited my test rides to my local, hilly, suburban neighborhood streets, at limited speeds. The acceleration from a stop was absolutely adequate, remembering that this is a scooter, not a clutch-popping Kawasaki Ninja. The scooter climbed the neighborhood hills pretty much effortlessly. It briskly climbed a 140 feet high, 12% average, 18% maximum grade hill, accelerating to the 25 mph (40kph) speed limit (as fast as I wanted to go on this rough street), with still reserve in the throttle. Going up gentler grade (say 7%) hills, the acceleration to 35 mph (fastest safe speed on this street) was brisk - not too different from acceleration on level ground.

The regenerative braking (regen) got a lot of use on the downhill segments of the ride; however, it didn't seem to be working as described in the manual. Light squeezing of the left lever alone produced no apparent regen (in the form of obvious braking or "growl" in the motor) Squeezing of the right lever produced notable regen braking - but on 12% grades, a lot of service brake application seemed to be needed too. Squeezing the left lever in addition to the right may have added a very small amount of additional regen, but it could have been just service-braking I was feeling. Overall the regen strength could be turned up to optimize recovering the energy of the hills, but then again, the main thoroughfares that will be used in most riding don't have grades of the neighborhood streets, so more testing is needed.

Overall, I found the performance, including the pickup from a stop, to be excellent.

My negative impressions were minor, and of the fit and finish nature I've come to expect (and accept) from Chinese-sourced scooter parts. These included :

1. An unsightly "gap" between the handlebar grips and the control cluster/fairing;

2. Alignment problems with the hinge/latches of the seat storage area. The hinge is rather flimsy - made of very light gauge sheet metal. The left-side seat latch will not latch properly.

3. The use of the same storage area bottom panel on the C124 as the C130, making a lot of potential storage space (the area not taken up by the eight additional cells on the C130) unavailable to C124 owners.

4. Some parts of the wiring could be tidied up a bit - loose/rubbing wires can cause future electrical problems.

5. The back of the front wheel well uses a open-louvered panel. This seems to have been intended for cooling air flow to the engine in the case of an IC engine scooter, but in the case of the C=1xx it may allow rain water and spray to get in the battery pack and electronics.

6. As Alan pointed out, a particularly tall or long-legged rider might find the deeply stepped seat bit restricting. It's fine for me though.

Fixes so far:

With John's OK, I pulled the right grip and throttle and lopped 12mm (1/2 inch) off the ends of the handlebars with a tubing cutter. So, this appearance problem is solved.

I enlarged the bolt holes with a file so the seat could be re aligned so it closes properly. I added fender washers to the seat hinge mounting bolts to stiffen it up a bit, and greased the latches - but the left-side latch still won't stay latched.

I'll probably remove the front fairing and tidy the wiring up bit. I'll also devise up with a modified bottom for the under-seat storage area to recover that wasted storage space, and I'll devise a way to block-off those unneeded front louvers with panels of black poly plastic.

Contrary to what Alan wrote, the on-board charger looked to be in a location that was adequately out of the weather to me.

Unfortunately, because CuMoCo will need to be reliant on Chinese-scooter body and frame parts for some time to come, some of these fit-and-finish issues will be with us for a while. But, at risk of dating myself, it wasn't all that long ago (1960's - well, maybe it was a long time ago) when Japanese goods were known for shoddy workmanship too. These issues should improve.

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Re: Time to Chime in

I think I was fair, and mostly complimentary. That the bike has problems is a fact. I am pleased with the commitment that company has shown, and their responsiveness.

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Re: Time to Chime in

Yes, you were complimentary of CuMoCo, I should hve writen that the scooter was put in the worst possible light, not CuMoCo.

After reading your post, I was very close to calling the whole thing off and asking for my money back. As of now, I'm glad I didn't.

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Re: Time to Chime in

I like the honest and open discussion and I hope blunt or even harsh comments don't put a damper on it. I like John's idea of working closely with early adopters through his test pilot program. I develop software for a living and I personally enjoy the process of getting user feedback especially when the feedback is negative because that is when I learn the most and I can use it to produce a better product.

The danger is that potential customers will take the honest discussion the wrong way and be scared off by it. I hope that doesn't happen.

John D.

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Re: Time to Chime in

I like the honest and open discussion and I hope blunt or even harsh comments don't put a damper on it.

No need to worry about us (Current Motor) trying to dampen it. We do need this feedback and one quickly learns to separate the content from the style (although I have no issue with the style either). Paul & Alan both have different perspectives and both are valid.

This is what the Test Pilot Program is all about.

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

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Re: Time to Chime in

CUMOCO stands behind the product, even early in the design cycle; they are taking a very different approach to bringing a motorsports product to market. I had the bike out today, and although we are dealing with the last, niggling items - it is rideable, and fun. There are two general design items left from my personal perspective: Launch torque, and .....thermal management. Squash those two bugs (and they will) and you have a maxi that goes head to head with all others. The chassis is great, the wind protection feels like they had a session in a wind tunnel to get that smooth air zone behind the screen. John says they did nothing other than source the chassis the way it comes - if so bravo.

Current Motors will deliver a top quality electric maxi scooter to market, one worthy of a specialty, enthusiast based dealer network. It will not be accepted in the classic motorsports retailer channel, unfortunately. But they are 98% there. And they will scale production to fill that channel - a problem that is vexing many otherwise excellent EV choices. As I have hinted at before, scooters will not be the sustainable form factor for limited rate production, less then 10's of k units annually. For a specialty products like sporting two wheel EVs, you need to cater to the hard core, that means a touring rig in the 10-12K range. I am thinking of a stretched Scarabeo or Burgman, built in hard luggage and 150 mi+ range.

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Re: Time to Chime in

As I have hinted at before, scooters will not be the sustainable form factor for limited rate production, less then 10's of k units annually

Do you mean we'll have to build 100K+ per year? ;-)

For a specialty products like sporting two wheel EVs, you need to cater to the hard core, that means a touring rig in the 10-12K range. I am thinking of a stretched Scarabeo or Burgman, built in hard luggage and 150 mi+ range.

Well, I think that for $15K-$20K I could probably build you an enclosed streamliner with a 100 mile range and 80 mph cruising speed. Who wants one?

p.s. thanks for the kind words - we appreciate the support of our test pilots!

John H. Founder of Current Motor Company - opinions on this site belong to me; not to my employer
Remember: " 'lectric for local. diesel for distance" - JTH, Amp Bros || "No Gas.

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Re: Time to Chime in

Well, I think that for $15K-$20K I could probably build you an enclosed streamliner with a 100 mile range and 80 mph cruising speed. Who wants one?

The range and speed of my C124s is fine. I use it exclusively for commuting and shopping. Traffic tends to average about 45 mph when it's flowing well and there are tons of traffic lights. I don't have a problem with the acceleration either. Unlike with my XM-3000, it keeps up with the car ahead of me when I'm accelerating off a traffic light on level pavement.

But definitely give me a call when you make an enclosed one. ;)

John D.

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