Weekend long rides are pretty much the norm for a lot of motorcycle riders. First, nothing beats exploring the beautiful country we have by riding our trusty motorcycles. Second, it’s a way to unwind, relax and temporarily get off from our often busy weeks. Third, this moto-tourism is more affordable compared to driving a van or another type of vehicle to explore the countryside.
However, with the rising fuel prices, these weekend long rides could easily setback a motorcycle rider a few thousand bucks per ride, not to mention food and accommodation.
A few weeks back, someone asked us if it is possible to do a long ride using their e-bike, and probably save money by going emissions-free. With this year’s Touratech Travel Event around the corner, we here at MotoPinas.com thought that it would be the perfect opportunity to try and see if it is really possible to travel long distances as you would on a motorcycle onboard a rechargeable e-bike.
ZEEHO is a spinoff brand by giant motorcycle manufacturer, CFMOTO, specifically for their line of electric motorcycles and scooters. The AE8 scooter is powered by a 12 kW motor that is capable of producing a whopping 218 Nm of torque.
It also boasts a dual 69-volt Lithium-ion battery pack with a 33 Ah capacity. The AE8’s overall size is comparable to most 150cc scooters in the market today and is equipped with a large LED screen with Bluetooth connectivity, full-LED lighting, Brembo front brake, USB charging ports (Type A and Type C), and a key card.
404-kilometer ride – Day 1
The trip to Dingalan, Aurora, from my place near Las Pinas, is more or less 202 kilometers, one way, or about 404 kilometers roundtrip. Though on paper, ZEEHO claims that the AE8 can go as far as 190 kilometers in one full charge on ECO mode, real riding conditions that include terrain, traffic, and other factors realistically put the range between 100 to 120 kilometers.
To make the most out of the battery juice and make it to Dingalan before dark, I started the adventure at around 4:30 in the morning, just before the rush hour. After two and a half hours on the road traversing Manila, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and all the way to San Rafael, Bulacan, via MacArthur Highway and Bulacan Bypass Road, I found myself stopping by at a local eatery because the smell of liempo freshly grilled on the roadside made me hungry.
With 22% juice remaining on the batteries, I thought that this would be the perfect time to have breakfast and at the same time give the AE8 its needed electrical recharge. Mommy Beth, the owner of Betchay eatery, was very accommodating and allowed me to plug the AE8 for FREE while I enjoy their special barbeque liempo and coffee at 7:00 AM. Total money spent: PHP 100.00 for breakfast and coffee.
After 3 hours and a good nap, I bade mommy Beth goodbye and I’m back on the road. The 3-hour charge got the AE8 an additional 53% juice, bringing the total charge to about 75%. In my estimation, that’s enough juice up to Tanawan, about 72 kilometers from Betchay eatery. Tanawan, as the name implies, is an elevated part of the Sta. Rosa-Ft. Magsaysay Rd. and is overlooking many of Nueva Ecija’s towns.
Unfortunately, by the time I reached the winding roads leading up to Tanawan, the remaining charge was less than 15%. By this time, the ZEEHO AE8 went on to a “battery save mode” and was barely giving enough power for the climb.
As the batteries were about to die, I detoured to Camp Agi. As it turns out, Camp Agi – owned by Dr. Aguinaldo from Makati – is still under construction and is not yet open to the public.
The folks that were working on the construction didn’t hesitate and offered whatever help they can to this low-batt rider. They let me plug my e-scooter and even offered me some refreshments all without asking for a single penny or anything in return.
This time, it took 3.5 hours for the battery to get what I estimate as enough juice for the remaining 54-kilometer ride to Dingalan. It was already past 3:00 PM.
Riding through Laur and Gabaldon were mostly straight roads. It got a little tricky, however, when I reached to twisties from Gabaldon going to Dingalan. With some steep inclines leading to the town of Dingalan, the AE8’s twin batteries were working double time to provide the much-needed boost. That said, the battery juice was also draining fast.
Shortly after 4:00 PM, I reached the Touratech Travel Event destination at Giliw Resort, still with 8% remaining on the batteries. A long ride is indeed possible with an e-bike, but this is only half of the ride.
404-kilometer ride – Day 2
After a whole night of fun and music at the Touratech Travel Event, it’s time to head home. Since my fellow riders who joined the Travel Event were all on their big bikes and will use CLLEX, SCTEX and NLEX going back to Manila, I just took it easy and went through the national highway without any issue.
By the time I reached San Leonardo, Nueva Ecija, it was already lunchtime and the AE8’s batteries were almost out of juice after 81 kilometers of travel. Stopping by a local kambingan – an eatery that specializes in goat-based meals – the waitresses were also very accommodating and allowed me to plug the e-bike (for FREE) while I enjoy a good pinapaitan and kalderetang kambing. After enjoying my goat lunch, nap and 3 hours of charging, I was back on the road again. Total spent: PHP 150.00
The plan was to reach my friend’s house in Pulilan (55 kilometers) to recharge and have dinner before finally heading back home. Battery charge: 61%.
The ride through the towns of San Leonardo and Gapan was uneventful, until reaching the town of San Miguel, Bulacan. Seeing the long line of vehicles along the national highway, I filtered through the traffic jam with the many riders who were also just trying to get home. The traffic jam was so bad that even 2-wheelers had a hard time filtering through. It was then we realized that the local police had made a blockade to give way to the town’s fiesta. Some of the truckers said that they were already more than 2 hours stranded on the highway.
To avoid the town center where the main festivities took place, we took long-cut detours and spent a lot of the remaining battery charge. By the time I reached Baliwag, Bulacan, it was almost dark and the AE8’s remaining juice was down to only 4%. Since my friend’s home was still a good 10 kilometers away from Baliwag, the remaining juice would not be enough. Exhausted from the afternoon heat and traffic, I decided to call it a day and rest at the nearby hotel. The hotel staff also allowed me to plug in my e-bike at no extra cost.
Based on the ZEEHO app, the charging time would be almost 6 hours. In reality, however, the charging time from 4% to 100% took a little over 7 hours.
ZERO fuel expense, ZERO emissions
Fully refreshed and having a 100% charge on the 3rd day, I took off from Baliwag shortly before dawn to avoid the Monday morning rush hour. Since this stretch of the MacArthur highway is mostly just straight roads with little to no inclines, I opted to use the Sport Mode of the AE8, enjoying its full 218 Nm of torque.
Overall, the 404-kilometer trip to Dingalan and back was uneventful, except for that San Miguel town fiesta which inconvenienced a lot of motorists. Riding the AE8 was really fun since it handles better than most petrol-powered scooters its size and has a torque output comparable to a car. Because of this massive torque output, the AE8 can easily outrun any scooter below 400cc on a 0 to 100 km/h dash.
During the 404-kilometer, 3-day ride, I spent ZERO pesos on fuel and only spent a few hundred pesos on meals along the way – which by the way would still be spent even if I traveled using a “normal” scooter, plus an additional PHP 300 for a cheap overnight hotel.
If I elected to ride a big bike, the fuel cost and toll fees could easily rack up to PHP 3,000, maybe even more. The only downside (for now) in riding an e-bike for long rides is the charging time. The town of Dingalan is relatively near and can be reached in more or less 3 hours on a big bike. It took me and the ZEEHO AE8 almost 12 hours.
But wait! Let me say that the AE8 was never designed for long trips and is for city riding only. Riding the AE8 all the way to Dingalan and back was pushing it way beyond its intended design and is already a feat by itself. This ride is also a testament that we can ride an e-bike and take it to far destinations unassisted by a backup vehicle.
In the next few months, says our friends from Motostrada – the official distributor of CFMOTO and ZEEHO in the country – a fast-charging unit will be available for the AE8 and may cut the charging time to less than half.
This is just a glimpse of what our future long rides would be since all of the major motorcycle manufacturers around the world have started to introduce their own e-bike models. By that time, the infrastructure for EVs will be better and may include battery-swapping stations and the travel time will be at par with today’s “normal” motorcycles.
*For more information about the ZEEHO AE8, visit Motostrada’s official social media page. Unit tested is available wih an SRP of PHP 209,800.00.