BugE Review

The BugE has a fresh future/retro look that is both simple but interesting, yet is based on reliable off the shelf components. It is a human scaled vehicle that you get into and onto as well. The term "CycleCar" describes it well.The Bodywork is nicely formed and the canopy is beautiful. The tires have a neat road race tread pattern, and the wheels are powder coated cast aluminum.

The BugE is powered by a 5.5" ADC series wound motor, a 300amp Alltrax NPX controller, and four Exide AGM lead acid batteries with onboard Soneil chargers that can plug into any 110v wall outlet .

Inside a BugE

Entering the BugE involves lifting the Fairing, which pivots neatly around the front wheels, then placing one leg into the footwell, sliding down into the seat, then placing you other leg inside. The fairing/canopy is supported by the front axle, so holding it up is fairly easy. The Test BugE had a prop to hold the fairing in any case.

This BugE also had a slider to adjust the seat for the driver, since many people try out the vehicle at shows. The seat pivoted on a hinge and rubber bumpers to absorb bumps and vibration. In the stock kit, the seat is simply bolted on, in a comfortable position for the owner, however all the options above can be added by the builder.

The handlebars are fairly well positioned, but this too is an adjustable personal choice. A thumb throttle applies the power although an optional motorcycle twist grip could also be substituted as in this unit.

The brakes are a bit unusual in that each lever operates one front brake. You can "brake steer" with this set up, and compensate for left/right traction, but if you apply both brakes together, the BugE stops straight and smoothly. There is also a rear wheel parking brake.

The headlights are also individually operated, with the right light being the "low beam" and both lights on for "high beam". The handlebar controls also include turn signals and horn buttons.

There are no foot pedals, transmission or clutch.

A simple battery meter indicates available power, and tracks how much power you are using as you drive.

The front "trunk" holds a lot more than you might think, but the opening is only about a square foot. You can also hang a backpack off the seat too, which is handy, plus there is a little tray in front of the seat.

Visibility out is excellent, with very little distortion though the aerodynamic canopy. However the test BugE had a split canopy enabling the rear portion to be removed in hot weather. This feature however requires a frame over the canopy that interferes with the view a bit. The Fairing sides also block the view over the shoulder, so placement of the rear view side mirrors is important.

The steering column is mounted on a long tube designed to bend in an impact, but it flexes a bit too much.

Driving the BugE

Steering effort is rather high at low speeds or when turning tight, but feels much better at speed. The BugE tracks well and feels stable, but side winds can buffet the BugE around like the light vehicle it is.

Acceleration off the line is smooth but controlled, however acceleration builds quickly and the BugE pulls strongly all the way to top speed, accompanied by the rising whine of the torquey ADC Series wound motor. Lots of mid range power for traffic. Once moving the BugE is very responsive and quick.

The suspension is harsh at low speeds especially if you clunk into pot holes and over railroad tracks, much like riding a recumbent bicycle. In addition the Fairing jiggles and bounces since it is attached to the front axle. At higher speeds though, the ride smooths out and the BugE takes bumps much better. A single motorcycle shock suspends the front axle and the rear end has a rubber bumper/swing arm in a simple but clever system that pivots under your seat.

Handling is limited by the narrow tires with only so much traction which makes the BugE feels zippy and light weight but still pretty stable and very maneuverable.

The Fairing is effective at deflecting the wind and rain, and the only turbulence, around the arms and shoulders, is fairly mild. You still need to dress for the weather however since there is no heater of course.

On the road, rain beads up and streams off in the wind, with interesting special effects. RainEx works well, but drizzle is distracting in any case. Another aspect of the BugE you have to get used to.

Its not quiet inside at any speed, since the chain drive and motor noise is trapped in the cockpit with you. The sound is very kinetic, much like a large battery powered tool ( which it is actually). You either love the electro-mechanical sound effects, or you don't.

In conclusion

The BugE is not for everyone, and not for everywhere.
This isn't for freeways or heavy traffic. Its much more at home buzzing around the neighborhood or over to the mall. Short range trips in the grid.
You are an active participant like riding a motorcycle (which is is) rather than automobile passenger. It feels alive and responsive and intense.
Like some sort of electronic pet Bug...E.



Designed and built by Blue Sky Design LLC, Creswell, Oregon, USA