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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 21.0° F  Overcast
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Madison goes electric: Two-wheel in-town transport, with no gas
From zero to 30 in no time flat, with Flux Moped co-founder Matt Brueggeman.
Credit:Linda Falkenstein

Matt Brueggeman points to the currently hot, pricey electric car, the Tesla, and says "That's marketing from the top down. We're doing the opposite."

Brueggeman is a cofounder of Williamson Street's new Flux Mopeds, a shop that sells just one thing: The Flux, a 100% electric moped.

Brueggeman, a 2006 graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in Chinese and international studies, left for Beijing after graduating with the idea of working but with no particular job in mind. He wanted to remain open to what China might have to offer. Right off, he became fascinated by the scooter culture in Beijing, and when his friend Alex Meyer, a fellow UW-Madison grad with degrees in mechanical engineering and Chinese, came over to visit, they hatched a plan to bring an electric moped to Madison.

The Flux EM1 was designed and developed by Brueggeman and Meyer, along with third partner Ellen Lang, Flux's director of sourcing. Flux is one of the few electric mopeds sold in the U.S., and more robust than most.

The new EM1 is substantial and futuristic-looking. It will reach 30 mph (the highest allowable speed for a moped) and will travel 20-25 miles with the basic battery (an extended-range pack will increase that to 40-45 miles). The battery, which is easily removable from the seat compartment (it weighs 22 pounds and is about the size of a cashbox), can be charged in a standard electrical outlet. "You could recharge at home, at the office or in a coffee shop," says Brueggeman.

The range is great for in-town errands and many commutes, Brueggeman notes. The battery recharges from empty to full in eight hours. Flux also bests gas mopeds with its zero emissions and price tag starting at $1,999; most gas mopeds tend to run $2,500 and up. It's also quiet -- much quieter than your average kitchen blender, not to mention most gas mopeds. Maintenance is minimal. No filters, sparkplugs, etc.

"They're more fun, too," Brueggeman suggests, noting with barely concealed enthusiasm that the EM1 accelerates faster than a gas engine, which takes time to rev up. In fact, the EM1 has a switch that slows down its acceleration for the rider who may be a bit more timid.

Speed is controlled by twisting the hand grip. Braking levers on each side are similar to those on mountain bikes, but you don't squeeze them harder for stronger braking; a gentle touch does the trick.

How are they different from the other new electric transportation model being sold in Madison, at Len's Electric Bikes? Those are really bicycles -- they have pedals, with the motor kicking in to help out on a hill or a windy day; speeds reach no more than 20 mph. Battery life is less than the Flux. And at Len's (a.k.a. Crazy TV Lenny), there are multiple brands and bike models to choose from, in a range of materials, styles and prices.

Flux Mopeds
710 Williamson St. 608-620-3589.
10 am-4 pm Fri. and Sat. or by appointment

Len's Electric Bikes
6107 Odana Rd. 608-276-5921
Noon-5 pm Mon. and Wed.-Fri.; 10 am-5 pm Sat.; noon-4 pm Sun.

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