Arcimoto SRK EV Test Drive Review


Heady...but uncertain days in 2009 with the BMW Mini-E

Heady…but uncertain days in 2009 with the BMW Mini-E

A Driver’s Review, The “Absolutely Electric” Arcimoto SRK

In 2009, I was fortunate enough to become a field trial driver of pre-production electric prototypes; first the BMW Mini-E followed the BMW ActiveE. I drove both for five years in an effort to understand where we were going as we transitioned to the future of electric transportation.

2016…. Enter the Arcimoto SRK.

Heading to my County of San Diego Planning Commission Meeting.

Heading to my County of San Diego Planning Commission Meeting.

Do you ride or drive the Arcimoto? Tough question to answer, I’ll go with ride. Riding the SRK these past few days, brought me mentally back to early 2009 comparatively speaking, when I was first handed the keys to the prototype BMW Mini-E. Heady days…

Imagine the ability and resources of BMW, a 100 year old company that produces approximately 2 million vehicles a year, in putting together a prototype electric car program and showing that pre-production car to the world. Now imagine the resources of a small but mighty Oregon based startup called Arcimoto as they begin traveling the same path, demonstrating their pre-production prototype to the world.

*Editor’s Note: This post appears on Peder’s blog. Check it out here.

Two in one parking space, both connected to the dual head L2 charger

Two in one parking space, both connected to the dual head L2 charger

As a driver of both the BMW Mini-E and now for a few days and several long trips, the Arcimoto, I was amazed to find that the prototype SRK is far more refined and closer to production ready than was the Mini-E. High praise for the Oregon based Arcimoto and their ability to execute a well thought out plan.

The vehicle architecture is sound, stable and robust, nicely put together with attention to a high design ethos. A few little tweaks to the steering assist and steering feedback levels, the emergency brake location, and the hydraulic foot brake location are the only obvious improvements that are needed. All are known realities of a one off prototype and easily addressable in the next phase of pilot vehicles. It’s darn near ready to be displayed in a new vehicle showroom and sold as it is.

BMW C1 enclosure and cross seat belts.

BMW C1 enclosure and cross seat belts.

The SRK pulls some vehicle architecture inspiration from the 2000-2002 BMW C1 with the roll cage, cross seat belts, and upright car like seating position. This along with the three wheel stable platform, allows the rider to ride without a helmet in certain states such as Oregon and California. Where the SRK improves surpassing the BMW C1, is in its quiet electric drive train, 3 wheel stable platform, two seat configuration and freeway speeds. On the road the SRK feels more car like in ride quality. The suspension is top notch. I’m just guessing that the engineer in charge of the SRK’s suspension dynamics has some track time in the seat, as the double wishbone race car like suspension is that good.

The three wheel configuration also positions the SRK as a preferred platform ready to enter the world of shared and autonomous driving. It’s easy to envision a future where a train commuter gets on a SRK and takes it the last 3 miles to the workplace. After arriving the SRK would then autonomously reposition itself back at the transit station or drive to the next customer who has hailed a ride, perhaps at a hotel or shopping center.

You can also see a future where an operator like Zipcar or DriveNow would have thousands of SRK’s in each large city. It’s low cost, zero emissions, off the chart fun factor and the ability to have fleets of SRK’s in 1/3rd the space as the same number of cars, gives transportation planners and car share companies some new tools in the toolbox.

That’s an exciting future.

One of many test drives in the SRK, smiles all around.

One of many test drives in the SRK, smiles all around.

These past few days, the two SRK’s were introduced to several hundred San Diegans via test drives & static displays, as well as trips up and down scenic coastal North San Diego County. Everywhere the SRK’s went they were greeted with high fives, thumbs up, waves, and lots of cameras. All age groups from seniors to high school seniors were interested in the stories and solutions represented in the DNA of the SRK’s.


When a ride like the SRK draws more attention and “Out Gawk’s” the ultra beautiful BMW i8 parked in the next space, it has my attention and should have the automotive world’s attention as well. When it’s on the road in front, astride or behind you, you just can’t help but smile at how “uber cool” and how unique is the SRK.

Carlsbad Cars and Coffee, The hit was the Arcimoto SRK's Tough to please "gasoline guys" wanted to learn everything.

Carlsbad Cars and Coffee, The hit was the Arcimoto SRK’s
Tough to please “gasoline guys” wanted to learn everything.

When pulling away from a light, you can’t help but be surprised how quickly it sprints to 70 mph. It may be cool, that’s true, but it’s also seriously quick, stable and a friggen blast to drive, err, I mean ride. Coming to a stop, the regen is perfectly integrated in a hand lever on the throttle side of the handlebars. You feed in the regen by how hard you squeeze the hand lever.

I would estimate the max amount of regen as twice as strong as the BMW i3 which has the most regen of any car. I love it and it’s super easy to use. It’s the best regen system I’ve tried and I’ve driven almost every electric vehicle there is. Think bicycle hand brake simple, the harder you squeeze, the more regen.

You don’t have to use all that regen but you can certainly ride the SRK without using the friction brake. The friction brake is down on the right foot pedal in a traditional position.

Anticipating riding the SRK before its arrival, I was contemplating its “limited” use case in my mind.

After “riding” the SRK up and down the California coast for a few days in early February, It’s clear to me that this vehicle architecture is intersecting with history at exactly the right time and that its transportation use case is broad. Far broader than a motorcycle, far broader than a convertible and far better than a car in metrics such as parking, efficiency, pollution and cost of ownership for urban and suburban dwellers.

Coffee Coffee, Surfy Surfy, SRK, SRK

Coffee Coffee, Surfy Surfy, SRK, SRK

Will it haul your four kids around? No. Will it get you to work, get you to the restaurants and stores, get you to transit, and get you 100 miles down the road at freeway speeds, absolutely. What a blast of fun you’ll have getting there.

As our nation continues its migration to cities and our citizens more often making the choice to live closer to where they work and closer to families (the opposite of urban sprawl,) vehicles such as the Arcimoto SRK will play an ever increasing role connecting us to our transit options, to our work, and to each other.

It’s not a motorcycle, it’s not a car. It’s an Arcimoto.

February cruise along the sand.....Paradise.

February cruise along the sand…..Paradise.

I look forward to the pilot series of vehicles from Arcimoto and then the retail offerings across the nation. After spending a few days exploring this unique vehicle and spending time with its CEO, suffice it to say, I think they are on a great trajectory. I think they have the “secret sauce” and I wish them wind in their sails and wisdom in their decisions for the next few years of their journey.

Powered by sunshine!

Powered by sunshine!

Bravo Arcimoto.

I seem to have room for one more vehicle in my garage.

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47 Comments on "Arcimoto SRK EV Test Drive Review"

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I like the Arcimoto SRK, and I hope to be able to see it and ride it, at some point. I am sure it would be a blast, and one of the lowest cost to use vehicles in existence.

Pretty cool. I’m guessing models with the full enclosure will get better mileage due to being more aerodynamic, though possibly offset by the greater weight.

Not a chance. Aerodynamics rule. The Zero electric motorcycle gets double the range with even a semi-enclosed body. Electric-assist recumbent bicycles get 50% better range at 25 mph with simple fabric enclosed fairings

Having survived a near-fatal motorcycle accident back in 1979, and having my share of close calls in driving among throngs of cars on busy highways during commutes to work, I’d have to bring to question the reason for being of vehicles like the Arcimoto. What is it? Where would a large group of consumers need it, or want it? This device is a toy. It’s great for somebody seeking attention, who lives in San Diego, Arizona or New Mexico, where sunny days abound. Not Florida, where torrential rains come out of nowhere. It’s too exposed, too unsafe-looking and too ( sorry, not to offend ), goofy-looking to sell in big numbers. The article states a purpose for this vehicle as public transit to final destination, and this can be done in so many less expensive ways. I’ve never heard of, nor examined the Arcimoto SRK. Upon first glance, it appears to have the tilting 3-wheel motorcycle approach to driving, vs. the non-tilt Can Am Spyder approach. Piaggio, the largest scooter company on earth, tried to market their PHEV three-wheeled scooter – to which I showed much interest. It sold a handful of copies. People didn’t see the cost benefit of… Read more »

non-tilting / level body
12kWh/20kWh battery with L1/L2 charging (possibly CHAdeMO)
70-130 mile range depending on battery size
6 year life expectancy with replacement cost under $2500
dual electric motors 78.6hp/104.7ft-lb torque
85 MPH top speed, 0-60 in 7.5 seconds
optional full enclosure for weather protection

I agree. This is a niche toy.

I love this post James, welcome to the bottom half of the internet. You write literally pages of text beating on something you have zero experience with and then say “I’m not enticed enough by this article to even do research on this vehicle or it’s builder.”

We’re building it in Eugene, Oregon, where it rains plenty, and I can tell you for a fact that it keeps you very dry even without side panels on account of the full fairing. You point out the safety level BMW achieved with the C-1 (upon which the safety model of the SRK is based) and then you hate on that too followed by encouraging people to adopt folding scooters. Honestly, are you a plant?

I get it, the Can Am has you scratching your head. Well it clearly found its market here just fine. Now add dual motor front wheel electric drive instead of gas, and a lower and more forward-biased Cg. Add a roll cage and side intrusion buffers. Add harnesses and room for groceries. Better off the line torque, no noise, totally affordable.

Oh yeah, no market for that ever.

I think I’m with James on this but not necessarily share his points.

As an avid EV proponent and motorcyclist, I don’t see where this product fits.

If it wants to be a little car, then it suffers from being too little. In the suburbs of California, you’ll get run over by the SUVs and pick-up trucks.

On the other hand, it has none of the advantages of being a motorcycle. It’s not agile, fast, can’t split lanes, can’t park on a whim, etc.

So it’s either a rich man’s toy or better yet, cheap enough to be a poor man’s EV (small passenger and cargo, small batteries, minimal frame). Anything more than a selling price of $10,000 and I’d just as soon move over to a used Leaf.

It actually had all of the advantages of the motorcycle aside from lane splitting – very agile, incredible visibility of the road, short enough to park nose in to the curb, so 1/3 the space of a car, plenty of torque to make the gap. But it won’t fall over on a slick street, is much easier for other vehicles to see, and can carry two riders and gear in comfort.

James is right.
Niche market and outright dangerous for average consumer that values the lives and limbs of their family members.
Aptera = dead
Elio = dead
Arcimoto = dead

Agreed on all points. 3-wheelers are strictly niche, goofy-looking novelties.

No side panels? Forget it; I’m not interested in being splashed by passing vehicles. Besides, it snows where I live.

Hey all…

Well, My friend and I both have our deposit on one of these. He has a new Silverado for his pool business and wants an Arcimoto to do everything else, including picking up smaller items than the 40 gallons of chlorine he does with his truck.

I have a 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo that does 16 MPG and I feel guilty every time I use it. I will most likely keep the Jeep for my own larger home Depot trips (I buy and fix-up houses)and drives from Miami to the Carolinas for snowboarding..but MOST of my in-Miami driving would be done with the Arcimoto.The price-point is fantastic and I don’t see why it has to compare to a car or motorcycle at all.. Look at the driving stats of the average American and one can see right from the start how useful this vehicle can be. I will not be driving on the highway a lot, most likely on the causeways from Miami Beach to Biscayne blvd (to access Miami)…. no problem. my friend and I can hardly wait to do a few cruises down Ocean Drive to show them off!!!

Completely agree, I’d say this belongs on the island destinations of cruise ships for the passengers to explore the local roads and markets. And to stand out from the crowds, so that the residents can point, laugh, and mumble to themselves “Thanks for the tourist dollars.”

Almost all driving is local. Great as a second car. How you survive a resource shortage.

Electric cars can be powered from your solar roof.

who tries to objectively review something they freely admit they weren’t interested enough to research? If you did your homework you wouldn’t be complaining about rain because you’d know it has doors. You’d also know its range and performance figures.

I REALLY hate it when people like you ask questions as a contrivance to try and put a product down as opposed to asking out of any genuine interest. You don’t care how much range it has. You’re just asking because you want to be awkward.

who complains about the SRK’s safety and then suggests a scooter as an alternative? This is WAY safer than any motorcycle or scooter.

***mod edit (staff)***
slight edit – please watch personal insults
***mod edit***

Price starts at $11,900 plus ~ $3000 enclosure kit. Late 2016 availability.

Thanks, MTN Ranger, for the details.

While a toy at best. I can see someone without storage room for a real car buying one of these in San Diego, where it seldom rains. The non-tilting aspect, to me, makes it: Bad motorcycle and bad car. It’s like a incomplete solution for a problem that doesn’t exist – for good weather locales that are far too few.

I can see them as novelty rentals in touristy places like Hawaii….

For those unfamiliar with the BMW C-1, it was an attempt by BMW to prove, space-saving, small scooters could be adopted for inner city and village commuting needs for those who wanted to wear work clothes, and not wear helmets. BMW spent a whole lot of money on this idea. It was noble – at least to me, for them to try this. You can scan YouTube for safety videos of a driving dummy in a C-1 taking side hits and frontal crashes from small sedans. The idea was kind of a half-car, that you need to balance, but also give you a non-helmet experience seated with windshield and roof, almost carlike. The idea seemed credible. So many people without room to store a car, and who woudn’t buy a scooter because of weather and safety concerns. It’s price put it far above a standard scooter, and it’s roof really didn’t keep the rider from being exposed to the elements. So today, collectors who own the very few C-1s and variants that were produced can be seen in typical motorcycle suits riding them in rallys and such. They sure do garner attention, because who doesn’t like the idea of a… Read more »

The Can Am Spyder is another animal that leaves me scratching my head.

Is it for motorcycle aficionados who are afraid of leaning?

I like what Jay Leno said about the Aptera as he was driving it for his Jay Leno’s Garage web show. “The thing about 3 wheeled vehicles is that if you try to miss that pothole with the front wheels, you’re gonna hit it with the rear, and vice-versa”. I was a huge fan of the Aptera. Sad, how it just couldn’t make it past the regulatory and practicality hurdles that faced it.

“Real” cars are killing us. If we had any interest in saving civilization, “real” cars would be banned.

I really have come to the point where I think that buying a new car without a plug is a moral failing. I won’t by another car without a plug.

However, I kinda off feel the same way about eating meat but I still eat it. It is too damn tasty. Though I have cut back a lot and have significantly reduced beef consumption by switching more to turkey & chicken.

“I really have come to the point where I think that buying a new car without a plug is a moral failing.”

No, bankrupting your family for a too-expensive, highly-depreciating asset (like an EV can be) is a moral failing.

I liked my Leaf, but when its lease was up I went back to driving our minivan for a while. It’s paid for, and my insurance went down by getting rid of a car. And its 15 mpg gas costs much less than a car payment. In my case, it would have been wrong for me to run out and get another EV, even though I, too want my next car to take a plug.

I often agree with your views, but please don’t project your personal conviction to save the earth as a moral issue for anyone else.

I read how Speculawyer stated his/her own morals in that post…I’m not sure Speculawyer “projected” that you or I have the same morals. Maybe you mis-wrote what you’re trying to say – perhaps simply you don’t want to hear someone tell you about morals that are different from yours?

I personally think it’s immoral to be profane in front of kids. Does me simply writing that mean that I believe everyone else has an issue with it? I’m well aware other people don’t feel that way, even if I’d prefer them to. I’m not sure why you’d criticize me for writing about how I feel people should behave.

I hope you can appreciate the benefits of society members sharing their opinions of societal actions. The alternative is antithetical to democracy.

So… $15,000 with enclosure in 2017. I’ll take a used 30kWh LEAF, thanks.

Yeah, that’s the thing, and by the time you add in the larger battery and heater (I don’t think A/C is available at any price), this thing is going to be approaching $20,000.
Too much for too little.

Cabin heater is standard. They say HVAC is planned. I assume that would require the enclosure.

“Will the SRK include air conditioning and heat?

The base model of the SRK will have vent and heat for defrost and cabin comfort. We plan an upgrade option to offer a full HVAC system.”

Much as I’m a fan of “Live smaller, live closer, drive less*”, and have structured my live/work situation to allow that, I do find this vehicle’s U.S. viability a bit questionable. Personally, for trips of 3 miles or less (and my 8.4 mile RT commute), I’m going to ride my bicycle or walk, which costs some small fraction of what this does, is better for my and other people’s health, and uses a much smaller amount of resources. But most people, given the option of propelling themselves or having some other source of energy propel them, will opt for the latter.

As Peder wrote, we are seeing a re-urbanization in this country, and that, combined with autonomous car/bike-sharing may well make something like this viable here, assuming that the need/desirability of urban car ownership will continue to decline.

*David Owen, “Green Metropolis”.

Thanks Peder for spending some time with the Arcimoto. I enjoy reading your posts and would love to try an Arcimoto this summer. I hope you are enjoying the beautiful weather. In the Northeast however we are bracing for another snowstorm. It wil be a few months likely before i can ride my motorcycle or drive my roadster again. Even if it does warm up, they have the roads covered in salt.

The drumbeat of bad climate news has been increasing every year for decades. ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ came out in 2006.

From 2000 to 2011 Toyota sold 1,000,000 Prius hybrids in the US, the most popular hybrid in history. Their numbers have been falling each year since the crash. This despite expanding the number of models in 2011. Last week they announced they will go back to a single model next year. You could make the case that EV sales are eating into Prius sales.

Prius totals EV totals
(all models) (including PHEV)

2009 290,271
2010 274,210
2011 268,752 17,425
2012 236,659 52,607
2013 234,228 97.507
2014 207,372 123.049
2015 184,794 116,597

For comparison, there were 661,812 pickups and SUVs sold in the US, in January alone.

Until the government imposes a cap on carbon, all of this will remain a sideshow.

In spite of Al Gore’s prediction in 2006, the world has not ended.
In spite of Elio Motors’ predictions, there is no production (or even a pre-production prototype) Elio.
In spite of the incorrect assumptions about his death, Dale Earnhardt was not killed because he was wearing a helmet. His seat belts were installed/worn incorrectly.

If Arcimoto can reach production this year with a price of $11.9k open / $14.9k enclosed, and can keep their projected specs, they have a reasonable chance of steady sales. Of course, sales will be higher where the climate is temperate, but the enclosed version will probably sell in reasonable numbers even where the weather is not idyllic.

They seem to have a solid business plan, and I wish them well.

Climate disruption will not cause the “world to end”: the world will go on and our economy, maybe our species will end. Overstating the case is not the same as disproving it. A drunk guy can sometimes cross a highway without getting killed, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. I like this vehicle a lot and want our teenager to have one for driving himself to his girlfriend’s house and to basketball practice.

Does it have ‘reverse’?

I put my deposit on one. Hope I’m riding my new Arcimoto in 2017 I ride motorcycles, but have been riding with a sidecar for a few years. Easier on the hips when riding with my wife.Darn arthritis. Been wanting electric for years. I think the Arcimoto looks good.The component layout looks safety and efficiency oriented.I do live in Arizona so I’m not concerned with heating and A/C. Would just wear a motorcycle suit for the cold if I still lived in the Northwest. Will get the 130 mile range battery pack and sell the sidecar rig. I do hope Arcimoto succeeds.America does like it’s land yachts for some reason.I gave up on gas guzzlers, back in 80’s. Arcimoto I believe would take care of most of my driving and would be fun in the process. Good luck to them.

If this goes to production and driving it is as fun as stated in this article, I’d get one as a commuting vehicle for my 12-mile-each-way Atlanta commute.

It’s be interesting to know the target production rate.

This looks like a great option for my daily commute (11 miles each way). I currently either:
* ride a bike (when weather is good and I have my act together)
* ride a motorcycle (when the weather is good but I’m running late)
* drive a car (weather sucks)

Having a small, semi-enclosed electric vehicle makes sense, and it’s small enough that I can park in the side yard next to (or instead of) the motorcycle.

I wonder how many of the people saying, “It’s not practical” have any experience riding motorcycles? This is similar to a ‘cycle. The complaint about it not lane splitting only applies in California, which I believe is the ONLY state in which it’s legal (certainly NOT here in Massachusetts).

I’m not sure why most people would prefer one of these to a Smart ED. For about the same price (or less in some states when on sale) as the fully-equipped Arcimoto, you can buy a Smart ED that has a fully-enclosed body with good crash protection, four wheels to qualify for the Federal tax credit, room for two people *plus* (as opposed to “or”) groceries, heat and A/C, the ability to park nose-in to the curb…you get the idea. The Arcimoto may have more range, but when it pours rain, is blazing hot, or frigid winds blow, I suspect Arcimoto drivers will be having second thoughts…

Smart had, well a smart campaign with their smart Electric Drive (ED). You could lease a smart ED for $139/mo ($90 for battery lease, $49 for the car itself) with no money down from states that have EV incentives (Maryland is closest for me living in NC). Cheaper than any other EV, at the time in 2014 shipping to local dealer was free (now it’s at cost). Of course this leveraged Mercedes Benz finance corp, which these little startups don’t have. Partnering with a big finance company to offer leases for 2-3 years seems to be the way to get vehicles like this introduced and broadly available. It also seeds a used vehicle market at end of lease. Local smart dealers honored and serviced the smart ED, unfortunately they would NOT extend the lease and I went to the back of the line requesting a new smart ED car to lease. So when our 2002 Prius went to our daughter, we got a used Volt to replace Prius + smart ED. Unfortunately, in states like NC where I live, there are no EV incentives; special lease deals aren’t available. Maryland is the nearest with these deals for smart ED. Having… Read more »

No Petrol? F**K it!

Arcimoto sure is interesting, but probably it’s too hard to get one to Europe.. and get it registered. So.. I used to commute with an electric two-wheeler, designed for Mail delivery.. but it stopped working. Unfortunately it has a Valence battery system which talks other electronics via CAN bus.. Valence stuff broke and the scooter manufacturer ( Oxygen ) is bankrupt. I’ll need to fix it myself. So now I’m commuting with a bicycle when weather is OK and use BMW C1 when it’s not. I’ll need to correct James a little. I live in Finland.. not exatly a warm place. I don’t wear a helmet and I use normal clothing with C1. I do have an Isotta wind kit in my C1.. and there is almost no wind or water in C1 cabin, whatever the speed or amount of rain. The only thing that gets wet is socks in traffic lights – one leg must come out 😉 The thing that killed C1 is Italians. It’s not a BMW. It’s an Italian Bertone scooter with horribly noisy Rotax engine, only the security research was done by BMW ( and electronics, like ecu and probably ABS brakes came from BMW… Read more »