Electric motorcycle and long journey: the nuisance?

The delegate for climate and sustainability planning in his Swiss town near Lausanne, Stanislas Gouhier wanted to test the feasibility of a long trip to France with an electric motorcycle. He expected to experience some difficulties during the 4,000km course completed in 3 weeks. What conclusions does he draw from this in the end?

It’s been just over a year since Stanislas Gouhier made his trip to France, between the 13th and 30th of July 2021. But he is currently communicating about it, gradually depositing for about a month a series of 11 videos on his channel on Youtube Rastan CH.

the next movie [NDLR : Short Way Round 5] I will present my loop in Brittany. Uploads will last until October 3rd. “says the young motorcyclist.

With this series of videos, I wanted to share my experience with those who haven’t traveled electric yet and would like to. I encourage you in that direction. And then I really don’t like hoarding photos. These small films will also allow me to preserve the memory of this adventure. “, he completes.

Thanks to Covid-19

Initially, I was supposed to do this Tour de France in 2020, but not with an electric bike. I longed to visit friends and family I hadn’t seen in years. But the health crisis forced me to postpone my trip », explains Stanislas Gouhier. ” So, on a whim, I spent my motorcycle license at the end of summer 2020, promising myself it would be an electric one. That’s how my project evolved. It is therefore my first motorcycle. Previously, in electric vehicles, I had only tried the Renault Zoé and the Twizy “, he admits.

My choice quickly fell into a Zero Motorcycles SR/F. It is for me the most successful of the electric motorcycles with Energica. But the latter is more sporty and I like its design less “, compares.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

4,000 km circuit

Departing from Vevey, which is home to Nestlé’s world headquarters, our interlocutor made a first major stop in Strasbourg. Before going to Verdun, he went to Nancy to greet the famous Place Stanislas built in his honor. In any case, it is he who says it with great humor. Heading to Paris for a short stroll along the Champs-Elysées, then Romorantin, to take a short ride to Mont-Saint-Michel a little later.

He took his machine back to Brittany with a short stay in Brest and then in Vannes. ” I really enjoyed visiting the Valley of Saints in Carnoët and finding Fort La Latte where I used to go as a kid. », comments the Swiss motorcyclist. Evolving silently to the following stages in Bordeaux and Toulouse also attracted him: “ I passed small departmental roads that took me through medieval villages “.

In France, he also passed through Montpellier and Montélimar before making a trip to Italy via the Petit-Saint-Bernard pass. Leaving Aosta, he went to Switzerland. ” I crossed 4000 km on my way back to Vevey “, underlines the adventurer.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

technical team

I received my Zero SR/F in September 2020. It is equipped with a battery with an energy capacity of 14 kWh that I can recharge up to 12 kW thanks to an optional package “, explains Stanislas Gouhier. To take a twenty-day motorcycle trip, you have to be smart and make choices. This is what our interviewee did by winding the charging cables behind the side compartments.

And to sleep? A simple hammock to stretch between 2 trees in the camps where he stayed, covered with a waterproof tarp. A little spartan! ” I still allowed myself to go exceptionally to the hotel, to Verdun and to Bourg-Saint-Maurice. It was when it was raining a lot, so my stuff was dry. I also slept with friends and family along the way. “, he reports.

Apart from a time when I was made to understand that I would have to make do, the reception at the campsites was very good and the staff found me a very suitable place to put the hammock. On site, I recharged using an adapter for the blue P17 socket “, he testifies.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

When time gets involved

I was hoping to experience Welsh during my trip. They arrived especially with the weather. In the first 3 or 4 days, for example, I felt rain and cold. This resulted in a terrible drop in autonomy. I no longer had 220 km, but 150 or even only 130 km “recalls Stanislas Gouhier.

On the other hand, I endured temperatures of around 40°C between Brittany, Bordeaux and Toulouse. The battery didn’t like it and must have overheated, although the bike’s electronics didn’t signal. I then suffered reload blocks. Sometimes it didn’t work with Type 2 and household cables, but most of the time it ended up booting with the latter “, he continues.

I had prepared my refueling stops in advance, using Chargemap, which is the most reliable and up-to-date app to do so. It took me 2 or 3 times to make unplanned stops because of reduced autonomy. I was also very well received once by a gentleman who provides wall boxes to help. He also had a beer tap in his garage. “, he proposes.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

City markers and country markers

I left with the idea that I would certainly encounter problems with the charging stations installed in the villages, and that it would be fine in cities and especially in big cities. I experienced the exact opposite in the end “explains Stanislas Gouhier.

In villages, the terminals are usually easy to locate because they are often in the town hall square or a church. Residents often have enough to charge their electric vehicles at home. This means that equipment in the public space is little used. It was operational whenever I needed it “, he rejoices again.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

In large cities, the number of terminals is often insufficient, among other difficulties. In Bern, for example, the one at the youth hostel was never activated, the next one was inaccessible because it was on a street under construction, and the one at the hotel where I went next did not work. “, he illustrates.

In Brest, the first terminal was out of order, another was in an industrial area with nothing around. It was in Bordeaux that I experienced the worst, with the first 8 terminals busy or non-functional. There was even one more with a Marshal plug [NDLR : Utilisable avec les VE de 1996 à 2002 équipés de batterie nickel-cadmium] “, regrets.

In stages of 300-400 km

I advanced in steps of 300-400 km. The shortest, around 160 km, was between Montpellier and Alba-la-Romaine. And the longest: between Vannes and Bordeaux. The longest, but also the most difficult. I had planned 9am for her, and finally arrived around 11pm, leaving in the morning at 10am. “, opposes Stanislas Gouhier.

On the outskirts of Nantes, it went well. In Fouras, near La Rochelle, the hotel did not work. I managed to find a close one. I arrived in Rochefort around 2pm in the heat. I was only able to recharge with a power of 3 kW or instead of 12 “, he lines up.

Then I passed through an area less equipped with terminals. I had to drive at 30 km/h to get to Lidl with 2 km of autonomy remaining. I was only able to get started with the domestic outlet. I was there for 2.5 hours while the store was closed “, he sees again.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

balance sheet

The bike behaved wonderfully on the road. It’s a real pleasure to drive this machine! Sometimes, at red lights, I was able to talk to motorcyclists who weren’t quite ready to use electricity. But it was good, with positive reviews. They asked me questions about range, charging, price, how it drives and how it feels on the handlebars. », marks Stanislas Gouhier with satisfaction.

After an hour and a half in the saddle, we still want to land. Fortunately, this corresponds to the reload stops. I would be happy to do this trip again. If it were by car, it would be with a model with at least 300 km of autonomy on the highway. What I avoided with the bike. That 300 km would allow me to ride about 2 hours before the break he reflects.

I have the impression that, compared to the south, the north of France is better equipped with terminals that I think are spaced about twenty kilometers apart. “, it encrypts. “ I advise anyone who has an electric motorcycle to try this adventure, preparing well in advance the steps to recharge and land concludes the young Swiss motorcyclist.

Stanislas Gouhier's Journey in Zero SR/F

Cleanrider and I would like to thank Stanislas Gouhier immensely for agreeing to spontaneously answer our questions and for sending us illustrative photos.

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