Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Unwritten Language of Motorcycling

leaning a motorcycle into a curveNumbers like 12, 89A, 191, 212, 550 might not mean anything to most people. But when you drop two wheels onto long twisty stretches of asphalt, a pattern emerges from those numbers.

Despite the oceans that separate our continents, and despite the differences in language and culture, there's still an understanding common to all who set out on two wheels. The G-forces that pull you back, the centrifugal-forces that pull you down, the friction of rubber against the road, is a feeling that can't be explained but yet needs no explanation.

"So what were the most memorable points on your trip?" I asked Gary, who was on his last day of a five-month long motorcycle adventure across the United States.

"There was the Million Dollar Highway between Silverton & Ouray (US 550), there was Highway 666 (Coronado Trail US 191), the 89A through Sedona and Jerome, Bryce Canyon in Utah (SR 12), and the Beartooth Highway (US 212)." he answered, though not in those exact same words.

He had just read off some of my all time favorite roads ever. Even though Gary comes from England, from another continent, from another culture, and even though he's traveled all across these United States, the first roads that left his breath were the same roads that I would have spoken of. Gary might have been a foreigner, but I could easily recognize him as one of us.

I smiled and nodded my head in approval.

the lookout roadhouse lake elsinore
Later on, Gary was telling me about a moment when he stood at a viewpoint, photographing some really cool twisties, and someone asked him what the heck he was photographing.

There's an old saying, "If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand." But amongst those of us who understand, it doesn't have to be explained.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Electric Motorcycles and Freedom

Riding motorcycles has seemingly cultivated a love for freedom within me. It's either that, or I've always had a love for freedom, and naturally gravitated towards riding motorcycles.

In any case, it's no wonder why I love motorcycles that get lots of range on a tank of gas. I like to keep riding and riding and riding.

But where is the freedom in an electric motorcycle if only gets 40 miles range on a charge?

Not all electric motorcycles are so limited, the Mission One, produced by Mission Motors, can go up to 150 miles range on a charge. However, it takes about 2 hours to recharge. Not quite practical when doing a month-long trip to Alaska and back.

Mission One Electric Motorcycle, Mission Motor Company

Today the California Energy Commission reported that it awarded $9.6 million to eight different companies, which includes $505,000 to the said Mission Motors to help bring its electric motorcycle to market.

The California Energy Commission, is of course, a California State agency funded by taxpayer dollars.

Perhaps there's a market for electric motorcycles as a commuter vehicle, but until technology can improve to a point where electric motorcycles can get 200+ miles range, and recharge in the same amount of time it takes to fill a tank of gas, there just isn't going to be a market for such vehicles for touring, or even weekend joy riding.

And if I pull into an electric charging station, will it cost me more recharge than to buy a tank of gas?

And are electric motorcycles truly "green" if it requires electric utilities to burn more diesel and coal to generate more electricity?

I don't know.

At this stage of my riding interest, I don't care about exhaust sound anymore. I can accept an electric motorcycle, as long as it contributes to my enjoyment of freedom. But a 2 hour recharge? Not likely.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)