Posts Tagged ‘Range anxiety’

Give me POWER!

Give me POWER!

With the advent of an electric Harley Davidson I decided to really think about electric motorcycles.  Yes they have been around for a while, yes Yamaha is looking at some production models as well but, come on, Harley Davidson considering electric motorcycles means we have to take this seriously.

I have been reading a lot more about electric bikes lately, as there have been more than a few articles about this genus of motorcycle.  We have even had a few discussions about electric bikes on the Dawg House Motorcycle Radio Show.  I am not going to cite a bunch of numbers around range or how environmentally friendly/unfriendly the technology is or anything like that.  I understand that it is going to be a long time before I can ride cross country, due to the lack of infrastructure.  I am going to discuss what it would take for me to buy and use an electric motorcycle as a daily rider. 

So, what would it take for me to buy an electric bike?

1. No range anxiety. I need to be able to commute 80 miles round trip at an average of 60-80 MPH, with somewhat significant uphill climbs.  I need to be able to do this with zero worry about range; in fact I need to be able to do this for two days in a row without recharging or worrying if I will make it home.  This means I need a 200+ mile range in the worse of conditions.

2. No modifications to my home. With my home, (or my friends/family home) as the only “filing station” that I would have available, I do not consider it reasonable to be required to install a high capacity circuit in my garage to maximize my charging capability.

3. Charging time consideration.   A refill from empty to full should take no longer than 2 hours, empty to half full should take less than 30 minutes.  That still seems to be a long time but I am giving in to the fact that the technology for rapid charging is not now, nor will be for a long time, anywhere near that of filling a gas tank.

4. Battery life consideration.  Batteries do not live forever; I want the first battery replacement to be included in the price of the bike.  Whether that is 5 years from purchase or 15 years from purchase I do not want to worry about the cost to swap out the battery pack when it becomes necessary.  That first swap has to follow the bike not the owner, if I trade or sell the bike the new owner should not be put at risk for the cost of the new batteries.

5. Charging stations availability. It is unlikely that in my or my children’s life that electric charging station will be as ubiquitous as gas stations.  But, if a major manufacture (Harley, Yamaha) begins selling electric motorcycles then every dealer in their network needs to be a charging station.  Not a great solution but a first step.

6. Compatibility -Is there a standard for charging hardware, software, volts, amps, etc.?  If I am riding a Harley and pull into a Honda dealership will the charging station be compatible?  Are the one off charging stations you see here and there standardized for motorcycles?  If there is not currently compatibility in the electric motorcycle industry it will have to occur before I will consider buying one.

7. Customization consideration – Now this is not a deal breaker issue, but I would like to have the option to change out the appearance of the bike.  New handle bars, saddlebags, grips, mirrors, etc. are things that I and others would like to change to make it their own… just look at my Army bike.

8. Ergo dynamics – I am no longer capable of using a sport bike style seating position for my commute.  Due to age and 25 years of Army life I cannot ride in that position for any significant length of time.  Most, including Harley’s entry, lean more to the sport bike styling and I have no problem with that.  But for me to buy an electric bike it will have to have a cruiser type riding position.   

9. Price – It cannot be more than 10% more expensive than its gas powered equivalent. I am willing to pay a little more upfront if I am able to save quite a bit over the long run. My ROI for fuel savings would have to be less than two years (20,000 miles).

I am sure there are other things for me to consider before buying an electric motorcycle but these are the ones that spring to mind.  Do you have any additional considerations to consider?  J

 

2014_zero-s_product-page_overview-imageI have been reading a lot about electric motorcycles lately.  About how they are getting improved performance, more versatility and better range. But here in the metro Washington DC area there will have to be revolutionary changes to range and attitudes before they can even begin to be discussed in the same sentence to their fossil fuel brothers and sisters.

Depending on which building I am working my commute is either 25 miles or 36 miles in length, one way, which can translate to up to an average of an hour and thirty minutes.  My commute is average a best and great compared to some of my neighbors.

The range on most of the bikes indicate that I would have no problem getting to work but as for recharging the batteries while at work, it is not going to happen.  At one of my buildings, I drove through the entire parking garage and found no outlets, let alone a dedicated charging station.  At the other, there is a conventional outlet but I would have to carry a 100 foot extension cord to connect the bike.  I did not ask the building owners if they would let me “plug in”, but I think the answer would be no.

So that would leave the trip home.  According to the propaganda/literature (Zero motorcycles claim that their range is up to 171 miles in the city) I should be able to make it home with out a recharge.  But, that assumes the temperature is not to hot or too cool, that there are no hills (there are) and limited stop and go traffic (DC, LOL)!  I would need Xanax every afternoon to cope with the range anxiety….but most drivers in this area should be on that drug!

Now with all that being said I will stick with my Harley but, if one of these companies would like to me to test a bike come spring I would consider being a test subject.