Friday, January 16, 2009

Saw no motorcycles today

I think the high of 14 oF (that's -10 oC for you folks outside the US) kept riders inside. Not only was the temp low, but the wind was blowing too. The apparent temperature (aka wind chill) was below 0 oF at times.

Man am I looking forward to warmer weather.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How to: Increase the power to weight ratio on my Ducati

Any vehicle's acceleration, be it a car or motorcycle, is determined by its power to weight ratio. I think its a bit more intuitive to flip the ratio giving weight to power, that is, a number indicating how many pounds each horsepower has to move.

Some examples:
Dodge Viper
  • 10 cylinder engine
  • 450-hp
  • 3500-lbs
  • power-to-weight ratio = 0.129 hp/lbs
  • weight-to-power ratio = 7.8 lbs/hp
So, for the Viper, one hp pushes almost 8 lbs down the road.

Ducati Multistrada
  • 2 cylinder engine
  • 90-hp
  • 500-lbs
  • P-to-W = 0.180 hp/lbs
  • W-to-P = 5.6 lbs/hp
That is, each horsepower on the Multistrada pushes less than 6 lbs down the road.

Now we see why even relatively small-engine size motorcycles blow the doors off nearly any automobile.

But wait...
Neither cars nor motorcycles drive themselves. So, we should factor in the weight of the driver/rider to be a bit more precise. For most cars, the weight of the driver is relatively negligible compared to the weight of the car. For example, for the Viper, a 200-lb driver (yeah, a portly dude) amounts to less than 6% of the car's weight. So, the 7.8 lbs/hp becomes 8.3 lbs/hp...not much change (6% change to be exact).

What about the motorcycle?
The 200-lb rider is a whooping 40% of the weight of the bike. Thus, the most excellent 5.6 lbs/hp raises to a Viper comparable 7.8 lbs/hp. So, now this Ducati won't stomp the omnipotent Viper.

So, how do I increase the W-to-P ratio of my Ducati?

Control portion size.
No late night snacks.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Motorcycling and the zen of a lava lamp

An impulse buy. I bought one of these and set it up on my desk at work. Brings back that slow up & down motion of the head with the unfocused eyes and slightly open maw threatening drool--a look that was prevalent in the 1960s among certain crowds. One that I didn't experience personally by the way.

The slow, methodical movement of the "lava" (what is the lava anyway?) got me to thinking about pleasant things like motorcycling. Now that we're on the "right side" of the winter solstice, I'm anxious for longer days, warmer temps, and cycle rides with friends and family. Alas, here in the Washington DC metro area, we're in for more colder weather before warm weather arrives.

Things to do before spring:
  • Put fuel stabilizer in all bikes.
  • Change the plugs in the Valkyrie.
  • Change the plugs in the Goldwing trike.
  • Change the front brakes on the Multistrada.
  • Replace brake & clutch fluid in all bikes.

All of these could have been done during the holidays...none were. The holidays turned out to be a black hole sucking time into oblivion. My winter-a-zation for our bikes is minimal (click here) owing to much experience in what works and how much really needs to be done. Different folks in different places must adjust their winterizing accordingly, especially north of here.

Despite the less than ideal riding conditions during the dark months, the number of motorcyclists, and definitely the number of robust motorcyclists, is clearly on the rise. I've seen more riders out and about during this holiday season than I can remember. Many riding with open face helmets sans a face cover. Tough dudes! (I didn't notice any dudette riders, but there may have been some who wisely donned full face helmets making it difficult to determine gender.)

Comments solicited.

Tip: Don't shake a lava lamp. The lava bursts into tiny bubbles taking hours to coalesce disrupting its soothing properties.