Life Electric: unintended deceleration and nuclear fallout

Dailies, Reviews -



Wow, is it Thursday already? Sometimes you look up from your computer and realize the week’s almost over. And sometimes you realized you promised your readers you’d be giving them regular updates on the 2012 Zero DS you’re riding for a couple weeks. Whoops. It’s been a few days of highs and lows on the electric. I think I’ve totally fallen for it, but at the same time come to the realization that I could never actually fit one into my life.

- A high point: running to Trader Joe’s to pick up dinner fixins for me and the NaG, I whizzed past a queue of Priuses, Insights, Volts and Leafs and popped into a not-quite-a-parking-spot where they were preparing to do a food delivery. A guy in one of those Honda FCX Clarity hydrogen fuel cell cars was just parking too and we struck up a conversation. Turns out it’d taken him 45 minutes to get into a parking lot. Why bother? Keeping the wife happy, of course. I laughed at him and told him what I’d done. “Zero emissions?” he asked. “Fuck,” when he heard the answer.

- The above is just another example of why I’m convinced cars are simply a case of collective insanity. Armed with only my Kriega R35, I was able to pick up dinner, desert, a bottle of $2 wine and an impromptu shopping list that mysteriously arrived via text while I was en route. It’s ok, I don’t mind, Trader Joe’s takes me 10 minutes in and out, not the hour plus it was going to take that Honda driver. So what if I have to go three or four times a week? That’s still less overall time than any car driver’s single trip. Judging by the red faces and shouting on every driver in the queue, I’m extending my life expectancy too. Wonder if TJ’s keeps data on how many heart attacks occur in its parking lots?

- Sitting at a light in Santa Monica, a guy in a really nice E30 shouted over to ask if the bike I was riding was electric. Turns out he works for Tesla, but had never heard of Zero. He’s not the only person I’ve encountered in these last two weeks that you’d think would have heard of the brand by now. Other motorcyclists, friends in the media, virtually no one has heard of the company.

- It’s also amazing how many non-riders love the way the DS looks. I look at it and see bodywork that clashes with the mechanical components, too many common parts that don’t seem to mesh with each other (MT-03-alike headlight, then that ginormous plate hanger for instance) and awful graphics. They see an all-black bike that’s totally silent, has weird orange wires poking out of it and a stance that sits high, evoking function, without looking overly aggressive. Seriously, tons of people who don’t even realize it’s electric shout “nice bike!” as we pull into places.

- Saturday night saw what’s likely going to be the largest meteor shower this year. But, I couldn’t watch it because Grant had disappeared hunting, locking all the gas bike keys in his house. With cloud cover and light pollution anywhere within 100 miles of home, there was no way I could get out into the desert or up into the mountains on the Zero. It’s times like that when I’m really over relying on an electric for my sole means of transport.

- Riding home late the other night, I was flat-out on the last bit of highway before home, with two bars of battery showing, when the DS mysteriously cut out. I’m assuming some mix of 85mph and the low charge decided they didn’t like each other. A few seconds of frantic switch hitting and key turning got the thing started up again and we limped home, but suddenly finding yourself sans power, on an already slow bike, on the over-crowded 101, was seriously frightening. Slides I don’t know if I can recover from on liter bikes are much more my type of heart stop.

- Last week, I complained that there was no external indication that the Zero was plugged in or charging. Turns out I was wrong, there’s a small view port on the front of the battery casing and LEDs inside that tell you if you’re actually charging. To see them, turn the bars all the way to the left and put your head where the fender was.

- Sitting at home on Saturday night, I came up with a fool-proof formula for determining where I can and can’t expect to go on the bike. Using the Ground Zero II nuclear fallout calculator, I can program in a 9mt B53 bomb, the largest ever in the US arsenal. This map shows the radius of thermal damage, which is about 18 miles. Center it on my zip code and it gives me an effective range for the bike. Since a full charge with the quick charger takes around 5 hours and that quick charger is big enough that it needs to stay at home, I’m sort of anchored to my house. Then figure in the 60 to 80 mile range I’ve been getting out of the 9kWh battery pack and 20 miles is about as far as I’m willing to go. Since this map is as-the-crow-flies, I figure it’s close enough to the max distance I’m willing to travel from home. Yellow is the extreme for a single trip, orange is ok if I have a full charge, the darker colors I’m free to roam with impunity. As you can see, I’m able to cover most of Los Angeles, but my friends in Long Beach don’t need to duck and cover quite yet.

- Talking to Grant about plans for filming the DS for RideApart. I literally had to shoot down every single one of his location ideas. Spending thousands of dollars a day on a film crew and whatnot means no room for ending up out of charge half way through. Figuring in a worst case scenario of 60 miles, that doesn’t leave room for multiple takes and that long recharge time isn’t going to get done at lunch. Hmmm, I wonder how much generator rental is…

- A low point: “I’m in the mood for snausage,” read the text from the NaG. But, I was Downtown on less than half a battery and she was at work in Santa Monica. I ate at Wurstkuche alone, looking forward to getting on a “Factory” Aprilia Tuono V4 next week. “Electric bikes are stupid.” It’s times like these that I feel that way too.

I’m living with a 2012 Zero DS for three weeks and updating you with regular (well, semi-regular anyways), journal-style updates. It’s the Life Electric.

  • Troy R

    hah snausage.

  • John2

    “I’m extending my life expectancy”
    Not only that, you’re getting smarter…according to the a 2009 study by Prof. Ryuta Kawashima (cited in Dave Searles’ column in the most recent Motorcycle Consumer News) riding a motorcycle improves your brain more than driving a car.

    • Core

      I’d say riding a manual vehicle does the same as well. It’s just a hunch.

  • wwalkersd

    “It’s also amazing how many non-riders love the way the DS looks. I look at it and see bodywork that clashes …”

    I’ve had the same experience with my ’02 V-Strom 1000. I love the way it works, but I’ve always thought it an ugly bike. Non-riders seem to think highly of it, though.

    Re the RideApart locations, wouldn’t you just truck the Zero to the shoot location like you did with the CCW bikes?

    Thanks for the update, Wes!

    • Grant Ray

      Oh, thats exactly what we’ll be doing. And them some.

    • R__M

      I saw it parked on 6th the other day. I thought it looked better in person, but still kind of like one of those kids’ bicycles that is meant to look like a dirt bike.

      • Wes Siler


        • R__M

          Yeah, it was an uncomfortable clash between the internet and my life.

          • Wes Siler

            Believe me, I know the feeling.

    • Toby

      My ’08 WeeStrom got all sorts of “Nice Bike!” comments tossed at it. It was flat black like the Zero, maybe that’s it… I always thought it was ugly-in-an-endearing-way

  • Holden and Annette

    Wes, an ignorant Floridian here: What do you mean by it took the guy 45 minutes to get into a parking lot? Are you talking about the difference between sitting in a car in gridlock vs lane-splitting, or do cars literally queue up in the street to get into the Trader Joe’s lot, or what? Sorry, I know this sounds like an idiotic question…

    • Wes Siler

      There was a line around the block fighting for one or two spaces at a time as they became available. Parking is at a premium here.

      • DAVID

        regardless of the food, that’s simply insane. its like lining up for bread in the Soviet Union.

      • RT Moto

        That’s why you say f*ck LA and move to San Diego.

        • Campisi

          But Lee Ving made it sounds so lovely…

    • T Diver

      Hipster food.

      • go gonzo

        I walk out with more food and a lower bill than Albertsons. I don’t buy meat at either place. I go to McCall’s on Hillhurst for that.
        That said…
        It’s not just parking, but navagating the crowded isles that make the trip a hassle.

        • Sean Smith

          Yup. Trader Joe’s is kinda like the Apple of the food industry. Things are simplified and streamlined, and you get a lot for your money. Need something they don’t sell? Just go somewhere else.

          • Roman

            Great descriptions. All their stuff is tasty, but in a safe sort of way, if that makes sense. You won’t be disappointed, but it won’t blow your mind either. Still, 45 minutes to get into a lot is fucking insane.

        • robotribe

          I’ve lived in Florida for almost a year now (hopefully coming back to Cali by end of summer), and Trader Joe’s is CONSISTENTLY on the top of the list of things my fellow ex-pats miss. Hell, I’ve got a co-worker here in FL from Minnesota who loves Trader Joe’s(even MN has Trader Joe’s)!

          F*ck the Publix monopoly.

          • Campisi

            F*ck the Publix monopoly.

            Not to be vulgar, but after living in Florida for a few years I was always surprised how often the “l” burns out on those signs.

  • Gene

    Gotta disagree with your opinion of the Zero’s looks. The rear plate hanger is a lot better than the travesty on other bikes, and I do like its looks. It’s a lot better looking than a Multistrada, a BMW GS, or a V-Strom!

    • ontheroad

      The fit and finish on any of those three bikes is much higher quality than the DS, which I just saw the other day. The styling isn’t awful, some like it and you’re certainly entitled too, but it just looks a bit cobbled together, and that taillight/rear fender is god awful.

  • ontheroad

    Good ol’ 2 buck Chuck for the NaG, eh? Pure class, Wes, pure class.

    As for the Zero DS: Meh. It’s great to get some in-depth feedback about living with it, but you’ve largely confirmed what a lot of us already suspected. It’s still in the realm of novelty, unless you’re such an urbanite that you shudder to think of riding more than 15 miles in one direction.

    I’m waiting to see the Empulse in action before I pass a blanket judgement on this round of electric bikes, but it looks like “not quite yet” is the probable conclusion.

    • protomech

      My typical daily route is 25-50+ miles of riding. I put about a thousand miles per month on the Zero (and displace about 20 gallons of gas).

      As an only vehicle, the Zero (or very often, any gas bike) is a novelty .. even with a commute well-suited for a battery bike, there’s always a small number of trips that require more range, more weather protection, or more cargo capacity. As one option in my garage, though, it gets by far the most miles.

      • jp182

        Yeah I mapped out that it’s 30.4 miles from my fiancee’s place to my job. The fastest I can go is 60mph on the way there and on the way back. AND if I bring an extension cord, I could technically charge the bike at work during the day.

        This is sooo tempting but I’d still need to be able to do similar trips for fun with the Misses on the back which is the only thing that holds me back.

        • protomech

          Both the Zero S/DS and the Empulse are two seater bikes (though the Zero at least is an extra $350 for the passenger pegs).

      • ontheroad

        I’m admittedly looking at it from my own idiosyncratic perspective, using one motorcycle as a primary means of transit, all the time, everywhere. I also average closer to 70 mi daily so I’d be stretching the limits of a charge every day. I should qualify my statements, because most of us (riders in general) don’t have the same needs/expectations of a bike.

        As one option in the garage it makes much more sense, and if it’s working for you and offsetting your fuel costs that’s awesome. I’m excited about the future of electric bikes, it just doesn’t make any sense for me yet and I’m less than enthused with a lot of the designs (exceptions being BRD and the Empluse).

    • ike6116

      “Good ol’ 2 buck Chuck for the NaG, eh? Pure class, Wes, pure class.”

      I liked this.

      • nick2ny

        I was ambivalent to slightly negative on this.

  • protomech

    * There’s a 4 page thread on other owners reporting loss of power. I’m pretty sure I’ve hit this glitch once in 1500 miles, though in my case the bike was stationary. Zero is replacing the throttle assemblies and upgrading the firmware on affected bikes, but (since it’s a very intermittent problem) it’s unclear whether this has fixed the glitch.

    * Electric (car or motorcycle) is best as an addition to a gas fleet. Without a gas vehicle standing by, longer trips require public transit or renting/borrowing a vehicle .. and all of those are bad for impromptu trips (as you’ve discovered).

    * I’ve met very few people that are aware of Zero or the 2012 bikes. One of the clerks at Cycle Gear thought he had “read something in a magazine once”.

    • Archer

      If this “glitch” happened on a gas bike (or perhaps I should restate this as “when it happens on a gas bike” because it has) there is generally a full-scale, no-holds-barred-full-stop-end-of-effin’-story RECALL.

      That’s because this kind of “glitch” can KILL YOU.

      That is certainly more than a frackin’ “glitch” my friends.

      Deal breaker.

      • protomech

        Not disagreeing about the need for a recall – it seems to be more than one or two bikes.

        I’d rather lose power than any other control failure on a bike. It’s a serious problem, no doubt, but I rate it rather lower on the oh-shit-ometer than the one time I nearly stalled my gas bike accidentally starting in third turning left across a busy street.

        We’ll see how Zero responds.

    • Dylan

      Haha “upgrading the firmware”….such a weird thing to hear/think about when considering bikes.

      • ontheroad

        With modern CANbus systems on everything from BMWs to Hondas, firmware updates are a reality for the new piston powered stuff too.

        So is sudden power loss, for what it’s worth. Stock tunes meant to deal with ever increasing emmissions standards make for some nasty stalling issues here and there.

        • Dylan

          I guess when I consider those things I still think of “tuning” and not firmware upgrading. I just thought it was funny

        • aristurtle

          You can get sudden, unexpected power loss with a poorly-maintained carburetor, too, as I discovered firsthand when I bought my last bike.

          • Dylan

            Or when you forget to turn the petcock to the “ON” position, as I found out test riding my new bike yesterday

  • contender

    So I am leaving L.A. for Denver…anticipating a mid-June relocation. Would like to take advantage of the Colorado electric vehicle tax breaks before they disappear…any chance you guys have an Empulse lined up after they come out? I’d love to have some honest feedback on it too.

    • Wes Siler

      We’ll be on that bike ASAP. Still not clear when that will be though.

  • JT Nesbitt

    Allright enough! The 800 pound gorilla in the room that EV people refuse to acknowledge is that there is NO SUCH THING as a vehicle powered by electricity. For the overwhelming majority of us, our Electricity is the result of combustion in one form or another so actually what you are riding is an external combustion vehicle. The fact that it does not have a trailer filled with coal and steam turbines behind it, does not mitigate the fact that it is primarily a coal-hybrid vehicle.
    Just for a moment consider the possibility that using electricity is simply the wrong solution for propelling a vehicle…What if it just doesn’t work very well, and no amount of R&D can overcome the physical limitations of the storage problem? Square peg round hole??
    In America, the definition of a successful alternative energy must be directly linked to endurance, and here endurance means range. This is the basic premise for racing and competition, that has single handedly created the automobile/motorcycle as we know it. Power and acceleration are things that naturally evolve once the range problem is solved. You only have to pick up a book about the early history of the automobile to understand this basic concept, yet I feel that I am being sold a bogus concept by people who really don’t understand vehicle design and evolution, and its contextual relationship to competition.
    It is upon the shoulders of giants that we all stand, those old timers were not stupid people, contrary to the arrogance of the Electric Vehicle crowd, ANY gasoline powered car from 100 years ago would outrun ANY electric car from any era in an endurance test. — JT

    • Grant Ray

      Really? You’re gonna beat that ole “ELECTRICITY IS COAL!!!” dead horse again, are ya? Come on, now. No one here is saying electric power is the panacea. And I’m really surprised that you speak in terms of “range” while simultaneously neglecting the means of said range, namely, a pre-exisitng infrastructure. Yes, that very thing you touted for getting your butt across country in the Magnolia, and which all the leaders in the EV field admit is their Achilles’ Heal.

      What if the EV builders aren’t looking for the golden egg, leaving that job instead to smarter folks? What if the EV approach is instead about responding to one big problem with a multi-faceted answer of which, like a suspended bridge made up of many ropes, the EV is but one response, one rope?

    • Campisi

      The fact that it does not have a trailer filled with coal and steam turbines behind it, does not mitigate the fact that it is primarily a coal-hybrid vehicle.

      Lots of coal-derived electricity goes into the production, refinement, transport, and sale of petroleum fuels as well, on top of the emissions derived from actually using that fuel. This argument has been tackled a hundred times; even under worse-case scenarios, the worst EVs still come out ahead of almost (usually all, depending on the calculation methodology and the provenance of the data used) IC vehicles in well-to-wheel emissions calculations even in areas where the majority of electricity is generated by coal-fired plants. As renewables continue to provide an increasing share of our energy production mix and emissions requirements for petroleum-fueled plants improve, the superiority of EVs in this regard will only further cement themselves in reality.

      … Yet I feel that I am being sold a bogus concept by people who really don’t understand vehicle design and evolution…

      You clearly haven’t been sold on the concept. :p It’s America, dude; the addition of choice doesn’t pose a threat to your preferences.

      Range is a clear and thoroughly-acknowledged problem with current electric vehicles, despite the small group of EV advocates that insist that current ranges are fine for everyone (people buy for the one big trip, not the 1,000+ little trips). EVs are best at commuting right now, but despite that being the primary use of most vehicles in America that purpose gets a low financial priority because it’s something most vehicles can handle. Battery technology both restricts the range of these vehicles and prices them higher than most people are willing to pay for the purpose of commuting and short trips. However, batteries are finally getting the top-dollar R&D attention they really need in order to mature, and prices are falling just as fast as energy and power densities are growing. I see no logical reason why range, recharge time, and price won’t hit their mass-market-acceptance sweet spots within my lifetime (if not in a decade), and if your personal requirements are met by current technology then the market has responded with choices for you.

      ANY gasoline powered car from 100 years ago would outrun ANY electric car from any era in an endurance test.

      I’m pretty sure a Nissan Leaf would go farther on a single fill than a Benz Patent Motor-Wagen, and with its much higher top speed would more than make up its pit delta time of thirty minutes for a fast-charge were refueling taken into consideration. It’s an absurd comparison, I know, but hey, you said ANY car from any era. :p

      • JT Nesbitt

        Ok here’s a math word problem for you-
        A 2012 Tesla and a 1912 Ford model T both leave New York headed for Los Angeles at the same time. Which one arrives first in Los Angeles?
        Or maybe more intriguingly, in 2032 which one of those same vehicles will reside in the huge scrap heap of obsolete technological gizmos, and which one will still be operational? (the Commodore 64 syndrome)
        What I find fascinating is that people have been sold this idea that electric vehicles are a new idea. They are in fact as old as the automobile itself, experimented upon by generation after generation of very talented mechanics and engineers, and yet have failed to pass the endurance test. I am all for experimentation, until I am asked to fund it.
        Grant- Where I take issue with the EV proponents is when federal money is accepted for the pursuit of a technology that might not actually work, ever. I am so tired of the Popular Science Magazine cover from 1959 where all of us commute in flying cars! Flying cars are a bad idea, great if you are a sci-fi fan or Madison avenue marketeer, pretty dumb if you are an engineer, square peg round hole.
        The most environmentally friendly car, is the one that is infinitely rebuildable — JT

        • protomech

          “I am all for experimentation, until I am asked to fund it.”

          Bravo. No subsidies are available for my Zero here in Alabama, yet I still pay taxes that go to oil company subsidies and their engineering experiments (AKA the Gulf of Mexico); or our foreign policy experiments in the Middle East.

          “A 2012 Tesla and a 1912 Ford model T both leave New York headed for Los Angeles at the same time. Which one arrives first in Los Angeles?”

          I’d take a 2012 Model S vs a 1912 Model T.

          Model S: 160 miles @ 55 mph, recharge 160 miles in 30 minutes (Tesla Supercharger). Average speed 46.9 mph, 160 miles in 3.41 hours.

          Model T: 45 mph top speed, 10 gal fuel tank, 20 mpg (being generous). Stop every 160 miles for 5 minute fillup. Average speed 44 mph, 160 miles in 3.64 hours.

          (Granted, neither the productized Model S nor Tesla’s grid of 90 kW supercharger stations exist yet; but in 1912 you would need to buy your gas by the pint at a general store or hardware store. Good luck with the leaded gas as well).

          “The most environmentally friendly car, is the one that is infinitely rebuildable”

          I’m with you all the way on the infinitely rebuildable cars (or motorcycles). I guess the Zero’s battery will probably degrade past the point of usefulness in about 10 years (100k miles); I can recycle or reuse the old pack, toss in a 2022 battery pack and keep rolling.

          The new pack (and the original pack) are not without their own environmental costs, but I would guess on most bikes you would be looking at rebuilding or replacing the entire powertrain at that point. (not all: friend just bought a 1984 GL1200a with nearly 200k miles, he rebuilt the driveshaft and it’s basically good to go)

        • BigRooster

          Back of envelope

          Model T
          AVG Speed=45
          Refuel time=30
          Miles Driven=2462
          Number of Refueling stops=25
          Total Trip Time = ~55 hours (assuming drivers going nonstop)

          Avg Speed = 85 (very generous)
          Recharge Time = 4 hours (generous)
          Range = 250 (generous given 85mph)
          Miles Driven=2462
          Recharges = 10
          Recharge time = 40hrs
          Total Trip time = ~68 hrs (nonstop)

          If you factor in sleep the Tesla will make it closer.

          Sounds like the start of a Cannonball Run remake.

        • ike6116

          You had me right up til you played the “my tax dollars” angle

          Why aren’t you banging the drum on corn subsides that go for both gasoline and destroying the nutritional value of our food supply?

          Also just because electric vehicles haven’t worked in the past doesn’t mean they won’t work in the future. I agree that most EV proponents live in a magical make-believe land where all the electricity for their cars comes from solar and wind but that isn’t the case.

          I say give me electric vehicles with hot swappable batteries and power it all by nuclear power plants and we’re golden.

          Until then lets keep throwing shit at the wall and see what sticks.

          • nick2ny

            Can we do this race?!? I want to be on the Model T team.

            • protomech

              I think Tesla should do this.

              Get Mr. T to drive the Model S. Call it the Mr. T vs Model T Race Across America.

        • Coreyvwc

          ^ This.

        • Eben

          The more relevant challenge is to say a Zero and a Vespa leave NYC headed for LA at the same time. Which one arrives first? Neither! They both give up and turn around because their vehicles are made to take short runs around a city, not travel cross-country.

    • fasterfaster

      Ha, please, like motorcycles in the US have, aside from the SuperCub, ever been about practicality and range. They have always been about speed and sex. An endurance test is the wrong test; a comparison between motorcycles (gas to gas, electric to electric, or gas to electric) is a boner (or lady-boner) test.

      • Wes Siler

        I’d like to be a judge in this lady boner contest.

    • stempere

      How about the future?
      America won’t always make it’s electricty from burning fossil fuel.
      In france, 80% of our electricity is nuclear, and it may have a bad image (fukushima didn’t help) and not be perfect but it is a good solution while we find more effective wind turbines and solar panels.

      • Mark D [EX500]

        Standard reactors are a good solution now; if Thorium ever gains any traction, we’ll be in even better shape.

    • TuffGong


  • Campisi

    Two dollars for the wine? Oz Clarke would not approve.

    Is the Zero’s on-board charger only Level 1 capable? That’d be a deal-breaker for me; fast-charging is pretty pointless if you have to wait until you get home to use it.

    • protomech

      Technically, it can handle 240v charging (85-265V AC). Maximum charge rate (to the battery) is approximately 800 watts, which is typically (for me) 7 miles recovered per hour.

      There is an optional J1772 inlet ($500), but it doesn’t increase the charge speed.

      The Empulse has a ~3 kW J1772 charger onboard, which is a much better solution. I imagine the 2013 Zeros will also integrate a beefier onboard charger.

  • go gonzo

    How/where do you charge this thing? (As a fellow apartment dweller)

    • Wes Siler

      I live in a standalone house with plenty of outdoor sockets.

  • JoppaPete

    Not sure if anyone has brought this up, but I wanna highlight what I call ‘the art bell factor’.
    is this shit ganna kill you in 45 years?
    Fun with Electronics Mixed with yer crotch doesn’t usually end well, no matter what type of radiation it is, effects are pretty much standardized.

    How safe is straddling what amounts to an EMF Generator all day long? I haven’t really seen much to address that safety factor.

    My mental checklist goes as follows, cops getting teste cancer from radar guns.
    Film Gaffers getting all sorts of crotch cancer from sitting on HMI ballasts
    Living the life electric…. TBD.

    Anyone else read about the MotoCyzt bike scrambling the clock at some race track. good one, that riders’s totally scrambled his eggs on that bike.

    • Wes Siler

      Well, we ride motorcycles dude. I like to tell people this: cancer ain’t gonna be what kills me.

      • nick2ny

        In fact, if you get messed up on a motorcycle, you can just live the life of a normal everything-fearing person. Except you get to park closer to stores.

    • protomech

      “no matter what type of radiation it is, effects are pretty much standardized.”
      The type, intensity, and distance actually make a pretty big difference : P

      Electric motors definitely emit radiation, though it is non-ionizing radiation (similar in type if not intensity and distance to cell phones).

      More reading on the science behind it, if you care:

      Make sure you stay away from power lines, including the one running from the computer to the wall, hair dryers, food processors, etc.. better avoid motor vehicles altogether, don’t want the starter / alternator to fry those precious testes.

      Horses should be safe.

      Unless they kick you.

      • JoppaPete

        Nice thanks for the info. this seed is worth its weight in gold. but regardless it is something that needed to be addressed, thanks protomech.

        lol wes

    • Scott-jay
    • RT Moto

      Just wear lead lined boxers. I hear those work at times.

      • Archer

        Yes, ideal with a tin hat…

        • JoppaPete

          I have a wonderful velour/tin jumpsuit with matching B-boy hat i wear so I’m all covered.

          Some people get sick when exposed to High EMF levels is a fact. Nausea dizziness headaches and so on. Happens to my boss whenever we go into the building’s power supply room to check the breakers.

          The point I’m wondering is if they publish any numbers or do any tests in that regard. Obviously Wes is a man of steel.. or tin, so he wouldn’t feel it necessarily.

          • aristurtle

            Psychosomatic. I guarantee he’d have his headaches and nausea even if the power was off, as long as he didn’t know ahead of time.

            Remember this little gem:?

            Residents in a city in NZ were constantly complaining of headaches, skin rashes, and other weird problems stemming from the EM from a new wireless broadband tower. The broadband company called together a big town-hall-type meeting, listens to the complaints of health problems, and then revealed that the tower had been turned off for the past couple of months. Hilarity ensued.

  • parkwood60

    Not sure if those arguing about this stuff saw this nifty info-grafic by the union of concerned scientists. Its standardized to compare greenhouse gas emissions based on the charging infrastructure in various places with the Nissan Leaf as the vehicle used as a base.

    Wes, you don’t have to go way out in the desert to get away from the light pollution. I remember a little picnic spot somewhere off one of the Malibu canyon roads that is pitch black at night. At the moment I can’t figure out which road it was though.

    • Archer

      The only time I ever saw a pitch-black sky anywhere in the LA basin was right after the quake in 94. I was on the third floor of my place in Marina Del Rey at something like 4:30 AM and when the shaking stopped, you couldn’t tell the seaside view from the city view.

      Except for the popping transformers.

      You get plenty of skyglow in the canyons, believe me.

    • protomech

      The main question I have is why gas bikes suck so badly wrt economy. Compare a Prius, Leaf, 250cc gas bike, and the Zero. All have roughly the same performace, the first three have about the same CO2 emissions. The Zero is responsible for about a third of the emissions of the other three (~120 Wh/mile vs ~340 Wh/mile Leaf).

      This blog moves the goalposts a bit, but it’s a good counterpoint to the UCS report.

      • 80-watt Hamster

        Development focus. Even relatively thirsty bikes have had historically decent economy vs. their auto contemporaries. Efforts instead went largely toward high specific output for reasons ranging from homologation requirements to packaging to bragging rights. More power from less engine spits out higher emissions while simultaneously deep-sixing economy without a bunch of fancy, expensive, heavy tech in the valvetrain and intake.

        Your garden-variety car engine will make somewhere in the neighborhood of 60-80 hp/L, while baseline for a bike that’s not a cruiser is more like 100 hp/L. Sportbikes push it over 150 hp/L in search of the greatest power within a displacement category. Honda took a page from the car playbook with the half-Jazz-engined NC, and BMW worked some kind of voodoo of their own to get pretty good economy numbers from their F800 twin. If the NC succeeds, we’ll probably see widespread development in this direction sooner rather than later. Now we get to find out if the market will accept it.

        • protomech

          That’s a good explanation, thanks.

          It looks like the NC700 series is about 80 hp/L, makes a bit more power with 680cc than than my 500cc bike did, but also about 40% more economy. Wonder how much packaging and weight the bigger motor adds.

          I wonder if we’ll see less focus on displacement and more on power and economy in the future.


    I miss Wurstkuche.

    Mr. Q

    • robotribe

      I was gonna say that eating at Wurstkuche alone ain’t so bad (I’ve done it many times). More fancy beer for you!

      • BigRooster

        I looked at the menu. Decent beer selection from various countries… and then representing the US (listed as North America for some reason) they offer PBR and some Russian Imperial Stout. Of all the amazing micro brews in the US (and many in California) they choose these? PBR is a garbage beer, good enough for getting hammered or tailgating but out of place on this menu.

        And why is it North America and not US? Both beers are domestic (not Canadian/Mexican) and all the other beers are identified by country of origin. It’s inconsistent.

        I have no idea why this bothers me so badly.

        • robotribe

          You need a beer.

        • Campisi

          A lot of beer snobs I’ve met have at least a smidge of nationalism about their preferences; with a limited amount of taps available, they probably only apportioned two of them for domestic beers. Calling them “North American” on the menu makes it easier to have a Canadian beer one week, a Mexican beer another week, and an American beer the next week.

  • 10/10ths

    I also own a V-Strom and also get the “Nice bike!” comments almost every day.

    The Tesla employee not knowing about Zero is not a surprise either.

    All of us subscribers, and you folks out there in the bike “media” are the only people who have any kind of working knowledge about these products.

    I am a product trainer for a major auto company. My job is to drive the new vehicles as they are launched to the dealership to train the sales people about the vehicle. I talk engines, transmissions, etc, all day long to people IN the car business.

    75% of them are clueless.

    To expect the average consumer to understand the difference between full electric, hybrid, pug-in hybrid, hydrogen, nat gas, diesel, naturally aspirated vs turbocharged, etc., is wishful thinking. And for folks to grasp the concept that electric vehicles are powered by coal burning is pie in the sky.

    Keep up the great work at HFL, you guys provide great insight that can’t be found in the print motorcycle media.


  • Holden and Annette

    Love the headline, by the way. I write em for a living and it ain’t easy to write a stellar one.