Sunday, August 30, 2009

The future of motorcycling approaches?

Check it out: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/02/mission-motors/

Electric motorcycles. To be, or not to be. That is the question.

Have hybrid and soon all electric cars made electric motorcycles inevitable? Electric bike makers have, I believe, a bigger challenge than auto makers.

First, most motorcyclists are performance concious. 30 mph for 2 hours sounds too much like a kids toy. The bike in the link above is being built by a fomer Tesla engineer. Tesla Motorcars is making waves in the auto industry with it's $100k high perforfance, all electric coupe that is said to have exhilarating acceleration and practical range.

Second, motorcyclists are style concious. An electric bike that looks more at home with a kid's Hotwheels collection is going to have little mass market appeal. The bike above is too way out in some futuristic style to appeal to a wide riding audience. Why can't electric bikes look more like standards or cruisers or even touring bikes?

So, what will a successful electric motorcycles need to be successful? Just like with today's fossil fuel burning bikes, there will need to be a variety to appeal to the myriad likes and dislikes of riders:

For the performance enthusiast, the bike above may not be too far off the mark.

For most cruiser riders however, the bike above doesn't cut it. A more laid back riding position with a seat lower to the ground and handlebars that reach back to the rider rather than the other way around will be needed. A nice fat rear tire will work. A raked out front end will be a nice touch.

But, even if it had all these, it will still be missing the all important aural component. No self respecting cruiser rider will ever ride a two-wheel vehicle that makes no sound. So, a successful electric bike for this crowd will need to include a separate electric circuit devoted to a 500 watt amplifier with Dolby Surround 5.1 speakers embedded in faux exhaust pipes to blare out a motorcycle engine sound track. Nice features will include audio jacks to plug in an iPod and a sound mixer to overlay music with the engine soundtrack. Remember, loud pipes save lives.

For me, an electric sport tourer would fit the bill. Something with the lines of a Kawasaki Concours or Honda ST or even a BMW RT. I'm happy to zip silently past traffic so no need for a soundtrack for me. I look forward to the future.

-- Post From My iPod touch
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