This feels very strange.
I'm riding down an alley in San Francisco, pedaling as you would on any bicycle. Each time I put my foot down, the bike presses on a little further. It's all very normal.
But then, with the flick of a switch on the bike's handlebars, it shoots forward with a strong, smooth, motorized thrust. Quickly, I've hit 20 miles an hour.
This isn't normal anymore.
This is Ultra Motor's A2B, a $2,500, zero-emissions scooter that just happens to also be an electric bike.
The A2B looks very much like a regular bicycle, except that it has some very heavy-duty looking components, and a wide center stem in which its lithium-ion battery is enclosed.
But in fact, the Ultra Motor folks surely don't want the A2B called a scooter because one of their chief marketing points is that it doesn't require any kind of license or special permit, as does a motorcycle or scooter. And that means that a new buyer could jump on it and get going without any kind of bureaucratic runaround.
The A2B is expected to be available, most likely from bicycle, scooter, and motorcycle dealerships, in September. At $2,500, it seems somewhat expensive, but Amy Robinson, Ultra Motor USA's vice president of marketing, points out that the company is positioning the A2B against high-end bicycles--which can easily run two grand--as well as against gas-powered commuter vehicles like cars, motorcycles, and mopeds.
I also told CEO Chris Deyo that I thought the bike might cost too much to appeal to a large number of buyers, but he said that if you compare the one-time price of the A2B to the ongoing costs of commuting by car, moped or motorcycle--given the cost of gas, insurance, maintenance, parking, and parking tickets--it's not so steep. "We found, in talking to folks, that (at) $2,500, it's a considered purchase, but it's of value to them," Deyo said. … Read more