Motorcycles

Africa's own electric motorcycle, the $1,500 Roam Air

Africa's own electric motorcycle, the $1,500 Roam Air
The Roam Air: designed and built in Africa, for Africans
The Roam Air: designed and built in Africa, for Africans
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The Roam Air: designed and built in Africa, for Africans
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The Roam Air: designed and built in Africa, for Africans
Volume production deliveries start in 2023
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Volume production deliveries start in 2023
Simple LCD dash
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Simple LCD dash
Is that a tiny padlock latch for the batteries? That ain't gonna cut it
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Is that a tiny padlock latch for the batteries? That ain't gonna cut it
Headlight with daytime running light
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Headlight with daytime running light
Twin removable batteries with handles for indoor charging
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Twin removable batteries with handles for indoor charging
View gallery - 6 images

The Roam Air is cheap, lightweight, practically focused, and capable of riding up to 180 km (111 miles) on a pair of removable batteries. It's been designed, developed and built in Kenya, to suit the needs of African riders in rural and urban areas.

African residents bought 3.5 million new motorcycles in 2016, a figure that's expected to top 10 million a year in the early 2030s. As in many developing areas with inadequate public transport, cheap, hardy bikes have become indispensable as commuter transport, delivery vehicles and moto taxis.

Nairobi-based Roam, which also makes electric buses, electro-conversion 4X4s and commercial and residential solar systems, has thus presented the home-grown Air, purpose-built for the task and the conditions. It's a simple machine, with a lightweight metal cradle frame, offroad-capable wheels, cheap 'n' cheerful dual-shock suspension, easy ergonomics, a bench seat for two and a tough-looking rear luggage rack.

Simple LCD dash
Simple LCD dash

The motor puts out a peak of 185 Nm (136 lb-ft), and with the bike weighing just 135 kg (298 lb), that's enough to get you to the bike's top speed of 90 km/h (56 mph) in around five seconds. The bike will carry up to 220 kg (485 lb) of combined passengers and cargo, and take you up to 90 km (56 miles) on a single 3.24-kWh battery, or twice that if you use both.

The Air offers five power modes, one of which being reverse. It offers a small storage compartment where the tank normally sits, and the batteries are held in by what appears to be a slim, padlockable latch. Personally, if I was buying, I'd be asking for some upgrades to that part, as batteries are valuable, useful, and attractive to thieves – particularly with little carry handles on them.

Roam is very much pitching the Air as a money saver, pointing out that its running costs are so low for daily riders that if bought on finance, the Air is immediately cheaper per day than an equivalent petrol-powered 150cc scoot. Indeed, the company has kept prices impressively low for a practically specified electric bike, at US$1,500 for a single-battery bike and $2,050 for a dual-battery version.

Is that a tiny padlock latch for the batteries? That ain't gonna cut it
Is that a tiny padlock latch for the batteries? That ain't gonna cut it

Deliveries will start later this year, says Roam, on the first "limited production" series, costing $500 extra. Volume-production bikes will start being delivered in 2023.

Check out a video below.

Roam Air - The next-generation electric motorcycle for Africa

Source: Roam

View gallery - 6 images
9 comments
9 comments
Robt
Why limit this to Africa? At that price it would sell absolutely everywhere
jzj
58Wh/mile? Maybe if traveling at a steady 20MPH on a flat well-paved road. And definitely agreed on the need to really lock down the batteries (stout padlocks on all four corners). Of course, these bikes also simply get tossed into vans and driven off, so I'd suggest a stout chain for the whole bike and a Tile-type means to track its location. But really, good on them, this is a decent design with decent execution.
fluke meter
yes -this is what I have wanted for a while - esp to use as unlicensed off road alternative to gas - lets get these shipped to US.
I suspect they are not going to meet some raft of regulatory mess for on road US - but cant we have it off road??
Adrian Akau
The price is too good to be true; I don't believe it.
claudio
@Adrian Akau totally agree, seems too low, even for basic solutions
Venetian
Kudos on every level. Great design. Eco. Local. Incredible price point. Great advertisement. NOT made in China.

As long as it passes safety standards at this price this thing can be a massive global hit
Larry W
God that's a great price for what you get. Compare that to American made bikes yikes. That's what they should call American bikes----yikes. For out of this world greedy prices.
martinwinlow
I see from their website (https://www.roammotors.com) that they have an office in Sweden, too.

If the bike is as good as their promo video I'd say it'll do very well. But I, too, can't get my head around the low price - a 3kW Li battery (with BMS etc) would cost USD1500 anywhere else alone... Roam also sell battery packs, inverters, PV and other renewable energy stuff as well as electric drive conversion kits for 4x4s and buses.
ljaques
The African mfgr should sell dealership rights all over the world. Just Do It, guys!
It's not a Zero, but you could buy 6 (or more) of the dual-batteried jobs for the same price as a dual-batteried Zero.