A world record with a TWIKE?
2000km on one charge…with a 25+ year old electric vehicle?
Wishful thinking or validation of a decades-old vehicle concept?
Thomas Bechtiger from Bemoto in Zurich has been our trusted TWIKE repair shop from the very beginning and thought that this would be feasible.
He wanted to just load as many used electric scooter batteries into a TWIKE as possible and then see how far the TWIKE could go.
It took him and a small and dedicated team months to build the blocks, add a lower-voltage 48V motor and controller electronics to go with it. As he wanted to use the full volume of the second seat for batteries, the standard TWIKE yoke had to go and was replaced with the same type of two-stick tank-style steering system.
Thomas approached me early as I’m one of the very rare TWIKE pilots that actually has driven a TWIKE for extended periods (thanks to TW560’s large battery) and since the date worked out – one day before leaving on our yearly trip to Austria – I gladly accepted to be the first pilot to do 6-8 hours non-stop. Other TWIKE pilots were asked via the TWIKE club and very soon we had a good number of pilots to cover the estimated 48h the record would last.
My task was to drive and with my experience detect any kinks with the TWIKE before they would become a larger problem.
The event took place in Kloten’s industrial estate with a pilot change-over space on a parking lot of a sponsor.
Let’s jump in right before the event. Thomas was charging the TWIKE with a standard charger at a very low rate – ideal to get the most energy into cells. He had been there since early morning and was nearing the 100% mark.
We then were interviewed by the local newspaper and the photographer took some professional pictures.
All the admin done, we prepared the TWIKE. Here Thomas is connecting the last fuses.
And, with that, the TWIKE was ready and I set off.
The steering system is super weird and took some getting used to. Due to the high weight of the vehicle, accelerating was a very slow and tedious affair. I kept to driving around 42-44 km/h to optimize speed and consumption.
Given that the lap I was to follow was around just one 1km I had many, many mind-numbing laps to go after finding no faults with the TWIKE and having gotten used to the special steering mechanism. With this, I fired-up my phone and started streaming some episodes of my favourite series to my phone from my server at home.
Later, much later, I handed over the TWIKE to the next pilot after around 6 hours of driving. Fortunately, they had some cold beers and some sausages on the barbecue. Later that evening I left everyone settle into night-mode and drove home with my own TWIKE, happy to revert back to the yoke steering system that I find much more intuitive.
The whole event, however, was not as successful as we had hoped for. It started to rain and wind blew constantly, adding large amounts of additional energy consumption to the already minimal margin for 2000 km. And indeed, after 1470km, the day after, in torrential rain, the TWIKE came to a halt.
Although a disappointing result, we still went further than most current electric vehicles. We’ll give this another try soon!
A week later, we were prominently featured in the local newspaper – yay! Not quite as flashy as when TW560 and I were mentioned in Indian newspapers … but at least 5 mins of fame.