Fonzarelli is an Australian company founded by Michelle Nazzari. They offer a range of electric two-wheeled machines that are starting to provoke great interest as the Covid-19 pandemic causes many of us to re-think our transport options.
Electric vehicles are an attractive option. For now, they tend to have high sticker prices but their operating costs are low: less maintenance, much lower fuel costs. And driving or riding them is a revelation, even if it can take time to get used to.
One of those Fonzarelli machines is the Arthur 3. This “model 3” is the most powerful of the range, with a top speed of 80km/h and an optional top speed of 85km/h available and a range of 100km. On the Arthur 1 and Arthur 2 models the range is 50km, with top speeds of 50km/h and 65km/h respectively.
For three days I used the Arthur 3 as my primary vehicle, going to and from work and into town. As an owner of a non-electric scooter (Honda SH150i), I was intrigued to know what going electric meant practically for someone, like me, who does not own a garage.
It’s worth noting at this point that the only other electric vehicles I had previously driven is a Tesla Model 3 and Model S, both being high-end electric cars. So my performance expectations for Fonzarelli’s electric vehicles might have been substantially raised as a result.
The drive is different to my petrol scooter, no doubt. It’s quiet, for one. I didn’t miss the noise of the petrol engine. Zippy is a word probably overused in motor vehicle reviews, but I’m afraid I’ll have to continue that trend and use it here for the Arthur 3. It is zippy.
A couple of technical points about the ride on the Arthur. Trying to throttle whilst applying the rear brakes gets you nowhere. As it turns out, this is something I must do a little bit without even knowing, as the first couple of traffic lights led to a false start, but this was something I could easily fix after realizing what I was doing to cause these false starts. The Arthur models come with brakes on both the front and rear wheel, as well as regenerative braking which means applying the brakes will help recharge the battery.
It took a while to adapt to the electric throttle. At first, I found it a little inconsistent, meaning that I felt a slight jerking sense when cruising at a consistent speed. Taking the throttle off and then back while cruising just wasn’t quite as smooth as I would have liked.
But this wasn’t particularly bothersome, and in fact the longer I had the bike, the more comfortable I became with the electric torque, and by day 3 I hardly felt that sense of the torque jerking me forward while cruising as I adapted to the electric throttle.
Speaking of torque, it seems no matter the size of the battery, electric vehicles trump their petrol counterparts when it comes to acceleration. The instant and silent acceleration going from 0-50km/h was a constant pleasure. Perhaps not so much a pleasure for the battery, which did tend to go down a percentage point each time I zipped away full torque from a traffic light.
Is it like going from 0-100km’h in a Tesla Model S P100D? Well, not quite. But that’s a stupid comparison really, and one I’m only making as the Tesla is the only other electric vehicle I had driven. It’s like comparing my Honda SH150i scooter to a Ducati 1299 Panigale Superleggera. Sure, they both use petrol, but one is a city slicker designed for inner city driving, and the other is a 1,285 cc superbike at 20x the cost of my Honda. I digress.
Back to the Fonz. One thing I noticed very quickly was how light it is, weighing at a touch less than 100kg. About 20% of that weight comes from the battery. In the Arthur 3 you get a bigger battery, giving you 100km range and a top speed of 80km/h. What you sacrifice for that extra range is space under the seat. Apart from my gloves and sunnies, there wasn’t a whole lot of other space for storage. A top box (available for an additional $375) would be a must have if I was purchasing one of these.
On the third day of riding from home to my office and back (around 10kms each way) and a couple dashes into town, I was down to around 40% charge. I didn’t need to charge it but I wanted to see the practicality of having an electric vehicle and charging it when you don’t have a garage to store and charge it in.
Unlike the Tesla (this is the last time I’ll compare the two, I promise), you’re able to remove the battery and bring it into your home and office to charge. A great alternative to getting an extension cable going from your home/office and onto the street.
The 8kw battery in the Arthur 3 does, however, weigh around 20kg. If you don’t need to walk far with the battery in hand to where you want to charge it, then it’s not a big deal. But, should you have to walk more than 100m carrying a battery weighing the equivalent of the average 6 year old boy, then it’s not the most pleasant activity. It’s worth pointing out that the Arthur Model 1 & 2 are better designed for portable charging.
Once you’ve got the battery in your home or office to charge, plugging in as easy as charging your phone. It does take a bit longer, however, with a full charge taking between 6-8 hours. A fast charger plugged directly into the scooter however would give you a charge up to 80% in around an hour.
The running cost of this vehicle is calculated at around $1/week by Fonzarelli, significantly lower than the already low running costs of a scooter, and even more so when comparing to the running costs of a car. It also means you won’t have to wait too long before it starts paying for itself.
So, to sum up, zippy, instant torque, no noise, no emissions, fun to ride. The Arthur 3 is enjoyable, it leaves a low carbon footprint and it represents a big step in the right direction towards zero emissions transport. I’m excited to see what’s still to come from this promising Australian company.
Arthur 3 Specs
Price: $6,990 + ORC
Warranty: 24-month / 10,000km
Colours: Royal Aubergine, Scarlet Red, Moon Blue, Black Matte, Racer Green
Claimed Power: 8kW
Top Speed: 80km/h
Charge Time: Approx. 1hr – 80 per cent w/ fast charger / 6-8hrs with regular charger.
Load Capacity: 150kg
Seat Height: 79cm
Suspension: Non-adjustable telescopic forks (f), twin shocks (r)
Brakes: Hydraulic disc (f), hydraulic disc (r), combined braking system, electric braking system, regenerative braking.
Wheels/Tyres: 12 inch wheels, Yuanxing 110/70 x 12 (f), Yuanxing 110/70 x 12 (r)
Features: LCD dash, LED headlamp, Carbon Structural Frame, Quick storage compartments, USB socket