My mum had two rules when I was growing up. 1. Don’t get a tattoo 2. Don’t go on a motorbike. I hate to tell her that the first rule was broken some years ago and last month, in a bid to see if I need a car, I successfully left the second rule in tatters too.
For the past 10 months I have been sharing my car with my husband which, given that he is unable to work from home, means it has been a decidedly one sided arrangement. We live in the countryside and, whilst basic amenities are within walking distance, the reduced autonomy to go where I want, when I want to has been disarming. As you can tell, I’m not bitter at all…
However, when I’ve assessed the frequency of wanting to leave the house to go further afield than Aldi, I’ve been confronted by a). How infrequently this is b). How few places I go that I can’t get to without lift sharing, bus-ing or train-ing. Suddenly, having a second car just to go to the gym feels like an incredibly unjustifiable and indulgent expense. Even a taxi still proves a cheaper way to get around on an ad-hoc basis than owning a car full time (depending on how committed I am to exercise at any point in time..)
This evaluation of my travel habits has left me torn between desperately wanting more flexibility but very begrudging to pay for a car when 90% of the time I really can get away without one. That was, until I stumbled across the Maeving – a new and truly beautiful electric motorcycle disguised in the silhouette of a classic bike. A Triumph meets an Oat Milk Latte if you will.
The bike can be ordered with either one 2.1 Kwh battery offering a 40 mile range, or two 2.1 Kwh batteries offering 80 miles of range. Both batteries can be removed and plugged into a household socket which charges the battery 0-80% in about 3 hours. The bike costs either £4,995 or £5,995 depending on the battery option. Whilst that’s not cheap, given the handful of pounds a month of running costs and finance options from £89 pcm, it quickly becomes pretty palatable.
I was fortunate enough to test drive the Maeving a few weeks ago and met the team at Bolt – a Cafe and Biker Shop which could not epitomise Hackney more if it tried. Being a complete biker Bambi, the owner of the shop kindly lent me a hand painted helmet that I was under strict instructions not to drop or scratch.
Walking up to the bike, hand painted helmet gripped fiercely in hand, I was immediately struck by the craftsmanship and apparent quality of the bike. Suddenly the £5K price tag seemed not only cheap, but baffling. How can you get machined parts and high quality features like the bespoke leather seat for this price when manufacturing at low volumes and with a big chunk of the cost accounted for by the battery?! I certainly wasn’t going to complain. This was a bike for someone who aspires to buy a house from modernhouse.com, feels slightly guilty about their paragraph long coffee order and definitely has a carefully cultivated sourdough culture in their larder. Safe to say, I felt right at home.
We spent the morning riding through central London which, for amateur hour over here, was definitely not relaxing. Having only recently completed my CBT, the riding experience is still a massive sensory overload and it’s shocking to realise how many complete and utter nitwits there are on the road ready to run you over. My mother would have been fuming. Equally shocking was observing the large number of single occupancy vehicles and seeing first hand what an appalling use of roadspace this represents. No wonder the average speed in London is 8.7 mph.
The London traffic meant I didn’t quite get to see what the top speed of 45mph felt like, but I did manage a whopping 30mph. When you twist the throttle the instant torque, in my mind, is the closest experience to flying without actually flying. When in motion you feel so light, nimble and effortless that you completely forget that you’re sitting atop heavy machinery. I can understand how easy it is to get addicted to motorbikes and become willing to take ever greater risks at highspeeds in pursuit of that magical connection between rider, bike and road. These were all thoughts going through my head as I hurtled along at 24mph, wind in my hair, L plate flapping majestically…
There are definitely caveats. The bike is 98 kg which is not insubstantial for a 5ft3 smallish person and will likely always be a moderate inconvenience when manoeuvring to park. The batteries are each 12kg and I can lift them but if someone offered to carry them for me I wouldn’t object. However, being able to charge without off-street parking means I’m happy to get on with lugging 12kg.
I suspect this is a bike for the non-biker. The newbie like me who wants to be environmentally responsible, likes nice things but isn’t willing to part with loads of money for that privilege. Equally, city dwelling big bike lovers wouldn’t feel embarrassed to be seen on a Maeving, despite it being equivalent to 125cc motorcycle.
It may sound like an overstatement, but having not had on demand access to a car for the past few months, riding the Maeving was utterly liberating. It offered a delicious taste of freedom to be flexible to go where I want without being overburdened by cost. I am fully aware how lucky I am to be able to enjoy that privilege. As if it needed a cherry on the cake, they’ll also service it at your door. Sign me up and sorry mum…
About the author
Imogen Pierce works in sustainable mobility and future technology for Fully Charged. She is an alumni of electric vehicle startup Arrival where she was Head of City Engagement and Integration working with cities to understand, develop and accelerate their future mobility ambitions. Imogen has also worked in Experience Strategy looking at future technology and mobility trends. Prior to Arrival, Imogen was an aerodynamicist at Jaguar Land Rover before running the company’s technology and innovation communications. She can be found on Medium musing and wittering about sustainable mobility.