Saturday, December 29, 2007

The stinkwheel no longer stinks-the electric Solex.

"Eighteen years after the closure of the production lines in Saint-Quentin, the Solex has risen from its ashes in a modern form. No longer just economic, but ecological to boot!

Italians have the Vespa, the French have their Solex! These two-wheelers were designed in the aftermath of WWII for the same reason: as a popular means of individual transport in countries weakened by the war. All in all, some eight million VéloSolex were produced and sold, mainly in France.

Incidentally, Solex and Vespa are both celebrating their sixtieth anniversary this year. On this occasion, the Cible group, which brought the brand in 2004, has decided to bring out a new version of the famous 'bike that rides itself' by adapting it to fashion and the concerns of the time.

The design of the e-Solex has been entrusted to the Italian design company, Pininfarina, known worldwide for its work with Ferrari. So the e-Solex is automatically beautiful! The main elements of the original model have been kept, in particular the large black case on the front wheel. This case hid the small two stroke engine that drove the front wheel by a roller. This is no longer the case today since this re-dimensioned attachment now serves to carry the battery charger. That's right, the 2006 version of the Solex is electric-powered!

The central tube of the frame hides a housing for a Lithium-ion type battery (weighing 5 kg) that can be removed and recharged on mains power either at home or at your office. In three hours this battery is 70% recharged (100% in 6 hours) and its life is estimated at 1000 recharging cycles.
This electrical source supplies a small 36V 400 Watt engine, placed in the rear wheel hub. The e-Solex has therefore switched to rear-engine rear-wheel drive!

The rider can choose between two operating modes: 'economic' or 'maximum'. The former allows a 60 km driving range or 2h 15 of use approximately, whereas the latter has a better performance but is limited to 45 km or 1h 30. In economic mode, peak speed is 25 km/h, while in maximum mode it is 35 km/h.

The e-Solex weighs 40 kg with its battery, making it slightly heavier than Aprilia electric-assist bikes (Enjoy model), yet it is very easy to handle nevertheless. On the other hand, the e-Solex's modest performances will make driving somewhat tricky in busy London streets. Turning the right handle propels the engine in almost total silence (you just hear the slight murmur of the electric engine), but accelerations remain typical of a ... Solex. Facing the capital's hysteric traffic on a 50 cc scooter, legally limited to 45 km/h, is already complicated in itself, but with such accelerations there is only one solution: avoid large thoroughfares and stick to quiet back streets.

The e-Solex does however surpass the behaviour of its ancestor: it has far better road holding, brakes much better (front and rear discs) and takes care of the rider's comfort (mechanical suspension at the front, spring-mounted seat).

As with its ancestor, you can use the e-Solex in bicycle mode or pedal to add more oomph to accelerations..."

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