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First Ride Of The Production Arcimoto Roadster & Fun Utility Vehicle — CleanTechnica Exclusive

Guest post by: Sofiaan Fraval

I haven’t piloted an internal combustion vehicle in 5 years and that includes my motorcycle, which has been parked in my garage collecting dust all that time. I used to love to ride it and regularly took it to the track for more spirited riding. I wasn’t sure if any other vehicle could ever give me the same feeling of freedom I had on the motorcycle, but without the safety concerns that motorcycles come with and the environmental impact of burning gasoline.

Don’t get me wrong, I love driving and tracking my Tesla Model 3 Performance, but there is something so compelling about riding around without being surrounded by metal and glass. On a motorcycle, I feel liberated and more in touch with the world. Elon Musk shattered my dreams more than once by saying that Tesla would never build a motorcycle mainly because he doesn’t think they’re safe. I’m definitely not saying that motorcycles are safe, but that’s why they’re so fun. Haha! So I put it out of my mind until…

My buddy Kyle called me up and asked me if I wanted to spend some time with the Arcimoto Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV) for a day. I said without hesitation “sure, I’ll give it a go”. I knew Arcimoto’s vehicles were all-electric and had two front wheels in a reverse-tricycle configuration for added stability compared to motorcycles. I was fascinated by how different the FUV looked and curious about what they would feel like to drive. I needed to try it!

The Arcimoto Roadster (left) and FUV (right) pictured above. Safety is at the core of Arcimoto vehicle design which complies with all relevant Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and Department of Transportation standards for motorcycles.

The day before my test ride, I saw in a tweet that Tesla’s Chief Designer Franz Von Holzhausen was also checking out the the Arcimoto FUV in California. I thought it was pretty cool that Franz was so excited about the FUV that I’d be driving the next day! Watching Franz’s video until the end, tucked away in the background was the coveted Arcimoto Roadster.

There weren’t many videos of the Roadster out there and I hadn’t met anyone lucky enough to have actually driven one. I really wanted to ride it! The roadster really appealed to me because of its similarities to a motorcycle, but with additional safety features that a motorcycle doesn’t have. Features like better visibility to other road users because it’s a bigger vehicle and added stability especially when turning because it doesn’t require leaning the vehicle. I asked the team if it was a possibility to drive the roadster and they simply gave me a non committal “maybe”.

On the day of my test drive, I packed my helmet in case I got the chance to drive the Roadster. Driving an Arcimoto 3 wheeler only requires a standard car driver’s license in California. And for the roadster only, drivers are required to wear a DOT approved helmet. I drove down to the event on the Pacific Coast Highway in my Tesla Model 3 and it was a great way to get into the right mood before the event. If you haven’t driven the Pacific Coast Highway, I highly recommend it. You won’t regret it.

Once in Santa Monica, I got a message from the CEO of Arcimoto, Mark Frohnmayer, confirming our meet-up at the local Tesla Supercharger. It was time to get acquainted with the FUV! I noticed right away that the FUV looked more like a motorcycle than a car, but with an extra front wheel. The FUV roof has actually been designed to comply with 571.216a roof crush standard for cars! Dual seat belts straps you in for maximum safety and because of the stout roll cage overhead, no helmet is required!

The accelerator on the FUV is very similar to a motorcycle, with a right-mounted twist throttle that controls acceleration. The main “front” brake is a tiny lever on the right side of the handlebar that’s different from traditional brakes. It’s actually a regenerative brake that engages the motor to slow the FUV, putting energy back into the battery at the same time!

Complementing the front regen brake is a more traditional disc brake setup that’s actuated via a pedal by your right foot. With the regen lever doing the majority of the heavy lifting in the braking department, the friction brake is usually only needed during the last couple feet to bring the FUV to a complete stop.

Out back, the Arcimoto FUV is equipped with a large lockable storage compartment. It was convenient for stowing my backpack, a helmet, and other goodies while underway. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone for a ride on my motorcycle with a heavy load on my back, only to arrive at my destination very tired and in need of a chiropractor! Not with the FUV. The storage compartment is actually quite a lot bigger than I thought, so I was able to store my helmet and backpack with plenty of extra room for more cargo.

On my first ride of the FUV, I jumped on and immediately felt like I was playing Beach Buggy Racing in real life! The FUV is super fun and I enjoyed getting acquainted with the controls. The throttle is very responsive and provides precise control over acceleration. The electric motors respond in milliseconds and the experience was very intuitive and addictive! I found myself going full throttle right away just to see how it would perform and I wasn’t disappointed!

The diminutive regen lever provides most of the braking force I needed and it’s so convenient because you only need to use one finger to engage it. The foot brake is also seamlessly integrated, but is only really necessary for the last couple feet of stopping. Even with its full roll cage, the FUV felt open and was a blast to drive. After spending some time driving and filming in the FUV and with my cheeks hurting from smiling so much, we pulled over for a short break.

I asked if I could swap vehicles and was thrilled when Mark said “sure”. Everything about it was the same as the FUV, just without the cage on top. Just like on a motorcycle, the Roadster doesn’t have seat belts. Because of this, you have to wear a helmet to drive it and thankfully, I had come prepared with mine.

I had so much fun on the FUV, but from the moment I first hopped onto the Roadster, I felt like I was on my motorcycle again. I could look around in any direction unobstructed. Going around corners, I found myself naturally leaning off the vehicle like I’d do my motorcycle. I was having a blast thinking “this is so cool, I need to get one!” I was super thankful to be able to ride the Roadster for the rest of the day. We also met up with Ross Gerber who fell in love with the Roadster as well. It was the clear favorite.

My short experience on the FUV and Roadster opened my eyes to the potential of these vehicles. They are functional, yes, but what’s exciting about them is how they turn boring tasks into super fun adventures. Why not rent one when going on a vacation? What about taking an Arcimoto out onto the racetrack? That’s something I would love to see!

Although these vehicles are meant to be driven, Mark mentioned that he would also love to have a fully autonomous driving solution to get vehicles to and from customers. Something like this would make it easy for Arcimoto to deliver vehicles directly to customers quickly and inexpensively. The vehicle could take the safest and easiest route with an option to be remotely controlled in the event it ever hit a snag along the way. I could see this feature being used a lot for rental customers.

Overall, I was extremely impressed with the driving experience and performance of both vehicles. I look forward to seeing these vehicles all over the place very soon. For more information about the FUV or the Roadster, head over to Arcimoto’s website.

To stay current on everything he’s doing, follow Sofiaan on Twitter.

 
 
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