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F-18 Test Report
What's it like? First of all, this is an eye catching new design in "candy apple red" and silver that drives like a luxury car! In fact, I'd say the F-18 has a more stable and controlled ride (on bumpy roads) than the dual suspension HCF 707. This may be partly due to the oil damped (I believe) mono-shock rear suspension. In fact, the shock looks just like the one used on the Voloci. There's no "springy" feeling to the ride as I found with the 707. (no spring damping?) In addition, the wheelbase has been extended to 40" which helps add greater stability to the ride. For reference, the 2001 Flyer wheel base was 35", while the 2002 was just over 37".
A few more specifications: Deck width has been greatly extended from the typical 8-3/4" of the Flyer, to about 11". Deck length, however, is somewhat shorter at 16.5". (foot space) Flyer models are about 18.5". Although handlebar height is not adjustable, it is set at a reasonable 35". (deck to top of cross bar) I found this height to be adequate, (I'm 5'-11") but generally I've set my Flyer bar at 36"-37". A short steering tube extension will take care of this if necessary. Ground clearance is considerable at 5 1/2" unloaded! (front and rear of battery pan) I especially like this extra space, since it allows for battery pan modifications which I'm certain will show up soon! Finally, the deck material is a full 50% thicker than in previous models to help support the added width. (overhanging the chassis)
Maintenance: Working on new F-18 should be more "enjoyable" (if that's the right word) and generally easier than on earlier Currie scooters due to the un-crowded drive train area and high swept rear fender. Changing a tire, adjusting the rear brake, setting the chain tension block, and replacing a chain will no longer require removal of the deck for easy access.
Tires: As on the new 2002 Flyer, the tires are heavy duty street tread Kenda 909s with extra heavy inner-tubes. (not as thick as my thorn-resistant tubes, but double that of standard) The tires are installed on alloy rims with a "cross-1" spoke pattern! This type of spoke system will prove far more durable than the "radial" spoke pattern of previous models.
Brakes: Front wheel V-brakes and large alloy brake levers are a pleasure to operate, but expect some "squealing" from the overly soft brake pads. Personally, I'd immediately exchange them for a harder compound. In addition to quieter braking, you'll be reducing the possibility of standing the scooter on its front wheel in a panic stop. You'll also soon discover that the left (front) brake lever is also a "kill switch" for the motor, preventing the simultaneous application power and braking. It's believed that this sort of "cross controlling" may be partly responsible for motor overheating and failure in earlier models.
Is it fast? Performance is great, but not spectacular. The 600 Watt rating on the motor plate is belied by the 40A fuse in the battery box. (same as all previous models) Since current limiting by the internal controller will prevent this fuse from opening under virtually all normal operating conditions, we can assume that the actual power consumed by the motor is no greater than that of the earlier finned MAC. However, (and this is a big however) the larger rotor diameter of this new motor will yield greater torque. In addition, longer, steeper hills will not tax this 600 Watt system to the extent we see in earlier 300 Watt versions! (thus, the new 250 lb load limit) Dynamometer test results are nearly identical to the 2002 Flyer in range and speed, (8-9 miles, ~16 MPH) but hill climbing is clearly stronger.
Some things to consider: The F-18 uses the same 15:90 gear ratio as earlier Curries. Obviously, with this new "beefier" motor, some us won't be satisfied with that! I've already tested the F-18 with my 19 tooth pinion and produced 19+ MPH without any serious impact on acceleration or hill climbing ability. I suspect that a nice big set of Hawkers will do wonders for this motor, and will be working on that modification kit ASAP!
A few things to watch out for: The F-18 is ready to go right out of the box, but a few things should be checked prior to your first test runs. The tires should be aired up to 36-40 psi, batteries charged, and check that front brake for off center alignment. (easily adjusted) Do yourself another favor, and check the alignment of the motor pinion sprocket and rear wheel sprocket. The chain should travel a straight path between the two. (sight along the chain from the rear) I've seen a number of Currie scoots that have had the motor plate pushed in slightly during shipping, and this will cause the chain to run tight. Simply pull the motor away from the wheel (it doesn't take much to restore proper alignment) to correct this prior to riding. Note: You may also want to check the tightness of the 3 motor mounting bolts.
An open note to Currie Technologies: You've come a long way in a short time, and the F-18 is clear evidence of that progress. There are certain things, though, that you haven't mastered! Please package your products for UPS shipping! I know it's hard, but out here in dealer-land we have to ship these things! Also, figure out a way to strap down the chargers so they don't fly around the box!
Conclusion?: If you liked scooting before, you're going to REALLY like it now! The F-18 is a great product at a great price, and should change the minds of some skeptics who claim these devices are just impractical toys. Of course, there's always room for improvement, but isn't that what "after-market" guys like me are for? Anyway, I recommend that you try the F-18 if you have the opportunity. I can't imagine why you wouldn't like this scooter.