Electric Cafe

(On the subject of electric motorcycles and their impact on the future of motorcycling)

Perhaps the motorcycle industry is where photography was in the mid-90’s.  Digital was catching on fast, but it was not up to par with film.  And the old-schoolers didn’t think it ever would get there.  Film, especially for fine art photographers, had that certain je ne sai quois.  Bo-keh.  Feel.  Tangibility.  Not to mention all the invested gear. It could never be replaced by zeros and ones.  Now, 15 years later, with megapixels available by the dozen, costing pennies, good luck finding a lab to process, much less print, your grainy arty pushed Tri-X.  Just run it through the Holga filter on Picnik.  At best it’s been reduced to a cottage industry.

Once the new generation grows up knowing nothing else, film will go the way of the lithograph.  To a large extent it already has. Will internal combustion do the same?

(time passes…)

Upon further reflection on this analogy…
The internal combustion engine is (hopefully) too much of the fun of motorcycling to go away completely. For a lot of motorcyclists, the wrenching is as big a part of it as the riding. (Unlike photography where the mythical “magic darkroom moment” is overplayed when everyone knows that darkroom was a colossal, expensive, time intensive pain in the a**)

I would rather see alternate combustible vapor fuels slip in to the place of the fossils. That way all the engineering and technology of internal combustion could continue to evolve. Let electrics evolve as a parallel – like mega-scooters, and CVT.  And those 3-wheel roadsters – what’s up with those?  I am glad to see the electric race series’ popping up. Competition drives technological advancement. Especially fun-to-watch sponsor-drawing balls-speed-and-adrenaline competition.  What consumer-level tech innovations have slow, boring, nerdy solar challenges brought us? Flying cars? Instant hot water?  Compact fluorescents?

This is not your Carter-administration Solar push.


One thought on “Electric Cafe

  1. Hi Don, your friendly neighborhood teammate and engineer here. Electric drivetrains are where digital photography was in 1994-5, except without the massive investment and push from the porn industry to drive them it in terms of innovation and technological development. Give it 10-15 years, and you might be impressed. On the flip side, this simply moved the energy requirements to the grid and powerplant smokestack…..consolidated energy rather than distributed at the source. Now, ponder that with regards to point of use water heating vs. centralized boilers and distribution systems. Yep, a step backwards. Losses over the grid nearly equal (or sometimes exceed) efficiencies gained via the replacement of the heat engine (internal combustion) and chemical burning inefficiencies with a direct electric drive train.
    Electric cars were available in 1910, and had a range equal to 1998’s GM EV-1. We haven’t really progressed very far, have we?

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