[Ed: first of all, nice color gradient on that logo]
Want the fun and utility of a seated electric scooter but without the hassle of a motorcycle license or insurance? Hybrid e-bike/scooters like the Zebra could fit the bill.
Electric scooters and mopeds offer a more comfortable seated riding position than a bicycle, yet are easier to mount and offer more utility.
The problem is that Vespa-style electric scooters or mopeds usually qualify as motorcycle-level vehicles.
The laws vary state to state in the US, but scooters like the CSC Wiz generally require at least a motorcycle license and sometimes even insurance or inspections.
But the Zebra is different. Even though it looks like a seated scooter, it actually sports a pair of bicycle pedals — something we like to call vestigial pedals since they don’t really do anything. Sure, you could pedal them, but let’s get real — they’re mostly there to make the Zebra compliant with electric bicycle laws.
The fact that the Zebra rides on two wheels, has a top speed of 20 mph (32 km/h) with a 750W motor, and has functional pedals means that it is classified as a Class 2 electric bicycle in the US and can ride on pretty much any road or bike lane where pedal bicycles are allowed.
Unlike a bicycle, though, the Zebra has a big comfy seat, a rear trunk box, a step-through scooter design with plenty of space for your feet (or for shoving odd-shaped cargo that won’t fit in the trunk), automotive-style LED lighting with turn signals, hydraulic disc brakes, mirrors, etc. All of the models even have a steering column lock, and there’s built-in GPS tracking on the higher-spec units as well — features that are normally only found on motor vehicle-level electric scooters. The Zebra certainly seems to blur the line between e-bikes and e-scooters.
While some people might question whether 20 mph (32 km/h) is fast enough for commuter or utility use, keep in mind that 20 mph is the same speed that all Class 2 e-bikes are limited to. So if it works for millions of people riding normal e-bikes, it should work just fine here.
Plus, these types of bike/scooter hybrids that are hugely popular all over China are limited to an even slower 15 mph (25 km/h), yet somehow they have become a dominant form of commuter vehicle. So as long as you are sticking to bicycle-friendly roads or bike lanes, the Zebra seems like it has all of the performance of an e-bike, yet packs in those extra features found in larger scooters.
And its scooter shape gives it some serious benefits as well. Thanks to its format, it is also capable of hauling more battery. Under the seat, you can fit one or two 48V 26Ah removable batteries, depending on the model chosen. That 1,248 Wh of capacity per battery is way more than you’d find in a typical electric bicycle battery.
The entry level and single seater Zebra Z1 gets a range of 35 miles (56 km) and is on sale for $1,795.
The next step up gets you the two-seater Zebra ZX1 with a larger 60 mile (97 km) range for a sale price of $2,005.
The highest-spec model is the Zebra ZX2. It uses two batteries to offer a 120 mile (193 km) range for a sale price of $2,795.
It’s about time these types of e-bike/scooter hybrids started making their way to the US.
They are incredibly popular all over Asia and are the only form of transportation used by many families.
The only downside here is the somewhat limited 20 mph speed, but I certainly understand that you can’t go faster without losing the benefit of it technically being an “electric bicycle” — at least as far as the law is concerned.
That being said, keep in mind that buzzing a pedal cyclist in a bike line while riding one of these isn’t going to make you many friends. So when you’re sharing the space with actual bicycles, you should definitely give others the right of way and perhaps a wide berth as well.
But as long as people ride these responsibly and courteously when in shared spaces, I can see Zebra bikes being a huge benefit. They’ll help reach those stragglers that aren’t ready to give up their car for trips in favor of a pedal bike or e-bike, but that might just go for something that looks a bit more, well, substantial.
I love riding seated electric scooters and use one as my daily driver. If more people can discover the joy and utility that electric scooters offer and that gets more cars off of the road, then everyone wins!
We’ll be testing one of these Zebras out shortly, so be on the lookout for our full review coming soon!
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