‘Slipstreaming conserves power’
“The Eva looks fantastic, but it is heavy. Reverse gear helps me get its 282kg out of the parking space, but it is a struggle at low speed. And nerveracking. As there is no engine sound I’m really tentative on the throttle, especially as it has so much torque. It’s a new experience and for the first few miles I can’t get used to the silence of the motor and being able to hear noises that are usually masked.
“I’ve selected ‘Eco’ mode and trundle all the way to Oakham, more than 45 miles into the route. I’m using the highest regeneration mode of the four, and trying hard not to brake at all, rolling the throttle into roundabouts. But in ‘Eco’ the Eva tops out at 56mph, meaning I’m slipstreaming lorries instead of overtaking them. It’s good for power conservation, but I expect to see Jon whistling by at 70mph!
“Riding through the bends at Benefield in ‘Eco’ means maximum corner speed. In the bends, the Eva feels like a heavy sports-tourer, stable and secure thanks to its weight, but it rolls into the apex rather than flicks. At one point I push the front a bit too much, which shows how confidence inspiring it is, but it is far more agile than I expected of a 282kg machine.
“When I come through Oakham I see I’ve got 79% of battery left, so I switch to ‘Urban’ mode for a bit more gusto on the A606 to Melton. I’m making really good progress and start riding the Eva like a normal bike. At Melton I’ve got 17% of my juice left – enough to get me to the pub – so I don’t back off, which nearly proves to be an error…
“When the battery hits 8% the Eva’s dash starts flashing red and the bike’s power is neutered as it goes into limp mode. For the last five miles I’m looking in my mirrors more than ahead and limited to a tortoise-like 26mph. I’m convinced I’ve blown it, and that Jon’s right behind me. But I shouldn’t have worried. It’s a win for the Eva.”
Jon: The race back home...
“As both bikes are nowhere near 100% (the Zero on 50%, the Eva 63%) after nearly three hours of charging, we take the shortest route home: 42 miles. On the Zero I leave with the range showing less than the distance I need to cover, but riding at 40-50mph with minimal throttle openings sees me gradually claw this back. The Eva is also on the limit, but James decides to follow me and I guess his tactic is to blast past using full power for the final stretch. But something odd happens…
“On the 15 miles of A1 I slipstream a lorry, a move that sees the Zero’s economy improve massively despite the high speed. Rather than be on the limit, I’m now well into the positive percentages. But James isn’t slipstreaming anything, and the Eva is suffering. Pulling off the A1 for the last seven miles of back roads I have 17% of battery left. Swapping to ‘Sport’ I give it everything and James disappears in my mirrors. The Eva has switched to limp mode again, and he owes me a splendid meal. He arrives 1m 22s behind me – so overall I’ve won the challenge by 18 seconds.”
‘I use the highest regeneration mode and try not to brake at all’
Neither bike is fully charged after three hours ‘Magnanimous’ isn’t in his vocabulary