Thursday, October 09, 2008

Thanks to Del Amo Motorsports!

First off, I just wanna say thanks to all who came out to the South Bay SC's monthly ride this past Saturday. Great turnout and a nice long ride, before cruising over to our end of ride destination, Del Amo Motorsports.

I also wanted to say thanks to Del Amo Motorsports for setting up the free food, facility tour and electric scooter demo at their store in Redondo Beach. Special thanks goes to Zane Steele for the hospitality, and Brian Brugh for showing us a good time, feeding us (!) and taking us on the demo rides.

OK, now for the demo part. Let me just say, that I was very impressed with the Vectix scooter's performance - so much so, that it really did blow me away. At first I thought, "ok, how good could an all-electric scooter's performance really be?" Answer: Very good. Very, very good.

When Brian first ran through the operating instructions, it seemed like something out of Star Trek (yes, I'm a nerd - hey, I like scooters and Godzilla movies, too, so there's your proof). After hitting a button and one of the levers, the electronic dashboard and instrument cluster comes to life and all the lights turn on. On the far right, you could see how much "charge" you had left in the energy gauge. On the far left, you could see the word "GO", which meant it was actually on and you could go. Sounds silly, but this was very helpful because, since it is electric, there was no sound to indicate the scooter was actually running! The left instrument panel also displayed a cool things like estimated range (estimating how many miles you had left on the charge based on how you were driving; cool thing was, you could see your miles go up while driving if you used the "regen" throttle - more about this later), bluetooth indicator, and an odometer with a trip A or B setting. The center panel was the kmph, with a mph on the inside ring, along with the overall odomoeter.

So, when we first started test driving the Vectrix in the parking lot, to get a feel for them, the torque surprised me. Right off the first pull of the throttle, it had some nice torque to it. No lag as in previous electric scooters I had tried. Then, as we started maneuvering around the lot, it was obvious that the scooter was well designed for long distance, comfortable travel.

After a few laps around the parking lot, Brian, on a gas powered street motorcycle, said it was time to take the scoots for a street test ride. He gave us some ride instructions, let us know the route we were going to go, then led us onto Marine Avenue. As we turned right onto both Inglewood Avenue and Manhattan Beach Blvd., we could tell there was some good power lurking underneath. But, we didn't realize it until we took off on a straightaway down Manhattan Beach Blvd. Brian said to punch it, and we did, and we had to all hold on! The Vectix lurched forward and just took off as if by it's own. And it maintained the power and kept going faster, if you can believe it. I looked down at the speedometer and was amazed at how fast we had gotten up to in so short a period of time. Needless to say, we were all smiles at the next stoplight, shaking our heads.

One of the cool features of the scooter was the "regen" throttle, which featured "regenerative braking." You rolled the throttle downward, as usual, to accelerate the scooter. But, once you released the throttle to the neutral position, you could move it forward to engage a braking system that actually helps generate added electricity for your scooters charge. And you could feel the scooter start to brake and slow down the more you moved the throttle forward. And, it also produced one of the few sounds the scooter makes --- a slight humming noise, like a soft gear catching slowly. When you used this feature, you could actually see the estimated range of the scooter go up in the estimated range gauge, too. You could also use the traditional front and rear brake levers if you so choose to do so.

So, once more on the road, we all started testing the scooter's capabilities, and we really freaked out on the performance. Being a vintage scooter enthusiast, I always thought the power of a highly-tuned two-stroke engine was unmatched in the scooter world, but I was wrong. After driving the Vectrix, I can honestly say that off the line, it could give any kitted gas-powered scooter a ride for the money... Towards the end of our test drive, we came up upon a guy riding a Honda Helix scooter (the big one). We all surrounded him, and he took off at the light. We caught him and smoked him within three to five seconds. Dude just shook his head as he caught up to us at the next light and turned the opposite way. It was funny.

We got back to Del Amo Motorsports all in one piece, and were all raving about the scooter's performance. We agreed it wasn't the best looking scooter, but the performance and the fact that you would never again have to worry about (or pay for) gas or oil, made it a very attractive scooter after all. Brian had broken it down for us: it took two hours to charge the scooter, or 35 cents worth of electricity. Divide that by the driving range of the scooter, and it ends up costing you 1 cent per mile to drive the damn thing... Couple that with the performance and you get a big fat "WOW".

Del Amo Motorsports is located at 2500 Marine Avenue, Redondo Beach, CA 90278 (just west of the intersection of Inglewood and Marine Ave.), 866-460-5261. They have tons of stuff for scooterists as well as motorcyclists, and they are a dealer of the Vectrix scooter. If you'd like to test ride it yourself, call Brian Brugh at 310-220-2223, ext 147.

More info about the Vectrix scooter can be found at their company website:

Cheers - GRX