One of most idiosyncratic European scooter designs from the Cold War era is getting a new lease on life. The Čezeta Type 506 electric scooter goes into production for a limited run of hand-built, high-tech, and exclusive modern replicas that still look as unique as the original did 60 years ago.
It's been more than 20 years since the Czech company Česká Zbrojovka Strakonice (more commonly known as ČZ) dropped out of motorcycle production, leaving behind a racing heritage that includes seven Motocross 250 and 500 cc World Championships in the 1960s, countless victories at the International Six Days Trials, and a competitive Grand Prix presence in the 1950s.
Once among the biggest of Europe's motorcycle makers, ČZ produced the original Čezeta scooter from 1957 until 1964, in a series that included the Type 501 model, followed by the 502 and the 505 tricycle. Powered by a 175 cc two-stroke single, the Czech scooter earned a reputation for its reliability, as well as the peculiar design with the snout-looking front earning it the nickname "pig."
The modern day Čezeta has very little to do with ČZ. Instead, Čezeta Motors was founded by an Englishman called Neil Eamonn Smith, who started designing a modern electric version of his beloved scooter since 2013. In the process the new company setup shop in 2016 at Prostějov, near Czech Republic's capital city, Prague.
Named as the logical continuation of a line that stopped 54 years ago at Type 505, the 506 retains the original design. Beneath the looks though, the modern version is built around a tubular frame, dressed with composite costumes – while the original used a monocoque frame that, exactly like the Vespa, doubled as bodywork. Smith's initial plans considered the monocoque frame, but it was promptly discarded after its production was calculated as too costly to make sense. Even without the original chassis design, the 506 does manage to make an impression. Not only do its looks remain quite different from anything else in today's motorcycle world, but there is some very interesting tech involved as well.
The new Čezeta is powered by an 11 kW (14.8 hp) rear-wheel-hub electric motor that can achieve a top speed of 120 km/h (74.6 mph), accelerating from 0 to 60 in just 3.2 seconds. These numbers would put to shame most scooters in the European A1 driving license class (up to 125 cc and 11 kW), where the 506 is officially ranked, and would even be comparable with 300 cc scooters.
The motor is equipped with an advanced electronic management system that was developed in house with the assistance of the Electrical Engineering faculty at Prague's Charles University. This includes a four-map Dynamic Selector that allows the rider to set the motor's torque output to full, city, or rain mode, and includes a reverse gear that will make moving the 147 kg (324 lb) scooter backwards a piece of cake – even on an inclination.
Čezeta also introduces the Sway two-way throttle, a patented setup that allows the throttle to rotate forward, in which case it creates electro-mechanical engine braking. This effect simulates the braking action of a typical four-stroke motor when decelerating in gear with the throttle shut, and in Čezeta's case it also charges the battery via a kinetic energy recovery system. The company suggests that this function can increase the battery's range by up to 15 percent. It also creates a new right-hand action, as until now no motorcyclist is accustomed to rolling the throttle forward while also squeezing the front brake level. That should be interesting.
The battery pack is made of Panasonic 18650 LiFeYPO4 cells, and comes in two versions. The Čezeta 506/01 is fed by a 4 kWh/84 V pack, while the most potent 506/02 enjoys 6 kWh/84 V. The in-house developed battery management system includes a 1.8 kW on-board charger that will bring the charge to 80 percent in two (4 kWh) or three (6 kWh) hours, connected to a standard domestic socket – with a fast charger that can achieve the same result in just 30 minutes.
Choosing between battery options translates to noticeable differences in acceleration, top speed and range. The 506/01 can go up to 85 km/h (52.8 mph) with a range of 80-100 km (50-62 mi), while the bigger pack of the 506/02 makes possible the 120 km/h (74.6 mph) top speed, with a range that can go up to 150 km (93.2 mi). Future plans include a stylish trailer that can carry extra batteries to extend the range up to 250 km (155.3 mi).
Čezeta proposes a very interesting list of optional equipment, including an adaptable LED headlight that looks suspiciously like the JW Speaker's Model 8790 that New Atlas tested last year. A Bluetooth speaker system and a GPS/GSM App upgrade to the central management system bring smartphone connectivity to the mix.
For the time being the Čezeta Type 506 has been licensed only for the European Union, with plans to expand in 2018 towards the USA, Australia and Asia. The initial plan previews a total of 600 hand-built scooters, with Čezeta offering the option to either lease or purchase the battery pack. The starting price for the low power 506/01 model is €7,640 (about US$8,200) with leased batteries – buying the power pack and throwing in some more equipment can easily double this bill.
Source: Čezeta Motors
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