Spira Electric Enclosed Motorcycle—Spira4U.
We can all see this is not an electric-assist bicycle. And, it isn’t an electric car either, yet when driving it, that is the feeling you get. My take is that it is an electric enclosed motorcycle. It is classified as a motorcycle, yet there is no helmet or motorcycle specific driver’s license needed (in California at least). The Spira could be called many things, but I think I will just call it an EV (Electric Vehicle). What it is, is smart, fun, and economical. This is the Spira4U, a brand-new EV that is getting ready to take you on the ride of a lifetime.
Two local brothers came together to design, develop and produce this modern take on transportation. With a chassis made of a special honeycomb core board and surrounded by foam, it cradles you in a soft and stylish body that has proven to add a level of safety not offered by other EVs. Using lithium batteries and electric motors for its motive power (there is a 150cc gas version too, yet that is pretty much off my radar), it scoots you down the road with a zip you have to experience to believe.
It is primarily designed for a single rider (driver?), yet two cozy people can easily sit side-by-side for each run, something my wife and I did many times. Things were a tad tight this way, although the extra weight didn’t seem to affect the drive or performance in a noticeable way. There are a pair of seat belts and that way we got to share the fun of electric motoring together. Spira is even experimenting with a four seater version, something I got to see the prototype of. A futuristic EV like this has so many possibilities.
The powertrain is basically made up of already existing electric motorcycle components. Each back wheel has a brushless hub motor, and all three wheels (two in back, one in front) have hydraulic disc brakes (which BTW, worked strong and smoothly). It uses a tiller steering that only takes just a block or two to become comfortable with. Some of the controls are on the two motorcycle like grips you use for steering. You have your choice of using the floor throttle pedal or the twist one on the grips, me finding the motorcycle like one more natural to use.
From the spec chart we see these numbers. 620 lbs total weight. 440 lbs carrying capacity. 70 or 140 mile battery range (depending on which lithium battery is installed). 70 mph top speed. Two 10Kw 72 volt motors. Installed 15 amp battery charger that will work on 110-220 AC household current. 9 ft tall, 5 ft wide, 4 ft tall overall dimensions. 14” motorcycle tires. 4 ft of foam in front and 4 inches of foam on each side. It has full lighting, windshield wipers, defroster, and plenty of instrumentation.
Acceleration is brisk and the fastest I went (two up) was about 62 mph, going up a small grade on a local highway (and a quick twist of the throttle showed more speed was definitely available). The Spira I had didn’t have the production battery, but one said to get about a 100 mile range under optimum conditions on the cruise. My best was close to 80 miles on one charge, yet much of that was with both of us aboard and many signals to deal with. I drove it a total of 175 miles in that week and used 228 Ah to make the distance. That relates to less than 2 dollars (rough estimate here) of electricity added to my monthly power bill.
On top of the fun and excitement, dealing with the interested onlookers was a constant task. I can’t even guess how many cell phone photos were snapped as we drove and when we were parked. At each stop, up to a dozen people at a time surrounded the Spira and pounded us with questions. There was ½ a box of business cards under the seat and I managed to hand them all out to people that realized this EV has some serious potential. Right after picking up the Spira, we stopped at a relative’s house so he could give it a try, and within a minute he showed us a photo on his phone of this EV that a friend had sent him just 3 hours earlier (he spotted it in a parking lot near the designer’s house).
I did let many take some time behind the tiller to feel it out and get their impressions. Each loved it, yet a few criticisms did get mentioned. They were the same I had, and many have already been dealt with on the next shipment of these EVs from China. Yes, they were dreamt up and designed here, but the assembly line is overseas, not all that uncommon in today’s world. I spent a lot of time with the maker of this EV, getting a chance to learn more, and discuss the upgrades already in progress.
Some creature comforts will be improved, the very firm ride will be softened somewhat, the steering geometry has been changed for a better feel, and other changes are in the works. I think the feedback I gave will help, and it is always nice to see a company strive for modifications of an early product to give a better end-user experience. If any product will survive, it needs a strong and smart team behind it, and this is the impression I got with my sit-down time with one of the brothers behind this cool new 3-wheeled EV.
Due to the construction materials and the electric power, one problem I had was that it didn’t always trigger the sensors that change the traffic signals. In normal traffic this was never an issue, yet a few times it was. Also, I do want to mention that even though the battery charger is onboard, it needs a HD extension cord and a household outlet that can easily handle the 15 amps the charger draws. Charging took place in just 4-7 hours, yet the cord I used (a weed eater outdoor type) did get a bit warm. Get a good one if you decide to start driving your own Spira.
Riding the Spira is a blast. You sit low and using the controls and instrumentation is a unique experience. The firm ride has you avoiding the rough spots, not the easiest thing to do with all three wheels. It is small compared to the vehicles around you, yet I never felt unsafe or un-noticed. Part of the theme with this EV is that the foam cradles you if an incident does happen, and the maker’s tests have be proven with high marks and low rider G forces in impacts. Although it is a 3-wheeler, it seemed as solid on the road as could be, with no tendency to lift a wheel or become unstable. I did notice some buffeting from cross-winds, yet it was all easily controlled with the steering tiller. Forward and side visibility is great, with the side mirrors and a full-time reverse camera filling in the gaps to the rear.
I was promised a chance to re-visit the Spira in the near future, so watch for that. Follow the link below to the Spira website for some videos that show that it floats, impact testing and other cool stuff. I posted three videos myself that you can see with the push of a button. If the norm doesn’t always fit your needs when it comes to fun and transportation, then this Spira EV could be what you are looking for. They are here and you are ready. Spira4U? Give it a test ride and some consideration. Just maybe this will be your new norm.
Looking for something different? Try looking at the Spira, Turbo Bob.
“Yes, my grandfather worked with Thomas Edison on the electric car, and he sold electric cars at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris.”—Al Jardine.
You can get all the info on the Spira4U website and Facebook page.
Check these videos of my fun with the Spira.