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Get On: Riding an electric motorbike for the first time

The engine of the Zero DS was almost silent
The engine of the Zero DS was almost silent
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Tuesday, 27, Aug 2013 02:00

by Daniel Mackrell

Riding a motorbike for the first time must be a nervous experience for anyone, and it was no different for me when I recently tried it for myself.

I went for a taster session organised by Get On, which offers these opportunities all year round in training centres across the country.

I got my chance at one of its road shows which took place in Stratford, and it gave me the chance to see how it feels to be in control of a motorbike.

They suited me up with all of the essential gear - a helmet, a UV jacket and some gloves, and then I was ready to ride.

The bike

When I met my trainer I was offered the chance to choose my ride, and I looked over at a row of bikes that I have grown to know a lot about.

There was quite a range of models on offer, a couple from Honda, one from Yamaha, but being the indecisive person that I am, in the end I said: "You decide".

As luck would have it, he chose a bike that I'm not familiar with at all, a Zero DS.

What was different about this bike was that it was an electric motorcycle, something that I don't know too much about.

The first thing I noticed was just how big, powerful and heavy the bike was, I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it did make me feel safer and more secure than I'd originally imagined.

I got on the bike and got ready to hear that powerful noise you often hear when someone revs a motorbike on the streets.

I turned the engine on expecting a huge roar: nothing.

The engine was silent except for a slight hum, I was both impressed and disappointed, but I suppose that's one of the 'perks' of an electric motorbike.

Suddenly I was away. It was only a small area I could travel around, or risk smacking into some railing, but I still got a chance to get up some speed.

The brakes on the bike were incredibly sharp, meaning I just needed to give them a slight pull to come to a stop, any more and I'd risk flying over the handlebars.

Also, as there were two brakes (a front brake and a back brake), I had to remember to press one down before the other to come to a smooth stop, which didn't always go well.

One of the main criticisms I would make of the Zero DS was the very wide turning circle, maybe it was because of my inexperience, but as I mentioned the track was fairly small, which meant I had to turn and reverse multiple times before I was facing the right way.

I also had a quick ride on a scooter, to try a change in size and performance.

I instantly found it lighter, and easier to control, I felt more confident on it, most likely because of the smaller size and the easier manoeuvrability.

There are obviously setbacks to a scooter, such as speed and overall performance.

It was actually the scooter that gave me the noise I was craving, the moment it was switched on, there was a loud noise from the engine, and as I built up speed it made its typical scooter sound.

The experience

When we were done, I took off my safety gear, and it was like I had been drenched in a bucket of sweat. I don't envy riders during the summer months.

It surprised me how much there was to remember while on the bike, which I imagine comes naturally over time, such as leaning to your left when you come to a stop, because it means you're away from traffic.

Being naturally right-footed I kept leaning to the right and was getting a rather frustrated look from the trainer as I continued to basically ignore his advice, but it was difficult to stop those natural instincts within the 30 minutes I had.

Also, I was told to keep looking forward at where I wanted to go, which was hard to adjust to.

Overall, there was a lot crammed into the short session, but if I can get a decent grip like I did within such a short space of time, I imagine that with more time, riding a bike would very quickly become easier.

I would certainly recommend taking advantage of the Get On sessions, they are great fun, and it gives you a free opportunity to see if a motorbike is right for you.

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