We checked out Arcimoto’s $12,000 electric trike — here’s what it was like

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

It’s easy to tell the difference between a motorcycle and car, right? One has two wheels, one has four.

Except that there are now plenty of vehicles available that have three wheels.

There’s the Can-Am Spyder, the Campagna Motors T-REX, and the Polaris Slingshot, to name a few. There’s also the Elio, which recently paid a visit to out New York office.

Soon to join the party is the all-electric Arcimoto SRK (those aforementioned rides all run on gas), effectively a $12,000 tandem three-wheeler motorcycle that can be outfitted with a fully enclosed “cabin” or converted to delivery van duty.

It might be the ultimate city vehicle. And we checked it out:


Arcimoto swung by our Manhattan office for a curbside briefing and test drive. It was a lovely day in mid-September. The Oregon-based startup has thus far taken about $8 million in funding and has worked through 8 prototypes of its vehicle.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

They brought a pair of SRKs — one red and one blue.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

That’s Mark Frohnmayer, the founder. He’s an entrepreneur who sold his previous company, GarageGames, before starting Arcimoto.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

Another Arcimoto staffer piloted the second SRK. That’s Jesse Fittipaldi, who leads business development for the company.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

The SRK is basically a tandem 3-wheeled motorcycle/maxi-scooter that can be operated open or with an enclosure. It has a pair of electric motors, one for each front wheel. Arcimoto says the top speed is 85 mph, with a range of 70 miles. That range can be bumped to 130 miles with an upgraded battery. The SRK can be charged at 110V or 220V, and owners can buy a “briefcase” charger if they don’t have, say a garage to charge the vehicle in.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

There are basic motorcycle handlebars, a single information screen — and a cupholder!

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

The arrows indicate forward, reverse, and the dot is for park. Twist the right hand grip toward you to give it some juice. There’s also a handbrake on this side, providing regenerative braking, plus an hydraulic foot brake for better stopping power and to hold the SRK on an incline.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

The turn signal, horn, and hazard flashers are over on the other side. Price is $12,000. An additional $3,000 buys you an enclosure, to keep out the weather. Arcimoto is currently taking $100 deposits on its website.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

Nothing fancy here, just the info. Gear, speed, charge. Do you need a motorcycle license or a helmet? It varies by state. No helmet needed in New York, and in California and Oregon — the first two markets for Arcimoto — no motorcycle license required.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

The seats are relatively stylish and comfortable. They have criss-cross seat belts — you click twice.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

Mark took the reigns first — it is his machine, after all. We were constantly asked by passers-by what it was and how much it costs.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

Then I hopped on. Every time I check out an electric motorcycle-y kind of thing, I want to get one. The learning curve is practically non-existent.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

Off we go! All we did was take the SRK — it stands for “Shark” — around the block. But I did enjoy some peppy electric-powered acceleration, and even though the front wheels stick out, it wasn’t hard to negotiate turns. This thing is also a breeze to park just about anywhere. There’s a small basket on the back to stash your stuff.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

Frohnmayer says that the SRK was designed to be the ideal city vehicle. For me, it was pretty ideal for 15 minutes. It goes into production later this year.

source
Matthew DeBord/BI

We’re starting to see a lot of these relatively inexpensive alternate transportation vehicles hit the road. However, only time will tell if there’s really a market for them, but they sure are fun!

source
Matthew DeBord/BI