2010 UltraMotor A2B Metro Review
Electric and pedal-powered funster
Get the Flash Player to see this player.Here at Motorcycle.com, we donít make it a habit to review things like bicycles or mopeds, but Ultra Motor is in a unique position. It is amongst the most closely watched players in the most rapidly developing segment of the Powersports industry, the electric motorbike segment. Electric motorbikes hold the promise of unmatched performance (today the Killacycle does 0-60 in less than one second), near-zero maintenance, and solar powered refueling; not to mention all the incentives from Uncle Sam and kudos from Mother Nature.
Since 2002, Ultra Motor has been focusing its efforts on creating its ideal, urban commuter vehicle; something so well adapted to city streets that once youíve got it, you have to wonder how you got by with anything else.
The centerpiece of the A2B Metro is a 500W lithium-ion battery housed internally in the bike frame. The removable battery, which can be charged up in about four hours on a typical 110V outlet, provides up to 20 miles of range, but that can be extended if you assist by pedaling. Being a bicycle, power is also provided by you. The user can pedal without the battery assist, use only the battery power, or do both together. Using only the battery the A2B Metro can reach speeds up to 20 mph. Shifting gears is done just like a typical bike with a 7-speed twist shift and a rear derailleur.
Most commuters may have trouble justifying the $2,699 price tag when they can buy a small motorcycle, like the Sachs MadAss, for the same price. Itís when you look at it from the point of view of the downtown commuter that the move to an electric bike starts to make a lot of sense. The A2B Metro looks very much like a bicycle. Bicyclists are generally treated with more leniency that other commuters and with that bit of knowledge, most of the obstacles that make your morning commute a hassle are suddenly erased.
In the world of the electric bike commuter, there is no gridlock. You can move to the bike lanes (or in some places, the sidewalks). There are no oneway streets; actually, most street signs donít apply. You can cut though residential roads, alleyways, or parking lots. Oh, and speaking of parking lots? No more fighting for paid parking when you can park for free just about anywhere (even indoors). You donít need a license, you donít need insurance. You donít need an oil change and donít need to stop by the gas station. If you can maintain a bicycle, you can maintain the A2B Metro.
All of this works, in theory, but how does it work in practice? Fortunately, I have a good friend who fits that demographic perfectly. Greg Griffin, a senior planner at CAMPO, the Capitol Metropolitan Planning Organization. His main focus is bicycle and pedestrian planning and he lives about 5 miles from his office in downtown Austin, Texas. Most mornings, Greg commutes to work on his Cannondale commuter bicycle. We asked him to give the Ultra Motor A2B Metro a try for a couple of weeks to see what he thought and being the consummate professional that he is, Greg wrote up a riderís journal of his observations. Here are some highlights:
ďWhewĒ, Indeed! The A2B Metro is definitely not the kind of bike that you want to leave propped up against the wall. Thanks to Greg for really putting the A2B Metro though its paces.
The 2011 edition of the A2B Metro should be available soon and Ultramotor plans to add dual projector LED headlights and a speedo to the package. There will also be a wide variety of options available like luggage racks, baskets, bags, and a secondary battery pack which brings the Metroís range up to 40 miles between charges.
Overall we found the A2B Metro to be of solid construction, attractive design, and relatively good performance. Of course, electrics still canít compete with their similarly priced, crude powered cousins... yet.