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All-electric Bolt Motorbikes get their start in a Richmond District garage

Bolt Motorbikes founders Nathan Jauvtis and Zachary Levenberg with the Bolt M-1

Like in many neighborhoods in San Francisco, Richmond District residents make the most of their available space. And often that means turning their garages into home offices, a residence, or in the case of Nathan Jauvtis, a workshop where Bolt Motorbikes was born.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 is a 100% electric moped, invented by Jauvtis and his co-founder Zach Levenberg. Both of the founders are moped enthusiasts, and met in 2006 as members of Creatures of the Loin, the San Francisco division of the Moped Army that meets up weekly for group rides around the city.

Both are mechanical engineers with a passion for clean transportation. Jauvtis worked a stint at Zero Motorcyles, one of the industry’s leading electric motorcyle companies, and Levenberg worked on one of the first protoypes for Lit Motors, who make an all electric, 2-wheel pod-like vehicle.

Jauvtis first began tinkering with the idea of an electric moped around 2010, spending his nights and weekends building the first prototype which he called “Blackie”, named after the donkey in True Grit.

It wasn’t until 2012 that Jauvtis and Levenberg began collaborating on the project. With funds from friends and investors, they officially started Bolt Motorbikes and got to work on refining the product.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 has some impressive stats when it comes to riding around San Francisco. Technically, it’s classified as an electric bike so it does not require a driver’s license to operate (and can even use the bike lane). The Bolt runs off its proprietary lithium ion battery, composed of 160 individual cells encased in two compartments that straddle the frame.

Jauvtis estimates the overall life of the Bolt’s battery is 2000 cycles (25-30 miles per cycle), or 8-10 years depending on usage.

Levenberg holds up the Bolt’s lithium ion battery compartment, which if needed, can be removed for recharging.

On a full charge, the Bolt can travel 25 to 30 miles per day, at speeds up to 35 miles per hour. Pretty impressive when you compare it to something like the electric Scoot scooters that you can rent around the city, which only have a range of 5-10 miles on a full charge. (Oh and whatever you do, don’t call the Bolt Motorbike a scooter, as we learned that scooters and mopeds are completely different classes of vehicle.)

The Bolt Motorbike M-1 has two drive modes – economy and sport. In economy mode, you are restricted to a top speed of 20 mph, but your range increases to as much as 50 miles. During testing at the Polo Fields, the Bolt circled the Polo Fields’ velo track for 50 miles at a speed of 20 mph.

When you put it into sport mode, which is technically only allowed when you are driving the Bolt off-road (e.g. not on city streets), the bike has a range of 30 miles and a top speed of 35mph.

Levenberg, a SF native, led us on a test ride through the neighborhood and Presidio just before Christmas. In short, we had a blast. The Bolt was easy to learn (no shifting required) and fun to drive. It’s not a large bike, weighing in at just 140 pounds, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by its heft.

Yet the Bolt feels substantial when you’re riding it. The frame is very solid and the tires are robust – fatter and sturdier than those on a scooter or electric bicycle.

“It’s a great motorbike for women,” Levenberg pointed out, because of its smaller frame and reduced weight.

And it’s no slouch on the city’s inclines. We zoomed up long, steep hills like Battery Caulfield Road just inside the 15th Avenue Presidio gate.

The Bolt is virtually silent, which ironically is what turns heads when you’re out riding around. There’s a little whirring when you accelerate, but otherwise it’s very quiet. When you pull up to a stop sign, pedestrians usually stare because they expect it to sound like a guttural motorcycle but instead, it sits silent.

When we headed out on our test drive, Levenberg said he never goes out on a Bolt without his business cards because inevitably, someone will stop him and ask what that is he’s riding. Sure enough, as we came to a stop sign, a man crossing the street implored us to pull over so he could get a closer look.

Jauvtis and Levenberg debuted the latest version of the Bolt Motorbike, code named Raven (or Darth Vader as we dubbed it), at their moped group’s annual rally last September.

“People loved it,” Jauvtis says. And since then, the two have been marketing the bikes and taking pre-orders for their first production run. “About 150 people have expressed interest.”

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 sells for $4,995, which isn’t outrageous when you consider that a new (gas-powered) scooter sells for around $3,500.

To fuel the bike, Jauvtis and Levenberg also had to create a custom charger. The standard charger, which comes with the purchase of the Bolt, requires about 5 hours to charge the bike to 100% capacity. If you purchase the charger upgrade (price TBD), you can get to 90% capacity in about 90 minutes.

The Bolt Motorbikes M-1 on a ride near the Cliff House

Once all the parts are in hand, it takes about one day to assemble the finished bike. The duo are always refining the bike and working on add-ons, like a rack to carry extra batteries for those long road trips. They’ve also made the batteries removable so if you can’t charge the bike where you park it, you can take a battery with you to charge inside.

The Bolt Motorbike also has an app that can be used with it. The app connects to the bike via Bluetooth and wirelessly unlocks the Bolt, communicates speed and distance measurements in real-time and then records the data onto a remote server. A phone clamp sits on the Bolt’s handlebars and also includes a USB charger so you can charge your phone off the Bolt’s batteries.

Bolt is still in fundraising mode for its first production run, and plans to launch a Kickstarter campaign in early 2015. In the meantime, they love to give test drives to anyone who’s interested. Just drop them a line through their website and tell them the Richmond Blog sent you.

Sarah B.

Bolt Motorbikes founders Zachary Levenberg and Nathan Jauvtis inside their outer Richmond garage workshop

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 4:12 am | Posted under Green, Transportation | 21 comments

Photo: High winds topple tree on Park Presidio near Balboa

Photo by @MeganPrelinger

Around 4:30pm this afternoon, the high winds pushed over a tree on Park Presidio/Highway 1 near Balboa Street.

SFPD and CHP were on the scene quickly, diverting traffic as crews worked to saw apart the tree and remove it from the roadway.

There were no injuries reported from the incident.

This appears to be a cursed block. Another tree fell on the same stretch of roadway back on December 13.

Sarah B.

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 6:57 pm | Posted under Parks, Transportation | 1 comment

Top 10 Richmond District stories of 2014

This blog is approaching its fifth birthday and we’re never short of amazed at what piques readers’ interest every year. We’ve given up trying to predict it! Special thanks to all our reader-reporters who send us news and photos from the neighborhood – we couldn’t do it without you!

Happy New Year,

Sarah B.

HONORABLE MENTION: Paddleboarders meet whales off Ocean Beach
This one just missed the Top 10 list and it’s too great to not have on here. A couple of guys went out on their stand up paddleboards in May and encountered some wildlife after turning into Kelly’s Cove. Check it out (skip to 2:00 mark for the really good stuff):

10. Monster fish removed from Mountain Lake
Mountain Lake was in the news several times this year due to the ongoing remediation and restoration efforts taking place at the park. In April, we published some photos of mutant-looking fish that had been taken out of the lake by a Presidio Trust intern. That was the first effort from the Trust to eradicate the non-native species from the lake, where for decades, residents have dumped their unwanted aquatic life.

By November, the Trust had reached the end of its rope and resorted to blitzing the entire fish population in one fell swoop by dousing the lake with a chemical that kills anything with gills. Fish began rising to the surface immediately, and over the course of the next two weeks, they recovered and disposed of the tens of thousands of dead fish.

In about 6 months, conservationists will begin reintroducing native species like three-spined sticklebacks, western pond turtles and chorus frogs into the lake.

Photo by Jonathan Young

9. Outside Lands: A closer look at Rec & Park revenues and the event’s impact
Anything having to do with the Outside Lands music festival is always a hot topic on the blog. So this year we decided to look at how much revenue the city really gets from this event, which some Richmond District residents love or despise thanks to its 3 day disruption of the normally quiet west side.

In 2014, Outside Lands had $19,063,003 in gross sales and overall attendance of 202,963 people. Rec & Park’s share? $2,417,724 according to Connie Chan, spokesperson for SF Rec & Park. Plus $88k in reimbursed expenses for Rec & Park maintenance/workers at the event (this does not include SFMTA or SFPD costs).

Does the revenue justify the inconvenience to the neighborhood? Reactions were mixed from commenters so this will probably continue to be a hot button. For better or for worse, we can expect an annual influx of 200,000+ concertgoers every August until at least 2020, along with annual estimated revenues of $2.25 million to Rec & Park.

8. City’s first batting cages, InFieldSF, open on Clement Street
In what seemed like an impossibility, some batting cages opened in a storefront on Clement near 20th Avenue. After complaints from his Little League players and parents about not having easy access to a practice facility, owner Michael Falzone decided to take matters into his own hands and open up InFieldSF. The location is a deep space with high ceilings in the back, which was perfect for two side by side batting cages. There’s also a tee-ball hitting station in the front of the space for younger players. Batter up!

7. Photos: Up close and personal with a fearless car burglar
On a rainy night in April, reader Brian witnessed firsthand how thieves rip off a car in the Richmond District. First there’s the smash and dash – the thief smashes the window, runs off, and waits until police have come and gone. Then they returned to the car and took stuff from it. All while being yelled at and photographed by Brian, which didn’t deter them at all.

6. Bicyclist, cars and MUNI bus involved in accident at 8th & Balboa
A car accident that involved three forms of transportation – cars, a bus, and a bike – took place in September. Around 8 in the morning, a car hit a bicyclist and then crashed into a 31-Balboa MUNI bus at the corner of 8th Avenue and Balboa. Both driver and cyclist were taken to the hospital with injuries. The cyclist, Nathaniel L., left a comment on the blog to say he suffered three fractured vertebrae and would be in a brace for months.

5. Face-slapping massage business goes under
The most unusual (legal) business in the neighborhood closed its storefront after 2 years at the corner of 14th Avenue and Geary. The business offered “face slapping massages” that were “100% chemical free” and cost $350 for a 15 minute session (or a bargain $1,000 for 4 sessions). The treatments purported to “make you look like a celebrity, face slapping to look younger, and face slapping to charm your significant other”.

This was THE most discussed and shared story that we posted on Facebook this year with 35,000 views thanks to it being shared 90 times. Readers poked fun at the news with comments like “this is a real slap in the face to the neighborhood”, “Turns out that it’s not covered by Obamacare”, and “Perhaps the headline could be “Face Slapping business closes – owners take it on the chin””.

4. Report of Illegal Sex Businesses in the Richmond District
What goes on behind closed doors is usually overlooked, but not when those closed doors (and windows) are at street level and advertising massage services. In June, a Chronicle reporter tagged along with a city health inspector and the SFPD on their visits to a few massage parlors in the city.

“Each and every massage parlor was cited for at least one violation – and many of them showed clear evidence of human trafficking,” the story reported. At one Richmond District business, a patron tried to hurry out as police arrived, pulling his pants up with one hand.

Couple that with the two sisters who were arrested around the same time for allegedly operating a brothel in the neighborhood, and the Richmond District was beginning to sound like a human trafficking haven. “Qiao “Judy” He, 37, and Gaineng He, 36, both of San Francisco, were booked into County Jail on suspicion of pimping and pandering. Investigators said the women ran two brothels out of residences at 385 7th Ave. and 4719 Geary Blvd., where they charged men up to $200 to have sexual intercourse with young women.”

3. Alexandria Theater sold and under new ownership
Considered THE neighborhood eyesore since its closing in 2004, the Alexandria Theater on the corner of 18th & Geary has remained a hot topic since the blog began. In July we got the good news that someone had finally purchased the building which has already been approved by the city for redevelopment. The new owners immediately cleaned up the graffiti, repainted the front of the theater, and installed sturdier, attractive fencing around the entrance.

At the time, the new owners were doing some research to decide what would work best in the old theater building (the approved use includes a small theater, a restaurant and some commercial spaces). Regardless of what goes in the theater building, they will move ahead with building residential apartments on the back parking lot on 18th Avenue.

2. Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic in Golden Gate Park calls it quits
“When we first started, we were a couple of grease-balls, a car and a sandwich,” Jimmy O’Keefe said when he described the first ever “Jimmy’s Old Car Picnic” that he organized in Golden Gate Park in 1988. It was just him and a few friends, parked on the road next to Lindley Meadow. That grew into hundreds of cars that stretched across Speedway Meadow every year in October, welcoming car enthusiasts from all over the Bay Area. But after 25 years and skyrocketing permit fees, Jimmy put the picnic on blocks and locked the garage door.

The story generated a lot of discussion (81 comments!) for its representation of the changes that have taken place at Rec & Park, where the thirst for revenues has pushed out some smaller, long-running events from the park (like this Debardchery event). Jimmy himself had spent his career as a Rec & Park gardener, so the whole debacle left a bitter taste in the mouths of readers.

But all was not lost. In October, former fans of Jimmy’s event organized to keep it going as “Old Car Picnic”. It took place on October 18 and they plan to keep it as an annual event.

1. Q Restaurant closes
We do love our food here in the Richmond and nothing proved that more than when Q Restaurant, known for its funky comfort food, closed its doors after 16 years and became the talk of the blog. The owners decided to call it quits for personal reasons and that meant the end to tater tots, baked beans and legendary duck confit for its fans.

The story on the website had 27 comments and just over 4,000 page views. On Facebook it was even more discussed with 41 comments and, wait for it, 34,000 views of the story thanks to 156 shares of the story.

In a neighborhood jammed with Asian restaurants, Q was one of the few American food spots in the Richmond. Nothing has opened up in the space yet, and we haven’t heard any rumors about what might go in there.

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 4:15 am | Posted under News | 11 comments

Christmas tree collection / recycling runs January 2 – 16

Christmas is officially over so that means it will soon be time to dispose of your tree.

But don’t just drag it to the corner! The city has an official recycling program for Christmas trees that runs from January 2 until January 16, and all it requires is that you leave your tree right alongside your blue recycle bin on your regular garbage pickup day.

Tree collections will occur January 2 to January 16 on regular service days. City officials are asking residents to place trees next to their recycling carts before 6 a.m. on their regular pickup day.

Officials are also asking residents to remove tinsel, decorations, plastic bags, stands, fake snow “flocking” and lights and cut in half any trees taller than 6 feet.

Recology then chips the trees at a center in San Francisco and take the chips to Tracy, CA where they’ll be used to generate electricity.

On to the New Year…

Sarah B.

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 11:30 am | Posted under Green | 6 comments

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!

On Wednesday night, a group of carolers who call themselves “The Undertakers”, entertained in the outer Richmond. The group has been around since 1998 and is open to anyone, regardless of whether they can carry a tune or not.

The age range of the group this year spanned from a newborn to a 90 year old. Songs performed during the evening included “Silent Night” and “Zombie Claus is Coming”.

Cub reporter David H. was part of the group and told us, “Some neighbors are visited over the years so we sing there. We also sing when we see someone in the window or anyone asks. We had a few cars last night following and listening at stops. Big fun is also had when we just meet people in the street and sing for them.”

David also sent us some photos of the group in the neighborhood. So we asked him to shoot a special “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” video with the group for our readers. Thanks, David and thanks to the Undertakers for the Christmas cheer, especially after 6 hours of caroling!

Sarah B.

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 4:15 am | Posted under Community | Add comments

Lands End Coastal Trail closed until next week due to risk of slide

The affected area at Lands End, at risk of sliding. Photo by Joe Connelly

This just in from the National Park Service:


Due to land movements and hazard trees we will have to close a portion of the Lands End Coastal Trail. Barricades and signage are currently being placed by park service staff. The closure will begin at the Camino del Mar junction and continue to the Memorial Parking staircase and will be closed through the weekend. The effected portion of the trail is small (around 300′) but it is heavily used, and will be heavily used over the Holiday weekend.

The slide area will be monitored over the next couple of days and the tentative plan will be to reopen next week pending a full assessment of the area. The condition is currently stable but does have the potential to slip further, The primary concern is that trees in the area have been undermined by the slide and could fall across the trail.


So no Christmas Day or Christmas weekend walks on the Coastal Trail this weekend, folks!

Sarah B.

The area of the Lands End Coastal Trail that will be closed until next week.

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 2:28 pm | Posted under Parks | 5 comments

Richmond District SFPD officer pulls double duty to help with rain flooding

The Richmond District police station sent us this pic today of Officer Anthony Garrett up to his ankles in cold water (no boots!) trying to clear out a flooded drain at Arguello and Anza.

“He noticed that the flooding was causing pedestrians to go out into the street which was unsafe. Anthony knew that the Department of Public Works was swamped (pardon the pun) so he grabbed a shovel and fixed the problem himself,” Captain Silverman said.

Now before you all start dialing the Richmond station for flood issues, remember that you’re supposed to call 311 (or use their handy mobile app) when you see a backed up flood drain. ;)

Thanks Officer Garrett for going the extra mile!

Sarah B.

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 2:49 pm | Posted under Photos, Weather | 5 comments

Police Blotter – December 19, 2014 | Woman assaulted with brass knuckles on Fulton

[Reprinted from The Richmond Police Station Newsletter of December 19, 2014. To be added to the station’s mailing list, email sfpdrichmondstation@sfgov.org.]

(Regarding some of the incidents in the weekly newsletter. We are not always able to give a full or complete account of what has occurred. We do not want to furnish information about ongoing investigations which may be prejudicial or interfere. We do our best to give a general overview of incidents within the district.)

On December 11, 2014 at 7:40 AM Officer Ruggerio was on traffic patrol in the area of Crossover Dr. and Martin Luther King Dr.. It should be noted that this was during the recent storm and there were visibility issues due to heavy rain as well as other weather related hazards. The officer observed a vehicle driving with no headlights activated which is a requirement of the vehicle code during inclement weather. Officer Ruggerio initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and contacted the driver. The officer discovered that the driver although he has been resident in California for 11 years has never held a California Drivers license. The officer cited the driver for driving with no license and other violations.

On December 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM Officers Jones and Dal Porto responded to the 3300 block of Balboa regarding a reported robbery. On arrival at the scene they saw a female who was holding the back of her head because she was bleeding from a head wound. The officers called for immediate medical assistance to respond to the area. The victim said that the suspect in this incident followed her from the (5 Line) Muni coach when she exited at Fulton and 33rd Ave. As the victim was walking along the street she heard the suspect running up behind her, she then turned and saw the suspect who was female wearing brass knuckles on her right hand. The suspect hit the victim in this incident 10 to 15 times on her head. During the assault the suspect told the victim “give me your phone.” The victim in this incident fought back as the suspect fled empty-handed. The victim sustained a laceration to the top of her head but never lost consciousness. The victim was transported to the hospital for further treatment. The investigation into this incident continues…

On December 13, 2014 at 11:08 PM officers Chu and Perez responded to assist officer Lok in the area of Fulton and 48th Ave. regarding a suspicious vehicle. Officer Lok had detained the occupants of the vehicle in relation to a prior incident which had been reported in the district. A computer query on both the detained subjects revealed that one detainee had six outstanding warrants for her arrest. The male subject was released at the scene and the female was booked at County jail on the arrest warrants without further incident..

On December 13, 2014 at 9:15 AM officers Macaulay and Ferretti responded to Presidio Avenue regarding a reported robbery. The officers contacted the victim at SFFD Fire Station 10, and were told that the incident occurred in the area of Lyon Street and Pine. The victim stated she was walking northbound on the street when she was approached by an unknown male in a camouflage jacket. The suspect in this incident grabbed the victim’s iphone and fled on foot northbound on Lyon St. the victim then ran to a place of safety at the firehouse to report the crime. The investigation continues…

On December 14, 2014 at 9:48 AM Officer Turner responded to a department store located at 5200 Geary regarding a shop lifting suspect. On arrival at the location the officer contacted the suspect in this incident. When the officer conducted a records check on the subject she discovered an outstanding $55,000 warrant for his arrest. There was no merit to any shop lifting in this incident and the subject was booked at County jail on the warrant without further incident.

On December 14, 2014 at 1:30 PM Officer Kulstad was on patrol in the area of Geary and 21st Ave. when she observed a vehicle make an illegal U-turn. The officer initiated a traffic stop regarding the violation and contacted the driver. The driver was unable to provide current proof insurance and a records check revealed that the driver’s license was expired. The driver was cited for multiple violations.

On December 17, 2014 at 3:22 PM Officers Goold and Maher were on patrol in the area of La Playa and Fulton when they observed a vehicle and an expired registration sticker. They initiated a traffic stop to issue a citation. A computer records check revealed that the driver had a suspended license and also had no insurance on the vehicle. The officers issued a citation for multiple violations.

On December 17, 2014 at 5:56 PM Officers Schor and Lai were on patrol in the area of Euclid and Cornwall when they saw a vehicle fail to yield for 3 pedestrians in a crosswalk. It should be noted that the pedestrian had two young children with her as they legally crossed with a green light. The officers initiated a traffic stop on the vehicle and contacted the driver. As officer Schor spoke to the driver he noted a smell of alcohol on the driver’s breath. The officers initiated a DUI investigation which resulted in the driver being booked into County jail on DUI charges and other violations.

On December 15, 2014 at 7:36 PM Officers Finigan and Lok responded to the area of Chain of Lakes Drive and Martin Luther King regarding a report of a possibly intoxicated driver. The vehicle was reported to be swerving from the roadway to the path and back again. On arrival at the scene the officers initiated a traffic stop and contacted the driver. As the officers were talking to the driver they saw an opened 24 ounce can of beer next to the driver in a cup holder. The officers initiated a DUI investigation which resulted in the driver being booked at County jail on DUI charges and multiple other violations.

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 5:39 pm | Posted under Crime | Add comments