04 Mar Gizmodo reviews Fonzarelli
Passionate about cutting edge technology as well as protecting the environment, the Fonzarelli team has built an electric scooter that’s easy on the eye without sacrificing usability. Importantly for new riders, all the controls are in the usual positions so you can get down to enjoying riding right away. The scooter also it has a funky inner city look that blends right in with many of its petrol cousins. The difference is that with the Fonzarelli you never have to visit the bowser again thanks to an electric motor and lithium battery. If you are worried about it being sluggish or boring to ride, then rest assured — it’s a very zippy little scooter.
The top speed is 75 km/h, (though it can be adjusted to 80) and you can reach 60 km/h in just 6 seconds. It’s powered by a torquey 3kW 3 phase electric motor that sits unobtrusively in the rear wheel hub. If you want extra power while riding, there is actually a supercharge button, that gives you a brief extra boost of current for overtaking or just plain fun. Another button lets you shift into reverse, where the throttle works as usual.
“The Fonzarelli is a great twist on the inner city scooter and I would happily ride one every day if I could”
What’s It Good At?
The Fonzarelli doesn’t ride like a normal scooter, and that’s a good thing. It’s surprisingly fast off the line and much more responsive than a 125cc petrol scooter — just a slight twist to the throttle is needed for the torquey motor to get you up to speed. Coming from a long motorbike riding history the idea of a reverse button seemed silly, but it was actually very useful, especially when backing into a tight parking spot between other scooters.
The Fonzarelli is very quiet and smooth to ride – to the point it was almost eerie when whizzing down back-streets and would really suit a relaxed scenic ride. The lake of engine vibration is also very noticeable, once you get over the mini heart attacks of thinking you have stalled every time you stop. Stability and braking is excellent and despite my best efforts to throw the scooter around, it felt firmly planted to the road.
I am fairly tall at 6’7”, but I could still ride the scooter comfortably without banging my knees – which is saying a lot. Even hauling my extra bulk around the Fonzarelli was full of pep, so a pillion passenger would be handled no sweat at all. The supercharge mode also deserves a special mention – not only is it great for an extra burst of speed, hitting turbo is loads of fun and makes your commute feel more like a round of Mario Kart.
It’s also handy that no fancy charging station is needed – the Fonzarelli uses a standard 240v socket to top up. Since the batteries are easily removed from the scooter (but safe when locked), you can carry them inside with you. This means you can charge easily at home and work and don’t need to run a cord out to the scooter to fill it full of electrons.
What Is It Not Good At?
The scooter is quick to reach 60 km/h and would happily cruise there all day (well, until the battery ran out), but does start to lack power close to the 75 km/h limit. It’s fast enough for bigger, busier roads, but I would feel pretty uncomfortable on a freeway. Of course the Fonzarelli is built for inner city scooting, but even so it’s a limitation worth mentioning.
While overall the Fonzarelli build quality is quite high, the moulded plastic panels have a matte finish. While it seems like an excellent base for custom artworks or stand out gloss colours, it feels a little cheap in the standard form. Of course this is a matter of personal preference so check one out for yourself. On the plus side I would be less stressed about leaving it squeezed in with other bikes, knowing the plastic is hard to dent and is easily replaced.
Probably the worst experience with the Fonzarelli was the weird sense of entitled boy racer that crept over me while riding. All electric and almost silent, I felt the urge to head down bike paths or up onto footpaths. Instead I contented myself with lane splitting but it really feels like the scooter deserves extra privileges over its petrol guzzling alternatives. It’s also hard not to burn through the battery by constantly maxing out the throttle and thumbing the boost button – it really is that fun to ride. But that probably says more about me than the scooter.