And Then There Were Three(ish)

Oh, what a summer it’s been.  We’ll start simple: Agility delivered its first Saietta R to a “customer.”  Agility thus becomes the third sizable company to actually sell consumer-level electric motorcycles.  Mark Northwood received the first, and has been dubbed a “fleet leader” by the company.

algWhat’s a fleet leader, you ask?  Apparently, it’s a “public beta tester.”  Agility is still working with Northwood on the vehicle, which apparently wasn’t ready for sale to non-fleet-leaders.  The two sides have already altered the final gearing, which is understandable.  Final drive sprockets take more than a minute, but are otherwise straightforward to replace.  And, on a direct-drive motorcycle, the final ratio is more important; you can’t tweak your shift timing to rejigger.  But other alterations are being done too, based on Northwood’s feedback.  It’s not nice to hear, but it’s understandable and appears to be necessary.

Agility isn’t just delivering their first electric motorcycle… nor their first motorcycle.  They’re putting their first hard product, ever, on public roads, under members of the “unwashed” public.  This is an issue for Agility, Lightning, Mission, BRD, and the other startups. MotoCzysz apparently can’t deal with this particular issue, and even established KTM is wavering somewhere in between.

Brammo, KTM, MotoCzysz, Lightning, and Mission have put their machines under plenty of racers and test riders (both factory, and outside).  Even the odd reviewer- typically, some motojournalist.  (Lightning, and cruiser-maker Brutus, claim to have sold at least one, possibly a couple, custom motorcycles to those who are obviously quite comfortable.)  But there’s a big difference between an afternoon’s review, under supervision and in a chosen location, by a seasoned rider.  There’s _definitely_ a difference between a private track, and the streets.  It’s far more than adding turn signals, mirrors, and a plate.  The big difference is the big, scary real world, with real-world customers who aren’t be seasoned professionals.

Even in Agility’s case, they sold the first Saietta to Northwood, a Tesla Roadster owner.  He isn’t some dabbler, who’s getting his first real motorcycle after getting by on scooters or mopeds.  He already has a Kawasaki and BMW (that we know of).  He’s also clearly favorable towards electric vehicles- consider how hard it was to get early Teslas in general, let alone in an overseas market.  Before purchasing, he had already bragged about getting an Agility Saietta, to park next to his Roadster.  It was obvious he wasn’t going to turn around and bad-mouth the bike or organization, as reviewers for Hell For Leather and Top Gear did in their EV tests.  For that matter, the Roadster (Tesla’s first design) had issues at the start of the production run, continuing for some time.  It was not a highly-refined daily driver, from an established automaker with longstanding supplier contracts.

And so it goes.  Agility must struggle to stay capitalized while production (and thus, revenue) struggles to get going.  Just like Mission and BRD are struggling to get going… just like Brammo and Zero before them, just like Tesla, Saturn, etc. as well, and now Valetta (trying to capitalize via Kickstarter).  In Agility’s column, they used the existing Agni motor, and the Saietta is clearly on-road only.  The company doesn’t have to do as much hot-weather testing, nor truly cold-weather testing, as manufacturers who devised their own motors.  They can slowly ramp up tests as they expand to other markets.  Nor do they need an extended series of dirt tests.  We’ll see if Agility can withstand a major “issue,” as the Leaf, Volt, and Model S did.  Lead on, Mark Northwood.

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