Last week, I was granted a rare visit to MotoCzysz headquarters in Portland, OR. I met with their General Manager Ray Crepeau, to discuss where the company is at both commercially and in racing for the 2013 season. Last week they announced their 2013 rider lineup, making it clear that they would like to race the full US season of the eRoadRacing series but for now are targeting IOM TT Zero and the Laguna Seca round of eRoadRacing. I got to see Michael’s father and lead mechanic Terry Czysz hard at work on one bike while lead engineer Nick Schoeps took a moment to stop measuring the other bike’s power delivery on the dyno to answer my questions.
Well, the Skyrich is in that special battery home in the sky now, ready to become fertilizer (for real) thanks to the lack of any battery management system (BMS). I ran this battery on my 2009 Yamaha R1 since May 2011, (first reported here) putting about 12,500 miles of mostly city riding on it. So while Skyrich advertises that the battery lasts 2,000 cycles, as opposed to the 3-500 lead acid batteries can take, I only found it to last about 2.5 times as long as the lead acid my bike came with. I didn’t count the cycles, I counted the years. The stock battery lasted 1 year. The Skyrich was starting to get weak this winter, but I didn’t do the research until after it died. It turns out that with liIon batteries, when it’s cold you actually heat it up by turning the key and letting it power the lights for a minute. I did find that although it wouldn’t crank on the first try in the cold, it would eventually crank. Unlike lead acid, lithium batteries get stronger as you use them, they “warm up”.
In this video, Zero motorcycle owner Terry Hershner walks me through the modifications he’s done to his 2012 Zero S to not only make it around town, to 4th place in a TTXGP race, but also over 3,000 miles in 5 days. He worked closely with Hollywood Electrics’ Harlan Flagg to upgrade the controller, among other changes.
Here is my first ride on the Brammo Empulse, last Saturday at Bartel’s. It may seem strange to sell electric motorcycles at a Harley dealership, but the Bartel family all showed a real interest in selling Brammos. However, their regular customers were not the least bit interested in these quiet, sporty bikes. Thus, this would seem to be a diversification strategy. At the end of the video I get in front of the camera to tell you my first impressions of the Empulse.
We don’t really need all that power, but this is America, and we’re nothing if not obsessed with power. James told me the most exciting ride of his life was following me through LA traffic on the Brammo Empulses we rode today. Today was just another day of freedom to me, only more free because I didn’t have to buy gas. To survive LA traffic, motorcyclists have to be fast and sure. “He who hesitates in war is lost.” are words to live by here. But how fast is fast enough? Would the street version of the bike that won the TTXGP World Championship be fast enough to survive LA traffic?
The Annual AltCar Expo was a huge success, considering it was held on Carmaggedon II weekend, when all of Los Angeles was warned to “Stay Inside!!! Don’t Go ANYWHERE!!!”. Also shocking was how empty the bike valet was. As industry representatives often say- “It’s all about getting butts into seats.” Essentially, the manufacturers know that the best way to help people overcome the sticker shock of electric cars is to show them not only how fun they are to drive, but also how cheap they are to own.
The closing keynote at the Silicon Valley EV Symposium was Ray Lane, managing partner at VC Firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Fisker board member. Ray began with his involvement with the Electrification Coalition and discussed everything from the state of clean tech investing to politics to how much he loves his Fisker.
Tonight in Los Angeles, Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy interviewed Elon Musk on entrepreneurship at Cross Campus, a coworking space in Santa Monica. The conversation was great, and it was especially interesting to hear him talk about how different his risk tolerance is than Peter Thiel’s. Peter is one of the other “PayPal Mafia”, and while Elon put his $180 million into starting a few companies- $100 million on a rocket company he was sure would never make a dime, $70 million on an electric car company, and $10 million a residential solar panel installation company, Thiel chose the safer route of Venture Capital.
On Friday July 6th, the California State Legislature passed a bill authorizing the state to begin selling $4.5 billion in bonds. This includes $2.6 billion approved to build the initial 130-mile stretch of the high-speed rail line in the Central Valley. This will be the first high speed rail line in the entire United States. Let’s hope that California influences the rest of the nation in this as it does in other clean transportation methods.
I spoke with Yamaha’s Tim Olsen about their Zuma 50 and Zuma 125, both excellent scooters for new riders and young urban commuters. The 50 gets a mind-boggling 132 mpg, and must be loads of fun to ride. I only say this because I haven’t ridden one yet, but I know of at least one very talented racer whose preferred mode of commuting 60 miles to work is on his Zuma 50.
On a typically gorgeous day in Los Angeles, I awoke at “racin’ time” (6am) to meet Harlan Flagg and some of his customers for a Sunday ride. We had a blast tearing through Beverly Hills then past the Tesla dealership and the incoming Fisker dealership en route to Plug In America’s parade in Santa Monica. Once there, I met with EV industry luminaries such as Chelsea Sexton and Ed Begley Jr.
28 models representing the cleanest of the clean in 4-wheeled transport were on hand to be test-driven by the public, while the Expo floor showed some of the more exotic models, as well as interesting new tech in the industry. There were interesting panel discussions and presentations by directors of great films about EV’s.