Reflections on an FF project September 2022

Reaching the unlikely age of 78 I recall that 1978 is the year I engaged in FF development - an attempt to rescue the Powered Two Wheeler from the dying hand of the motorised bicycle and exploit it's unbeatable efficiency in a world where that quality had suddenly become relevant.

It thus seems appropriate to review the progress of this effort. In 1978 PTWs still had some viability as personal transport but it was clear that the motorised bicycle was losing out to the steadily improving car. The intervening forty four years has seen cars improve almost beyond recognition but be increasingly seen as an indulgence in a world where the climate emergency has further prioritised efficiency.

The world's PTW manufactures could have seized this opportunity, improving their products in a similar way to cars. This would have required attention to Comfort, Handling, Safety and Efficiency, quite possibly in ways demonstrated by prototypes on this site. They chose not to do so, focussing instead on traditional products and markets that have resulted in a decline in PTW usage to a little over 1% of private transport use. The "Motorcycle" has failed in the market place,

Instead, corporate ingenuity has contrived a form of PTW that is less safe and less efficient than even a bicycle or motorcycle. A notable achievement. Ignorant or careless political systems in this country are now prioritising this type of vehicle - the "E-scooter"- over other forms of PTW, with the "motorcycle" not considered in recent transport planning.

Where does this leave my FF project? Clearly, dead in the water. I see no point in building prototypes for an industry that either no longer exists or has no interest in innovation. Only 'Heritage pastiche' and historic vehicles represented by the Vintage and Classic movements have any currency and this tendency has infected the FF movement with this site increasingly celebrating not recent progress but historic meetings and old photographs, a nostalgic infection that makes a nonsense of a site supposedly dedicated to progressive innovation.

Meanwhile the promising development of cargo scooters, visible everywhere in cities and clearly proto-FFs, is abandoned to Chinese and other low-cost manufacturers.

In view of this I have moved on from FF development, reverting to light engineering in the workshop created by my FF effort. I recognise and celebrate the continuing efforts of other FF innovators here and abroad and wish them every success.

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You managed to stay on the right side of the grass for quite a long time, so you must have been doing something right.

I agree with the sentiment about FF non-adoption despite its apparent benefits. Perhaps the Chinese will develop electric FFs when battery energy density and cost make it viable for mass adoption. I don't see a future for ICE powered FFs in the mass market; some niche uses and one offs will probably continue to be built.