22 July, 2012

Nothing Happening (Still)

There's still nothing happening, so I'm going to have another opinion.  I thought this blog would be just the facts.  Our lives together, but it's not panning out that way as the bike is providing far too little entertainment.  Well, it's being entertaining but not in the way of "interesting times".  It's just getting me places and going about things without any effort.  

So anyway, the other day I started thinking about costs.  Electrics have a big up front payment.  It's something that you just can't get away from.  The Elephant in the room if you like.  However I feel that the total cost of ownership is much lower.  I've run the figures for service and fuel and that showed they're cheaper in the long run.  However there was something I hadn't really put a dollar value on.  My time.  Now I'm in a reasonably good situation, but not unique I'm sure.  I work part time and if I wanted to work more I'd just have to ask for more shifts.  It might not be as easy for some people, but most people can if they wish get a second job or start a home business.  So for me, I get paid a bit over 30 dollars an hour, but it's not worth the money they're offering to increase my working week.  Therefore my time is more valuable than 30 dollars an hour. (to me anyway).   You must have a value for your time too or you'd have that second job and we wouldn't even be talking about vehicles of any sort as you'd just walk everywhere.  
So how much time is saved with the electric?  Well I don't have to warm it up before riding like I need to do with every petrol bike or car.  I warm petrol vehicles for 3 minutes.  I always have and I probably always will.  The electric I jump on and go.  That's a $1.50 value for me every time I ride anywhere.  I also have to fill a petrol vehicle with petrol (kinda obvious).  I used to work in a petrol station "pumping gas" as the Americans call it.  I didn't particularly like the job and at the time I did it for minimum wage (there's no tipping in Australia).   Now I wouldn't do it for less than 30 dollars an hour.  Yet I have to do it for my petrol vehicles.  I timed it on Friday the best way I could.  I was on the highway and I checked my estimated arrival time.  It was: 14:42.  I then pulled in to a roadside servo.  One that had "pay at the pump".  That's the quickest possible way to refuel.  It was on my intended route, no queue to pay, just stop, fill, go.  When I got back on the highway my estimated time of arrival was 12 minutes later at 14:54.  I'd lost 12 minutes or in other words $6.00 of my time.  

So what would that work out at.  I'll use the new ZF9 figures...  The pack lasts and estimated 300 000 km, but say half that.  150 000 km.  My average trip is about 10 km, so that's 15 000 trips in the life of the pack.  At $1.50 per trip of my time saved that's a saving of $22 500.  More than the upfront cost of the bike.  Add in 12 minutes every 200 km that I'm not stopped and filling the bike, or 9000 minutes saved.  Another $13 500 worth of my time saved with an electric.  So in the life of a ZF9 I'd save $36 000 worth of my time.  That's just warming the bike and filling it with petrol.  I haven't included servicing time...  That depends a lot on which bike you're using instead.  My XR600 needed 3 hours service time every 10 hours of riding time.  That's one extreme.  Some bikes only need a service every 15 000 km.

You might doubt these figures, but remember, if I wanted (or if you wanted) you could just work more hours, so time really is money.  Even if you're on the Australian minimum wage, it's still $18 000 in time saved.  Well more than the purchase price of a ZF9.

 So yes, the upfront cost is high, but they more than pay for themselves in my opinion.

29 April, 2012

Nothing Happening

I suspect that “nothing happening” may be a recurring theme with electric bikes. They just get on with it, without fuss.

I was reading a motorcycling blog yesterday, filled as usual with inaccuracies and lies about electric motorcycles. Interestingly it was from someone who “champions” (their words) electrics. However they've got a set against Zeros. I haven't been able to figure out why he doesn't like them.

Anyway his negativity got me thinking about my bike again. Something I haven't actually done much of this year. The novelty has worn off a bit and I'm giving it about the same level of thought as I do my microwave. When I want to reheat a cup of coffee I put it in the microwave, when I want to go to the shops I get on the bike. I remember the first time I used a microwave (a radar oven), I was gobsmacked by it (I'm that old). Now I never think about it. The bike's the same. It just gets on with getting me places.

This negative article was full of the usual as well as the unusual. Zeros are bad because he saw one (a prototype, but he didn't mention that) 4 years ago that had the switches labelled with a sharpie. The implication being that they're so badly finished. (They're actually so well finished that they make me cry with joy apart from some of the DOT required stuff that's a bit tacky)

So I got to thinking about all the times the Zero hasn't let me down. How it just gets me places and I compared that to the petrol bikes I've had. I'm not going to include all the mishaps of my companions, (the internet isn't big enough) just what's gone wrong with the bike I've actually been riding that's left me stranded. Now two things here, I've done a lot of riding, and modern motorcycles make as much or more power per litre as F1 cars, so you've got to expect a few things to go wrong...

So here it is, a list of things that will never go wrong with the Zero that have stopped me on a petrol bike

Exploding clutch baskets. 3 of these.
Stripped gears. 2
Needle circlip breaking. 2
Wrong needle fitted. 1 (I still don't know how this happened and it took a year to solve)
Fouled plug. Maybe 30, maybe more, on that bike I carried 5 spare plugs and sometimes ran out.
Carb slides stuck full open. 2 (two different bikes, both scary experiences)
Cracked exhaust or lost exhaust bolts. 6
Gear shift lever fallen off. 1
Muffler fallen off. 2
Timing plate loose. 1
Snapped throttle cable. 1
Snapped clutch cable. 3
Run out of fuel. 2
Broken choke. 1 (but parts took nearly a year to get, during which time I had to remove the airbox and squirt fuel down the carbies to start the bike so it delayed me hundreds of times)
Stuck exhaust valve. 2
Failed starter motor. 2
Vapour lock. I couldn't count the times but all on one Ducati
Oil leak. 1 (by oil leak I mean the whole lot fell out of the bottom of the motor in about 100metres while I was on my way to a job interview)
Blown head gasket. 1
Kick starter broken. 1

And, not exactly something that stopped me but annoying all the same,

Standing in the rain, unpacking my camping gear only to discover that the hot exhaust had melted my tent and sleeping bag. 1