Posted on 22 February 2009.
Marrs Cruizer Electric Bike Review
Despite the big corporates increasingly flexing their muscle around all things electric and 2-wheeled, the e-bike scene remains one lit up by real people, with their very real passions and stories. And they don’t come much more devoted and passionate than Kacy Marrs and Brad Fanshaw – especially when it comes to spreading the gospel of the joys of electric ‘cruizin’ on their custom-made machines.
Their boutique e-bike foundry, Marrs Cycles – established back in 2007 – claims to be the creator of THE electric beach cruiser – or as they have newly-monickered it, the Marrs M-1. And there’s no doubt: their creation is a bike that bleeds laid-back cruising and sand-spraying antics from every pore. It is also an e-bike stamped with an idiosyncratic vision, all classic motorcycle stylings and fatter-than-thou tires, amply show-casing Marrs’ unswerving commitment to hand-crafting. A real potential leader of the pack.
The ultimate cruiser?
Standing out from the pack is something that long-time biker, Kacy Marrs has made a career out of. He has a long history of riding bikes, but has often gotten an ‘itchy saddle’. He started out in the BMX scene, then hopped over to Motocross, before getting into his cruising groove, with classic Harleys. Sadly, an accident during a half-time freestyle Motocross show (put on for the NHRA) left him injured, and out of the saddle for several months.
It was while he was taking time-off, to recover those injuries, that Kacy began working on the idea of fabricating his own e-cycles. He had always loved the classic 30′s and 40′s motorcycle styling, and decided to incorporate their timeless looks, and easy-rider lifestyle, into his new electric bike design. And by integrating actual motorcycle components into his bikes, Marrs has managed to give
the M1 a traditional look-and-feel – some would argue the ultimate cruiser look – for the modern electric era.
Brad brings the Rock-n-roll
His partner, Brad Fanshaw, comes to the enterprise from the other end of race-track. Brad was an early innovator in the automotive ‘after-market’ – the now-flourishing hot-rod and custom wheel market: big on performance, as well as rock-n-roll flash and fury. Indeed, many have credited Fanshaw with playing a crucial role in creating today’s all-conquering rockabilly-on-four- wheels ‘automotive lifestyle’.
He currently owns Bonneville Worldwide, together with Michael Anthon (bassist with Van Halen) which was founded in 1996. Bonneville manufactures a plethora of luxury products, with an automotive styling, including Bonspeed wheels, gauges and clothing. But with his eye for style and ground-breaking innovation, Brad was inevitably drawn to what Marrs had planned for the e-bike scene.
Cruising by numbers
So what do you get for your $7500? Well, the first point to make is that no-one said that ‘class’ should come cheap. Marrs Cycles are no cookie-cutter production line. Each bike build is custom, with Marrs tooling their cruisers – in their workshop tucked away in Anaheim, Southern California – according to each
customer’s requirements. That means you get a real hand-crafted experience, wrapped in a whole packet of devotion, for all those dollars. But moving beyond the intangible, to the steel and rubber, what is it that makes the M1 tick?
Each Marrs M1 cruiser is back-boned by a hand-crafted 4130 ChroMoly frame, ditto for the handlebars and the leaf-spring front: this suggests a bike that is built with strength and quality uppermost in mind. Snapped onto this firm foundation are a series of top-notch motorcycle components. Those stand-out M1 wheels are built up from Excel rims, with 10-gauge motorcycle spokes, and a pair of gorgeous Metzeler motorcycle tires completing this bikes ‘boots’.
Motoring from Marrs
Power hits the rear wheel through a 3-phase brushless rear hub-motor system, which slugs out 700 Watts of cruising power. That’s more than enough to move the needle up to the legal 20mph notch, quick time (although off-the-road, and on the beach, Marrs claim to have slid their modified M1′s to 30mph and beyond). It is twitched into action by a handle-mounted throttle.
The motor is driven by a 48V, 15Ah Lithium battery, which is concealed in a classy real wood-veneer battery box (or alternatively in a cool jet black housing)). However, the hefty weight of this bike – 140 pounds – sadly limits your cruising to a less-than-horizon-shattering 20 miles (32km), between charges. But that should be enough to get you plenty of runs up and down the beach.
The M1, naturally enough for an e-bike, sports a pair pedals, hooked up to a single rear-gear system. The glistening chain-line may look great – nice and clean, and complementing perfectly the long lean lines of the bike. But the foot-powered drive system is furnished with zero motor assist. So it doesn’t take much imagination to see a cruise on the Marrs turning into something of a troublesome toil, when you’re forced to pull all of its 140 pounds around, without a motor.
The M1 comes kitted with Avid 4-piston hydraulic brakes to the front, and a large 9-inch rotor to the rear. Rounding out the motorcycle cruiser experience is a Springer solo motorcycle seat, complete with chunky chrome springs.
A bike with a story
So is the Marrs M1 for you? That depends on whether you’re looking for an e-bike that pushes all the right numbers out, or for something with a little more soul. The Marrs M1 has plenty of the latter. Its low-slung good looks will get you plenty of admiring glances. It works well for slicing the beach up, and for taking your cruising out to where no gas bike could easily go. And this is a bike made by bikers, not robots.
But more than that, owning a Marrs is buying into a little piece of passion, a little slice of history. With the M1 slung beneath you, you could find yourself adding your own chapter or two of easy-riding to the ongoing Marrs story.