ScooterLab has been keenly following the story of the revived Cezeta brand. Not only did Boris Goldberg sort SLUK a world-first test ride on the new steel-bodied electric Cezeta 506, but Sticky also recorded an exclusive interview with Cezeta boss Neil Smith at their new boutique Cezeta store in central Prague.
Words by Boris Goldberg.
Images by Boris, Sticky and Matej Oliva
When I first heard about the new Cezeta, a discussion immediately sprang up about ‘cloned scooters from hell’. The ones that are part of a conspiracy to haunt any scooterist with some good taste. Even worse – there is now an electric engine where a good old 200cc two-stroke lump used to sit in the 1960s. However, when you speak to the people behind the Cezeta, you can sense that they’re really proud about their product and one major factor in this is the term “authenticity”. No question – there is definitely some explanation needed.
How genuine can you get?
Let’s start from the beginning. If you’re not familiar with the name, Cezeta was originally a classic scooter produced in former Czechoslovakia during the ’50s and ’60s. Now, a newly founded company called Cezeta Motors are currently announcing the birth of a model called Cezeta 506. It looks absolutely identical to the old Cezeta scooters; however is propelled by an electric motor. Not a similar design, as some plastic Vespa-lookalikes you find, but simply the same. This is not too surprising when you find out the current prototypes simply ARE old scooters that have been modified for the job. This is because Cezeta Motors were initially in the business of restoring old scoots, before they turned to re-producing them. Therefore their aim is to produce a scooter with exactly the same look and feel as the genuine product, even if the production bikes will be completely remanufactured.
“Just selling a rebadged plastic scooter is something I simply could not be proud of,” says Neil Smith, founder and owner of Cezeta Motors, who also happens to be an expatriate Brit from Morecambe. He openly admits the electric engine is from China because there is nothing else on the market and he is still trying to find a European supplier. Everything else will be built locally by small suppliers in the Czech republic – just like in the good old days.
The reason why Cezeta went for an electric engine is rather simple: they’re trying to carve themselves a niche out of the market where they can survive with their concept of producing a small series of about 800 scooters per year. Interestingly, a Chinese-German consortium is currently trying to do exactly the same with the old German Borgward car brand – only that they do not have the “hand-crafted” appeal of the Cezeta of course. There seems to be a pattern here… In addition, Neil can go on at length why electric engines are the future – for a combination of reasons ranging from a maintenance-free design, to power output and increasingly tighter eco-legislation.
Of course power is what got me interested most – I don’t care how it smells or sounds as long as it goes like stink. The final production scooters will produce 8kW continuously and 11kW peak, but the figure of real interest is torque: 215NM is what we’re looking at – that is a whopping ten times what a Vespa GTS 300 puts out, plus there are no losses in the gearbox because there isn’t one. Neil is currently contemplating taking the Cezeta to a couple of drag strips to frighten the shit out of the competition once the new engine is ready. Of course power output will be restricted to more useable figures as standard to make it rideable for the everyday user. But that’s probably something you could easily change with the help of the 10 year old computer geek living next door.
As with any electric vehicle, battery range is an issue. Cezeta promises a realistic range of about 100kms which can be extended to 200kms with an optional second battery pack. With Cezeta’s expected type of customer, this seems more than enough, but I wouldn’t be too surprised if in daily practice these figures will be much lower with a throttle-happy rider. Whatever time you spend depleting them, charging the batteries when completely empty will take about 4.5hrs.
Let’s get ready to rumble – a bit
So what does all this mean on the road? The Cezeta literally works by the flick of a switch. This will arm the system and then all you have to do is twist the throttle as usual. Neil had already warned me that with only 5kW, the prototype currently is equipped with a smaller engine than production models will have. Even this engine was set to only deliver about 40% of the potential power output in order to make the prototype as fool-proof as possible. With this setup, you could compare acceleration to a 125cc scooter, but top speed was a rather uninspiring 80kmh, i.e. 50mph and I kept thinking what the engine would be like if you unleash its full potential.
However where the Cezeta definitely scored was the rest of the riding experience.It feels completely like a 1960s scooter, because that’s what it is – with an electric engine of course. You sit upright like on your mum’s kitchen chair, with rather low handlebars and a traditionally sprung seat. Not ideal for touring, but completely familiar to anyone who has ever ridden other scooters from that period.
Metal not plastic!
As with any 60s scooter, you get a genuine item and not a plastic fantastic and I can only hope that the production models will keep the look and feel of the prototype in that aspect – nonsense-free and over-engineered – that’s what Neil probably means with the word “authentic”.
Of course there will be changes – besides the other engine, production models will have an altered chassis to hold the batteries, larger wheels (13 instead of 11 inches) and a longer swing arm for more stability – even if I found little to criticise with the way the prototype handled. Weird however was the brake set-up – the prototype had a disc brake at the rear, plus the original drum at the front – a bit hair-raising really. The front drum brake will of course be replaced by a second disc on the production models, along with ABS which will have to be fitted due to the current legislation requirements. But if everything else remains like the prototype, then Cezeta will really be a unique experience and unlike anything else you can buy new today.
One downfall of Cezeta’s concept is that you cannot test ride the 506 at a local dealer – currently you can only pre-order via their website www.cezetamotors.com. Pre-order means that they need about 800 orders to start production, which is scheduled for December this year and they are looking at a turnout of only about 80 scooters per month. What you can see from these figures is that Cezeta are aiming at a rather small – in fact very small – niche of the market. Albeit a wealthy one – the initial price tag of all this exclusivity is 9,900 Euros. Included is the delivery to your doorstep and a three-year warranty. If, however, you feel that placing a blind order is not the best idea, the other option of course is booking a flight to Prague and visit Cezeta at their new shop in the city centre.
To sum it up, I totally enjoyed both my ride-out on the Cezeta and the conversation with the people behind it. It is simply a refreshing approach and I can really relate to the idea of producing only as many scooters as you need to keep everyone involved in the business. That this comes at a rather hefty price tag is another story. Unlike their ancestors, the Cezeta 506 will certainly not provide mobility for the masses. There are interesting months ahead for Cezeta Motors – and I’m definitely queueing up already for a test ride when the first production scooters are available.
Electric scooters don’t seem very exciting, until you ride a decent one. In reality the performance can be exciting and far beyond the petrol equivalent for a licence category. My main issue with electric scooters is range and charge time, but here, in this vintage chassis, the Cezeta team actually have enough battery storage for a very respectable range. Admittedly the 506 is not handsome, but few electric scooters are. This one though, has a certain iron-curtain retro charm that wealthy buyers may respond to; particularly if they want to stand out from the crowd in places where petrol vehicles are prohibited and financial incentives are offered for green transport options. Rebooting a long-forgotten Czech scooter as bespoke eco-transport for urban hipsters is a scheme so off-the-wall that it might just work…
The original Cezeta models 501 and 502 were produced in Czechoslovakia from 1957 until 1964, initially with 175cc, then a 200cc-engine with up to 9,5 hp was used. A three-wheeler version similar to original concept of Piaggio’s Ape called Cezeta 505 was also produced. The Cezeta was also produced under licence in New Zealand under the Name N-Zeta between 1958 and 1964.
Type 506/01 Specifications
Steel monocoque bodyshell
Wheel base: 134cm
Seat Height: 78cm
Light height: 15cm
Weight: 145kg (10kWh pack +22kg)
Motor: electric brushless hub
Power: standard 6kW (peak 9kW), option 8kW (peak 11kW)
Acceleration: 0-60km/h in 3.5-4 seconds
Top speed: 85km/h (standard), 95km/h (high-power option)
Transmission: Direct, automatic
Throttle: Twist & Go electronic signal, IP67 protection
Front fork leading link with adjustable progressive dual shock absorbers
Rear swingarm with adjustable progressive dual shock absorbers
Battery type: Panasonic lithium-ion
Nominal voltage: 77V
Battery energy capacity: standard 5kWh and option 10kWh
Range in average use: 100km (standard), 200km (option)
Lifetime at 100% capacity: 10 yrs or 200,000km
Operating temperatures: -10C to +50C
ON BOARD CHARGER
Universal voltage operating range 120V-230V
Charging 1.25kWh(=25km) per hour at 16A amp
Ability to vary the on board charger amperage 6A-16A
Charge in use with variable recuperation braking
Battery management system to safeguard operation
Hydraulic disc front and rear
Stand operated parking brake
Internet via GSM SIM for SMS alerts and map tracking
MicroSD logs of usage statistics for remote diagnosis and service.
Type 506/01 Standard Features
Leather saddle with choice of shape between 1-2 person design.
Matching speed and state of charge gauges.
Warning lights for being in-operation and low remaining range.
Remote control on-off and alarm system.
Safety systems: Master cutoff on handlebar, collision detection cutoff and stand deployment cutoff.
Powerful LED broad beam headlight, blinkers, tail light, brake light and underbody lighting.
Storage space: 2 front pockets with removable lids, lockable underseat storage, front storage rack and hook for bag.
Smartphone App: detailed battery information and setting performance characteristics and recuperation.
3 year warranty with roadside recovery assistance. Extendable to 10 years.
Type 506/01 Optional Extras
White wall tyres.
Leather travel bag set.
Matching PAV trailer.
1000W AC power outlet.