It started with a bucketful of giggles but how did it end…?
A couple of months ago I met the guys from the Artisan Electric and they kindly let me borrow one of their electric motorcycles to use for a month. Always up for a challenge and to finally satisfy the “what is all the fuss about the electric vehicles” curiosity, I jumped at the chance.
On a Friday afternoon in late March I rode my Ducati to the Artisan Electric head office on the Wirral to meet with the team and the motorcycle I would be using for the next few weeks. I rolled into their garage and yes, they heard me coming by the sweet sound of the Akrapović exhaust and Bella’s favourite song of revving the engine whilst stationary for no other reason but to hear it sing.
Parked side by side the two motorcycles are worlds apart from the world go. The Horwin CR6 is tiny in comparison. At first sight it looks like a normal motorcycle but when you look again you spot the differences such as no exhaust, skinny wheels, no engine and when you look even closer, no fuel tank.
I took the Horwin out for a spin around the industrial estate. Once I got used to how light the bike was and was shown through the controls I gingerly opened the throttle and the bike moved forward. No gears to worry about, no sound and no real “I’m on a motorbike” feeling. It was weird and I started to giggle inside my helmet as I joined the main road, twisting the throttle even more and the bike picking up the speed effortlessly, smoothly and oh so quietly.
I think my giggles were heard by the workers having their lunch on a bench outside as they tried to figure out what was wrong with the picture they’ve just seen. A motorcycle passing with no engine sound. As I took a left turn at a T-junction I spooked a woman walking her dog when she was just about to cross the road. She didn’t hear any vehicles approaching, so she stepped on the road then look right to see me coming towards her. I was anticipating an emergency stop already and was riding very slowly. She jumped back on the pavement and looked confused. The round route was short and I decided to do it again, still finding it a giggling experience and not quite sure what to make of it.
I returned to the unit to swap the electric bike back for Bella and rode home. Horwin was to be dropped off at my house the following Monday.
Initial observations were those of the lack of noise and thinking this is a safety issue. I am from the “loud pipes save lives” camp to a degree. The difference in size of the CR6 compared to my Supersport is drastic and jumping from one to another is not a fair comparison, as it did make me feel I was overdressed for the CR6 and kept thinking of it as a bicycle.
Monday arrived and the CR6 was delivered and parked in the garage next to Bella. I stood there and decided I quite fancy being a two-motorcycle garage owner.
Not being satisfied to just bimble on the new toy I set off to push the limit of it’s battery range by visiting friends that live just shy of 30 miles away from me. This meant riding on an A road, parts of it a dual carriageway then on some smaller B roads and finishing on a steep single lane track to reach their house.
Things I have learnt on that trip:
- the giggles have gone quiet and instead an occasional scream of terror was heard inside my helmet, especially when I was being overtaken by articulated lorries,
- there is such a thing as ‘range anxiety’ as I kept checking how many percentages of energy I have left and it was depleting steadily. I arrived at my destination with 2% left,
- the wheels and tyres are not quite what I’m used to and cornering became less of joy and more of a ‘grit your teeth and hope it doesn’t slide too much’ of an exercise,
- having a twist and go throttle took some getting used to and it was a novelty for about 5 miles then I started to miss the gears and the control this gives you when you are riding a bike.
I have made it to my friends’ house, just. The coffee was ready and I plugged the bike into their mains, it’s a kettle plug kind of lead which makes it super convenient and easy to recharge. Except for the time needed to charge the battery to full. After about three hours I felt I’ve overstayed my welcome and decided to head home despite the battery charge not being at 100% yet. The journey back was in my favour as it was mostly downhill and therefore I should need less charge to get me home. I was right and I arrived with 22% charge still available.
My next trip out was to the shops. Not a big shopping trip, I just realised on a Saturday morning that I needed some essentials before heading out. The CR6 has some storage where you would usually find the fuel tank on a conventional motorcycle. This is where the charge lead is stored and there is access to a USB charger so you can plug your phone and store it in there whilst riding. It isn’t very big for your shopping so I took a backpack, too.
It still made me giggle as I pulled away from my house with a whinny noise of the electric power, no ear plugs were needed and I could almost hear my neighbours thank me for not waking them up. Although in reality they didn’t because firstly, they are retired and up way before me on most days and secondly, they didn’t hear me leave. I did put all my gear on because I had a ride out planned on Bella as soon as I got back home but felt a bit of a fraud. My biker boots are Ducati branded and I felt I was making a statement like those with sticker on their cars “My other ride is a motorcycle”. My boots were the sticker saying “My other bike is a Ducati!”
Whilst I always wear all the gear I felt on the CR6 it was an overkill to just pop to the shops. At no point have I gone faster than 30 mph, in fact it was slower than that for the half a mile distance from home to the shop and back. People only wear lycra on a bicycle and they ride faster than this. And that’s how I imagine a ride on the CR6 – a helmet with a pair of jeans, trainers and a light jacket. I see this being at the seaside, enjoying the sunshine and warm weather. Whizzing around dodging the traffic in a built up area and meeting your friends for lunch or commuting to work. I don’t think Wales lends itself well to this type of scenario.
I am not exactly fair in comparing the CR6 to an actual motorcycle but I think here lies the problem. It is essentially a scooter parading as a motorcycle and this is messing with my head. I would have been more forgiving had it been an actual scooter. I would have shifted my expectations and would have treated it as it is intended – a commuter vehicle. If I had an office to travel to on daily basis, the CR6 would have been the perfect tool for it. But I continued to treat it as a motorcycle. Even a short trip to Chester, the next city 12 miles down the road from me, turned into a worry of whether I will make it back on the same charge or not because I have hit some roadworks and a diversion was in place.
I have made a point of taking the Horwin CR6 out a few more times, including a ride to World’s End where I really enjoyed the silence of the ride and I could tune into the wildlife more. The only obstacle were the confused sheep I met on the road and they kept running ahead of me rather than dispersing to the sides as they usually do when they hear a loud engine behind them.
All in all it was a great experience and opportunity to live with an electric motorcycle (scooter) for a while. It is clear that I am not in the market for one at the moment. The reality is, I don’t really have the need for such a vehicle in my life. I can see how it fits in the commuter market beautifully, and for those that live in big cities, too. I appreciate the electric vehicles are the future but personally I’ll be joining the ones that will be burning fuel in a combustion engine until the very end where we do run out of petrol or it becomes so expensive I can’t afford it anymore.
Saying this, I would have loved the Horwin CR6 for the years when I did have an office in town and commuted there on daily basis. I could have halved the commute time by dodging the traffic queues. I know for sure I would have arrived to the office with a smile on my face and I would have been looking forward to the ride home.
Horwin CR6 is a stylish looking bike, perfect for the daily commute to and from work and popping to see friends on the other side of town. However, this sector of motorcycling isn’t quite there yet for the Sunday ride outs or touring but I will be keeping an eye on developments. More people on one of these and fewer people in cars and the traffic would soon look very different for all, not to mention the roads becoming safer having more bike users. As a brand, I have found the team at Artisan easy to deal with, very helpful and keen to expand people’s minds and perception of an electric motorcycle. They certainly have made me appreciate and seeing the electric motorcycles in a different light.
For technical information on the Horwin CR6 and how to buy one visit https://artisanscooters.com/electric-motorcycles-scooters/horwin-cr6