I hate to break this to you, regular Motorcycle.com reader, but you might be the wrong audience for the GenZe 2.0 electric scooter. How do I know? Well, if you’re here then you appreciate the speed, the sound, and the power (both mechanical and personal) motorcycling provides. The triple threat is an addictive combination to stir the emotions. The GenZe 2.0 doesn’t have any of that.
To keep it technically classified as a moped, 30 mph is the fastest it’ll go. Since it’s electric, it hardly makes a sound. And, according to GenZe, with a 170-lb rider it’ll take 10 seconds for the aluminum scoot to hit 30. So, power is scant, too. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate – the GenZe 2.0’s motor is rated to produce max torque of 74 lb-ft. It’ll easily go faster than 30, but it’s electronically governed to stop there. Any more and Uncle Sam will want GenZe to meet homologation standards and Johnny Law will require you to get a motorcycle license. As it stands, in many states if you have a license to drive a car then you can ride this scooter. In California, however, you’ll need an M2, or moped license.
So then, what’s the point of the GenZe 2.0 scooter, anyway? Even if you’re an e-bike sympathiser – but especially if you’re not – you need to place yourself in a different mindset to understand the GenZe 2.0. Do so and, like me, you might have an entirely different appreciation for what GenZe is trying to do.
First off, the name. GenZe, or Generation Zero emissions, is a global brand initiative that parent company Mahindra is putting in place to promote green, clean, transportation. The company is hoping to appeal to a new customer base: people living in dense cities, with relatively short commutes, who largely rely on public transportation, walking, cycling, or Uber to get around. They’re typically up-to-date on tech trends and embrace new technology, and want to utilize this technology to get around. Millennials are generally the first set of the population to come to mind, but are definitely not exclusively so. By and large, however, the types of people who would consider a GenZe 2.0 are not your average motorcyclist.
To appeal to this type of crowd, a vehicle like this can’t break the bank. At $3000, it’s a price a city dweller looking for wheels, but not wanting a car, will at least consider. This is all the more impressive when you learn that Mahindra, one of India’s largest conglomerates, is building the all-electric GenZe 2.0 in Michigan, “from parts largely sourced in Michigan as well,” says GenZe Brand Ambassador Holly Brinkman. So while some American companies are outsourcing jobs to India, India is reciprocating, creating manufacturing jobs for Americans.
Beyond that, the vehicle has to offer something different, and the GenZe accomplishes this on two fronts: via hardware and software. On the hardware front, by virtue of being electric, it already stands apart from much of scooterdom, but it’s also convenient in that you don’t need to park it by a charging station. Park it anywhere you like, remove the battery from under the seat (which, admittedly, is a hefty 31-ish lbs), then take it inside with you and plug it straight into the wall. From a completely drained battery, three hours will top it off. Even if you work part-time, you should have enough juice to get home, with a fully charged range of about 30 miles.
Continuing the hardware theme, the GenZe’s trunk, or Back Bay in GenZe speak, has earned the GenZe the pickup truck on two wheels tag line. In our testing, it easily fit two bags of groceries. There are also accessory liners and tops for it so your things don’t go flying out. Adding to the convenience is a 12-volt power outlet located under the seat to charge a device while on the go. The seat also tilts upward, allowing you to stuff more junk underneath. Or, if you prefer to sit virtually upright while riding, the seat design allows you to do that, too.
Other hardware items the traditional motorcyclist might appreciate include a 16-inch front wheel for greater stability than some smaller-wheeled scooters (12-inch in the rear), and disc brakes at both ends accompanied by steel-braided lines – hugely impressive for its $3000 price tag.
On the software front, the GenZe’s 7-inch touchscreen display gives you all the information you need and runs on Android software. You don’t need a key to “start” it either (the key is only used to unlock the battery from its compartment so you can take it with you). Simply press the power button, enter a PIN code, put up the sidestand, put the kill switch to ON, and away you go. Oh, and don’t forget to flip the switch to “F” for Forward – the GenZe comes with reverse to help make turning around a little easier, a feature that could help appeal to fleet customers.
Four riding modes are available – Sport, Eco, Easy, and Custom. Three of those modes should be self-explanatory. Easy mode is especially tailored to brand-new riders and limits acceleration to be as unintimidating as electronically possible. It was a hard concept to grasp being a seasoned rider and all, so once I tried it, I kept it in Sport afterward. Even then, pickup is soft initially, but still enough to get the holeshot from the cars behind at a red light, barely. After about 10 mph, acceleration in Sport feels fairly brisk all the way to 30 mph, when the limiter kicks in.
Otherwise, the touchscreen Control Center, as it’s called, displays the usual readings for speed, battery life, estimated range remaining, etc. What’s cool is the added GenZe app for both Android and iOS smartphones which, apart from showing the battery life and range remaining, has options to plan a route that avoids highways while factoring remaining charge, to give peace of mind you can make it to your destination (or not).
The app also allows users to locate their scoot in case they forgot where they parked it (or worse, in the event it’s stolen), can call an emergency contact in case of a crash, and can even program a geo-fence. A notification will be sent whenever the scoot leaves the boundaries of the geo-fence; a useful feature for parents or fleet managers.
A domestically made scooter, at a fair price, loaded with tech, but limited to 30 mph. Could it really be any fun? The answer is a resounding yes, assuming it’s used within the confines of its intent. For the purposes of this shoot, Evans Brasfield came along to point the camera, and the lovely folks at Hollywood Electrics, an authorized GenZe dealer as well as the largest dealer of Zero Motorcycles in the world, provided him with an extra GenZe scoot for the two of us to zip around on. Immediately we realized the beauty of the scooter’s Back Bay, as Evans’ camera backpack fit perfectly within the space and away we went.
In the confines of the snarled and congested West Los Angeles traffic, our scoots were easily able to slice through gaps between cars, and the speed was never an issue. On less congested roads, simply staying to the right of the lane often allowed faster traffic to go around. As it turns out, though, riding the GenZe is like the proverbial tortoise and hare scenario: faster traffic would often zip around us but get stuck at red lights. Meanwhile, we would reunite with the faster traffic once the light turned green and start the process all over again.
Case in point: I challenged my wife with a race to the store, 11 miles away. She would take her car and could use whatever method of getting there she wanted, including the freeway. I’d hop on the scoot and take back roads. The result: we both arrived at the store at the exact same time. Since I still had ample charge left in the battery I didn’t bother taking it and plugging it in. However, the route home involved several inclines which took considerable juice from the battery. Once it was down to 20% or so, the GenZe crawled up the hill to preserve its battery and still have enough power to get home. With a full battery, the same hill was easily tackled at the 30 mph limit.
As for range, GenZe says the scooter can achieve 30 miles. Like any other electric vehicle, however, real-world range varies depending on several factors. The display on Brasfield’s scoot reached 0% and flashed various warning signs after only 24 miles, and yet he still successfully rode it another two miles back to Hollywood Electrics. Meanwhile, my scoot read 6% charge still remaining, so I could have surpassed the 30-mile range. Granted, Evans does carry an extra 30 pounds on me.
Overall, Evans and I had a gas on the GenZe (get it?). For its intended purpose of being an easily accessible, practical, urban mobility device, it’s great. Speed is hardly an issue and neither is range. And the fact you only need a car license to operate it makes it that much more appealing.
However, there are some niggles. There’s no bag clip on the leg shield for one – those should be mandatory for a step-through scooter, if you ask me. Instead all your cargo has to go in the back. Another is the broad seat. It’s comfortable, but narrows only slightly towards its leading edge. Once at a stop I found it difficult to touch down without scooting completely forward. Third is its suspension. The telescopic fork would occasionally stick, and the shock would bottom over moderate bumps, causing us to look for the smoothest piece of road everywhere we went.
(Recently our own Dennis Chung reported about a recall for the GenZe scooter in which the fork tubes may not be sufficiently clamped into their mounts. Our ride aboard the GenZe occurred before the recall was announced, though the issue stated in the recall notice wasn’t experienced by us, even after loading the scooter in the back of a truck and securing it with tie-downs. —TS)
But my biggest gripe is that the phone app and the Control Center don’t mirror each other’s displays. Meaning things like the app navigation can’t be seen on the 7-inch display. Brinkman says, “We do not mirror the two intentionally as legally when the scooter is operating it can only display odometer, ride mode, battery life, etc.”
All of those are issues I can overlook considering the relative ease of entry for the scoot and its practical usability. If I lived in a city like New York, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco or Chicago, I’d really consider snatching one up to run errands. The GenZe 2.0 scooter comes with a three-year, 5,400-mile warranty, and there are currently dealers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and Michigan. The midwest and Florida are next.
Visit the GenZe website to learn more.
|+ Highs ||– Sighs |