So I’ve been getting into electric scooters lately. Not the ones that look like a children’s toy and whose highest popularity coincided with city centers being littered with a myriad of badly parked examples left by uncaring commuters. The ones you can actually sit down and ride. And the best one that I found comes from the most expected of sources.
It’s no secret that Honda has been working on electric motorcycles for a while now. Their small size and the possibility to simply have swappable battery packs for increased range and reduced downtime means they can remain ideal for the use cases they have even today.
They say that when you ride a small Honda, you do so with the smiling ghost of founder Soichiro Honda in the pillion seat. One wonders what he would think of the map presented above and shown with great pomp in a presentation about a year ago. Today’s subject doesn’t seem to be featured there. To my surprise, it’s a China special that I actually want. Everyone, the Honda U-Be.
It does for the electric scooter what the Dacia Spring did for the BEV. Reputable brand? Check. Rationalization of concept to its minimum acceptable standard? That’s a check with its 350W motor, 34 miles (55km) of range and 20MPH (32 Kph) range. Insanely cheap? In China, the only place where you can get the U-BE, it costs all of $475. I was tempted, extremely so.
I knew that the thing was an absolute winner when I was already going through the ridiculous mathematical gymnastics and rationalizations commonly known as “Man-Maths”. No I wouldn’t commute in it, but $475 plus whatever is in shipping buys a lot less gasoline than it used to. And thanks to the vestigial pedals in the thing (which, yes, move by themselves when you’re riding) I should be able to trick my local legislature into thinking it is indeed a bicycle. That whatever in shipping? Surely it’s low. I mean, how much can a U-Be weight. People are buying cheap motorcycles from Amazon all the time nowadays anyway. And anyway, all the shipping costs would do is to bring it on parity with what I would spend on riding gear. Surviving a surprise minivan body check requires more or less the same gear when riding any two-wheeled vehicle.
Fortunately for my wallet, all of these considerations lasted about as long as I took to discover that nobody seems to have gotten into the business of exporting U-Be’s from China. Much to my surprise, going to the usual online stores that will sell you anything from questionable LED strips to RTX3090s that look suspiciously like a GTX 460, to just no-name electric mopeds yielded absolutely no results beyond some relays and the ability to buy Honda-themed stickers in bulk.
So, it’s a waiting game. Eventually that electric roadmap will come to fruition, and a not insignificant amount of people will realize how convenient it is to just plug your tiny motorcycle at home every night.
My condolences to any mobility scooter manufacturers that are about to get their business model wrecked by the e-Gyro.