So the world has been thinking about the oil crisis and how to stop the polar bears from getting themselves crew cuts and moving down to the tropics. Sure, you might say it's not your problem, but if ’em number-crunching men in white coats have got it right, you'd need to sprout a pair of gills at the back of your ears very soon - the polar ice caps are melting and the oceans are rising.
Automobiles are apparently the highest contributors to the global warming problem. That's because they burn fossil fuels and release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere that prevents the heat from escaping, but I'm guessing you know all of that already. Internal combustion engines haven't evolved much and quite frankly, they didn’t need to simply because they did what they were asked to do, albeit a bit inefficiently. About a mere 20 per cent of useable force is produced after the internal combustion engine guzzles down all that fuel!
The solution, although half baked if you ask me, are electric vehicles that use the sparky stuff to get your wheels rolling - half baked because you're simply sweeping away the garbage into somebody else's backyard. Sure, electric vehicles don't emit exhaust gases and are way cleaner than fossil fuel driven automobiles, but they do run on electricity that is produced by burning coal and even scary, from nuclear power plants. The Reva started the electric vehicle phenomenon in India and now, they are here in hordes, especially the two-wheeled kind. We thought, for the heck of it, that it would be a great idea to take a spin on one such electric vehicle - the Roamer+ sold in India by BSA. After all, it's healthy to welcome change, isn't it?
We did, for a mere 7 km before the thing died. The er, 'fuel' gauge showed that the battery was fully charged and the red pinky light was on, meaning the power switch was feeding in the juice to the motor. But the BSA just wouldn't go. Although it might be a small thing to fix, or not, I don't know these things inside out and fiddling around could result in a hair raising experience that I could do without. So, I meekly pushed it back into the garage. Sigh.
What I can do, though, is try and evaluate the Roamer on the basis of the mere seven kilometres that I could ride it for. And I shall start from the build quality. For what it is worth, the Roamer boasts of some really good looking plastics on it. Although it could appear too gaudy to some folks, the plastic is far from flimsy. The meters are simple to look at as well as to read. There isn't anything about the build quality that would make you think that this is a sub-standard product. Switchgear isn't the best around but they work well and Bob's my uncle.
BSA claims that the Roamer is capable of a top whack of 45 kph. I didn't get to strapping on a Vbox to confirm this, but on one run, the needle on the speedo did hover around the 45 kph mark. Acceleration from the 800W motor is far from brisk. It picks up speed in short bursts like a rocking horse, accompanied by a sound that resembles a local train, albeit reduced to a scale of 1/100th. One probable reason why the Roamer is such a poor sprinter could be due to the weight of the battery. Conventional battery technology is very limited as of now and even today, wet batteries are still heavy enough to break your foot when dropped from a short height. Aneesh rode pillion and I am sure that the Roamer is good enough to be used on city roads with minimal inclines, even with a passenger at the back. But if you intend to hit Pikes Peak with this scoot, I suggest you get yourself a brain scan. This machine is strictly a commuter and a short distance one at that. BSA claims a range of XX km after on one full charge, which should be more than enough for the grocery run as well as to get to your car's garage from the house. In retrospect, I think electric vehicles are a great way to cure incessant honking. How? Well, the more you honk, the less likely are your chances of making it home.
The Roamer's seat is wide enough for the rider but not long enough to keep the pillion happy. Open the seat and the storage space is enough for three cucumbers and a carrot. Okay now I'm being too critical. Maybe a bunch of olives could be squeezed in as well. But you must make sure that the veggies don't flip off the blue main power switch placed beneath or else, you won't be going anywhere till you figure it out.
Braking is quite adequate and according to me, there is no reason why somebody would have any problem with the way the brakes perform. For crying out aloud, just how difficult would it be to come to a thundering stop from a time-warping speed of sub fifty kph? Ride and handling are also almost on par with the lower capacity scooters that have been on the market.
So how would I rate my experience on this scooter? Well, to sum it up, it's as exciting to ride as a visit to the dentist. To me, electricity is meant to keep beer chilled, run shavers and to draw water from wells - not power motorcycles. But I've seen plenty of pizza delivery guys and their like running around on these kinds of things and so it should ideally make sense... to at least some people. Priced at XXXXXX, it isn't really cheap, considering all the limitations that the Roamer has. But I'm sure that BSA is working on sorting out the niggles. If you're wondering whether I'd be inclined towards buying the Roamer, the answer is no. I would very much prefer smoke-belching two-strokes and leaky thumpers any day, and besides, I like my bikes to last way longer than just seven kilometres. Come the day the last drop of oil is up for grabs, I'd bloody well be the one who burns it. Also, I love the idea of having polar bears as neighbours!