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. What I have now done is installed a cree LED H4 fitting motorcycle headlight bulb. I don't use the little bike in the dark, and this type of bulb, used in the housing designed for a halogen bulb doesn't give a beam, so is only good as a daytime safety running light, and would not pass an MOT for use in darkness. Being rated at 8 watts though instead of the 35 watts of the halogen bulb provided in the original specification, it increases the range of the bike by around 25%. I also use an LED stop/tail bulb for the same reason.

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!

Details of our fabulous rental apartment here can be found by clicking this link> HomeAway.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Alcazaba Almeria - Moorish Fort.

Today's destination was a visit to the spectacular Alcazaba Almeria, an ancient Moorish fort second only to the Alhambra at Granada.

It is a little complicated to access by car, and we found the easiest way was to park the car near to the port area and complete the journey to the entrance on foot. It is up the narrow streets directly opposite the port, and you should walk up Calle De La Reina which will take you right to the entrance steps.

If you are an EU resident, and have your passport with you, then entrance is free of charge.

The monument is in relatively excellent condition and dates from the Muslim occupation of Spain of the 11th century, together with some Roman artefacts.

It reminded us of the Mogul Dynasty forts of a similar era that we visited in India.

Well worth a visit if you find yourself near to the city of Almeria.

Lunch today was at a restaurant of world renown - burger and fries at the Golden Arches.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Lunch With Bombo And Sammy.

Today we received an invitation to lunch from Bombo and Sammy, and when we arrived, much to our surprise, they had brought along mum and dad, Paul and Elaine, fellow bloggers from The Manly Ferry Blog. They knew that we had missed a meeting with them in Sydney in 2012, and the two little fellas wanted to make sure we all met up before they returned to Oz. They are such clever little fellas, because the day was a huge success for four people who have never met, yet felt they had known each other for years. Yes, that is the power of blogging.

We were told to meet at  Titos Beach Bar Mojacar which Sammy told Margaret was the coolest place in town to have a few drinks and lunch. Super food, loads of drinks, and all at very reasonable prices. Of course, all outdoors in the warm Spanish sun.

We chatted for hours on varying subjects, peppered with motorhome and narrowboat talk. We arrived in Mojacar at 11.45am and left at 6.15pm, and only then because they were closing the bar, and darkness was rapidly descending.

What a truly fantastic day, our best so far while we have been here this year.

Thanks Bombo and Sammy you did good.

Thursday, 16 October 2014


Today's short trip out was to CostaCabana, which is located adjacent to Almeria Airport on the coast road between Almeria City and El Toyo. It is just a few kilometres from our base at Retamar.

The village is small, with its own 1km Avenida Marinera which fronts a beach of rock and pebbles to the south west, transforming to the more normal gritty volcanic sand to the north east. The beaches in this area get more sandy with less grit and pebbles the further north you travel up the east coast of the country. This beach also appears to be dog friendly as we observed many of the locals walking their pets here during the morning.

Of all the places around this area, CostaCobana would be our choice to live. It has a great upmarket feel to it, which unfortunately is reflected in the property prices. A brief check revealed a 1 bedroom studio apartment overlooking the western beach at €90,000, a three bedroom terraced house in the same location for €495,000, rising to a stunning detached villa on the eastern beach for just shy of €3,000,000! The average 3 bedroom apartment in the gated complex in Retamar where we are, which also benefits from a swimming pool, sells for between €100,000 - €150,000. A few kilometres makes a huge difference.

After a walk up and down the marine drive, and half an hour taking in the rays, it was back for lunch at the apartment. Living here you have to treat every day as you would at home. It isn't possible to have daily excursions, and to eat out frequently on a budget similar to what we have at our disposal at home in the UK. However, with the weather set hot and sunny and cloudless skies with an average daily temperature of 30+ degrees for the next two weeks at least, I could see the idea growing on me.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

A Day Out To Mojacar.

Last night's social gathering at the local Chinese restaurant was tremendous, and everybody had a great time, I hope, it was our call! We didn't have time to do San Jose as planned yesterday afternoon after we left Alberto's Tapas bar, so it was put forward as a choice for today's agenda, along with the longer, (45 minute) trip to visit Mojacar. Mojacar was unanimously chosen as holding the most interest for a full day out, so after a very leisurely Sunday breakfast it was off up the N-7 freeway to get there.

Mojacar is a lovely place, set within the very baren volcanic landscape that makes up the geography of this area. You will also find more British visitors there than where we are based in Retamar, which remains very Spanish. It is a town of two halves, with the old white mountain village to the right at the roundabout from the approach road from the motorway, and the modern seaside town the opposite way. First we visited the old mountain village, with all its tourist shops open doing a brisk Sunday trade as well as a Sunday market.

After exploration, and a wait for me as the ladies felt the need to enter each shop to feel the merchandise, we chose the bar with the best located terrace overlooking the vista that sweeps down in front of your eyes from the top of the mountain. Here we enjoyed coffee and tapas again, before driving down to the beach for a look around there. The part of town that surrounds the beach is very popular with tourists, and appeared to be still very much in full flow.

Rather than take the direct route back using the N-7 again, we chose to take the spectacular mountain coast road back to the motorway via Carboneras.

What a lovely day out, and again completed in beautiful sunny weather - even though we did have a rain shower after dark yesterday evening. The temperature that was indicated in the mountain village square at 2.00pm this afternoon where we had lunch, indicated 29 degrees.

Our daughter flies home tomorrow, leaving us to spend our remaining time here entertaining ourselves.

We are not looking forward to November onwards in the UK. Should I winterise the motorhome or drive it back out here? I know what I want to do!