2019 Luyuan Alfa Cruiser
An electric scooter? Yup, step right this way...
Published on 15 Jan 2022
(MARCH 2019) For a comfortable, convenient and easy ride many choose the scooter type of two-wheeler. It will slot into the tiniest of spaces, and it will carry your crash hat under-seat, your office files, a big part of your grocery shopping, and if your better half wants to go on a ride you can’t get away by saying, “Look I’ve got all this stuff aboard.” Oh yes, your better half goes with you whether you like it or not.
A scooter also has a good-sized apron (sometimes called a leg shield) which will keep you somewhat detached from road dust and wet weather, and can protect your knee from injury in case you do that which all riders do at sometime in our riding lives – get too personal with the road. A scooter is also – in most instances – a point-and-shoot device; point the front wheel in the direction you want to go, open throttle, and she’ll go. No gears to change, no clutch to balance. What better scooter, then, than the electric version of all of the above - The Alfa Cruiser. All of the above, plus no accompanying engine sounds. Also, no waiting in line at a fuel station, no gas tank cap or saddle to unlock to re-fill juice, no concerns about fuel price variations. And, what’s more, no exhaust emissions! Personal mobility of the electric type is the way forward. During the last few decades auto manufacturers around the globe have intensively researched and developed green designs so you and I can get about cleanly. It is not only about the current generation of riders; it’s about the future generation too.
In 2006 we road tested the Luyuan Alfa e-scooter and were impressed by the fit and performance. The Alfa Cruiser reviewed here is the latest in the range of Luyuan Alfa electric two-wheelers. Propelled by a 2,000W motor the Cruiser is designed to carry its payload for 150-180 kilometres on a single electric charge. A major limiting factor in electric bikes was the relatively short range on a charge, sometimes a mere 60 kilometres. Today, with the rapid technology advances in vehicular batteries the Cruiser’s long distance capability is an established part of e-biking. And when you need to re-charge your Cruiser’s batteries merely plug it into the electrical socket outlet at your home or workplace and in 3–5 hours (depending on how depleted your battery is) you are ready to cruise.
Easy on your pocket is a benefit of e-bike ownership. Let’s take a look at the comparison running cost figures (Vindy Trading literature) of an Alfa Capri e-scooter versus a popular conventional (internal combustion) engined scooter. Running cost, say 65 km/day (1 unit of electricity) x 365 days = Electricity Rs 5,000/- per year approx at current rates. Conventional engine scooter (nameless for the moment): Running cost for 65 km (petrol, 1 lit) x 365 days = Petrol Rs 50,000/- per year at current prices. From this comparison we see that the cost of running an e-scooter could be about 10% that of the petrol scooter; thereby a cost saving in the region of 90%!
On an e-bike you go from launch to cruise in a smooth surge. The immediacy and smoothness of an electric vehicle is obvious and you rocket from here to there with snappy acceleration, and with hardly any accompanying sound. Even today, with e-vehicles a familiar quantity, startled bystanders followed the sight of our test Alfa Cruiser as we dashed silently by. The battery pack of the Cruiser is sealed and requires no maintenance and the bike, not needing lubrication or regular servicing, offers you many kilometers of riding pleasure unconcerned with the question, “When is the next service due?’ However you must be aware that while body-washing your Cruiser just do not aim the water flow at critical electrical parts like the controller (under-seat), and as is common sense do not keep the bike plugged in during heavy lightning activity.
You could ride the Cruiser with your feet full on the floorboard or in the feet-forward ‘cruiser’ style; the pair of spring-loaded forward-mounted footrests for the rider gel well with the long range feature and the longer on-board accommodation. Could this extended frame geometry be the reason for the Cruiser’s front wheel being deflected by gravel, experienced by us on our test ride? In all other instances we found the Cruiser stable and you can’t help but be pleasantly taken up by the cheerful personality of the Cruiser.
Initially, I found the wrap-around crash bars made the bike feel wider than a scooter rider is accustomed to. This required conscious thought in moving off and stopping, so as to avoid your feet snagging in the metal tube-work. A few times over, though, and your foot memory has taken over and the conscious becomes habit and you revel in the silent progress on the road. The Cruiser is ride-by-wire (no mechanical cable connection from your throttle hand to the propulsion unit), the throttle feel in no way different on this bike than on a conventional machine. This electronic ride-by-wire system is in principle similar to that used in the new Moto-E machinery (the series commencing this year) in world grand prix racing and governed by the FIM (Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme), the body that conducts two-wheeled grand prix racing at the highest level.
Braking on an e-vehicle is a new experience. On the Cruiser the cross-drilled front disc functions well to slow the bike down and is suitable for most situations. Lightly squeeze the rear brake lever, too, and you unleash the awesome retardation effect of EABS (Electronics Assisted Braking System), an electric motor working on the rear braking mechanism. Additionally, the Cruiser comes with a genuine reverse mode! A button on your left handlebar switches to this mode, and the throttle governs your rearwards speed. This is extremely useful in multi-point turn scenarios that may be caused when maneuvering in tight spaces. As on other scooters luggage spaces are plenty, especially as the Alfa Cruiser comes fitted with the capacious rear-mounted box. The usual underseat area can carry baggage, too, in addition to being the home of the standard electric charging unit.
With e-biking being the way forward, soon we are likely to look back at motorcycling and the auto world in general and assume that this is how it has always meant to be – electric. Indeed, the younger generation will probably look at it as normal! The ‘infernal’ combustion engine could soon go the dinosaur way, in all but some instances. Alfa’s Cruiser is indeed an attractive offering in clean personal mobility and common sense economics.