“The MLM fills that gap between the e-bike and the car.”
— Jonathan Miller, Arcimoto
According to Eugene-based electric vehicle company Arcimoto, the future of mobility is here, and it’s codename is “Mean Lean Machine” (MLM). The MLM is a three-wheeled electric vehicle with full-suspension that Arcimoto debuted last week.
The three wheels keep it stable, but this e-trike stands out of the pack because it’s built to tilt. Thanks to Arcimoto’s acquisition of Tilting Motor Works, the company built some pretty neat leaning technology into the design. A promo video (below) shows an MLM rider weaving down steep hills with apparent ease.
(The larger FUV on the left, MLM specs on the right.)
Arcimoto was founded in 2007 by tech entrepreneur Mark Frohnmayer to fill the niche of small electric vehicles. After years of development, the company released its Fun Utility Vehicle (FUV, above) in 2019, and has other offerings coming soon (including an electric pick-up truck that looks a lot more like a golf cart than any of the massive e-trucks we’re seeing on the market these days).
“Cars are way too big and inefficient for the job of everyday driving.”
— Jonathan Miller, Arcimoto
The FUV is a small, motorcycle-class two-seater EV designed to replace short car trips. Much closer to a golf cart than a bike, it serves as a middle ground between a larger electric vehicle like a Tesla and the standard e-bikes we usually cover on BikePortland.
Arcimoto is headed in a new direction with the MLM. This e-trike can fit two people, but its specs will be more in line with a traditional e-bike than anything Arcimoto has released in the past. Interestingly, it looks like you can use it as a Peloton-style stationary bike while you’re waiting for it to charge.
Since most people taking car trips are only going a short distance and are often traveling alone, this is a market many micromobility companies like Arcimoto think they can squeeze into.
“Cars are way too big and inefficient for the job of everyday driving,” Arcimoto’s Director of Communications Jonathan Miller told me in a recent interview. “The MLM fills that gap between the e-bike and the car,” Miller says. “We think this offering is going to be really unique on the market. There’s definitely a place for this.”
In a video showing off the new concept product, Frohnmayer says for the same amount of material it takes to build on Hummer, two Teslas or eight FUVs, you can build 100 MLMs.
“This is a point I really want to hammer home,” Frohnmayer says. “For transportation, micromobility is sustainability.”
The complete details on the specs of the MLMs are still up in the air, but according to Arcimoto it will have a range of more than 200 miles with auxiliary batteries. This is a lot farther than your standard e-bike can take you on a single charge.
We’ve looked at the need for more e-bike charging stations in order to get people to start actually being able to substitute their cars for electric bikes, but a range like this would solve a lot of those problems.
In a press release announcing the MLM, Frohnmayer says he sees this development as a groundbreaking step in the e-bike and micromobility world. “The Mean Lean Machine reflects Arcimoto’s commitment to push the envelope of sustainable mobility,” Frohnmayer says.
Frohnmayer also says the MLM will be the first step in Arcimoto’s new “Platform 2” initiative, which will include the smaller EV products like e-bikes, scooters and electrified wheelchairs.
One crucial piece of information we don’t know yet however, is how much customers will have to shell out for this e-trike. The cost of e-bikes – and lack of the kind of government subsidies people who buy electric cars have access to – is already a big impediment to mass usage. Oregon House Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) said she plans to sponsor an e-bike incentive bill in 2023. Power also recently announced she will resign from the legislature at the end of this session and we’ve heard from Rep. Dacia Grayber (D-Tigard) that she will take up the cause.
As of now, you can put down a refundable $100 deposit to get your name on the preorder list for when this interesting e-trike is available for purchase, which is expected to be at the end of the year. Learn more about the MLM on Arcimoto’s website.
Taylor has been BikePortland’s staff writer since November 2021. She has also written for Street Roots and Eugene Weekly. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
The vast majority of EVs should weigh less than a 1000 lbs/454 kgs.
It’s the ourobouros of Fordist consumers swallowing the “product” of Fordist capitalism that has led the weight of Trucks/SUVs/(cars) to approach 5 digits (with the resulting increase in traffic violence).
Presuming you pulled 1,000 lbs out of thin air, maybe an EV should weight what it needs to weigh to get the job done? I don’t think the current crop of EVs is our salvation, but it’s a step in the right direction. To just dismiss them outright over a minor issue like weight (when the streets can handle 1,000 lbs) seems to leave us at a standstill with transportation options which is not the ideal.
Is that from a Ford 150 “Lightning” commercial?
If EVs are to be used for low-occupancy transportation there is no need for them to weigh many thousands of lbs.
People don’t usually buy the vehicle they need for typical use, they buy the largest/most powerful vehicle they think might ever need for imagined scenarios. That drives vehicle sizes up.
Not so much “fordist” as “human naturist”.
Also quite irrational if the extreme-case-filling vehicle costs multiple times more to purchase, maintain, and store than would buying a lighter vehicle that fulfills most trips’ needs and renting or borrowing a vehicle for those extreme cases. Humans tend toward irrationality as we spend our lives identifying our irrationality, but sometimes that irrationality comes from a lifetime of advertisements selling certain autos, so in that sense I’d say “fordist” loosely but sufficiently applies to many situations soren’s talking about. Not to mention the social costs of larger and heavier autos…
It is indeed irrational; but even recognizing that, I find myself applying “rare use-case logic” when selecting vehicles, tools, a hot water heater :-(, and almost every other applicable decision I make. I sometimes adjust, but often not.
These contexts are too broad to be the response to advertising.
It may be “American naturist”, as humans in other countries don’t seem to all think this way.
if this thing had a shell or fairing of some kind, now that would be a game-changer
“Because I might get cold/wet” is probably the #2 reason I hear for not wanting to get out of a car
I’ve recently worked in Eugene and the variety of alternative vehicles and how frequently you see them is like nowhere else I’ve been.
It’s got handlebars, but so do motorcycles. Otherwise, I’m at a loss as to what this has to do with bicycling.
People might find themselves bicycling in streets alongside such vehicles one day. Bicyclists who drive might be interested in such a vehicle to replace their car, truck, etc. Not everything on BP is specific to bicycling.
A bicycle does not require licensing, registration, or insurance. This a bicycle. I’m at a loss as to why this is confusing.
Skateboards, rollerblades, Rascal scooters, and stolen shopping carts don’t require licensing, registration, or insurance either. That doesn’t make them bicycles. And this thing isn’t a bicycle either.
It may not require registration or insurance, but what is pictured at the top of this page is definitely not a bicycle.
I checked out the website and I am rather disturbed at how the device is presented being ridden aggressively by what is basically an angry or at least grumpy looking guy. Marketing the thing as an attack device on public ways is not winning me over, and I am worried about who might be.
That guy has no business being on a MUP on that thing with pedestrians and bicycles, that’s for sure.
No reason to assume it isn’t a legal pedalec allowed to use most MUP’s from anything I saw in their advertisements.
I occasionally ride a trike (carrying carpentry tools to a nearby jobsite), and surprisingly re-learning riding a trike that doesn’t tilt is difficult (muscle memory of decades on bikes kicks in at bad times like making a quick turn when going moderately fast). I’m always looking for good ideas for what I may be having to ride in a decade (I’m old but still lively and have good balance), at any rate, the combination of tilting, electric range, and fun biking may make this a excellent option!
Just what we need, more newbies on eBikes (trikes) Time to officially ban class 2 and 3 eBikes (or trikes) from MUPS.
Woah Steve that is such an unfortunate attitude!
I hear you that some types of bikes and jerk riders can cause problems, but don’t you think it’s good to be a bit more welcoming? The way I see it, jerks can ride any type of bike and it’s really more about the rider than the vehicle they happen to be operating.
That’s the attitude I found challenging in the late 90’s early 2000’s. There didn’t seem to be much patience for newbies on the road or at the bike shops I went to. You can’t get experience if you don’t get out on the road.
I also think it’s illuminated that someone would assume e-bike riders are newbies. I own 2 of them and I’m anything but a newbie!
A couple of months ago I found myself on the springwater, riding counter to an e-rider event similar to what Taylor described in a recent BP article. This mobile group, many leathered up like road warriors, and multiple abreast, were hauling ass very close to me as I hugged the edge of the trail. Many were preoccupied filming themselves and I had to shout at riders who were on a collision course with me. I suspect most were responsible riders when alone but they were a mob of jerks en mass. Just something that I observed
TBC, I am totally pro-eBikes. I also own two and ride one regularly for work. My “unfortunate attitude” is the result in the recent uptick in eBike usage, my observation of their usage on the neighborhood bikeway I live on and the the MUPs and bike lanes I use to commute on. People who normally wouldn’t be cycling are now able to cruise around at 20+ MPH with no physical effort and little if any “background” operating a bicycle safely. Have you seen the groups of idiots on the Biketown bikes when the weather is nice? It’s a recipe for disaster.
OK I want TBC too…. I agree with you that we need to keep our eyes open to the fact that some people are taking some types of EVs on paths and bike lanes that absolutely don’t belong there. As for other people not being safe on standard ebikes, I think the solution is to figure out how to better educate folks. I embrace them wholeheartedly even if they aren’t smooth or very capable yet.
This reminds me of experiences in the mid 1970s. Back then when you started out cycling, particularly going on training rides with bike racers, you got dropped until you got fit enough to keep up. That was a good thing for safety because your bike handling skills developed concurrently with your fitness. So, by the time you were able to keep up with a group, you tended not to cause crashes by doing something dumb bike handling-wise. Then the triathletes started showing up on our training rides. Most of them came to cycling from running, so they already had a really good base of fitness and could keep up pretty much from the beginning. They did not have any bike handling skills however. Crashes happened a lot because of that until most of them got bored with cycling or tired of being yelled at by bike racers and quit riding with us. So, yeah, squids on fast ebikes can definitely be a menace.
A few days ago I was riding on a MUP and a very high-speed electric vehicle of some sort approached me (looked like a wheelchair with a front-end and two blinding headlights). It was probably going 25-30 MPH, and it felt utterly inappropriate for that to be on a path, and it had nothing to do with the driver being a jerk.
Having ridden bikes, ebikes, mopeds, and motorcycles throughout Asia, I’m well aware of the chaos and feeling of risk of *injury* with people haphazardly careening around the street. Still, I never felt the level of risk of *death* as you have crossing a street like Broadway or 82nd (especially with my 2 young kids!). I’m surprised I even survived riding 2 years in Charlotte, NC.
I’d rather be on the road with the (much maligned) scooters or small EVs like the MLM than the regular desensitized road rager in a 5000lb lead shuttle. There’s also the safety in numbers, increased demand for good infrastructure, reduced parking demand, etc…
Everyone should be conscientious and respect safety laws, but the thousands of fatalities on American roads are driven by one transportation type.
So my dad is 78 years old and commuted by bike his whole career. We have gone on a number of long bike rides in the last year. Dad is also an amputee and realistically these rides wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t bought an ebike because he got to where hills were just too hard to go up largely pedaling with just one leg. I am starting to worry a little about his balance so a trike like this might be the thing that allows him to ride for another decade +. There is absolutely no reason why he shouldn’t be allowed to access multi-use paths and be safe from traffic violence.
My primary concern is one of speed, not locomotion. If you are going faster than about 15MPH on a flat trail, you should probably be elsewhere.
If you are walking, being closely passed from behind by a silent vehicle going 20+MPH is terrifying.
Which is exactly why I am a huge proponent of Class 1 eBikes and the removal of restrictions for them on analog cycling paths and trails.
Time to ban all drop bar bikes except on designated or permitted sport tracks/routes.
My first thought is it’s basically a bare-bones, electric version of the Yamaha TriCity, as built by someone’s older brother out in the garage using his dad’s tools.
Looks like fun, though. At least in the video.
Good luck to the developers.
200 miles with auxiliary batteries. Okay. You have to carry extra batteries with you to get 200 miles? How many miles on one battery, and how much do batteries cost? For that matter, how much for the whole machine? Judging by the costs of their other products it won’t be priced for most potential users to afford.
I mean, the article clearly states that the focus of this company is on short distances.
Love electric vehicles. I’d be a little scared to take a fast turn in one of these. Also I’m MLM name reminds me of multilevel marketing.
Arciomoto isn’t exactly on the up and up: http://www.arcimotosecuritieslitigation.com/
I have been pretty excited about this company, so that’s a bummer, but IIRC from the Willamette Week article about them, the founder is buds with Elon Musk, so it’s not totally shocking that there has been a Securities Act violation.