HOMEGROWN, ECO-FRIENDLY AND SPORTING SLEEK EUROPEAN LINES, INTRODUCING A NEW SILENT FORCE MAKING SOME NOISE.
MAquiet motorbike is like Billy Connolly without f-words, or a boxing match with no punches thrown. Yet the idea of a soundless, electric scooter isn’t such a loss. While motorbikes bark and bellow, scooters sound like a comparative sneeze. Silent or not, though, a scooter needs a nice thick veneer of cool to be a choice of transport for a man. Which is something Vespa – neck and neck with Piaggio to be the top-selling brand in Australia – has always done a fabulous job of. The latest player in this market – conceived, designed and sold in Australia – has cloaked itself in the very leather jacket of cool itself, by choosing the name Fonzarelli. The company’s founder, Michelle Nazzari, says her team were inspired by what a great guy Happy Days icon Henry Winkler is, but also by his role as The Fonz. “Winkler is very stylish and yet a bit of a bad boy, that’s Arthur Fonzarelli, and that is very much like our brand,” she says. It’s hard to imagine The Fonz abandoning his awesome Triumph for a whisper-quiet Fonzarelli 125 electric scooter with a top speed of 75km/h. That said, its retrochic design, portable battery packs and in particular the ‘Forza’ button (which provides a sudden zap of power) are all proving popular with blokes of the fictional character’s demographic. “We were expecting roughly a 50-50 male female skew, but so far our sales have been 90 per cent men,” says Nazzari, claiming Sydney and Melbourne as primary markets. “It’s funny because in every other state besides Victoria and NSW, people are allowed to ride a scooter, up to 50cc, on a car licence and we can restrict our bike to have a top speed of 50km/h, so people in those states can have one. But in Sydney and Melbourne, you have to get your bike licence. If it was a national law, scooter sales would take off,” explains Nazzari. “As traffic gets worse and petrol prices continue to rise, scooters are becoming more and more popular.” Petrol prices are no longer a concern for a Fonzarelli owner, of course, who simply slips the laptop-sized portable battery out of his bike and charges it in the wall socket at his local coffee shop, or pub. Recharging from dead flat to 80 per cent full takes an hour, getting you around 50km of range, and it’s cheap, with a total power bill for the bike coming to no more than $1 a week – a lot less than even the most miserly petrol scooter. While bathing in the self-assured green glow of producing no emissions, the Fonzarelli 125’s pilot can also choose from a variety of sounds the bike can be set up with to alert pedestrians, including The Jetsons ‘whoosh’ or an option known simply as ‘The Blade Runner’. At $4490, the Fonzarelli 125 is slightly cheaper than an entry-level Vespa. But be warned – owning a scooter often leads to buying an actual motorbike. fonzarelli.com