Clean fun with my Kero 200 electric scooter
cheap to run and pollution free!

by Karl Scherer


click to enlarge


Clean Fun with 'Electrix', my new Electric Scooter (NZ$3000).

Motivation:

- very little energy use
- minimal cost (about a dollar for 100 km)
- no pollution in the city
- no pollution created at all (our house's electric power is supplied by carbon neutral power company Meridian Power)
- very silent driving
- very easy to learn (I never drove a moped, scooter or motor bike before)
- can be driven with car driver license,
- one year guarantee
- scooter needs little space in my garage, fits in easily next to my car.
- good and friendly sales and service by the selling company Whatpowercrisis.

Introduction
Recently I bought a modern electric scooter.
It is called 'Kero 200' and has been on the market for only a few months.
It is a generation apart from previous electric scooters, not only because
of its racy design, but also because of its modern technology:
It has five constant-discharge maintenance-free silicon-gel-lead batteries, an in-wheel electric motor
and it recharges the batteries when rolling downhill.
Hi-tech neodymium magnets allow for a brushless motor.
Best of all, this new generation of scooters is much stronger than older types.

Who sells these newest electric scooters?
- In New Zealand, Kero scooters are being sold by an innovative company with the appropriate name Whatpowercrisis, which is situated in Ramarama (63 Old Coachway Rd, 09-294-7703). The company also sells high-tech solar collectors, wind mills, and heat pumps.
- In USA, the scooter Kero 200 is sold under the name "Extreme XM 2000".
- Also, the range is sold under "E-runner 160", "E-runner 220", "E-cruiser 160" and "E-cruiser 220"
by the company GreenEmotor.

I had a good test ride which was lots of fun.
The company's service was very friendly and informative.
Their 500-km free service for the Kero (which came with a 1 year warranty) was eceptionally thorough
One battery was faulty, and they replaced the whole set.

Who produces the scooters?

The scooters are produced in China by the company Amoyee / Erato, which lately has been split into two companies.
Web pages:
Amoyee: http://www.efun-ev.com
(and, not recommended, partner company Erato http://erato.en.ec21.com).

What choices did I have?
They have also a less powerful Kero 150 available with 1500 watts power, but I opted for the larger version Kero 200 with 2000 watts, since I live on Auckland's North Shore, which is rather hilly.
A scooter with 2000 watts is the maximum powered vehicle you can drive with a normal car license in New Zealand.
This power is comparable to that of a 50cc moped.
Searching the internet, I found that scooters used to have 400 to 500 watts power. What a difference!
(There is also a Kero 300 in the wings with 3000 watts, for which you will need a
motorcycle licence).

I opted for the red model for safety reasons, and I felt it looked better than the blue one, too.

The Kero has arrived!
The Kero was delivered fully charged nearly ready to go.
Only the two side mirrors, the hand covers and the two plastic pieces covering the side of the rear wheel had to be attached, which was a quick and easy job.
Things which were included in the delivery were:
- a charger
- a 1.5m connection cable to connect the charger to a power plug
- a very handy plastic cover to keep the seats dry when the Kero is parked in the rain
- some tools
- a manual (which described a slightly different model).

First inpressions
I very much liked that the Kero was delivered ready to go.
The delivery man actually gave it a short test drive before handing it over to me.
I liked the design of my scooter even more than the one I had test driven because mine was red instead of blue.
It was easy to ride, easy to learn and by far fast enough for my purposes.

I sorely missed a sign on the scooter saying that it was electric.
Of course one reason I had bought it was to be environmentally friendly, create no pollution in the city (and being with carbon-neutral Meridian even our household's electricity comes from an eco-friendly source), and make less noise than a moped or traditional scooter.
So I bought some stick-on letters from the paper shop and put ELECTRIX on both sides of my Kero.

Via a button, I can select one of two "gears".
You use the slower gear for:
 - starts, especially at the red lights,
 - hill climbs, especially steep hills
 - straights if you want to maximise the distance you can go.
 
Acceleration, speed and range

The acceleration is really the big plus of electric motors.
In most cases, the Kero can easily keep up with the traffic, even going 65kmh on the straight.
On the other hand, the distance you can go severely limits the use of this scooter, which surely is not a toy with its weight of 130 kilos.

Its range greatly depends on the weight the scooter has to carry and the number of hills you have to climb on your way.
It is important to remember that letting the scooter roll recharges the batteries.
I weigh about 72kg, hence with clothing and daypack the Kero has to carry 80kg.
On hilly North Shore I find that the scooter takes me about 30 kilometers easily
(on full speed) before the needle goes even into the yellow zone.
Since my trips are all relatively short, I have never tried out its full range.

Recharging and Maintenance

Without spark plugs, gearbox, clutch, driveshaft, chain and brushes there should be little maintenance.
I have already adjusted the rear brakes slightly, which was extremely simple to do.

I never had to charge the batteries outside my house because my typical trips are all in the
25km-roundtrip range which the Kero easily covers.
My worst fear was what would happen if the battery runs out of charge.
It happened to me the other day when I was 2km from home and climbing a steep hill.
I had carried someone on my back seat that day for a while and knew I had overextended the Kero's range.
To my surprise I found that I still got home without major problems:
I walked the Kero for the steepest parts of two major hills (it drove itself up, slowly, with me walking beside it), and I rode the less steep parts and of course the downhill parts on the scooter.
So there was no need to push it at any time.

The Kero has two seats. I have made some short trips with my wife (who is very lightweight)
on the back seat (both wearing moped helmets, of course), and Electrix performed without a hitch.
It gets charged after each trip in my garage, parked alongside our car.
The charger stops automatically when the battery is full, so the charger can stay attached
overnight without problems.

Limited storage space
The Kero has some storage space unterneath the seat, which is large enough for my
rain gear (thin rainproof overtrousers and thin rainproof jacket), the 7m extension cable and the charger.
The two small locked compartments next to the steering wheel are good for sunglasses, gloves etc.
The extension cable allows me to park the scooter in front of a friend's house and
charge it from a plug inside the house.

In order to carry my daypack containing my laptop, I attached a sturdy, high-walled 40x50cm plastic basket
with four screws at the back, which I bought for five dollars from the Warehouse.
A short bungy cord secures the cargo.

Changes and improvements I made
 - In order to save battery power I have exchanged the (12V) back light electric bulb for an equivalent LED bulb, but it turned out this interfered with the Kero's electrics (didm't start when lights switched on), so that idea didn't work.
 - I cut off an unnecessary 5cm wide rim under the seat which serves no purpose.
This enlarged the space under the seat a bit and makes it much easier to close when things are stored in the under-seat compartment.
- As mentioned above, I attached a sturdy 40x50cm plastic basket (30 cm high) at the back  
This has proven extremely useful and also large enough for shopping;  I also can have a dayback containing my laptop in it.
- I created a 7m extension cord wound around a piece of H-shaped plywood so I can charge the scooter anywhere.

Rain gear etc.
The chill factor on a motor bike is very high, especially in the winter.
Against rain and wind I wear long johns underwear, an anorak on top, also light rainproof trousers and light rainproof plastic jacket, and a thin orange reflective safety west on top. Also a scarf if it is very cold.
If you fear a bladder infection in cold weather, stuff a small towel into your trousers!
The hands are protected by gloves (in the winter or in bad weather). Have them always ready!
I wear a certified moped helmet (with small sunshield and large visor) which I bought new for NZ$120 at a motorcycle shop.
I got a second hand certified moped helmet of similar quality for my partner Megan which I got for NZ$60.

Public recharging spots?
I have talked to Laura Herst of the North Shore City Council about installing recharging spots in the suburb centers and asking the petrol stations to allow electric scooters and bikes to be charged there.  They are looking into it as part of encouraging a general change of transport attitudes.

My other wishes are for stronger batteries (lithium?) and for a speed-charging gadget
in order to extend the Kero's range.
I also hope that I don't totally forget to ride my bicycle, which gives me lots of exercise.

All in all, I am more than pleased with my decision to opt for an alternative mode of personal transport.
I tell all people I know and hope that more people abstain from their loud and polluting vehicles
and use electric scooters and electric bicyles instead!

You too can make a difference!

3000 Kilometers later (Jan 2010)
My Kero is still running without any problems.
Better actually than ever, since the noises from the speedometer and the brakes have totally gone after the first couple of months.
Main lesson learned:
- Check the tyre pressure regularly.
  I have lost the type pressure once, and it was very difficult to get it pumped up at a garage; the normal air pumps want do
  because the air has no proper containment anymore. Part of the problem are the Kero's valves (ventils) that have a 90 degree bend.
  Best solution (idiot-proof): get inner tubes installed, this is what I have got done now in the front wheel.
  With inner tubes installed you can use the standard air pumps at any gas station.
- The front wheel is very easy to take off, the back wheel is not very difficult either.
- Soon after I got the Kero the 2-leg stand did not stay where it should, making it hard for me to put the scooter on the stand and off again.
  I got a 30 cm piece of steel rod welded to the 2-leg stand which fixed the problem permanently.

Cheers, Karl



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