Posts Tagged ‘electric motorcycle’

 

bikes and breakfastWe recently discovered a motorcycle meetup called “Bikes and Breakfast“.  So we decided to take a ride to the nearest event to check it out.

In our area there are three events each month:

Bikes & Breakfast Virginia- second Sunday of each month at The Pub in Clifton, VA.

Bikes & Breakfast Maryland-the first and third Sunday of each month at The Watershed Cafe in Poolesville, MD.

As it was the first Sunday and Poolesville is not far away we decided to visit that one first.  From the pictures I think you get the idea that the turn at was not to bad. During our hour there over 100 motorcycles pulled in and out of the parking lot.IMG_20190707_101549346_HDR

Almost all makes and all brands were represented including 3 electric motorcycles. A Zero SR/F and DSR (both of which I recently test rode) and an EGO, I had never heard of EGO electric motorcycles.  The EGO bike was pulling out when I walked up so I did not get to check it out.

If you live in this area you should check out Bikes and Breakfast at least once.

Oh, and there is one in New York too:

Bikes & Breakfast New York-the first Sunday of each month at The 9W Market in Palisades, NY.

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I recently got to test ride a couple of Zero motorcycles. The Zero SR/F and the DSR. The Zero SR/F is their sport bike motorcycle and the DSR is more along the line of an adventure motorcycle.

Riding the SR/F first, I was impressed with the motorcycle! Fit and finish seemed spot on and the styling was better than many of the other sport bikes on the market, at least to my taste.

With torque rated at 140 and horsepower at 110 the SR/F is an awesome bike off the staring line…not that I tried anything like that.IMG_20190621_111105207_HDR

The route we took for the ride did not truly allow for an assessment of the motorcycles handling but swinging between potholes and road debris leads me to think that the SR/F might be a well handing machine. It comes with Bosch’s Motorcycle Stability Control and several modes of operation including “sport” which maximizes the performance of the motorcycle.

At 161 mile “city” range (200 with the “power tank”) and an optimal charge time of 80 minutes it seems right for the urban commuter. On my commute I would have grave range anxiety and there is no recharging station at work. It is something I would like to try although, a SR/F with saddle bags on my commute for a couple weeks would be intriguing.

On this limited test ride I give the $19K Zero SR/F motorcycle a BIG THUMBS UP!!! (can’t give it a start rating due to the limitations of the test ride)

The Zero DSR with torque rate at 116 and 70 HP rode quite comfortably on our potholed road test. I intentionally road across and trough the bumps to get a fell for the suspension of the motorcycle. I was pleasantly surprised, it is not a $20K BMW adventure bike but, it was a quite a smooth ride.

IMG_20190621_111209428_HDRThe DSR’s range is 163 city and 78 highway. Again, not something I would trust my commute on but for an afternoon of backroad travels, I would love to give it a try. Charging time for the DSR ranges from 2.5 to 12 hours depending on configuration and options.

I don’t feel I can give this motorcycle a thumbs up or down based on the limited test ride. It seems fun and agile, but I can’t tell for sure.

As a point of comparison…. I have, on one other occasion, got to test ride an electric motorcycle, the Harley Davidson Live Wire prototype. Of the two Zero bikes I rode the SR/F was the closest to the Live Wire.

The Harley Live Wire is a very cool motorcycle and the Zero SR/F is a very cool motorcycle. But at $9k price difference I would lean towards the SR/F.

Special THANK YOU to Motorcycles of Dulles for hosting this test ride!!!

Ride On, Ride Safe

The Motorcycle Industry and its Future

Believe me, if I had a crystal ball I’d be playing the lottery. When it comes to something as ponderous as the motorcycle industry and its future though, it’s easier to make some educated guesses as to which direction it will lumber.

The industry is not known for its quick-fire changes, and to be fair,  it’s easy to see why, especially as motorcycle manufactures love to stick to a set formula. Namely, creating machines that give a styling nod to successful models from a back catalog and going on to spend millions in advertising telling you why you can’t do without it!

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In other words, it’s a legacy based business that trades heavily on its past. Let’s throw the big manufactures a bone though. It can’t be easy getting your R&D boffins to come up with the next best thing, that doesn’t require the entire manufacturing line replacing.

Then, of course, they’ve got to keep an eye on the opposition in case they’ve tapped into a vein and are subsequently enjoying big sales with a particular model. Also, let’s not forget, new designs have to go through endless software simulations, and thousands of road test-miles before going on general sale.

If all that wasn’t bad enough, the bike industry is currently suffering from lack-luster z2sales . Not only are the baby boomers slowly hanging up their crash helmets, but also the Millennials are failing to take up the slack.

Industry observers state that this is the first generation not automatically drawn to life on two wheels as a right of passage. Safety issues, ease of use, and environmental concerns are all cited as the reasons why.

So what exactly is the collective motorcycle industry doing to address this problem?  In real terms, surprisingly little.

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Industry in a Holding Pattern

You can’t really count making a big song and dance about electric bikes. Or hiding behind the smokescreen of whacky teaser concepts shown at the EICMA in Milan, but why does it feel as if the industry is in a holding pattern?

Environmental legislation is having a monumental effect on the look and performance of every new bike produced the world over. It’s safe to say that in the not too distant future, the noble carburetor and air-cooled engine will be mere museum exhibits.

z3The omission of these two factors, plus the likes of compulsory ABS, enormous air-boxes and gargantuan silencers, will affect the look of future bikes. The real war for future sales, though, will be fought on two fronts; safety, and technology.

In the past, a sideways glance at the auto industry generally gave the game away for future motorcycle innovations. Just look at ABS, the first car fitted with the system was a decade ahead of an ABS fitted bike. It’s a similar story with electronic fuel injection, cruise control, and electronic driving aids.

The situation still pervades today. This time, it’s the race for a production-ready autonomous car that will greatly influence the motorcycling world.  So does this mean we can all look forward to sitting with our arms folded while our bikes ride themselves?

If anything is certain in the future of motorcycling, it’s that riders will never relinquish total control of their bikes with the same willingness as car drivers.

Borrowing from the Auto Manufacturers

The autonomous vehicle is good news for the future of the motorcycle industry because of the enormous leap forward in multi-sequential processors. These components are the electronic brains capable of processing vast amounts of data from a number of sophisticated radar and lidar sensors around the vehicle.

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The mega-processors then convert the information into commands sent to the vehicles brakes, steering, and engine management system.

The speed and compartmental processing ability of new generation units are groundbreaking. The big deal to the motorcycle industry however, is due to the auto industry’s need to mass-produce; resulting in the dramatic reduction of both the price and the component size.

This factor means we can look forward to motorcycle manufacturers pushing the envelope in terms of electronic rider aids, onboard communication systems, and rider information.

With the advent of 5G networks, we may even be able to automatically upload engine management information to a Cloud so that we can fine tune or service our bikes via a smartphone.

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This highly advanced processing ability will also see massive gains in the subtlety and range of electronic rider aids and braking systems. All of which will make motorcycles safer and more attractive to a tech-savvy generation.

When it comes to rider safety, though, the big news for the future of the motorcycle industry will be the introduction of onboard radar systems.

Small is Beautiful

Thanks to small-footprint front and rear-facing cameras, and side mounted motion detectors, bike manufacturers will be able to offer a degree of safety previously unheard of in the two-wheel world.

They would make it happen though if only they could move fast enough. KTM and Ducati may have put their necks on the line by saying they’ll have a rudimentary hazard warning system on top shelf bikes by 2020, but they’re leaving it to Bosch to develop.

Furthermore, the real groundbreaking work in developing this type of system is being championed by small-scale tech start-ups like Damon X Labs. The Vancouver based entrepreneurs predict that their self-learning, 360-degree accident warning system will dramatically reduce accidents by alerting riders to imminent danger while giving them enough time to take evasive action.

Smarter and Safer Motorcycles

If the motorcycle industry is going to win back the missing biker generation, then clearly technology and safety are two major factors, but what about their other concerns, ease of use, and environmental issues?

Luckily enough both of these can be slam-dunked by the electric motorcycle. These bikes are quiet, environmentally friendly, and what could be more convenient than ‘twist and go’ with no messy transmission.

But hang on a minute, if battery powered bikes are the second coming of two-wheeled transport, then why aren’t the big bike manufacturers churning them out by the thousand?

Just like the advancements in smaller, faster processors, it will be the advent of cheaper, longer lasting fuel cells with faster charging times, that will finally open the floodgates.

As for the motorcycle industry and its future, I don’t foresee the big manufacturers letting go of the legacy angle in the very near future.  Just don’t be surprised to see a battery powered, radar-equipped Bonneville’s, Z1’s, CB’s XS’s and GS’s sometime soon. Remember where you read it first.

Author Malcolm Lee : I bought my first motorcycle, a Honda SL125 at 16. I went on to become a welder and fabricator until in my mid-twenties when I jumped ship to work for a local newspaper. Since those early days, I have been lucky enough to own and build over 40 motorcycles and have gained a Masters Degree in Interactive Journalism.  I enjoy writing for motorcycle magazines, websites and blogs all over the world and have interviewed and photographed some pretty cool leading lights in the biking world.


 

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Vintage BMW Motorcycle in Legos!!!  A “Lego Master” from Taiwan creates a brick masterpiece.  He created a 1967 BMW R60/2 with working suspension, steering plus all the hoses and cables.  It took 3 months and over 700 bricks to create this wonderful piece of art.

Another Electric Motorcycle Manufacture Runs Out of Power. Sad to report Alta Motors is closing its doors.  Their Red Shift looked to be an awesome machine, winning a bunch of races.  It had a deal with Harley Davidson that fell though, which may have had some impact. 

Speaking of Electric Motorcycles…Really? $120,000? Comes with an Iron Man style HUD helmet and a haptic (physical) feedback system built into the matching jacket. Oh and you get a high performance motorcycle too.

The other Milwaukie Motorcycle.  Did you know that Royal Enfield has it’s US Headquarters in Milwaukie?  Nothing like looking at the big boy down the block!

The Best Driving (riding?) Roads in the UK.

 

 

Ijustwant2ride

The HD Street Figher

BAM! Harley Davison updates on 4 new motorcycles!

Harley Davidson just dropped information on 4 new motorcycles. This is part of their 50 in 5 program of introducing completely new products to their lineup. Well I am nothing like a “real” motorcycle journalist but here is my take. Make sure you watch the video at the top of the page introducing the new motorcycles.

New Engine???? Visually the powerplant on these new bikes do not look like the current motorcycle motors. I get the vibe that they maybe another, updated, versions of the V-Rod Revolution Engine. The adds state that he engines pictured are 1250cc engines which would fit into the range of the older Revolution. Also, they appear to be water cooled like the Revolution. Of course, they just might be cosmetic changes to the Revolution X from the “Street” line of motorcycles.ijustwant2ride

Now a few comments on the motorcycles themselves. Or at least my take on the photos.

The Pan America – The BIGGEST surprise is the group…. A Harley Davidson ADVENTURE bike! With a mono shock rear, 2 into 1 exhaust and what appears to be a good bit of front fork travel they are moving back into a market segment that they abandoned when Buell was dropped. This could be interesting. Coming in 2020.

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The Live Wire – Looks a lot like the prototype Live Wire I got to ride a few years ago. Visually not a lot to go on here, maybe if I had more electric motorcycle knowledge I could see something but nope!

The Street Fighter – Coming in 2020 another new motorcycle market segment for Harley. By appearances and name this is going to compete with the “naked” and “street fighters” like the KTM Duke and Triumph Speed Triple. This is going to be a tough market for Harley to crack, I hope the bikes have the spec’s to run bar to bar with the competition.

The Custom – Looks a lot like a modern café racer motorcycle. That is about all I have for this one.

Back to the engine for a moment. Harley’s Street/Revolution X engine has not been able to compete with the Indian Scout motor on the Flat Track racing series. If you listen to DawgHouse Motorcycle Radio you know we lament the lack of competition from the Harley motorcycles. Could this be their answer to Indian’s dominance?

Now that we are past the glamor items….Harley has also stated the following items.

“Introducing a new modular 500cc to 1250cc middleweight platform of motorcycles that spans three distinct product spaces and four displacements,”

“Developing a more accessible, small-displacement (250cc to 500cc) motorcycle for Asia emerging markets through a planned strategic alliance with a manufacturer in Asia.”

“LiveWire will be followed by additional models through 2022 to broaden the portfolio with lighter, smaller and even more accessible product options to inspire new riders with new ways to ride.” More then one electric motorcycle!

“New retail formats — including smaller, urban storefronts globally to expose the brand to urban populations and drive sales of the expanded Harley-Davidson product portfolio and expand international apparel distribution.”

A lot of big news in a small website from Harley Davidson today!

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The HD Custom

Ijustwant2 ride.com

You may or may not have heard that Harley Davidson has a plan to release 50 new models in the next 5 years and 100 in the next 10.  One or two of those new models are, for sure, going to be electric motorcycles.  They have made statements that their new electric bikes will be out by the 2020 model year (which would be next summer/fall). 

Also, recent reports indicate that that Harley has filed for trademark protection on the name “H-D Revelation” for batteries, chargers and powertrain.  It would not take a great leap to think that this could also be the name of the electric motorcycle. 

If you listen to the DawgHouse podcast you will know that I have issues with electric motorcycles.  Most of those issues are around range and luggage.  I have nearly a 90-mile (round trip) commute that includes crossing two mountain ranges. Tie that into the fact that I tend to be heavy on the throttle makes me concerned that without a 200 mile “normal conditions” range I might not make it home.  I also need saddlebag space to hold a backpack of “stuff” that I transport to and from work.  Both of those concerns would need to be filled before I would even consider an electric motorcycle.

But Harley is bringing something to electric game that other motorcycle manufacturers, with the exception of Honda, can’t. Harley Davidson has nearly 1000 dealership in the US to serve as recharging points.  I include Honda as they could leverage their car dealership in any electric recharge station count.

As yet, no real clues have come out on what the production model will spec out with or its Ijustwant2 ride.comappearance.  While it could be polished version of the prototype “LiveWire” Harley Davidson electric motorcycle (which I got to ride, click here for my post on the LiveWire) I would be disappointed if that were the case.  Disappointed unless there was the sport bike with the “LiveWire” look and a cruiser styled bike.  This is from my selfish POV, I could no longer ride a sport bike as a daily commuter.

At this point in time I would be surprised if the design(s) were not completed.  In order to meet the 2020 deadline they would now have to be in the process of building out the assembly line tool/robots/jigs etc.. 

So it true HD is going to bring an electric motorcycle to market.  That alone states that electric motorcycles are now legit! 

As for the rest of the 50 in 5, I am hoping that the recently trademarked name “Pan-American” is for a new touring class motorcycle with a V-4! 

 

 

 

Ken and Phil RANT about Virginia International Raceway before heading to MotoAmerica races at VIR.

Victory Motorcycles to race an electric bike at Isle of Mann.

Lost motorcycle rider found in Guatemala.

Yamaha and Triumph motorcycles recalled for the same bad part.

Ducati customers are the most satisfied?

World Superbike in Imola.

Dani Pedrosa returns.

 

ijustwant2ride.com

The DawgHouse Motorcycle Radio…The #1 Motorcycle Show in the US

Click Here to Listen to the Show!

 

Ken’s News:

Zero announces 2015 lineup.

Mike Tyson is a rider’s best friend?

Warren’s News:

Ferrari Motorcycle???

Get ready for $1000 dollar increase to the price of all motorcycles.

Racing News:

A very wet World Superbike at Magny-Cours tightens up championship.

Silly season in full swing early this year.

Picks for Japan Grand Prix Motegi.

News from Moto America

Ijustwant2 ride.com

Before this past weekend I have, to the best of my knowledge, never been in the same room or on the same road as an electric motorcycle.  That changed when Harley Davidson picked me to ride one of their prototype electric motorcycles known as PROJECT LIVEWIRE.

Harley Davidson stated that these bikes are hand built proto-types to gauge the response of the public for EV motorcycles. Well, if these are hand built proto-types they are exceptionally well conceived and assembled proto-types.   I looked closely at the fit and finish of the bikes before my time to ride and was very surprised at the quality of the work, these bikes are as well done as any production motorcycle.

Ticket to ride!

Ticket to ride!

My test ride was held at the Project LIVEWIRE event at Rommel Harley Davidson, Annapolis, MD.  While anyone could show up and check out the event only pre-selected folks got to take the bikes out on the road.  Why me?  I have no idea except maybe they read this blog (LOL) and my post on what it would take for me to buy an electric motorcycle.

The event itself was well laid out by HD.  They had a display tent that had a strapped down LiveWire which allowed folks who did not get the invite to “test ride” to at least get an idea of the feel of these bikes.  The tent also had a display of HD gear, a video “safety briefing” for the test riders, and a Twitter vending machine.  The Twitter vending machine was cool, if you twitted #projectlivewire along with a code it would drop you a LiveWire key chain!

Seeing motorcycles in person is, as always, more important than seeing them in pictures or on video. While I am a cruiser and touring bike kind of guy I do appreciate the styling and good looks of many sport bikes. The LiveWire leans way closer to the sport bike side of design then it does to a cruiser. Overall I would give look of the bike a thumbs up. I liked the color scheme as it merged with the frame and how they used polished aluminum to “display” the engine.

Speaking of the engine this is another thing that the videos just don’t do the bike justice. The sound of the motor is that of a jet turbine spinning up and down, very impressive. While it is not the normal Harley sound it is unique and is very noticeable. Another thumbs up.

When the time for my ride came we were given another short safety brief on the fact that the acceleration was strong, there is no clutch and that the bike decelerates quickly when you roll off the throttle.  The deceleration is quick enough that the briefer recommended that we tap the break to let the following bikes know we are slowing. That was sound advice as it did slow more quickly than you would expect with normal engine breaking.

Ijustwant2 ride.comRolling out with a police escort it was very evident that the briefings were correct, the bike takes off with a purpose, I bet there have been a few close calls in the first few seconds during this LiveWire tour, but not in my group of four.  I did reach for the non-existent clutch once as we pulled out of the lot; luckily it was only that one time! J

On the street the bike was more nimble and solid then I expected for a proto-type.  It handled very well, not as well as a performance sport bike, but I was very aware that it would move in any way that I wanted, including a short weave through pothole. As the ride was in urban Annapolis area the roads were rough to ok at best.  The front, inverted shocks and the rear mono-shock smoothed out the ride so that I really noticed the lack of a rough ride. Stopping was firm and quick, between the disc brakes and the engine deceleration I am sure that, if one was brave enough, this bike could do a stoppie.

The most interesting and entertaining aspect of the bike is its acceleration!  There was only one spot on the ride where I could really get on it so I hung back from the group to make sure I could really hit it and when I did WOW. I rolled on the throttle hard but not to max as I was not sure what would happen based on all the safety briefings. This thing just took off the claim of 0-60 in 4 seconds has to be true. I went from about 20 MPH on the ramp to well over the speed limit (the first number might have been an 8) as fast as I could smile and exclaim WOW!

The ride itself was only about 5 miles and thus way too short to really tease out the pluses and minuses of a proto-type motorcycle. But I was interviewed, in person, and via a survey after the ride. Many of the questions asked were around many of the things I stated were part of considerations for buying an electric motorcycle. In particular HD asked about range, charging times, customization and price. I added short statements about battery life and that while I liked the look of the LiveWire, I would need to own a cruiser style bike v. a sport bike version.

My biggest disappointment was that my Go Pro camera did not work as expected.  For what ever reason I only got the last minute of the ride, as we were pulling back into the dealership.  I have no idea why it was not on, nor how it came on just as we returned…. oh well.

 

All in all I have to give HD a big thumbs up for this effort. It was very well done for a “proto-type” and its performance, in this limited exposure, exceeded my expectations. Thank you HD for allowing me to participate in Project LiveWire.

harley davidson, electric motorcycle, live wire, project liveWire, sport bike, sportbike

Well I had a very cool email waiting for me when I got home today. I get to test ride the Harley Davidson electric motorcycle Project LiveWire when it arrives at Rommel HD in Annapolis, MD.

You can be sure I will do a review with pictures and video of that event!