Brammo Blog: Real World views from a Real Electric Motorcycle

25 06 2012

With some very “not subtle” prodding (looking your way BrammoFan), I am reopening my blog and focusing it down to Brammo Motorcycles and the trips and experiences I am having just about every day of the year as I ride this Electric Motorcycle. Real world observations. Real world photos. This will be mostly a Photo Journal, peppered with some brilliant insights….or probably just insights that fall somewhat below brilliant…ok, very far below…jeez, you think I would get some respect from my own blog…but noooo, the dang critics in my head keep pestering me to be honest.

I am not a prolific blogger, but I will work hard to get a couple of new posts every week.

So…..without further ado:

Blog 1, 6/25/12. Today we talk about:

I have always counted on the Kindness of Strangers…or “business that allow me to charge.”

When I first received the “Loaner” Enertia from Brammo I assumed I would always just charge it overnight at home. I even set up a charge station with a nice little sign I bought from BrammoFan.

And I did charge mostly at home…still do. It is easy and you wake up every morning to a fully charged bike.

But one trip I was planning to ride looked to be impossible without outside charging (the loaner bike is Brammo’s first model and is really quite nice, but does have a 40 mile range. Great for commuting, not so much for long distance drives.)

Well the Rio Rancho Annual Toy Run was coming up and I really wanted to take the Enertia. Thousands of riders, a good cause and I thought it would be great to show off the Electric a bit. But the ride started 20 miles from my house, add in 10-15 miles on the ride, and then 20 miles back home—much of it at 55 mph which drains the battery faster than slow city commuting—and it is easy to see that 40 miles or less wasn’t going to make it.

So bail on the ride? No Way! First, I called the Toy Run staff. Sadly they did not have any electric power at the start of the race nor at the ending spot. They did let me know that the start was in the parking lot of the local High School and I could call them. So I called Rio Rancho High School. A very nice gentleman who runs the school’s activities told me it would be no problem at all to charge at the school. He informed me that there were outside outlets on the Gym and to “have at it”. Yea! Thanks Rio Rancho High School. You were the first place I charged away from home (and you are Walter White’s school in Breaking Bad–but that is another blog for another day).

So I left home early—the ride started at 11:00 am—as I needed extra time to charge at the school. One day that won’t be an issue, but right now I do have to make extra time and effort if I want to go electric and still do the longer rides I enjoy. The trade off, to me, is worth it :)

I depart at 8:30 am and get to the school at 9. Easily find the plug, plug up and….wait. I read a bit, I walk over and talk to some of the early bird gas bikers—the ride seems to bring every Harley rider in the State of New Mexico. At 11:00 the bike is about 95% charged and I am ready to join up with the gas bikes and my scooter friends.

So we do a ride of 15 miles and my scooter friends want to stop and get something to eat…I’m like, sure I can eat…and I start following them to a new place they want to try. Unfortunately for me they are riding away from Albuquerque and my home…which is where I like to charge. And when we get to the restaurant, well I am pretty sure I won’t be able to get all the way home. So I ask the staff…”Hey, I have this electric motorcycle, do you mind if I charge while my friends and I get some food and drinks?” “Sure, let me go get an extension cord.” That was a surprise…they even went out of their way to help me. But he comes back, “Hey, I can’t find our extension cord…but you can park the bike inside our storage area and charge there”.

So I rolled my bike up and into the back of the restaurant…Crazy. But hella nice.

Which brings me to the point, finally, of this Blog. I have yet to be turned down when I have asked a business if I can charge my bike while I shop, buy or eat at their establishments. It is really amazing. I usually have my argument ready, “it only costs about 10 cents an hour in electricity to charge**, and I will be spending much more than that while I am here…and I tip well.” But I don’t ever have to do that. A simple, “Hi, my bike is electric. I see you have an outside plug, do you mind if I use it?” “Sure, no problem. That’s a cool bike”, is the usual response. Often followed with many more question.

So I thought I would give a quick shout out and thanks to some of the places I’ve charged.

As mentioned: Rio Rancho High School…the school in Breaking Bad AND you guys have your own solar array…you guys ROCK.

Turtle Mountain Brewing Co.: I am upset with myself as I wanted to get a photo of the bike charging in your storage area…but forgot! Instead, here is a photo of their menu. You helped me to ride over 70 miles that day…the most I’ve ridden the Enertia in one day.

Subway: The Subway in Tijeras, NM has let me charge at least 3 times. One of my favorite rides goes out that way, but it is just a bit too far to go without some extra charge. So I stop, grab a sandwich and surf the web a bit and off I go with a nicely charged bike and a fairly full belly. Thanks Jarred…or Michael Phelps…or whoever Subway is using as their spokesman.

I am downtown most Tuesday Nights to play the Pub Quiz, Geeks who Drink, at the Blackbird Buvette. Plus I’m friends with one of the owners…and the Blackbird is a cool place to hang just about any time. As a bonus they have a lamp post out front that I can charge at. And if that isn’t working, they let me charge on their back patio…Thanks!

While Downtown, Albuquerque does have two pay charge stations…Good to have, though I haven’t needed to use them yet. Too much free charging available so far to start using my credit card to charge…but maybe one day.

I’ve charged at Walmart, Smith’s Grocery, Lowe’s Home Improvements…just to name a few. Anytime I am stopping for 30 minutes or more, I go ahead and charge. Every 30 minutes gives me 5 more miles in range.

And last, but not least, my work. This is the one place, other than home, where I have charged the most.

Covered parking AND free juice? What’s not to love about that.

And that is the wonderful part about electrics. There is a source for charging EVERYWHERE. And it is cheap and easy to use. Go to your favorite restaurant and ask them if you can fill your car’s gas tank while you eat. They will look at you like you are crazy. Because storing and delivering gas is hard, expensive and kinda dangerous. Storing and delivering electricity is not. Heck, by code every house and business have outlets every few freaking feet. I can attest to that as we have a one year old granddaughter and about 12 billion outlet covers in our home.

Still there is the slowness of filling my tank (which is why I do it at home, work or restaurants where I know I will be a while) and the shortness of range. Those two obstacles will be overcome with time, and, in fact, are already improving. My loaner gets 40 miles, but the Brammo Plus coming out this summer gets twice that. The Brammo Empulse will get 100 miles and has fast charging, which will fill those batteries at twice the rate of 120v wall charging. A few more years and the battery will last longer than what my butt will allow me to ride. And then we will have all the conveniences of electric drive: quiet, smooth, quick, easy, nearly zero maintenance and fuel that is cheap and everywhere; without the downside of range issues and slowness of charging. And we will have a fuel that can truly be zero emissions…when you have nice solar panels on your roof and 310 sunny days a year :)

Till next time….

Gavin

**This might be my next blog…the insanely low cost of charging. Or Park Anywhere! Or “Want people to be nice to you? interact and talk to you? Buy an Electric motorcycle.”

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One response

25 06 2012
Rebecca Roth

Did not know about the charging stations in downtown Albuquerque. Go Albuquerque! And go Gavin!

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