23 December, 2010

Electric Bill Shock – Day 36

Odo 711

Opened the Electricity Bill. It's a 3 month bill, so bear that in mind when I tell you the horror that I had. I've only been charging the bike on this bill for about a 3rd of the period.

It was... The lowest bill ever.

All I can put it down to is that normally I'd be hanging around home but instead I was out on the bike. So no air-conditioning, no big screen telly running all day.  The aircon draws 3 kW and the telly draws 200 W.  So it's possible...  Who knows.  

22 December, 2010

Update on Dilbert World – Day 35

Odo 711

Bike running fine. No news there.

I got a response from the Transport Construction Authority. You may remember I was ringing and emailing them as they told the Department for the Environment that they had a guideline that required them to put charging points in all the new and refurbished car parks. I wanted to know if that's the case, where they are? How many are there?
Well I got the answer today. There's none and no intention of putting any in.

Hi Jason

Thank you for your enquiry. I apologise for the delay in responding.

TCA's Sustainable Design Guidelines policy is applied to all TCA projects and includes a number of different initiatives, each of which has to be assessed on a project-by-project basis for its applicability.

The requirement for EV charging is indicated as a Fundamental initiative in the policy which denotes that in the Design Phase, 80% of Fundamental initiatives should be incorporated in the overall design of the project. The selection by which initiatives from the guideline should be adopted is assessed on the merits of their applicability to the project.

The overall sustainability goal as set out in the policy is achieved for each car park project in the program that TCA is delivering.

EV charging is a new technology in the car industry and there is currently no industry guideline in Australia as to how electric vehicles will be charged in the future. Although EV charging is indicated as a Fundamental initiative, not a Mandatory initiative, TCA has made provisions for 1% of total car spaces in 6 multi-storey facilities to have EV charging. The car parks with EV charging provisions are summarised in the table below:

Project name
Provision for 1% of Electric Vehicle charging bays
St Marys
5
Blacktown
5
Warwick Farm
8
Woy Woy
4
Revesby
6
Wollongong
4
Total
30

These provisions are for one charge point per car space. The location of the electric vehicle charge point is next to the car space. Currently provisions for conduits running to each of EV charging point have been constructed.
  
For refurbished car parks, there are no provisions for installing future EV charging under the current CCPIP.

In relation to preferential parking for fuel efficient vehicles, some of the completed car parks include spaces for small cars.

I trust the above addresses your questions.  If you have any further comments or enquiries, please call 1800 684 490.

Kind regards,

Diane Challenor
Manager | Corporate CommunicationsTransport Construction Authority
T: (02) 9200 0200   D: (02) 9422 0671
F: (02) 9200 0290
E: diane.challenor@tca.nsw.gov.au
W: tca.nsw.gov.au

So I replied with this:

Hi Diane,

Thanks for your reply.

I was just wondering if you could expand on one of your points. You say "For refurbished car parks, there are no provisions for installing future EV charging under the current CCPIP." I don't understand that. I would have assumed that the Commuter Car Park and Interchange Program would have fallen under the TCA Sustainable Design Guidelines. The introduction of the SDG says:

What do the guidelines cover?
The guidelines cover new train stations, major and minor upgrades
to train stations, at-grade and multi storey commuter car parks, and
maintenance facilities.

So do you mean that there are no provisions for installing future EV charging, due to a case by case decision that they wouldn't be one of the 80% of Fundamentals that made it through or do you mean that the SDG doesn't apply to refurbished facilities?

If there has been a case by case decision made to exclude the provision of EV infrastructure the SDG also says "Contractors must supply auditable reasoning if excluded". Is there somewhere I can view the reasoning that has been provided for excluding the Fundamental of providing EV infrastructure for 3% of spots at all of the TCA projects in the current CCPIP?

I've also CC'ed in Leisl as we've been corresponding about this matter.

Cheers Jason =:) 

So if you look past the positive spin that Diane is trying to put on it, they haven't put in the target 3% charge points in any projects, they haven't put infrastructure for future needs in any projects and they're not going to prepare for the future until it arrives... “no industry guideline in Australia as to how electric vehicles will be charged in the future” Well no, perhaps not, but Australia has a 240 volt 10 amp standard for household use and 240 volt 15 amp sockets are quite common (used on caravans and such). You can plug a 240 volt 10 amp plug into a 15 amp socket but not the other way around. So as a first step just putting in 15 amp sockets would be a good start. That would allow for up to 3.6 kW chargers. Seeing as most railway commuters are at work for 9 hours, with travel time the car is going to sit there for 10 hours. Enough to recharge a Leaf from dead flat to full or two thirds charge a Tesla Roadster. There also exists a rather uncommon 20 amp variant that allows both 10 and 15 amp plugs to fit.  When used with the right plug it would allow draws of 4.8 kW.  That means a Tesla Roadster would be 90% recharged from dead flat in 10 hours. At the same time any normal plug would fit straight in.

I wouldn't mind if they just told me to get lost like McDonalds did. What burns me up is their self congratulatory twaddle that they put out in print, followed up with nothing.

21 December, 2010

Laid Low – Day 34

Odo 707

Early start at work today, got out without anyone knowing. Didn't feel that good and bailed out sick by 9 am. Only 10 km ridden, but it's much nicer riding the Zero with a splitting headache than the KTM.  I'm getting Thai food home delivered.  Normally I'd ride out to get it but I just feel dreadful.

20 December, 2010

Steampunk Motorcycling - Day 33

Odo 696

A mate turned up yesterday to take the new bike for a ride. I rode his bike, a KTM supermotard. Similar in concept to the Zero S. It was way bigger, heavier and just like any other motorcycle, totally strange. Hissing and blowing it was like riding a steam train. I am frankly amazed at how quickly I have converted to 21st Century motorcycling. The thing just snorted and puffed. Despite it's broad spread of power I was always finding myself in the wrong gear. Even the starting ritual seemed archaic. Find neutral, look for the light, press the starter with a little tiny bit of throttle and Boom it bursts into life. Shaking and lurching. Then pull in the clutch, click it into gear, a bit of throttle, ease out the clutch. For goodness sake it was like starting a Stanley Steamer. I was almost thinking that there would be a firebox to stoke. Then when riding I was constantly busy adjusting things and changing settings. I was reminded of vintage cars.

Anyway he thought my bike was a fascinating change from his. I don't see him getting one for himself. A couple of weeks ago he rode it to Perth via the Gunbarrel Highway in just 6 days (average over 1000 km per day for 6 days straight) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunbarrel_Highway I find it hard to imagine a time when electric bikes will be able to manage a trip like that. He insisted that we should go round to visit his son so he could sample the bike too. His son was amazed and amused. He took it off for a ride for what ended up being a worryingly long time. “Better than any moped I've ridden before” Oh well, you can't win them all.

This morning I went into the garage to get going for work and I could hear the high pitched sound of a chopper working on electricity. I was sure it was coming from the bike and it spelt disaster. It was so high pitched that I couldn't locate the source at all. I tried turning the bike on and off and unplugging the charger but it didn't change. I went round and turned off every electrical thing in the room. Still it whistled it's song of disaster. In the end I wheeled the bike out of the garage and even that didn't stop the sound. So what did that leave? Oh, the rowing machine. I pulled one of the batteries out of that and it stopped the sound instantly. Hmmm, panic first, think second. The bike continued to just work flawlessly.

16 December, 2010

Cafe race rematch – Day 29

Odo 670

Yesterday I didn't get out on the bike in the afternoon. It was simply too hot. I had some running around to do but ended up in the Dinoburner with the airconditioning on full blast. I've got some new riding gear on order that should be cooler but I nearly passed out in my normal riding gear.

The Dinoburner was nearly empty, having not filled it since I brought the DS back up from the dealers on the trailer nearly a month ago. I filled it in the evening and it took 70 dollars. Record fill up cost so far. USD and AUD are almost the same at the moment. Fuel was 1.35 a litre so for our American cousins, that's 5.10 per gallon. That was for the low octane stuff. Lucky it was so cheap, it's been up over 1.50 a litre. 50 of those fills will pay for a new battery for the DS.

Today I had an early start at work. It was a bit cooler in the morning and I'm sure the neighbours were happy about the quiet bike being used (well oblivious actually). So I had an early finish as well. My girl suggested lunch together. We're at different sites but linked by instant messaging because we have the same employer. We downed tools at the same time and headed for the cafe. I thought she'd beat me hands down, helmet, gloves, jacket, unplug and coil the cord. No way I'd get there before her. Well I was far enough ahead that had they not ignored me for 10 minutes the coffees would have been cold by the time she arrived. I parked it where I could see it but it was on a quiet side street. I still had two people come over and ask questions and even more stopped and knelt down for a closer look.

I keep talking about the cost, but the real reason for this bike is that it is fun. Not just because it's cool and lots of people want to talk about it. I just really like riding it. I've ridden a lot of bikes that are more powerful and lighter but this bike just makes me happy. Some people say it doesn't have a soul. Well I don't think I have a soul myself, but it sure has character.

15 December, 2010

How do you spell “Zero”? - Day 28

Odo 644

Yesterday I decided that 3rd party property insurance would be a good idea.

Called Western QBE. They used to be Western Underwriters and they sponsored all the big bike races. In the 80's they were “the” motorcycle insurance firm. They'd never heard of the Zero, so they weren't interested.

Called AAMI who insure my car. They've been really great to deal with in the past. They were very nicely uninterested in insuring, but they made me feel all warm and fuzzy when they said no.

Then I called Shannons. A car place at heart so not my first choice. They're an auction house for exotic cars and they branched out into insurance for the cars they sold. (stuff like this Bentley Drophead http://shannons.com.au/auctions/lot/?id=OA52S2DSY6PC30MH ) They had a very successful advertising campaign about a guy trying to get insurance for his Goggomobil (which is a real car http://www.goggomobil.com/gallery/limousine/limousine.html ) and finding that Shannons were the only people who knew what he was talking about. (the campaign actually sucked off the creativity of a phone company ad where the same actor was looking for parts for his Goggomobil. That ad resulted in Australians everywhere saying “gee ohhhh, gee gee ohhh” and “not the Dart, they always think it's the Dart” in a thick Scottish accent.)

In the past couple of years they've started advertising that they're insuring rare and exotic bikes. The ad has an ex GP rider leaning on an RC30, looking earnestly into the camera and delivering the line “insurance for motoring enthusiasts”

So what the hell, I called them. The weird thing was that they started off asking me if I attended car shows and have I restored any cars. I thought they were trying to collect marketing information. Eventually the guy said “I'm trying to find out if you are a motoring enthusiast or not”. So it wasn't just an advertising line. Still they didn't have the faintest idea that the Zero existed. I said “it's manufactured by Zero Motorcycles and the model is a DS”. To which the response was, “but which kind of bike is it, Honda, Harley, Kawasaki?”

In the end they got it all squared away with only a few strange questions like “is it a folding bike?” and came back with what I thought was a very reasonable quote for comprehensive insurance of 530 dollars. So I took that instead of the third party. It was only 400 bucks more which means they think I've got a less than 1 in 35 chance of crashing the thing in the next year. I think I'm more likely to stack it than that and if I do throw it down the road I'm sure that lovely light weight frame will be toast. It's only been 15 years since I stacked a road bike. A 500 Enfield that I fell off in a rain shower in Kashmir with my Mother on the back. She was very good about it but it did bruise her right hand and arm quite badly. That wouldn't have been too much of an issue except that she'd broken her left wrist a couple of days before when pillion on my mate's bike. It kind of left her without any working appendages.

14 December, 2010

Tyred and Confused - Day 27

Odo 630

I've been trying to figure out what tyres to fit to the DS. It's got a knobbie front and an adventure bike rear. I would like them to match. The adventure tyre steps out on the dirt, while the front is scary on the tar. What makes it more scary is that the fly by wire throttle control softens the delivery of power. If the front slides then snapping open the throttle should (can often) save it. The firmware has been written to prevent “jerky” response. It does that very well, but makes it pretty much impossible to save a front slide. (or wheelstand)

I've been searching the net for tyre ideas but I couldn't figure it out. I'd really like to get two adventure tyres but I've been defeated by the odd sizes. Not just odd tyre sizes standard, but unusual rim widths.

In desperation I went to the bike shop today to ask an expert. We spent an hour pouring over the books from the tyre distributors and measuring the bike to no avail. In the end we gave up. I'll tackle it again when I have some more energy.

13 December, 2010

All done up with a red ribbon – Day 26

Odo 609

One of the tales my Mother used to tell of travels in India: While negotiating for a pass to get into a restricted area she asked “Did the British leave you with all this red tape?” to which the proud response was “No MemSahib, they left us much red tape, but we have invented much much more of our own.”

I've noticed a recurring theme in electric vehicle blogs of travails with registration authorities. I had no problems at all however I've had plenty of issues with the registration people not liking the dinoburners that have shared my life.

Recently they introduced the “take a ticket” system a the local RTA. It's got its good and bad points. One used to just sit there for an interminable wait. Now you've got a ticket with a time stamp on it so you sit there knowing exactly how long they've left you cooling your heels. Now I work in a call centre and if anyone has to wait more than 20 seconds to speak to a consultant heads begin to roll. Last time I was in the RTA it was 48 minutes. But now I've got it sussed. I now pop in, collect a ticket, then go shopping and pop back on my way home. Works a treat. But I digress...

Today the bike ran faultlessly and got me where I wanted to go in that Zero Fuss way that it does. However I was late back to work after lunch. I ran into a bee at 80 km/h. It was bad. Not as bad as when I ran into a flock of ducks at the end of the main straight at Eastern Creek on a CBR1000. Bad and distracting. As it slammed into the space between my temple and the helmet liner my concentration went to pot. I did manage to extract it without getting myself stung. The helmet took the bullet for me.

Another small milestone. I've covered 600 km, which is the distance that I drove to pick the bike up. From now on the bike is reducing the total distance driven on the car.

12 December, 2010

Aby-bloody-ssinian bloody Vogue darling - Day 25

Odo 588

Out having a Clayton's Magazine shoot this morning. Tom from the magazine is stuck in floods near Canberra at a Husky launch.

Stepping up is my long time partner and short time Pro Motorcycle Photographer. Armed with a Canon she valiantly trudged around a downhill mountainbike course snapping away. Meanwhile I rode around like a little girl. 

 
I would like to put one of the really great shots up but I don't think they'd be too happy if they found one of the magazine shots up on some random blog while the issue was at the printers...

As you can see from the photos we were right in the 'burbs and yet we were able to ride around for over an hour without anyone complaining.


11 December, 2010

Boy check out the Figures on that one - Day 24

Od 574

On one of the fora that I follow someone said that these electric bikes are low on maintenance but that the batteries are very expensive. It's an issue well worth addressing

I've got 3 vehicles, a Suzuki Grand Vitara, a KTM 200 EXC and a Zero DS.

Now the Zero battery was initially said to last 8-10 years. Then over 5 years. Then about 5 years, now we're hearing 3-4 years. 3-4 sounds about right and what I was expecting given the chemistry of the batteries used.

So here are the total costs to cover 6 years worth of travel at the same rate I've been using the DS so far. (47000 km or 1880 hours of operation). I'll take the new vehicle prices on road for each, 14000 for the DS, 11000 for the KTM, 32000 for the Grand Vitara. I'm assuming that the motorcycles have zero residual value while the car has retained 9000. Service as per the book. Fuel at 1.45/litre for the bike, 1.35/litre for the car and 23c/kWh for the DS. Tyre life estimated based on the actual use I've got from tyres on these vehicles as I've used them. Rego and insurance ignored.

Grand Vitara 34870
KTM 200 64200
Zero DS 20520

10 December, 2010

Sincere flattery – Day 23

Odo 574

You may have read my post "The Agony of Crap". I go on about a few nice things and a few crappy things on the DS.  It's by far my most viewed post with 3 times the views of the next most popular post.

Check out this article.


Not a single review has ever mentioned the mix of great and sad parts on the DS but just a few days after my post motorcycle.com noticed all the same things. Even noticing the rear brake caliper on the wrong side of the bike. Something that apparently the factory didn't notice 'till the keen eyed correspondent from Motorcyclist.com picked it up.  It's a pity that he picked up the blunder after the bike had gone back to Zero and so wasn't able to shoot any close up photos of the brake caliper showing what was wrong. 


Here's the photo they had of the whole back of the bike:  


Their caption says "Note the bleeder valve".  Can you see the bleed valve in that photo?  If you're having trouble I've blown it up a bit and circled it:









Compare that with my photo






I'm sure that had the story had been simply lifted from the blogosphere the source would have rated a mention.  No attribution though so it appears that it's a case of extraordinary coincidence.  No really, I think it must be.  So few people read this blog, it's so low on any search engine lists, I don't know how the author could have ever come across my posting.

09 December, 2010

Jason has no friends – Day 22

Odo 574

This morning I went out trail riding to take some photos. First I had to pop into town and buy a remote shutter release. Then after trail riding I went round to a friends to play some computer games. So 50 km of varied riding but because I topped off the charge after each short trip I never got below 3/4 charge.

The bike was easy to clean after trail riding. Because nothing gets hot, the mud doesn't bake on and it just washes off with a hose. Very nice.

I got the feeling that it was a new kind of trail riding. Every time I've been trail riding before the goal seemed to be to rip it up. Get the thing sideways and go for it. The electric prompted a far more relaxed journey through the countryside. More like the cruising that those other American Iron (as opposed to American ion) bikes are supposed to be good for. I've never done any road “cruising”. Just soaking it all up as you roll along. I'm a bit more of a sports bike kinda guy. But that's how it feels. The KTM doesn't want to go slow. It wants to rip and wheelstand and slide around. The Zero just feels like it wants to get you where you want to go with the minimum of fuss.

I kept stopping and taking tripod photos. I taped the release to the left bar as my left hand didn't have much else to do. 



Lots of photos with me half out of the frame, but perhaps some good ones.  Haven't had time to look through them all.  It was just under 30c and I was melting in the heat.  The fan seemed to come on if I rode below 10 km/h but above that it was fine.

08 December, 2010

Silence is Golden – Day 21

Odo 523

The TCA is continuing their vow of silence. No response at all. Still it's only been 2 days since I rang and one day since I emailed. They still have a way to go to match the RTA's record of taking just under two and a half years to respond to a question. At least the RTA prefaced their response with “Let me first apologise for the delay in responding”. (for our out of state, out of country, the RTA is the motor registration authority.)

07 December, 2010

He shall give his angels charge but not railway commuters - Day 20

Odo 513

Still no response from the Transport Construction Authority. So I've written to them.

Hi there,

Reading your Sustainable Design Guidelines, october 09 version 1.0

http://www.tca.nsw.gov.au/ArticleDocuments/69/TIDC%20SDG%20-%20final%20LO%20RES%20160909.pdf.aspx

Section 6.12 Preferential parking for fuel efficient vehicles
Section 6.14 Electric Car charging in the future
Section 6.15 Electric Car charging now.

Just wondering if you can tell me a few things about how those goals have been met.
How many of the 5456 new car spaces mentioned on the TCA website under the Commuter Car Park and Interchange Program have been set aside for fuel efficient vehicles?
How many of the new and refurbished car parks have reticulation installed for future installation of electric vehicle charge points and what the capacity of that reticulation is?
How many charge points have been installed for electric vehicle recharging?
Where those electric vehicle charge points are located?

Many thanks in advance.

Cheers Jason

So why don't you write to them too and ask them.

06 December, 2010

Policy writers (not death) are in charge of the clattering train – Day 19

Odo 502

Well I've broken 500 km and not been stranded in any way. Something of an achievement. Not matched by my bran new Suzuki Grand Vitara which was off the road for repairs under warranty before 500 km was out.

I got a response from the NSW government. I don't know if I mentioned it but I wrote to a bunch of random ministers suggesting free or coin operated charge points at every railway station.

I quote:

I refer to your email of 31 October 2010 to the Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, the Hon Carmel Tebbutt MP, regarding installation of electric vehicle charge points at all NSW railway stations. Your correspondence was referred to the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water for reply.

Thank you for your interest in the promotion of electric vehicles in NSW.

The NSW Government's Transport Construction Authority has responsibility for commissioning the development and upgrade of a range of rail infrastructure in NSW, including stations, commuter car parks and rolling stock maintenance facilities. The NSW Government is committed to ensuring that rail transport promotes and contributes towards sustainable transport outcomes.

The Transport Construction Authority has developed Sustainable Development Guidelines to ensure that all aspects of procurement, design and construction of commissioned rail stations and associated car parks and facilities achieve sustainable social, environmental and economic outcomes. The guidelines for commuter car parks require preferential parking spaces to be dedicated to electric vehicles, as well as providing electric charging points for three per cent of all parking spaces. These charge stations will be provided in preferred locations and powered by renewable energy. The guidelines are applicable to all new train stations and major and minor upgrades to train stations, commuter car parks and maintenance facilities. The guidelines can be found on the Transport Authority's website at www.tca.nsw.gov.au

I trust this information is of assistance

Yours sincerely

(signature)

Leisl Baumgartner
Acting Director
Climate Change, Air and Noise

End Quote.

So they've already developed a policy. It's all home and hosed. It may take a while but it's *required* that there will be electric charging points at 3% of all spaces.


Which is a dreadful url. Try this page

there's a link on there to the Sustainable Development Guidelines

Get yourself to page 48 and you'll see section 6.15 Electric car charging now. Some symbols and a bold capital letter D. In the introduction you'll see that the bold letter D means “Discretionary” or in other words, they can include it if they so desire. But they don't have to. That's a bit different to “required”.

So I've rung the TCA and asked how many actual charge points are planned and where they're planned for.

http://www.tca.nsw.gov.au/Our-projects/Current-projects/Commuter-Car-Park-and-Interchange-Program/default.aspx

There are 22 carparks either being refurbished now or planned for the near future (funding already allocated). Most of the projects don't have any details on the website, however of the ones that do the total number of new parking spots is 5456. So I'm sure that there will be hundreds, no - maybe, hoping that there will be dozens, no - actually, would be gobsmacked if there were any, already installed or about to go in. I've drilled into each of the projects websites. Though each one lists the number of disabled parking spots, the fact that they've installed lighting and CCTV cameras etc, not a single one mentions the provision of charge points for electric vehicles, nor do they list the installation of reticulation for future installation of charge points (section 6.14). Installation of reticulation gets a bold F. Not for FAIL, (as you might think) but for Fundamental. Not something that's absolutely required to be done, but if you're not going to do it you're supposed to supply a damn good reason.

We'll see if/when they call back.

05 December, 2010

Alms, alms for the discharged – Day 18

Odo 464

Observant readers will notice no post yesterday. Didn't ride yesterday. Instead I did other stuff and got driven around in she-who-must-be-obeyed's car. I did send begging letters to the local shopping centres' managements asking if I could recharge on their outdoor points. Results as they come in. I wrote to the local council asking what they were doing about EV charging a couple of weeks ago [insert sound of crickets].

Today I got a strange call from someone who sounded like a strung out heroin addict telling me that I owed the local video store 50 bucks in late fees from a 3 week late disc. I don't belong to any video stores and my DVD hasn't worked for a year.

So I rode down to the store where they had no idea what it was all about. I guess some strung out heroin addict was trying to scam me. So the Zero got me into town when I needed it and sorted out my problems.

03 December, 2010

Cafe Racing - Day 16

Odo 450

Day off today, so just popped into town to do some banking (fix up my credit card that was looking rather sad after putting a motorcycle on it) and go for coffee with my partner. She drove in from work and we met there. From the bank to the coffee shop I rode and she drove. I got there (about 4 blocks) so much ahead that the coffees were waiting when she arrived. This really is the bike for urban riding. It's as well suited to that environment as the KTM is to the deep bush. I've never ridden anything that seems so at home in dense traffic. The bars could be a bit shorter if you're going to ride in a real city environment, but for a busy country town full of tourists, pensioners and cockies this setup is perfect.

02 December, 2010

I do go on a bit – Day 15

Odo 435

Just rode to work and back today so little to report. There was a emergency peanut butter sandwich dash to my girl's work as she was stuck in back to back meetings all day.

I would still like a workshop manual however I did stumble upon these:


Which is the product page for the onboard charger. Very interesting reading.


Which is the workshop manual for the motor used on the Zero. I really like this manual. I've not tried it out yet but it seems to hold a wealth of detailed information. I particularly like the “not this way” photos that include a post-it note with a big cross. Among the other highlights is a warning, not “personal injury may result” or any such rubbish. Rather it says: “...otherwise there's a danger of trapping your fingers!” It even includes tips on making parts from tin cans and how to tell a good tin can from a bad one. It feels very like spending a long time with a guy who's been doing something for a much longer time. Someone who's worked out all the pitfalls themselves, who has trained a lot of apprentices and who is prepared to pass that knowledge on to a new generation. I love it.

01 December, 2010

The agony of crap – Day 14

Odo 412

No riding today for the second day in a row but I've found out a lot about the bike and we've bonded even more. It hasn't been smooth sailing, so let me take you on a journey of love and despair.

Well I started to change the tail light globe today. Remembering that your life may depend on a car driver seeing you at night on a slow motorcycle with only one tail light... I've currently been working on this change for 2 hours and it's involved 2 trips to the hardware and one to a specialist fasteners store.

I could bore you with it blow by blow, but here's the highlights. The owners manual says “remove the stop/tail light screws”. That's it for instructions. Even the guy at the fasteners store couldn't tell they were number 2 philips. He had to fit them to different drivers to tell. How am I supposed to tell when they're at the bottom of a deep hole? Answer: I couldn't. I got one out with a number 1 philips and the other stripped. Not good enough mister Zero. People's *lives* depend on this stuff. These are slow poorly lit motorcycles and are very vulnerable to being hit from behind. How likely is it that someone with a blown tail light will try to get home with it blown rather than stop in a servo (gas station) and swap it out when it's so difficult to change? There's no standard tool kit, no guidance from the hand book, and this shouldn't require tools in the first place. Very unimpressed. There could easily be deaths as a result of this sort of rubbish. Ok so you're using cheap off the shelf components to keep the price down. That doesn't excuse the owners manual. I've had a bit of experience in writing documentation. Assuming that the person reading the document already knows how to do it wastes everyone's time. Don't even bother writing it if that's the way you're going to do it. The only reason someone reads the documentation is because they *don't* know how to do it.

Maybe that's a bit over the top. However in my defence I had just finished reading this:


It's a story of a young man (well young compared to me anyway), an even younger woman, a dark night and the end of an adventure.


Well I've just flushed the front brakes and they've returned to their “as new” adequacy. Never a shining example of the brake builders art, but they make the bike slower anyway. Perhaps my expectations are too severe. You know how some (most) motorcyclists live for the roar as the bike accelerates down the straight? Not me. I love the squirmy light delightful feel of mad braking. That really floats my boat. Anyone can turn the throttle. The thrill of shooting past someone while still on full noise as they sit up to brake can't be described. Pull out of their slipstream, bang into a wall of air, watch them slip behind, then squeeze on the front brake. Feel the steering go light as the front begins to lock up, the back wheel hovering slightly airborne. Let off the brakes then flick the bike down and feel your knee scriffing along on the tar as you gradually spin up the back for a drifting exit. Then it's just the dull as dishwater run down the next straight 'till the fun starts again at the next corner.

I don't think the made in Indonesia to a price front stoppers on the Zero are ever going to make me feel like that. However I would have liked to be able to do stoppies at will. Perhaps with this $50.00 for a half litre bottle fluid in it things will improve. (that's more than single malt). It's too wet to road test them now.

I've just swapped out the running lamp bulb (the little front parking light) for an LED. I don't know why there's one there when the headlight is supposed to be always on. Anyway I pull the headlight fuse during the day. Having the headlight on breaks up your outline. So car drivers can see you better but they filter you out. Just another bright, dimensionless light. So the running light stays on as there is no switch or fuse for it. I wanted an LED for reliability and power consumption reasons. The new one is very bright. I've got so many spots in my vision now I'll wait a few minutes before I attempt the back brake flush. I'd take a photo but there's no way to clearly represent the brightness in a picture. It's just, very bright. The headlight came apart easily with a number 2 philips. Again I was on my own about the size of the screw. Getting it back together was not so easy. About half an hour of mucking about to get the screw holes to line up. Not good build. There's also some rust forming in the bottom of the headlight shell already. It's so annoying. Some parts of the bike make you weep they're so lovely. Some parts of the bike make you weep they're so crappy. The wheel speed sensor is a work of art. You could spend (I have spent) 15 minutes just looking at it in awe. Go look at one now. Get the owner to turn the bike on and wheel it around. Crawl underneath with a torch. I've just spent 10 minutes trying to photograph it, but I can't. It's like trying to capture the mountains. Yes you can see an image of rock and snow with some trees. You can never capture what it does to your heart. It's simple, elegant, clever. I wish I'd designed it myself but it doesn't look designed, it looks like it's evolved over millions of years to be the most perfect wheel speed sensor it can be. It's the most beautiful object I've ever owned. Yet less than a metre away is this horrid thing that is surely going to drip rusty water on it in due course. 



Well I've just flushed the back brake. It all went very smoothly but I'm thanking my lucky stars I was flushing not bleeding. They've fitted a right handed brake caliper to the left hand side of the bike. Which means of course that the bleed valve is lower than the banjo fitting. I don't know if they didn't know any better, didn't care, ran out of time to get the right part or did it for cost reasons. It means that bleeding the brakes would entail either inverting the whole motorcycle or removing the back brake caliper completely. Either would be a right pain. Given that they've been building bikes for several years before this one I can't imagine that they didn't know, or ran out of time to source the right part. Which leaves either cost or not caring as the reason.  Does anyone know if a right handed caliper is more expensive than a left hand one?  I can't imagine that it would be.  Hmmm, that leaves "not caring". 

Here is a right hand brake caliper fitted to the right hand side of my KTM.  Note the B logo.  This means it works very well.  I'm pointing to the brake bleed valve.  See how it's at the top?



Here is a photo of the right hand brake caliper fitted to the left hand side of my Zero.  See how the brake bleed valve is not at the top.


That means it's impossible to bleed the brakes as they sit on the bike.

30 November, 2010

Braking News – Day 13

Odo 412

The brake fluid arrived today, 3 days ahead of the promised time. I also popped out and picked up some fishtank airline and fittings from the pet shop and a couple of big syringes from the vet. I think I've got enough stuff to build a good vacuum brake bleeder. So that's a task for tomorrow.

I also got an LED tail and parking light bulb. www.ledshoponline.com part number 0077 and 2260 Tomorrow I'll fit them and see how they go. Of course I'll let both my readers know tomorrow evening. 40.50 dollars with postage.

Didn't ride to work today as the heavens opened just as I was wheeling the bike out. I could have dragged on wet weather gear, but instead I drove. Still did a lot of tootling around in the morning though.

29 November, 2010

A victory for common sense – Day 12

Odo 385

Well today I got a response from the company representative on the Electric Vehicle Taskforce. He's spoken to Property and they're firm. I'm not going to plug in. They gave the fourth new reason. There's no Policy. Can't do anything unless there's a Policy to cover it.

So I wrote to the CEO and filled her in on what's happening.

An hour later a Range Rover pulls up in the parking lot and my Boss's Boss's Boss's Boss comes into the call centre, he's coming straight for me. This either means I'm sacked or I've won.

I've won.

Just plug it in for god sake. He's been speaking to the CEO and she's given her go ahead. He wants to know what the barriers I've encountered are so that they can be smoothed over for the next person. He's such a cool guy. I offer him a ride but he doesn't have a licence.

I can barely believe that this could happen in Dilbert world.


Anyway, I worked out the reason for the poor range yesterday. I mentioned the strong head wind. Well I was riding at bicycle speeds, around 35 km/h. The headwind was at or more than 35 km/h. So I was seeing 70 km/h. Double the speed through the air, four times the drag force. The distance I rode was the same, but the force was four times higher. Energy is force times distance. So the energy drawn from the pack was four times higher. I did about 30 km into that headwind. It would have been the same as doing 120 km in still air.

28 November, 2010

It's a long road – Day 11

Odo 364

Well I took it for a long ride today. Long for an electric bike anyway. I thought I'd see just how far I could get. Hypermiling. I think that's what it's called. I rode at about the same rate I did on a bicycle back when I was 20 years old and shaved my legs... I managed 72 km (45 miles). I may have been able to go further but the low battery warning was trilling away and the display only showed two flashing bars out of 11. I'm sure it would have gone further to dead flat, but I wasn't going to flatten my pack trying. I think really 72 km is the absolute limit that I would attempt on one charge.

I was really hoping for better than that. Riding at a third of the maximum speed I should have got 9 times further. I've already done 10 km flat out on a half full pack, so I really did expect to easily go over 100 km at that sort of speed on a full pack. The return journey was into a very stiff headwind. 40 km/h headwind, but still. I don't know what drained the pack that quickly. The fan may have been running, but it was impossible to tell. The noise from the cars was deafening.

I will do the same trip again, there were half a dozen opportunities to recharge but I didn't bother because I was testing range. Next time I'll be topping up as I go.

I've also bought a power meter so I can see what it draws when recharging. Seems to pull between 1000 and 1100 watts. The power factor seems close to 100% so the mains are seeing a purely resistive load.  The photo below shows 1020 watts, power factor of 98% and it's been charging for 1 hour and 55 minutes.

It's been charging for 3 hours now, the charger is warm but not hot and the pack is completely cool. I'm sure the 15 dollar desk fan is a winner.

Update, it's now 3 hours and 20 minutes and the consumption has dropped to 350 watts.  I assume it's now in a constant voltage phase of the charge. It looks like if you were on a trip you'd only let it charge to this point before heading off on the next leg.

Update of update, there's actually a light on the bike that indicates the bulk phase is finished and the absorbtion phase is running.  Its symbol is a battery that's nearly full (makes sense I suppose).  When the amber light by that symbol is lit it's in absorbtion.  So if you can see 3 amber lights it's time to roll again on the next leg of the journey.  

27 November, 2010

I'm not worried about Global Warming... – Day 10

Odo 292

...but battery pack warming worries me a lot. I didn't make a big fuss about it yesterday but I did the longest one day ride so far. 70 km. I did have a short charge around the 15 km mark, but basically 70 km on a single charge. When I got back from that ride the display would flash if I needed a quick burst of speed but there were still 3 bars left.

So I popped it on charge when I got home, as you do. I checked it after about 3 hours and the charger was surprisingly hot. It's directly under the battery pack and the pack had become quite hot too. Now they say that temperature is one of the main determining factors in pack shelf life. I turned it off straight away and got out a fan to blow on the whole lot. After about 10 minutes everything was cool to the touch again so I turned it back on. Now an hour later it's still cool. I'm sure the temperature wasn't dangerous, but still, I like to keep my cool if I can.

Additionally I've put a mega huge surge protector in line with the garage charger. I don't want spikes blowing up my new motorcycle.

One of the main questions I get asked is “how much does it cost”. I can tell people my out of pocket expenses in a second. It cost me 13900 Australian dollars on road (USD and AUD are almost exactly one for one at the moment). In most countries there are tax incentives that bring down the out of pocket expense sometimes down to 5000. Not so in Australia. Of that 13900 that I paid about 3000 goes in taxes. Customs processing charges, 10% GST (like VAT), road tax, plate fee, compulsory third party personal insurance (that cover's my pillion passenger's medical costs.... no pillion seat, but I still pay), registration fee, processing fee, stamp duty and compulsory pre-delivery. The government requires that a dealer “pre-deliver” the bike to allow registration to occur. They charge for that of course, and usually it covers uncrating, scratching the tank, checking the oil and putting a teacup full of petrol from another customer's bike in it (I've actually watched another dealer do that whole process as described, I couldn't make this stuff up) for about 800 dollars. It's not “tax” but any time the government says I have to pay for something I don't want I call it “tax”. Grahame Boyd were good and didn't charge me that much. Of course had it not been a government regulation I could have had it delivered straight to my door like they do in the USA. Then I wouldn't have had to pay 100 dollars for trailer hire, 100 dollars for fuel and put 600 km of wear and tear (worth about another 100 dollars) on the dinoburner and lost a whole day out of my life spent driving. So the bike cost about 11000. On the other hand you could ask how much did the bike cost to design and build. Well Zero don't break that kind of figure down, but they've received 24 million in venture capital and produced somewhere around 500 bikes that sold for about 10000 each. It's said that they're close to breaking even some time in the next few years. So from that point of view my bike cost around 58000 dollars to make. So I got a bargain then. I don't know. I do know it brings a big smile to my face every time I think about my new bike.

It's the next day. Been out with the boss to buy a pillow. It cost 165 dollars. I also bought a desk fan for the bike. It cost 15 dollars. I no longer understand the value of money. The fan has a cardboard box printed in 3 colours, moving parts, plugs, leads, three switches, a metal safety cage and cost 1/10 of a lump of foam in a plastic bag. No riding today.

26 November, 2010

If you cut me, do I not bleed – Day 9

Odo 292

There's been a lot of talk about poor brakes on the Zero S/DS. I couldn't see it myself, they seemed fine. However a few days ago I did a hard stop and then afterwards the front brake was just as described. Long travel with nothing before it took up. Then it got better... Don't you just love machines that “get better”. I promptly forgot all about it.

Yesterday (I forgot to mention it in yesterday's entry) I tried to get it to do a stoppie for the guys at the bike shop. It failed to come up on one wheel, but afterwards the problem returned. I think it's got something to do with the unusual cable routing. The brake line goes up and over the headlight. I've never seen a brakeline do that before. When you put the bike on the stand with the bars turned all the way to the left it does seem to fix the problem. I'll keep an eye on it and let you know how it goes. Still, even when it's not quite right, it's ok. Yes the travel is too long before it takes up but it still works.

Well I wrote that last night, today I went out again for some more static shots. The front brake is now quite unacceptable.


I just rang Phil and he handed the phone to a guy who's name I sadly missed. (edit: Richard Kenton)  Turned out he's the head of technical training and development or some such impressive title. Anyway he's the guy who knows everything. I described the problem and he knew exactly what it was. They'd outsourced their brakes (as all motorcycle companies do) and the supplier had put in sub standard fluid. I'd boiled the brakes, which is a first for me. Anyway the fix is to replace the fluid with Motul 660. All the new machines are being delivered with that fluid but mine was the last of the poor fluids. So change to that and it should be all good. He wants me to let him know how I get on. They were happy for the dealer to do the change but my dealer is 300 km away, I've changed brake fluid many many times and am completely confident about it. It's far cheaper/easier/quicker for me to mend this minor problem myself than take it down to the dealer.

So how's that! Try having an issue with your honda and see if you can speak to the factory's head of service with just one phone call.

Cut to 4 hours later.

I've been to every bike and car shop in town. There are a lot of them. I found one place that could sell me a vacuum brake bleeding kit, for 129 dollars, plus an air compressor to drive it for just another 200. Hmmm, the Mityvac kits on the internet are about 40 dollars and vastly better. I've found the bike shop will order me in the Motul 660. It's the best brake fluid money can buy (ideal for carbon ceramic brake systems under highly stressed racing conditions according to the blurb). $50.00 Oh well I've ordered some anyway. The bike shop also quoted me $20 to bleed the brakes. With the right tools it's a 5 minute job. I think I'll get the tools and do it myself. That way I can do it again as needed.

Of course the brakes have got better by themselves again.
Ahhhagh.

25 November, 2010

Art for Art's sake - Day 8

Odo  221

The little bike that couldn't. Couldn't go anywhere without drawing a crowd. I went to buy a new helmet today. New bike deserves a new helmet. I looked inside my dirt helmet and it is 10 years old. I'm afraid to look inside my road helmet. They say 5 years is the maximum, so 10 has to be good value. I found one that fits and it's the same colour as the bike. Now I match. It's the first time in 30 years of motorcycling that any of my gear has matched any other part of my gear. Other than when I just wore all black of course, but I didn't wear all black out of any sense of fashion. It just didn't show the oil stains.

So a simple trip to buy a helmet, it's only 15 km return shouldn't take long. I found the helmet I wanted in my size straight away... 2 hours... 2 hours to go 15 km. Everyone in the shop from the owner to the apprentice came out to look, to touch and to ask questions. Even the guy from Snapon downed tools and wanted to know all about it.

I while I was riding I got a call from the magazine guy who wants to do an article on the Zero. (I could hear my mobile ringing while I rode along, how cool is that?)  He's taken ill and can't make it this week. So I thought I'd do some static shots of the bike, just to see what I could get. I nearly rode out and took some shots in front of a substation. You know, electricity, get it... I took a couple in front of a Nature Reserve sign. Making the link between nature and zero emissions. That was just as hokey.

Then I went home and thought about it while the clouds gathered just over my town to make it impossible for me to get any sunny outdoor photos.

So I took it indoors. Put it in the loungeroom. Why not? It doesn't smell, doesn't drip oil or fluids. No worse for the carpet than someone walking over it. I even parked it on the good rug (which matched the red black and white colours).

Suddenly I realised. This is a bike that fits *into* your life rather than you fitting your life around it. You don't need a garage. You don't need a house. It will go up in the lift just like a mountainbike. It even looks good on the polished floor next to the dining table. It's like a mobile phone. Just plug in where ever you happen to be. Take it with you when you go places. Seinfeld had a bicycle on the wall of his apartment for the whole series. He never rode it. He didn't have to, it was something that added to his apartment rather than subtracted from it. The Zero is the same. Even if I never rode it again, just looking at it in the dining room would be a joy. It's art. As art it doesn't have to be useful. The fact that it is amazingly useful is just a bonus.


24 November, 2010

Still not much happening - Day 7

Odo 205



Looks like it might be a dull old blog, the bike just keeps churning away, getting me where I want to go with no issues at all.



I didn't give quite the full story about charging at work. There were a couple of email exchanges, one of which included that there had been a previous similar request that had been refused at a nearby company site. So just on the off chance, I emailed Doug and asked him for the name of the fellow electric motorcyclist. Perhaps we could go for a ride together? No, apparently the other person who's request had been refused, thereby setting a precedent was actually Doug getting “confused”. He said that he'd thought I was at the other site, so he was thinking of me when he was telling me that he'd already refused my earlier request.
No, that doesn't make any sense to me either. Perhaps you, the reader, can figure out what Doug meant by that. Answers on the back of the envelope that you sent to yourself last week.

23 November, 2010

Not much happening today - day 6

Odo 194

Just rode to work. Not much happened. As I noted in my earlier post I'm not longer allowed to charge at work, so this was my first day of no topup charges during the day. It's 10 km round trip. Today I was late for work, so I rode as fast as I thought I could get away with and no gentle starts. Throttle as a switch.

During the day I couldn't get in touch with my partner. She'd been asleep when I left home and I started to worry. So I asked if I could pop home. So flat out ride home, (she was ok) flat out ride back to work. So 15 km ridden like a pizza delivery rider. (which I was in a former life). Then I decided to nip home for lunch. It's a close run thing if I can fit in going home in my half hour break, so flat out home and flat out back again. Now it's 25 km flat out. The battery light was blinking a bit but it recovered ok. Then a gentle ride home (still 60-75 km/h). So 30 km of pretty hard riding. Put it on charge and got changed, but then popped out again to show the bike to a friend. Demonstrated some more fast riding for him. So it's ended up with adding nearly 50 km to the odo on 20 minutes charge and there is still some charge left.

I also got a call from the magazine guy that I mentioned yesterday. We're going to do some photos next week and I'll link to the magazine when I have some more details.

22 November, 2010

Interesting developments at work – Day 5

Odo 145

I don't like to mention work. As they say, don't post anything on the internet that you wouldn't like to see posted on the notice board at work... So I'll stick to the facts and you can guess at my opinions.

Before I considered charging at work I emailed my boss's boss and asked her if it would be ok. She checked it out with Property Services. They responded with an email back from a guy called Doug that said it was ok with them from a safety point of view and so my manager's manager gave her ok to charge at work. That was on the 9th. Since then I've recharged at work twice. Today, the 22nd I get an email from this Doug guy. He says that he's “just noticed” that I have an electric bike plugged into company power and that I need to disconnect it at once. I wrote back saying I was confused. I'd asked for permission to plug in this equipment and he'd given his ok in writing on the 8th of November. How come he's “just noticed” now? Was he overruling the call centre manager? So he wrote back and said that he'd only given permission for it to be used occasionally and that “it appears that you're using it continuously” hence permission was “withdrawn henceforth”. So apparently plugging in twice in 12 days is continuous...

Seems that arguing with him would be pointless. So as it happens, I work for a government owned electricity company and the NSW government has an “Electric Vehicle Taskforce”

“The NSW Government has established an Electric Vehicles Taskforce to explore opportunities and barriers to electric vehicle uptake in NSW. The taskforce is reviewing the technology, infrastructure, policy, and legislation to support the uptake of electric vehicles by NSW motorists.”

Now it turns out that my company has a representative on the EVT. So I rang him. He couldn't spend much time on the call as the company was flying him to Canberra for a meeting on ways to promote EV use. He was *very* interested in the fact that I have an EV and even more interested in the barriers that I'd encountered. He asked and I've sent him a copy of all the emails that have passed between me, my manager and this Doug guy. I'll keep you posted on the outcome.


So on to happier things. I got a call from Phil today. I had emailed him to say that there was no owners manual for the bike. He wanted to let me know that it's going in the post today. He also wondered if I would lend my bike to a magazine for a road test. I think that would be ok, so the guy from the magazine is going to call and tee something up. I really just wanted a quiet low maintenance bike to use around town instead of the car. However like most EVers I've ended up a true believer. I sure wouldn't be lending my bike to a magazine for a test ride if it was a normal petrol bike. These things just convert you from a consumer into an evangelist.

21 November, 2010

I manage to annoy the neighbours - Day 4

Odo 135

I took a ride out today to a mountain bike track. I got waved down by one of the neighbours who informed me it wasn't for motorbikes only for mountain bikes. I was polite but did say “well it's barely a motorbike”. Perhaps the lack of engine noise won her over and by the end she just asked me to ride carefully (which I promised to do).

Oh well, the mountain bike track was too hard anyway! The switchbacks were too tight and needed 3 point turns. Not much fun. Was ok on the single track or slightly more open turns.

So this afternoon I headed out for some nearby firetrail action. It's a trail that I'd never bothered with on the KTM, too easy. Well on the DS it was easy, but so enjoyable! Not far from home and suitable for an after work bumble round. Riding slow seemed to heat up the motor a bit, but 20 km/h seemed ok. After about 20 minutes I saw something that I'd never seen in 20 years of dirtbike riding. A Dingo on the track! I was stunned. I've only ever seen one wild one before when walking.  Normally the noise lets them know you're coming and they're off long before you ever see them.

The track started to go underwater. At about 150 mm deep I started to think perhaps I should turn around. No problems there except I got my feet wet. As this was Claytons trail riding (the trail riding you do when you're not going trail riding) I was wearing running shoes which are not the most waterproof of riding gear.

I had ridden out about 10 km plus about 10 of light trail riding and I still had about 80% charge showing. So it was flat out on the way back, see what she will do. 107 km/h was it, absolutely flat tack. I think it must have been a voltage limited thing as lying flat on the tank made no difference. So after 10 km slow, 10 km sandy trail, 10 km flat out I still had 2/3 of the charge showing! I'm impressed. A very pleasant afternoon out and no servicing to be done on the bike when I got back other than washing it. I did discover that the plug needs some sort of cover. I'll need to figure something out for that before the next ride.

20 November, 2010

Going Nowhere end of day 3

Odo 95

No riding today.  Popped down to Newcastle to see my daughter and take her ice skating.  She's as natural an athlete as I am I'm afraid.  Poor girl.  Fell over backwards twice and then was too sore to continue.  As I went down and back with my partner Lynne and we had to ferry around child while there the bike was out of the question even if it had 600 km range (which of course it doesn't).

Put 95 dollars worth of petrol in the Dinoburner.  At off peak rates that would have bought me 1000 kWh.  Enough for 250 charges or 25 000 km travel on the bike.  Even at peak rate it is still enough for 10 000 km. 

If only it had 5 seats and was rain proof. 

Still when we got back we decided to go out for dinner.  Could have rung to book but I went out on the bike.  10 minutes there and back, cost less than a phone call and a lot more fun.    No time spent warming it up. No petrol smell in the house.  Would have been quicker but I got held up by a car that I couldn't pass due to all the chicanes.  I ride through them at 60 km/h, the cars do 10.

19 November, 2010

Semi Legal - end of day 2

Odo 90

It's pouring with rain, typical.  New bike, desperate to ride it, day off, Blah.  Still there was some progress.  I want to charge at work, I also want to blag charges along the road.  WorkCover in NSW demands that all plug in electrical devices used in workplaces be tested and tagged.  I wasn't super keen on having my new bike plugged into some sort of "machine" that would test it's resistance to earth and breakdown voltages or something.  Anyway yesterday I blagged a new cord (IEC C13 if you're interested) from Harvey Norman for nix.  What cool dudes!  It's only 3 metres long but it doesn't have the AUS to US 3 pin adaptor so it fits in a pocket of my bike jacket.

Today I drove the dinoburner down to the local tool repair shop.  For $4.50 they tested and tagged the new cord.  I asked them about testing the bike and they said that for plug in equipment (as opposed to corded gear) the only requirement is to test the cord.  How cool (and absurd) is that!  I can have the bike glowing in the dark with misdirected electricity but as long as the cord has a tag I'm good to go.  So I'll be charging at work as well from now on.  I've found a place that sells 10 metre ones so I'm going to buy one for on the road charges.  I also need to figure out some sort of megga impressive locking thing.  I park in a garage at home and in secure parking at work, but I'm not sure about parking it anywhere else.  Leaving it for 4 hours to charge up alone makes my hair (or the bits where I used to have hair) stand on end.

The other small win is that the headlight is wired to be on all the time.  Apart from drawing 75 watts all the time (it runs the 55 watt headlight, plus the parking light at the front, plus the tail light) it's dangerous in late afternoon and early morning when the sun is behind you.  Car drivers just can't judge the distance away that you are.  I was having a moan about it to a friend who's also a mechanic and he said, "why don't you just pull the fuse".  So I did.  It's easy to get to without tools while sitting on the bike.  There's a spare fuse holder right next to it, so I just pulled it out and put it in the spare spot.  Job done.  If I want to ride at night it's 10 seconds to put it back.  So I'm safer and I get an extra 2% range.  Sure it's only about one km extra, but that's one km that I won't have to push it when the time comes!

I don't know if there will be an entry tomorrow as it's predicted to pour for 2 days.

18 November, 2010

The slowest bike on earth - end of day 1

Odo 75

Well it's the end of day one, I've now had the bike for 24 hours.  I picked it up with 30 km on the odo and now it's at 75 so I've covered 45 km.  I have no doubt that this is the slowest bike on earth.  In order to cover those 45 km I have spent no less than 3 hours talking to random strangers about the bike, and a few minutes riding.  That means it is averaging less than 15 km/h. 

I just can't believe the level of interest in this bike.  People are stopping me in the street.  Someone emailed me at work to tell me that they'd seen this amazing bike at the lights.  Co-workers are standing around my desk on their breaks.  I got no lunch today. 

I don't know how much longer I can keep this up!  I'll be needing brochures at this rate!

There's a few raised eyebrows when I tell them the price, but when I explain the normal costs associated with motorcycles and the fact that it needs no oil changes, no services, no filters, no air cleaners...  Well everyone gets it completely. 

If you want to meet people, get this bike!

17 November, 2010

I've got it!

I'm so totally stoked!  I've picked up the bike at last.

First impression...  Mixed, it seems fast, but the speedo is telling me that it's struggling to get to 60 km/h before the end of the block.  Then I realise that the speedo is still switched to mph, so it's struggling to get to 100 km/h before the end of the block!  Hmm, nothing like riding at twice the speed limit 100 m after getting on the bike for the first time.

The launch seems very mild but I think that might be something to tame the jerkeyness that the early versions were said to exhibit.   Wheelstands may be difficult/impossible.  Might make it unusable in the bush.  Actually I think it is unusable in the bush.  It seems to be a road bike with off road styling.  Maybe an unsealed road bike.  No bash plate, just plastic.  Suspension is very stiffly sprung.  Might make a supercrosser but it's far too hard for trail riding.  Funny as I usually go for stiffer springs on everything I ride.  The tyres (well the front anyway) look off road but they're not.  The knobs are short and the tyre is very stiff too.  It's really a road tyre feeling thing but with little knobs to give it that dirt vibe. 

The build quality is outstanding.  You could just stare at it for hours.  Photos just don't do it justice.  It's the most lovely bike I've ever seen and abounds with details and careful thought.

12 November, 2010

Less waiting

Got a call from Leo at Grahame Boyd Suzuki.  They've sorted the paperwork, the bike is now ready to pick up.  However I've missed my window of opportunity to go down today and get it.  So it will be Wednesday before I can get down there.  I may actually hold 'till Saturday and pick it up at the same time I go down to visit my Daughter.

Oh well.