Yamaha announced a number of new “concept” electric motorcycles at this year’s EICMA show- but what’s decidedly more important is this: Yamaha has created a fully electric motorcycle “ecosystem” that takes its customers from the cradle to the grave without burning a single drop of oil or gas.
Ever since Apple conquered the music industry with the triple-whammy of the iPod, iTunes, and DRM, that word- ecosystem- has been the go-to buzzword for big companies. It means they own you, because shifting all your content and know-how from one system, say “iOS”, to another, say “Android”, is a huge and costly hassle. Yamaha seems to have figured out a way to do this that has somehow eluded Ford and Honda (so far, at least). Here’s how the Yamaha electric ecosystem works:
1. Your First Motorcycle
Yamaha’s electric “EKIDS” pee-wee bike takes the place of its PW50, a two-stroke little runabout that’s perfect for 5-year olds. Kids ride the bike until they’re about 10 or 12 (depending on their height and weight) and are, typically, bikers for life from then on out … and, if you think that first bike isn’t important, consider that I’ve owned 3 Yamahas, a Kawasaki, 2 Harley products, a Genuine, a Vespa, and a small fleet of Hondas of every breed and variety. “Honda” appears is bold red script on my riding jacket. Honda wings are on my helmet. I do not subscribe to Kawasaki’s news feed. If I’ve been drinking, I will fight you over whether or not Hondas are superior to Harleys. Your first bike, in other words, is a very, Very big deal.
Yamaha got this one right. It’s friendly, promises an adjustable top speed to keep mom happy, and it’s got plenty of low-end torque to keep up with the neighbor kids on their Honda XR50s. It’s also not “really” a motorcycle, dear. I swear. He’ll be fine!
2. Your First “Big Boy” Dirt Bike
Yamaha’s understands that the next step for young riders is, more often than not, a full-sized dirtbike. The bike you see here, called “PED1” is that next step. It can be ridden in direct drive or “manual” modes, and features “the same operational feeling that current motorcycle riders are used to”, according to Yamaha. It’s a real dirtbike, it rides like a dirtbike, and you might still be able to “get away with it” as a teenager.
3. Your First Street Bike … it’s a Scooter
Let’s face it, your first commuter bike is probably going to happen in college. It’s also, probably, going to be a scooter. You’re 18, you don’t have a ton of cash, and you need something to get you around campus quickly and efficiently, maybe with room for an occasional (yet, surprisingly nubile) passenger. You’ll need to carry books, and you’ll want room to store your helmet. Yamaha’s EVINO should be good for at least 35MPH, you’ll be insulated from gas prices, it’ll seem safe enough to the ‘rents, and (most importantly) you’ll probably be able to convince the parking lot overseers (you’ll learn to hate them) that it’s not a real motorcycle and get away with parking it in the bike racks right next to the class.
Hell, I pulled off that move more than a decade ago- with a gas-powered Vino! On an ELECTRIC!? If you can’t pull that one off, you belong in the physics department or something. Go there now. Be with your people.
4. Your First “Real” Street Bike
NOW we’re talking! Mom can’t tell you what to ride anymore, and it is time to absolutely terrorize the ever-loving f*** out of the cagers and take full advantage of whatever lane-splitting laws may exist in your area. Yamaha’s PES1 uses the same motor and transmission combination you cut your teeth on in the PED1, but with street-oriented gearing, sport-tuned suspension, and proper tires- and, if you’ve watched Days of Thunder, you already know that tires is what wins a race.
Ride hard. Have fun. Try not to die.
5. Your Last Street Bike … it’s the Vino Again
Congratulations on not dying! After a decade or so of riding like a jerkoff and treating every grocery run like it’s an Isle of Man time trial, it’s pretty likely that you don’t have much to prove anymore that can’t be easily proven by showing off a few scars. You’re getting older. Your back hurts. You’re tired of being treated like a terrorist by the local law enforcement. Your wife keeps hitting your bike with the door of her baby-hauling SUV. You suspect she spits on it when you’re not looking (Who else would even have a chance to spit on it, Margaret? Who!?). It’s time to tone it down a bit, but you’re not quite ready to give up the quick and nimble two-wheeled life.
Now is the time to drag that old EVINO back out of storage. Your old friend’s composite body isn’t rusted, and the Yamaha electric motor is still fresh and awesome. It’s been a few years, so the cost of new batteries has come way down. A set of tires, maybe brake pads, and you are good to go! You may not be a 2-wheeled terror anymore, but at least you’re not stranded in a 2 ton metal cage in rush hour traffic!
That, dear friends, is Yamaha’s plan. It starts you off on its slick little electric bike, and you never let go. Or they never let go. Or something … but the exact semantics don’t matter. You’re a biker now, and (if you’re lucky) an old one at that! All because of that one little Yamaha electric pee-wee bike you got when you were five.
Thank your father, kids.
Source | Photos: Yamaha.