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What a long strange trip it’s been, LA Rides fans. After years of covering the latest and greatest rides, a slow evolution has not only come to our stories but also to the automotive world as well. 

 

When we started LA Rides, the goal was to inform and expose the less-than-auto-interested to the best and brightest new cars of varied genres. From sports cars and SUV’s to exotic European fare, we slowly evolved into an eco-friendly, forward-thinking landing zone for the future of the automotive breed. 

 

Mini Cooper and Prius

It all really got started with my first piece about the Mini Cooper, which had yet to make its North American debut. We said it would get Americans thinking that small and economical could also be synonymous with style and performance. Judging by all the stylish and capable small cars that have followed, this is exactly what happened. The Mini changed the game and Mini USA liked our little ditty so much they quoted it in their pre-release marketing for the car! Score one for the little guy. We had our orders, give the people what they want, and so LA Rides did just that.

 

Next, we did a piece about what exactly is a hybrid-car anyway, and how it differs from an all-electric car. Sounds silly now, I know, but think back to not so long ago. Can you remember when the word “hybrid” was reserved for bad science fiction or rogue botanists? Or the dark era when only one in ten folks knew how to pronounce “Prius” correctly?  

 

You’re probably thinking “okay we get it, stuff is changing all around us and the new cars seem to be getting it right for once, but what is he really going on about?” Well, I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t already heard, we are living in a new age of transportation, even though a large piece of my petrol-driven heart still lusts for all the roaring, tire-squealing glory of the 20th century’s gas-guzzling Golden Age. I encourage you to fret not, my dearies, because what comes after the Golden Age is sure to be an Age of Platinum. This new age of transportation is already here today and the coolest thing about it is, we not only get to witness it, we get to live it from behind the steering wheel --  that is if your new mode of transport even has a steering wheel at all! 

 

Here are a few examples of the cutting edge -- they might not be your next car but they will be changing the way we all think of how we get around.

The VW Electric E-UP

VOLKSWAGEN ELECTRIC E-UP!

Volkswagen, as its name translates from German, has always been a people’s car. In the last century the common-folk needed a safe, economical and robust car (heck, they even float) to get them around post-war Europe and then around the world, where the original VW Beetle became the most sold car of all time. Now it’s a new age and VW has put their thinking caps on, since they’re also the maker of the world’s most expensive car, the 1.5 million dollar Bugatti Veyron, VW has gone the other direction with the soon-to-be released, zero emissions electric-powered E-Up!

 

With a cutting edge lithium-ion battery the E-Up! has a range of up to 80 miles with a top speed of 84 miles per hour, and can be charged in less than an hour. With seats for three full-sized passengers and their gear, the E-Up! is a perfect successor to the “peoples car,” building on that same eco-friendly pedigree that the old Bug had last century. The non-electric but very green diesel version of the Up! will be hitting the streets in the next year (getting over 80 mpg). But for those looking for a truly petroleum-free version, the wait for the VW E-Up! is worth it. The Up! is my leading choice for the #1 zippy- runabout for the platinum age. That is until Mini puts their electric version of the Mini Cooper into production. Choices, choices… www.vw.com/upcomingcars/upconcept/en/us/

The Brammo Motorsports Enteria Motorcycle

BRAMMO MOTORSPORTS ENERTIA MOTORCYCLE: “BORN TO BE WILD” HAS NEVER BEEN EASIER

Long-time readers may be surprised to see this one. Yes, the Brammo Enertia Motorcycle is the first two-wheeled vehicle to grace our pages. Combining traditional motorcycle looks and performance with pure-electric power and an easy to use automatic transmission, the Enertia could be the hottest thing on two wheels available. With a cost in excess of $12,000, the Enertia is not for everyone. But if you ever wanted to get into cycling, but still need the performance of a city car, or are intimidated by the skill-set it takes to be a truly expert rider, the Enertia takes most of the guesswork (no shifting, zero maintenance) out of the experience, leaving only the exhilaration that can only come from cruising on two wheels. The Enertia is my latest lust object, and the first ever two-wheeled ride I have ever seriously considered putting in my own garage. Could this be the future for two-wheeled transport? In any event, I have a feeling this is going to be THE motorcycle for the celebs and fashionistas from Hollywood to Brooklyn and hopefully everywhere in between. www.brammo.com

THE E-ROAD: MORE MY $PEED

THE E-ROAD: MORE MY $PEED

For the rest of us who not only don’t need or want to shell out the big bucks for an Enertia, or for those who just have to face the fact that they live in a condo or apartment and don’t have a place to plug the damn thing in, I give you the smartest electric runabout money can buy. The E-Road is light, zippy and besides its tiny entry price of $899.00, the E-Road does not require a special motorcycle license or special training to use. Because the E-Road can also be pedaled like a traditional bicycle, it does not need to be registered with your local DMV, and best of all the battery can be removed and carried into your apartment or condo and charged there overnight, without bringing the 250lb bike inside. And they even come in a rainbow of cute colors like lime green, metallic blue, and my own personal favorite, black. www.e-road.com

THE YIKEBIKE: ODD, COLLAPSIBLE, AND… SEXY?

And finally, not to be outdone by the two-wheeled stunners above, let me introduce the YikeBike. Not quite unicycle, not quite bike, the YikeBike is a modern, scaled down version of one of those old-timey “Penny-farthing” bikes from the 19th century. You know, the silly ones with the giant wheel up front and the tiny one out back? 

THE YIKEBIKE

Well, the brilliant engineers at YikeBike brought the concept into the 21st century, and my opinion is that they have given the world what it really needs in urban transport. We’ve all seen the Segway in action and, despite the hype, it did not change the world. However, the economical, portable (at only 21 lbs it folds up for easy carrying into your office, on a bus, elevator, anywhere) YikeBike runs on electric power and is a blast to see in action. Do yourself a favor and watch their video (http://yikebike.com/site/gallery) of the YikeBike going through its paces. I couldn’t help but notice the smiles on everyones’ faces as they enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with riding the YikeBike – if the Platinum Age of personal transport comes in the form of the chic and efficient YikeBike, then count me in.  yikebike.com

 

Over the next few years we will witness the beginning of a new age where earth-friendly no longer means boring or slow, and your next car may not even be a car at all. I look forward to discovering what exciting new developments are around the next corner. Of course I will still lust after the rumbling internal-combustion powered cars of my youth, but I also can’t wait for what new adventures this Platinum Age of transportation has in store. Whatever happens I’ll be here keeping you posted on whatever exciting new developments are around the corner, whether they’re on four wheels, or two, or even dare I say…none. Jet packs anyone?

 

See you on the big (and little) screen!

 

Matthew Goodman 

 

www.Dishmag.com / Issue 115 - September 8800
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