Perfection

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The night was warm with the scent of rain and a few lonely stars visible through the clouds. I pulled my scarf up the back of my neck, flush against my helmet to take the edge off the wind. Ahead of me, the glow of my high beams threw the surrounding darkness into sharper relief and lit up the underbrush of the trees. Coming into the corner, I leaned forward low over the gas tank and let the bike slide gracefully into the curve as I hugged the edge of the mountain. Continue reading

The State of Electric Motorcycles

Posted in tech | Tagged , ,

The last of my 4-part series on the state of the Electric Motorcycle industry is now live!  This was a really interesting project because I got to dig deep with representatives from some very cool companies including Harley Davidson, Zero Motorcycles, and Mission Motorcycles.

I chose those three because Mission is an early-stage startup that’s just starting to monetize and sell technology but hasn’t delivered their bikes to consumers yet, Zero is a late-stage startup that has already carved out a space and brand recognition for themselves, and of course Harley Davidson is the first of the big global manufacturers to move into the space in a serious way.  I also sent an interview request to Brammo, but they did not respond in time.  I hope I’ll be able to talk to them next time.

The contrasts and similarities in positioning and organizational culture and the way those differing cultures influenced the bikes each company has introduced was absolutely fascinating.

1) The State of the Electric Motorcycle

2) Zero Motorcycles company profile: Standing at Ground Zero

3) Mission Motorcycles: More than a bike, it’s a Mission

4) Harley Davidson Project Livewire profile: The electric motorcycle with name recognition

This is an industry that is changing very fast and shows a lot of promise.  And as someone who works in the mobile technology space the incorporation of mobile tech into these bikes is particularly interesting.   I had a lot of fun doing the research and writing and hope you enjoy the articles.

Freedom

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The afternoon was cold and foggy – a typical summer day in San Francisco – and Gary was glad he’d grabbed his heavy jacket on the way out the door.  Traffic was a mess, as usual, and he shivered a bit as he carefully wound his way between the lanes of traffic.  Lane splitting downtown struck him as having more than a passing similarity with riding a motorcycle through a mine field, except the mines moved unpredictably and would occasionally vent their frustration by trying to swerve into him to block his progress.

On the one hand, he felt like he should be shocked and dismayed that people would attempt to murder a complete stranger because they perceived him as “cutting in line” even though lane splitting was perfectly legal.  On the other hand, Gary’s opinion of humanity as a whole was low enough that he couldn’t work up anything approaching genuine surprise.  Sure, he thought, most people are decent enough most of the time if they can connect with another human one to one.  But the moment they stop thinking of you as a person and start thinking of you as a “car” or “motorcycle” or “internet comment” the claws and fangs come out and we’re right back in the jungle.  We may claim to value kindness and empathy, but most people just want to get theirs most of the time.

He squeezed his brake to slow down abruptly and avoid crashing into the idiot talking on the phone while making a left turn into oncoming traffic, and let out a sustained blast on his horn as he wove around them and up onto the on-ramp towards the bridge.

To ride a motorcycle well requires being aware of not only ones self, but of everyone around you – the teenager having a screaming argument with her boyfriend on her cell phone and moving erratically.  The trucker who is bigger than anything else on the road and lets his size compensate for the fact that he’s been up for 20 hours straight and is driving like crap.  The middle aged man texting with his mistress while he steers his luxury sedan with his knees, lost in a fantasy that doesn’t involve a grouchy wife and 3 mouthy kids who stubbornly refuse to shut up and do what they’re told.  Bubba in his lifted oversize pickup who might ride dirtbikes on the weekend and let you by with a wave and a smile… or might take out his frustration with his dead end job by casually swerving in front of you.

The whole thing was just ever so slightly terrifying. And since fear can help keep one alert, he figured that was a good thing. Still, if there was an undercurrent of fear the dominant emotion was unbridled joy and exhileration.

As he wove through traffic, Gary couldn’t help smiling as the stress of the day fell away. The rush of acceleration, the subtle dance as he scanned for hazards and deftly avoided them, and – most of all – the knowledge that she was waiting for him at the other end of the ride.

Learning to fly

Posted in Life | Tagged , ,

Today is Ride to Work day so I wanted to share the story of how I started riding a motorcycle.

I have always loved motorcycles and I’ve never felt really comfortable on 4 wheels.  I rode a bicycle everywhere through my teens and most of my 20’s and didn’t really start driving a car until I was 26.  I also tend to let my thoughts wander and get easily distracted by music, passengers, etc.  Let’s just say I’ve never been the best driver.  Knowing that about myself, I always figured I was better off to stick to a car since at least I had a seatbelt, airbags, etc to protect me.  So despite being an avid bike-watcher from a young age, I’ve only recently started riding. Continue reading

First Impressions

Posted in tech | Tagged , ,

I’ve been thinking a lot about Google Glass lately.  There are a lot of naysayers, as with any new tech, but I’m really hoping they’re able to pull off a successful launch.  Unfortunately, Google has a long track record of not giving their new releases the support and rapid iteration that’s required at the beginning of the lifecycle for a new product (ex: Google+) and then standing by while they wither on the vine.  So today I’d like to talk about some of the things that need to go into launching a new product and what we can learn from technologies in other industries that should have succeeded but didn’t.

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Going Electric

Posted in Life, tech | Tagged ,

I love my motorcycles – the roar, the lean, the sense of freedom, and the way lanesplitting across the San Francisco Bay Bridge every morning forces me to focus on NOW instead of thinking about everything I have to get done during the  day.  Commuting on two wheels turns my morning into an adventure and I love it. The only thing I don’t love about it, in fact, is that even though my bike is sipping a lot less fuel then a car, it’s still ultimately dependent on a fossil fuel infrastructure that’s completely and irredeemably unsustainable in the long term.  The real question isn’t if we’re going going to stop using petroleum it’s when.

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Spyderwork

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The Spyder is the first vehicle I’ve ever owned that’s worth putting in the time (and money) to customize and I’ve been having fun with it.

Tweaks so far:

  • Added corbin seat.
  • switched runner lights & front turn signals to led.
  • added led lights on top, side, and rear of front wheel wells to increase visibility.
  • added fog lights.
  • added red led’s under the body panels that shine out through heat vents at night.
  • added auxiliary turn signals (red led’s) inside the rear wheel well and on each side to make me more visible from behind when changing lanes.

I’ve got a couple more tweaks i want to make  (debating adding an aftermarket muffler and thinking about adding some custom paint or decals) but i’m getting close to where I want it!

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