Voloci NiMH version
Ken Trough of V is for Voltage recently got to test the prototype of the Voloci. I thought you might be interested in what he had to say.
Hey campers! I got to do a detailed investigation and ride of one of the very very few prototypes of the Voloci this past weekend. I met with Dan Ferguson, the west coast sales guru for Nova Cruz, in his backyard of Portland, Oregon. He brought one of the very few (2?) prototypes that exist right now and I went riding along the water on a beautiful sunny day. This prototype was not a finished production unit, and had some limitations. First of all, it only has about 70%-75% of the power, speed, and acceleration of the production units. Also, the lights and fuel gauge were not hooked up. This means that I cannot yet detail my impressions on the power and speed side, but I sure as heck can tell you all about the scooter and the ride itself.
First of all, looking at the Voloci on the web, I imagined it to be bigger. Something along the lines of an electric motorcycle. Several other people have remarked on the fact that this cycle will be perceived as a motorcycle (creating problems for those riding in parks or on sidewalks). I am VERY pleased to report that nothing can be further from the truth. It is smaller in person. In fact, it is noticeably smaller than most mountain bikes. Think of an oversized electric BMX bike with suspension and you won't be far off. No one will mistake this cycle for a motorcycle. In fact, most people will see it as a bicycle. I watched a couple of people come up to the Voloci, scrutinize it for several minutes, THEN realize that it doesn't have pedals. This is an example of people seeing what they expect to see. Since it looks like a bike, people's minds will register it as a bike as you ride by. The quiet ride will reinforce this perception. Owners will have no problems riding this cycle anywhere bicycles are accepted.
A Portland bicycle cop stopped and took a long hard look at it, and pronounced it very cool, stating that he wanted to get one himself, and that law enforcement agencies should consider it as a platform for bicycle cops, as it will go faster than a bicycle, has lots of range, and delivers the officer to his destination fully rested and ready for action. He really liked the super simple quick release battery pack, pointing out that this feature is the critical factor for a quick turnaround fleet vehicle.
This is the ideal platform for a rental fleet for the same reason. The double range battery pack would keep anyone entertained for an hour's rental (even at full speed), and a quick change with a fresh pack sends the scooter right back out the door with the next renter. Think campus vehicle for security, resorts, and colleges. The disc brakes make for solid stopping power under any conditions, with no wear on the rims.
Really, the only maintenance on this scooter besides charging the batteries is cleaning and oiling the chain. Everything looks strong and substantial. Durability should be excellent. The suspended chassis should also reduce failures substantially, due to reduced shock and vibration on the motor, controller and battery pack.
Now on to the juicy stuff... the ride itself.
I was really impressed with the overall ride and handling of the Voloci. Anyone who is not intimidated by a bicycle will have no problems with this cycle. The front and rear suspension really ate up the bumps. The suspension preload is adjustable, which is good news for heavier riders like myself. I was told that this cycle can handle a drop of four feet with a rider onboard. There was a nice 3 and a half foot jump on hand, and we were sorely tempted to try it, but given that this was one of the only Voloci cycles out there right now, we decided not to do this kind of abuse test yet. I did ride both on asphalt and in the dirt, and it handled both with no troubles. It was really gratifying to have the power of an electric cycle combined with the feel of a mountain bike. It was like having a super light trials bike or something. Really nice. Everyone that rides this thing is going to love it, I think.
The removable battery is super simple to install and remove. This means that commuters will be able to lock the Voloci up in any bike rack and take the battery pack into the office (or coffee shop, or apartment) for easy charging. It is important to note that the pictures on the web show the cycle with a single NiMH pack installed. The lead acid setup is similar and will fit into the same space in the chassis as the NiMH, though will not be removable. The double range NiMH pack is reported to "stick out" from the frame, filling the space under the seat. As neither Dan nor myself have seen this pack however, this is somewhat speculative at this time. If there is a downside to the design, it's that the controller is integrated into the motor, and is therefore going to be difficult to tweak for more speed. That said, I fully expect SOMEONE out there to successfully tweak it anyway, just not the average user.
The word is that production is starting at the beginning of April (mere days away), and Nova Cruz is on track to deliver the first 100 units in the first month.
I predict that this is going to be a HUGE HIT for Nova Cruz. The quality is obvious, the price is right, and the speed, versatility and range are going to be just great for a whole lot of users. This is a winner, and one of the best personal electric vehicles offered to date by anyone, anywhere.
Drooling yet? I know I sure am! I will have a more detailed review along with lots of beautiful photography in the next issue of V is for Voltage, followed by another performance review when I get an actual production unit in a couple of weeks.
Voloci SLA version
Just a few notes on the new Voloci SLA (sealed lead acid) version from Scott MacGregor of EV Deals.com
The test unit I received last weekend was run on both the dynamometer and in limited field tests, and proved to be quite a good performer. Actually, I prefer it to the Voloci with the NIMH battery even though it's considerably heavier at 107 lbs. There's something about those 3-16A/hr Hawkers that gives me "peace of mind"! :)
1) After a 2 hour "top-off" charge, the SLA Voloci was installed in the dyno test fixture, and the throttle set for a constant 20 MPH speed. The cycle ran for 73.5 minutes before shutting down. Average speed for the entire run was 19.4 MPH. A total of 24.1 miles was covered in this test.
2) A pair of Soneil 3610's (in parallel) bulk charged the 3 Hawkers in 1:45 minutes. I let the chargers run for an additional 2:15 minutes to be certain they were fully charged before taking the Voloci out on the road.
3) I used my regular 9 mile closed loop for the field tests. This loop consists of numerous starts and stops, intersections that only require slowing, and moderate hills. During the test I stopped three times (for about 5 minutes each) to simulate what a rider might do on an average trip to town. In order to maintain an average speed of 20 MPH, I cruised at 22 or
23 MPH for brief periods. The unit ran for 64 minutes at an average speed of 19.1 MPH, and covered 20.6 miles. These results were in line with the dynamometer predictions, yielding the expected 85% of fixed speed testing.
4) The following day the Voloci was set up again on the dyno, and run in the "economy mode" to cut-off. Not surprisingly, the performance was significantly better. At an average speed of 17.8 MPH, the unit ran for 98.5 minutes and covered 29.4 miles!
5) Unfortunately, I didn't have time to complete further testing. However, based on the actual numbers it's possible to conclude the following with some degree of certainty: At 15 MPH average speed - ON THE DYNO - the Voloci will reach about 35 miles range. If the 85% rule holds - and there's no reason to believe it won't - the unit should have a useful "real world" range of about 30 miles at 15 MPH.
6) Again based on estimates, I think it's fair to say the SLA powered Voloci will get you about 15+ miles at 25-28 MPH. Of course, this assumes you aren't nailing the throttle at every stop sign!
7) What's my personal opinion after riding and testing both the SLA and NIMH versions? I like the SLA Voloci better! The added weight will certainly be a consideration to those owners living on the second floor! The fact that the
SLA battery pack is NOT removable (unlike the easily removed NIMH pack) means nothing to me, since the cycle will never be lifted higher than the 6" step leading into my shop. The added "umph!" of the Hawkers is something you
can feel in the acceleration, and is even more evident toward the end of the battery life. Even in the last mile of useful power, the SLA version Voloci was able to achieve over 20 MPH on flat ground!
9 South St.
Plainville, MA 02762