Motorcycles

Sol's Pocket Rocket straddles the awkward space between e-bikes and e-motos

Sol's Pocket Rocket straddles ...
Something like an electric Grom, the Pocket Rocket is a humble, practical and clean e-commuter
Something like an electric Grom, the Pocket Rocket is a humble, practical and clean e-commuter
View 10 Images
With a range of at least 30 miles, the Pocket Rocket would knock off most people's daily commuting duties cleanly, comfortably and with next to zero fuel and maintenance costs
1/10
With a range of at least 30 miles, the Pocket Rocket would knock off most people's daily commuting duties cleanly, comfortably and with next to zero fuel and maintenance costs
Something like an electric Grom, the Pocket Rocket is a humble, practical and clean e-commuter
2/10
Something like an electric Grom, the Pocket Rocket is a humble, practical and clean e-commuter
That red tail-light ring does make it look a bit like you're sitting on a rocket
3/10
That red tail-light ring does make it look a bit like you're sitting on a rocket
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: one big flat tube and one bent one, that's a frame, right?
4/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: one big flat tube and one bent one, that's a frame, right?
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: simple swingarm and hub motor
5/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: simple swingarm and hub motor
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: twin-shock rear end
6/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: twin-shock rear end
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: battery pack is in the main tube
7/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: battery pack is in the main tube
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: a big red ring pokes out of your butt for a tail-light
8/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: a big red ring pokes out of your butt for a tail-light
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: there's the headlight ... where are the indicators?
9/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket: there's the headlight ... where are the indicators?
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket has a dedicated Wheelie mode
10/10
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket has a dedicated Wheelie mode

It's too fast and powerful to be an e-bike, but so underpowered that you'd hardly call it a motorcycle. Sol Motors claims this bizarre looking "no-ped" represents a new category that's emerging in urban transport, and that might be the right way to look at it.

The Pocket Rocket is a wacky looking electric contraption out of Stuttgart, Germany. Its "tank" is a single fat tube with a headlight at one end, a battery in the middle and a red ring of tail-light at the back that kind of does make it look a bit like you're sitting on a saddled-up missile, Wiley E. Coyote style.

The rest of the triangular frame is simply a bent piece of metal pipe, with the simplest of twin-shock swingarms supporting the hub-driven rear wheel and a nifty design at the front that pokes the steering head straight through the main tube and gives you a short-travel front end suspension underneath.

There are two versions available – one rocks a 6-hp (4.5-kW) hub motor capable of 50 km/h (31 mph), and the other flexes on you with a mighty 8.5 hp (6.3 kW), and is capable of 80 km/h (50 mph). It weighs a friendly 55 kg (121 lb), and travels somewhere between 50-80 km (30-50 mi) on a charge, meaning it'll comfortably hit the commuting sweet spot for the majority of people.

Sol Motors Pocket Rocket has a dedicated Wheelie mode
Sol Motors Pocket Rocket has a dedicated Wheelie mode

With up to 150 Nm (110 lb-ft) of torque, this darling thing can even hoik up a wheelie, provided you put it in the designated Wheelie mode. Mind you, leaning back with a large metal tube poking out from your crotch and rising up does make Pocket Rocket wheelies look like something a ninth-grader would draw on a classmate's yearbook.

Other mode choices are Eco and Sport. Beyond that, it's simplicity itself, with rude metal pegs jutting out as your footrests, a pair of brake levers on the bars and a slot to stick your smartphone in if you want a dash.

As a low-cost, zero-emission urban transport option, it'd rock the job if you can handle that minimalist style. But there's a problem here: even the lower 6-horse version equates to nearly 4,500 watts, which is several times more power than you're allowed on an e-bike more or less anywhere that's got regulations. So you're going to pay motorcycle-level registration fees on this thing, and need a license to ride it.

That red tail-light ring does make it look a bit like you're sitting on a rocket
That red tail-light ring does make it look a bit like you're sitting on a rocket

Let's leave aside the fact that it's going to be pretty expensive – somewhere around US$6,000 for the 6-hp one and US$7,500 for the 8.5-hp version. Battery costs will come down one of these days, and that's a key expense on any of these kinds of machines, so e-bikes are going to expose a ton of people to the fun and ease of electric commuting. People will want to take a step up, and while you could step up to a full-blown electric motorcycle, we suspect there'll be plenty of people who'd be interested in something in between.

This commuter class of electric scoots and low-powered e-motos like the Pocket Rocket feels to us like something that deserves its own registration class – something cheaper that reflects the fact that they're incapable of highway speeds, and really not a great leap above a bicycle. It feels like a class of vehicle – humble, practical, clean – that Western society is going to need if we're going to break out of the gasoline age. Food for thought.

Source: Sol Motors

11 comments
Altairtech
These no-ped bikes are getting more and more present everywhere, and I'm sure they will be a "revolution"! I personally made one myself from a fatbike, and I can tell you it's a blast to ride. And it's so light, you can stow it anywhere a bike would fit. Note that with fat tires, you don't need a suspension, which reduces complexity and cost. Another thing that differentiates it from a motorcycle is that there is no transmission, so they are very simple to operate. I totally agree with the author's suggestion that there should be a new, very low-cost, separate class of registration for these no-ped bikes. They are the future of urban eco-mobility.
kwalispecial
The only reasonable paint job for this thing would be to make the main tube look like a Duracell battery.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
They sure compromised a LOT of practicality in order to get the mono-tube look... another sad example of form trouncing any practical function... can't the two work together guys? Perhaps put a practical luggage rack in the lower "triangle" area (great for lower CoG) rather than just empty space? How about a removable battery pack up in the tube (maybe it does... tl;dr) so I can plug it in at my desk while at work?
McDesign
@kwalispecial, that's a super-cool idea - love it!
EZ
"Break out of the gasoline age?" Where do you think electrons come from? Thin air? Natural gas fired turbines, diesel spewing generators, dams that block fish runs, etc., etc. I believe in the Tesla rumors. Our own FBI (I believe) scurried over to where Mr. Tesla died, rather rapidly, to confiscate all his documents. Then have not been seen since. Our government, that we actually have little control over, has been working on his principals for the past almost 100 years. They have the ability to extract electrons out of the "ether" or thin air, as well as the ability to manipulate gravity. Believe it or not. I have seen one in action and don't mind if you call me nuts. If it wasn't ours, it was somebody else's.
LR
No mention made of the brakes? Personally I no longer ride bikes that don’t have ABS as an option. Professional stunt riders might not want it but most other riders benefit from ABS. Low powered with good brakes should be it’s own class for safety ratings.
PaleDale
I like it but I think all of these new "commuter" solutions are missing the mark a bit. Not everyone lives close to work and those that don't generally have a freeway or motorway where they need to do 100 kph or get run over by some trades person or delivery van in a hurry. When an affordable bike with a top speed of 110 kph and an minimum of range 70 k's becomes available I'll start getting interested.
Johannes
So I can purchase a 4kW Vespa Elettrica with 100km range for US$7350. The PocketRocket seems way overpriced given its minimalist features.
Doug Nutter
I can see the first customization kits coming out now. Add an extension with 4 fins to the back with the afterburner taillight and a clear cone headlight cover would give a new interpretation of "pocket rocket".
Joshua Tulberg
That wheelie photo is a keeper for sure. Love it.