This electric bike has zip to spare

The Vectrix, available at a handful of dealers across the country, is the latest entry into the American scooter market. Trust us: you'll be wearing a torque-happy grin.

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    The Vectrix Scooter is advertised as an alternative to gas powered vehicles.
    AP Photo/Kathy Willens
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Ah, bittersweet October: the year's best riding weather and a motorcyclist's thoughts turn to fuel stabilizer and the rites of winterization.

Something to mull over in the off-season: Vectrix, an electric bike (60 miles on a couple hours' charge) that's quick, quiet, and emissions-free.

Long staples in Europe and Asia, scooters have grown as an option for US urbanites, with evolutionary models rolling up from time to time. (Britain has a fuel-cell bike, ENV, that we're eager to try.)

Dealers in a handful of states now offer the US-designed, Polish-built Vectrix ($11,000), which its maker holds up against 400-cc. motorcycles in terms of performance.

With a 14-inch front wheel (13-inch rear), some highway use is possible. Best feature: a "bi-directional" throttle. Roll it back and you're off. Roll it forward and you save wear on the Brembo brakes with firm engine braking that's also regenerative.

The 462-lb. bike is agile, its weight well-distributed, seat height a pleasant 30 in.; We snaked left at a city stoplight, twisted the throttle, and wore a torque-happy grin as Vectrix surged to 60 m.p.h. (acceleration is listed as 0-50 in 6.8 seconds).

Plan on tapping the horn to alert pedestrians – it's quiet.

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