Living With Our Rapido 963f Le Randonneur Motor Home.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Living With The Electric Yamaha EC-03 6 Months On.

I bought the little electric Yamaha EC-03 as a vehicle to get to the shops on once on site and pitched in our motorhome. Our particular motorhome is a Rapido 963F, and has a huge rear "garage" storage area with access doors either side. The space itself is ample to carry a small motor scooter, but the maximum gross weight rating of our particular vehicle is currently at the popular 3500 kg. This of course could be increased without further modifications to around 3840 kgs by submitting weighbridge data to one of the companies that specialize in this work, and obtaining a new rating plate and certificate which would be then submitted to DVLA for re-classification.

This is all well and good, but that would then negate our son and his young family from using the vehicle due to the nature of his own driving license. Having passed his car driving test after 1998, he is only allowed to drive vehicles up to a maximum gross weight of 3500 kg without taking a further driving test. The gross weight also has implications for drivers over 70 years of age, (10 years to get there if I make it that far).

Taking weight restrictions into consideration, the little Yamaha seemed to be ideal at only 56 kg, and also the fact that the bike carries no liquids, volatile or otherwise.

The manufacturer claims a range of 43 km (26.7 miles) at 30 km/hr (18.6 mph). This will obviously vary with rider weight, road and wind conditions and temperature.

I have been using this bike now for approaching 6 months from the motorhome while we have been on various sites throughout the UK. It is pleasant to ride, if terribly slow. (Until quite recently I owned a Yamaha R1 1000cc sports motorcycle). I use it on a mixture of the two power settings, which are easily changed at the push of a button on the headlamp console. It would be ideal if it could be used on its highest setting permanently, but I have found that this reduces the range to between 12 and 15 miles between fully charged down to one battery indicator. If used wholly in the lower power setting this gives me a maximum speed of no more than 17 mph, slowing even further on gradients. This is where I use the power setting to increase to full, just to give it that extra boost, and this is where I would say, in my opinion, the bike is slightly dangerous. It can be as slow as a pedal cycle, but other drivers, seeing the registration plate and a rider wearing a motorcycle safety helmet, don't expect that, and become frustrated when stuck behind in traffic. A bus overtook me today using the wrong side of a "keep left" traffic island in the centre of the road.

Used mainly in low power mode (when safe to do so), with bursts of full power when needed, my own range findings are around 15 to 20 miles, from fully charged down to one battery indicator. This of course is significantly less than the claimed 43 km. A warning light and beeper come on when actual speed exceeds 27 mph, which I presume is a nod to the 50cc petrol moped construction legislation that the bike is built to comply with.

Was it good value? At the original launch list price of £2650 - certainly not. New ones can be obtained at dealers now for around £1000 as they apparently struggle to shift them. The build quality however is excellent. I obtained mine as a "dealer demonstrator" with less than 10 miles on the clock for £900. I vaguely remember catching a glimpse of him rubbing his hands with a smile on his face as I left the showroom ;-)

Am I pleased with my purchase? Yes and No. The bike is ideal for motorhome or caravan use, and is light enough to be carted around in this manner. However, for use as a serious mode of transport, I think the technology still has some way to go. 30 mph with 100 mile range is what would sell it. Unfortunately this is still not possible with the technology available. Even providing for an easily changeable battery so the rider could carry a spare if they wanted to would have been a better, if expensive solution to the range issue in my opinion.

With hindsight, I would have been better off buying the excellent little Yamaha D'elight. This is light enough to carry (just, in my case at sub-100 kg) and would provide the ability of limited two up touring from the caravan site once pitched. The only problem there is that management refuses to ride pillion with me - lingering memories of that R1.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Last Of The Summer Wine.

Here we are, Friday evening, and enjoying ice cream sundaes in the evening sun at the local heladeria, (ice cream parlour). Our month here has flown by, and we are due to return to the UK on Sunday. Our last planned event here is dinner together with old and new friends at their casa 10km down the road.

Our next trip is another tour of India, Margaret's 4th visit, my 3rd, booked for next March / April, followed closely by a fleeting visit to Barcelona to meet my Australian cousin who is joining a cruise ship there in May.

However, our biggest plan for next year is to bring the motorhome down here for an extended stay next Autumn, combined with a road trip. In the meantime here are a few images of the locality we have been in since the end of September. Out of season rental property here is just so cheap. This trip has cost no more than our two weeks in the nearby hotel last year. Keep travelling while you are able to!