Rungu Juggernaut Run-In

The Rungu Juggernaut is a very strange vehicle. While its inventor is quoted in an Outside article as saying “This is not a bicycle. This is an ATV [all-terrain vehicle],” their website claims their three-wheeled, electric-motorized vehicle is “the most powerful portable off-road EV in its class.” They go on to define “its class” as “electric fat bikes available online in the US as of December 2016.” Confusing yes, but what isn’t confusing about the Juggernaut?

The company claims the trike was invented to haul surf gear to the Trestles surf break just south of San Clemente. Problem is, this trike would be illegal to operate on the bike path (it uses over twice the allowable 750-watt limit motor), on the beach (you’d need to go to Pismo Beach to find a beach that allows ATVs) and probably on the street (ATVs are not allowed on San Clemente city streets). It is amazing to me that companies or operators believe that if a vehicle uses a battery and electric motor (instead of an internal combustion motor), it is somehow exempt from motor vehicle laws (and many times, common sense).

While visiting Bear Valley, California, to enjoy the area’s lakes, rivers, mountain biking and motorcycling trails, I saw a Juggernaut being operated (probably illegally) in the village. The operator was pulling a U-turn, lost control momentarily and then saved it. To say the operator was “shaky” is an understatement. No helmet, lack of riding skills and a 2000-watt motor seemed like a recipe for disaster. It was!

I have no way of knowing if the Juggernaut and the rider that I saw on the street are the same duo who plowed into a parked car a few days later, but since you don’t see these things very often and the rider I saw was so shaky, I wouldn’t be surprised. The rider was seriously injured and the Highway Patrol considered the Juggernaut as an unlicensed motor vehicle.

Judging from the photo of the totaled Juggernaut, the rider is extremely lucky that the fork bent (absorbing some of the impact’s energy). The tires appear to have remained inflated. Not sure if that is a good thing. There would have been a massive amount of rebound from the two tires after being compressed. They may have absorbed more energy if they had blown off the rims. I did hear the rider survived the impact but was expected to require reconstructive surgery.

The lesson here is to research and understand what you are purchasing when you buy a unique vehicle like the Juggernaut. This vehicle is so unique that even the company that makes it doesn’t seem, to me, to understand what they are selling. Next, realize that electric-powered vehicles (and their operators) are not exempt from motor vehicle laws and regulations. Finally, and most importantly, invest the time to learn to operate any new vehicle competently. Bonus tip: Even if Rungu’s website shows Juggernaut riders without helmets, Juggernaut operators should wear a helmet (a motorcycle helmet, not a bicycle helmet).

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