I recently had the opportunity to take a test ride on a ZEV 6100. This is my first ride on an electric scooter. ibscootn was nice enough to let me test ride his ZEV 6100 scooter.
My Background: I have been interested in electric vehicles since 2006. I currently own a Suzuki SV650 and a Honda Silverwing (600cc scooter). I have ridden Kymco and Piaggio scooters and I grew up riding a Honda Trail 50. My primary objectives in pursuing electric vehicles is for the savings in transportation costs of electric over fuel. Secondarily, reduced cost of maintenance and environmental concerns. I originally was interested in building an electric bicycle but further discussion on the forums here revealed great rebates for residents of Colorado purchasing new electric vehicles, so I switched my focus to investigating manufactured electric vehicles.
Initial impression: The scooter was silver in color and was attractive from a distance. Closer observation revealed that the bike was well constructed and fit and finish appeared to be good. The front wheel and rear hub motor are painted black to match which further sets the scooter apart and gives an appealing accent to the bike. The bike had gas shocks that added to the bikes visual presence as well. The one visual queue that quickly drew concern was the instrument panel. The orange and black gauges appear cheaply made and come up short compared to other traditional fossil fuel powered scooters in this price range. Other than the gauges, the scooter is a handsome looking machine. The battery canister was well enclosed and there is still surprising room under the seat for storage on this model.
Test Ride: My initial surprise hopping on the ZEV was how light the bike was. I expected a lot more weight from a battery powered scooter. I was warned about the ZEV's jumpy throttle response at take off - and jumpy it is! For someone who's never ridden a powered two wheeler, this will take some getting used to. The ZEV has a three speed 'transmission' that can be shifted after initial take off. It isn't at all like a traditional transmission, and I had a hard time determining what 'gear' I was in at any time. There isn't a significant change in power after shifting the transmission, and there's no indicator to tell you what 'gear' you're in. I'm sure with some experience, the gear thing would become more apparent. The ZEV does have a lot of torque at initial launch, but the power diminishes with speed, which is quite the opposite of gas powered CVT scooters that typically take off slower and gradually build power that diminishes near the top end. The scooter had disc brakes in the front and rear, and I felt confident stopping power when applying front and rear brakes. The low center of gravity makes nice turns on the bike in tight quarters and I had no problem making turns on the scooter. I reached a top speed of 45MPH according the plastic gauge. The owner indicates the speedo is 5MPH over actual speed (as tested by his GPS), so I actually hit 40. I probably had more available, but was in an unfamiliar area and didn't want to exceed the speed limit. I would compare the ZEV to a 50 or maybe 70cc 2 stroke or a 125cc 4 stroke scooter.
It's obvious that some engineering has gone into the controller and motor for the ZEV scooters, but I hope that further effort will be made on creating accurate and attractive gauges as well.
I can't compare the ZEV to other electric scooters because I haven't tested any of them. But I will say I am considering the ZEV for my EV needs, but maybe the 7100 for the additional top end.
What's to like: Initial Torque, comfortable ride, decent styling
What's not to like: jerky throttle at launch, cheap plastic gauges