Meet the Bolt M-1. It's like the mopeds of yore, in that it's built around a frame more sturdy than that of a bicycle. In fact, you could think of it as a super-lightweight motorcycle – with pedals. Unlike the sputtering, smoky two-stroke machines from the era of burnt orange shag carpet, however, the M-1 is powered chiefly by electricity, instead of gasoline mixed with oil.
It came into existence after Bolt Motorbike co-founders Zachary Levenberg and Nathan Jauvtis, engineers with experience in the electric vehicle space and moped enthusiasts – yes, there are such people – got together in 2012 to further develop a prototype Jauvits had put together a couple years earlier. The result is a bike with fetching appearance and the performance to take on the urban terrain of its San Francisco hometown. It also incorporates technology we might expect to find in a more sophisticated vehicle. After putting thousands of miles on its first pair of prototypes, the duo recently built a more refined production version (pictured above) and is just about ready to start building copies for customers.
The Bolt M-1 comes with both an economy and sport mode. The company tells AutoblogGreen that, in the former, it can cruise up to a top speed of 20 miles per hour for as far as 50 miles on flat ground. Turn up the wick (off-road, to stay legal), and you unlock a full five-and-half kilowatts (7.38 horsepower) of fury, allowing you to go as fast as 40 mph for about 30 miles. That's all without pedaling, which is good. While using human power on a two-wheeler of this size may be great for exercise, it's not so great for getting anywhere fast.
Charging also has two modes. The bike can be plugged into a wall for about 90 minutes to fill up, or, to take it a little easier on your batteries, connected to a special at-home charger which will add juice more slowly, topping you off from empty in five hours. The 1.6-kWh lithium battery pack has a quick release and can be brought inside for security and charging. It's said to be good for over 2,000 complete charge/discharge cycles.
The M-1 also boasts bluetooth, which lets you pair your bike to your phone and connect to the cloud. Its mobile app offers security, navigation and music functionality. If the firmware needs an update, it comes to you over-the-air à la Tesla. The electric moped's unique dash also features a USB port to plug in peripherals and keep them juiced up.
Though the company is still doing a bit of fine tuning, it is now taking pre-orders for its first batch of bikes. The price tag reads $4,995 and, as of yesterday, there are only 11 spots in line still available. Production should begin this summer, with the precise date predicated on the results of an upcoming crowd funding campaign.
You can keep up with developments at Bolt Motorbikes via their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. Scroll down and enjoy a beautiful, but brief, promotional video showing the M-1 in action.