From the May 2017 issue
With the population density of the world’s largest cities trending upward, Pasadena, California–based URBAN626 is looking to ease the daily commute to the office or public-transportation connector with its URB-E. The electric scooter’s lightweight aluminum frame folds up with one pull, providing easy portability and storage when not in use. Since sales started in 2015, URBAN626 has sold about 2700 URB-Es, with the bulk of buyers in coastal cities: New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. We rode ours in Ann Arbor. Through the halls of our office, actually.
Pricing for the base URB-E Sport starts at $899. Like cars, the URB-E is available in various trim levels. At the top is the performance-oriented Pro GT ($1999). The Pro ($1699) and the Pro GT feature pneumatic 10-inch tires, a large saddle atop a coil spring to smooth out rough terrain, and a top-spec 50-cell, 36-volt lithium-ion battery providing electrons to the 0.5-hp motor. Carpet-shredding stopping power is provided by a cable-actuated disc brake on the rear wheel. The GT designates more off-the-line thrust by means of an upgraded motor-control unit. The scooter will wheelie, but even our in-house motocross veteran had trouble finding the balance point on such tiny wheels.
On the road, the URB-E’s short 28.5-inch wheelbase makes for twitchy steering, as responses to small inputs are immediate. At a standstill, the carbon-fiber handlebar and stanchion feel flimsy, but over broken concrete they diminish unwanted impacts. Strong headwinds or slight inclines such as handicap-access ramps slow even this most powerful URB-E to a walking pace. At speed, however, the cruiser-style front foot pegs provide some room to stretch out. URBAN626 claims a 20-mile range, but we recorded only 12 miles—with the accelerator mostly pinned to maintain the 15-mph top speed—before folding it up and walking home.
URBAN626 offers a number of accessories for the URB-E, such as lighting, cupholders, and a speaker system. Also available is a foldable trailer—you know, to pull your spare URB-E for when your primary hog is depleted. An asking price on the heels of quicker, range-topping gasoline-powered scooters is a tough concept to swallow for many of us, but the URB-E would certainly be more welcome than a Honda Ruckus for slaloming through your office cube farm.
|URB-E Pro GT|
|Price as Tested:||$1999 (base price: $1999)|
|Motor Type:||permanent magnet synchronous DC, 0.5 hp|
|Battery:||air-cooled lithium-ion, 0.4 kWh|
|Transmission:||1-speed direct drive|
|Curb Weight:||35 lb|
|C/D Test Results:|
|Zero to 10 mph:||4.2 sec|
|¼-mile:||63.8 sec @ 15 mph|
|Top speed:||15 mph (drag limited)|
Merc-E: An Electric Bike Wheel Sure to Deny You the Pleasure/Pain of Pedaling
Pedaling a bike is hard. Because hard things are to be avoided, American electric-bicycle company Evelo offers the Omni Wheel, which adds electric propulsion to nearly any bike. The self-contained wheel, a drop-in replacement, is available in two diameters and in two battery sizes, offering a claimed range between 15 and 40 miles. Prices run from $999 to $1249. At 24 pounds, the long-range model nearly doubled the weight of our bike. Pedal assist is optional, or you can configure a thumb-switch accelerator as we did. Setup took about 30 minutes, after which the Omni Wheel provided sufficient yank to pull us around the office at about 15 mph without pedaling, which, mercifully, wasn’t very hard. —Josh Jacquot