Posted on Wednesday, February 05, 2020 - 06:15 pm:
The largest energy losses occur during the conversion of heat to mechanical energy. Internal combustion engines lose 70-80 percent. External combustion engines, such as those in coal or gas fired steam plants, lose around 45, if memory serves. Oil/gas/coal extraction costs another 5 percent. Converting mechanical energy to electricity, transmitting that energy, converting it to dc, storing it, extracting it, and sometimes converting it back to ac costs I donít know what, but itís not much. Cumulatively, the losses from well to wheel in an electric car are half of what they are in a gas car, depending on the electric car. For example, the tesla model s with a 100kwh battery has almost twice the range of the new porshe with a similar battery and performance. That means its motors are nearly twice as efficient. Most electric cars are not as inefficient as the porshe. I get the cost equivalent of 60 mpg in my electric car, and itís not an economy car.
I took a trip down Route 106 to Nassau County Harley Davidson. I'd heard they had a Livewire demo, and since I had nothing better to do I figured: Why not?
Pulling into the parking lot I saw my first surprise: When did they become a Vanderhall dealer? I know Mineolamoto used to carry them in Mineola, but didn't they drop them because they had so many problems? Anyway, I guess if anyone wants one of these things now you know where to find them on Long Island.
Walking into the showroom I got my second shock: They're also carrying a line of Chinese made eScooters! But right in the middle of the showroom floor was a Livewire. I looked it over and it looks pretty solidly built. But then I noticed something else... I'm standing there in my heavy leather jacket, carrying my dayglo yellow helmet, OBVIOUSLY interested in a bike... and NO ONE approached me asking if I needed any help. WTF, Harley??
Eventually someone came up and asked me if I was waiting for a bike in for service (came to the wrong conclusion from what I was wearing, I guess). I told him I was just there to check out the Livewire. THAT'S when he said he'd get someone to help me. A woman named MaryLu (that's the way she spelled her name) came over to talk to me. When I mentioned that I currently rode a Zero, she wasn't familiar with the brand but a couple of other people in the shop overheard me and said: "Oh YOU'RE the guy!" (whatever that meant). In any event, several of them went out into the parking lot to check out my bike.
Anyway, they do have a demonstrator, but I was hit with my THIRD surprise of the day: They won't let anyone take it out unaccompanied! A salesperson has to ride along with you. In all the years I've been demo riding Harley Davidsons, this was a FIRST. MaryLu explained that she recently had a customer out on a demo ride who had stopped to use a gas station rest room and couldn't get the bike started again. Now she says they always send someone along just to prevent something like that from happening again. Weird!
Anyway, a nice fellow named Matt agreed to tag along with me. We took a short hop down Sunrise Highway to the Wantagh Parkway which we took south one exit to Merrick Road. We then did the freeway off/on exit dance to get back on to the Wantagh Parkway. Once on the parkway (which was completely empty heading northbound) Matt opened up his Low Rider to encourage me to do the same with the Livewire. HOLY SHIT does this thing have some legs!! And I wasn't even in "Sport" mode, I was in the intermediate "Road" setting (there are two more modes: Rain and Eco, plus three customizable settings you set yourself). For comparison, my Zero has two factory settings "Sport" and Eco" and a third setting you create for yourself.
The handling was pretty much spot on. The bike weighs over 100 lbs more than my Zero, but I never felt it. The Brembo brakes are good and strong with good feedback, though I was able to do most of my slowing using the regen function of the motor (similar to how I ride the Zero). Playing on the off-ramps gave me an opportunity to check out how well it corners and it does that very well too.
I only have two gripes about the bike. First, of course, is the ridiculously exorbitant price they want for the thing. The second was just how UNCOMFORTABLE I was on it. The Seat/Peg ratio was FAR too tight, not even my Buells cramped up my legs this much. Matt said they may eventually have different seat options available, and perhaps a peg lowering kit but right now you're stuck with the way its set up.
Anyway, it was a fun bike and the guys in the shop were all very friendly and helpful. I was surprised with how many of them wanted to check out my Zero, too. Based on them carrying the NIU scooter line and the Livewire it seems they're pretty much onboard with the electrification of our favorite pastime. Once the weather warms up I want to head up to Hudson Valley Motorsports and check out the Energica line next.
Energica is a better alternative than Brammo (which isn't even being made anymore). With the Zero you have a choice of slow charging at home, or Level2 charging on the road. Level 2 is nice (and good enough for me) but it isn't as convenient as DCFC. The biggest problem with DCFC is that there aren't NEARLY as many of them as there are Level2 stations and when you find them you USUALLY have to pay through the nose to use them (but you can usually get nearly a full charge in a half an hour or so).
The problem with the Livewire is that your only two choices are slow charging at home, or DCFC. You can plug it into a Level2 station, but it won't charge any faster than it would at home. You'll need to know where those DCFC chargers are if you want to go out for any length of time.
Energica supports all three types of charging. Their Level2 is only half as fast as the Zero, but three times faster than charging at home. So if you can't find a DCFC station, you have options.
Also, unlike the Livewire, you can get hard, locking luggage for their Ribbele and SS9 models. If you want to carry anything on the Livewire, it'll be in a backpack.
About the only negatives I'm aware of with the Energicas is that they are not American made (they're made in Italy) and their chain drive makes them a lot noisier than the Livewire or the Zero. They do make up for it by having a CONSIDERABLY larger battery than either American brand (21kWh available). And (no surprise) they cost less than the Livewire.
I don't like they try to mimic those electric motorcycles design to gasoline engine motorcycles design. Electric motorcycles do not need all those fake fairings, those fake air intakes and those fake gas tanks, fat tires and another BS. Instead of optimizing motorcycle geometry, ergonomics and design specifically for electric motor they apply those marketing BS and ending up with not optimized, heavy, fake looking motorcycles.
Optimized electric motorcycle should look mostly like bicycle, or maybe like light weight super moto, not like heavy gasoline engine motorcycle.
The fairings are NOT fake. Aerodynamics are a VERY important part of electric motorcycles as the biggest consumer of energy is overcoming wind resistance. The faster you go, that resistance increases geometrically.
As far as "fake gas tanks," it makes a convenient storage facility if possible. On my Zero, it houses the 6.6kW L2 charger. It can also hold an auxiliary battery if that is what the owner prefers.
Batteries are still HEAVY, and the bigger the battery the more tire you need to support the vehicle weight and still get decent tire life and traction. Small, lightweight motorcycles have small batteries which are only good for urban commuting. Out in the suburbs and more rural areas we NEED the increased range and power to cover the ground in a reasonable amount of time and reach those charging stations that aren't packed as close together as they are in urban environments.
These are ALL considerations for building electric motorcycles.
Hahahaha, , , , you are 3 days behind me. I had an application in to the Math department, prior COVID, and was going to try to get the folks I did some stuff with at Lamont-Doherty Earth Institute to arrange an interview to look at opportunities to get involved.
Long shot . . . but, it could be fun and, in just the past week, it appears that our new company may be awarded a $10B project that looks amazing.
I tried to retire again and screwed it up again.
The good news is . .., I have also re-registered the Ulysses, after years of sitting dormant.
If I had your resumť . . . . I'd be running that place!