Observations and Conclusions about the Lectra
This is a summary of what I've found so far about the Lectra;
things that were interesting or surprising.
- Electric motors are much more efficient than gas motors.
After riding my Lectra hard, for ten miles or more, I can still
put my hand right on the motor. It only feels as hot as
it might if it had been sitting in the sun.
- Batteries don't have much energy density with regard to gasoline.
The ratio of energy stored to mass is much lower than gasoline.
This fact causes the batteries, and their characteristics, to
become a significant part of the overall machine. The word
"batteries" itself gives the wrong connotation to modern
hearers -- they are not a simple, replaceable detail, as with
the Energizer bunny.
- Regen braking is something of an art. You have to balance
the increase in range and the extension of normal brake life
against the temperature stress on the motor.
- Although top speed can be measurably affected by things like
wind and road grade, the total range seems to be almost completely
determined by the rider's weight, something which I found unusual.
Wind and road grade will have some effect on range, but nothing
- The fact that the Lectra has no transmission puts a lot of
stress on its chain, which tends to stretch.
- If people see the Lectra first, they suspect, and finally
realize, that it's electric; but if they hear about it first,
they are surprised by its sleek appearance.
- People really seem ready for electric vehicles-- they are
always tickled to see that the Lectra exists and are curious
about other electric vehicles. They want them to succeed.
- People always ask the very same questions: "How
fast?" "How far?" "How long to
recharge?" Very few people think about the lower total
cost of ownership, the preposterously lower refueling costs (mile
for mile), and the simplicity (and therefore lower maintenance)
of the complete machine. I guess most people evaluate vehicles
as though they were going to enter a cross-country race with
them. This is too bad.
- For electric vehicles to really work, the refueling outlets
need to be ubiquitous, and more so than gas stations. Instead
of having gas stations every so often, every parking place needs
an outlet, so that whenever the vehicle is stopped, it can be
charging. The range during normal in-city use (e.g. running
errands, going to work, meeting people, but not cross-country
racing) would then be greatly increased, even with low-capacity
batteries. This is not hard to ask of an employer, but
is much harder to ask of every parking space in a city.
It's ironic, since every city has a ubiquitous power grid --
just not ubiquitous access.
- If electric vehicles ever catch on, they'll probably have
to be electric/gas hybrids. It's too hard to overcome the
resistance to the short range that batteries give the vehicle.