Archive for Technology

I Have Gas – ethanol vs. ethanol-free performance effects

This is a story about my own experience and experiments with ethanol-free (E0) gas vs ethanol-blend (E10) pump gas. If you plan to make any performance modifications to your EFI-equipped motorcycle you may be interested in what I have learned. Read More…

MotoPeds acquired by MotoVox

The very cool urban assault-style hybrid motorized mountain bikes made by MotoPeds may be coming soon to a retail powersports outlet near you.MotoPed urban assault survival bike According to this press release the company has been acquired by APT MotoVox Group Inc. APT has patented a carburetor technology called SmartCarb for two-stroke engines which the company claims will push the MotoPed near the 200 mpg range.

In my humble opinion no Doomsday Prepper should be without one of these. In fact, every apocalypse bunker should come with one as standard issue.

There is no good reason that living on the fringe can’t be cool.

MX Action two-stroke vs four-stroke

MXA wrecking crew rides, races, and compares Yamaha YZ250 and YZ250F.

Rekluse Motor Sports, Inc. founder Al Youngwerth on PitPass Radio

Tonight, 06 APR 2010, Pit Pass Radio will have an interview with Al Youngwerth, the founder of Rekluse Motor Sports Inc. If you’ve watched any of the recent Supercross races and wondered how some of the riders manage to keep the engine running when they fall off the bike, it’s because they’re using a Rekluse centrifugal clutch.

I’ve never had the chance to ride with one of these things, and they’re only available for modern bikes, but I’m told they are the shizznit — the cat’s pajamas, the real deal, the best thing since sliced bread, etc. One of my buddies — Bill Ramsey of Motorcycle Accessory Shop in Mesa, AZ (2319 West Main Street, Mesa, AZ 85201-6839 (480) 835-6228) — says he tried to talk Al into giving him some parts to use to get one working on a vintage bike, but didn’t have any luck.

That’s too bad, because the new Core EXP clutch kit is, relatively, affordable at $800 — at least compared to the $2,000 these things cost originally. Now I know all you vintage guys are out there going, “What!? 800-freakin’ dollars!? I’ve bought entire bikes for less than that!” But from what I’ve been told these things are worth at least two CDI ignition upgrades and, if you’re on an old points-based ignition system that’s $450 per.

I admit, there’s probably only a tiny, tiny fraction of VMX riders who would shell out for something like this, but it would be nice to have the opportunity. I’m told if you ever ride with one you’ll never go back.

So tune in and see what Al has to say.

GPS for dirt bikes

I have a GPS unit (Garmin Zumo 450) that I use on my street bike, but for some reason it never occurred to me that you would use one on a dirt bike. Maybe because I live on the east coast and don’t go trail riding anywhere I’m likely to get lost… But there are trail areas in national parks in this half of the country that are certainly big enough to get lost in.

I came across this GPS and Dirt Bikes post over at the Dirt Bike Blogger. There’s a lot of good info, but the most interesting thing to me was this part about geocaching:

A GPS unit will also allow you to participate in geocaching – a great addition to trail riding. Geocaching is basically a high-tech treasure hunt. Caches are hidden and listed on the Internet (try Geocaching.com) with only their coordinates and sometimes additional clues. The caches generally include a logbook and pencil to record visitors, and tokens or prizes that can be traded.

The author also discusses using the GPS and some additional software to map your own trails, and build your own maps. If you’re interested in such things have a look at the whole article.

FreecasterTV – great MX coverage

If you’re an MX fan, real MX — 2-minute laps, turns that not 180-degrees, off-cambers, uphills, downhills, simple things like that — you owe it to yourself to check out the freecaster.tv live coverage of the MX GPs. It’s really teriffic — great technical quality, nice user interface, and solid overall experience. SPEED TV, are you watching???

Oh, they have archives too, if you can’t catch the race live. But watching it live is very good.

Thinking differently: The future is coming

This is only tangentially about motorcycles, and only in the sense that it points to how the world of the future will work. But it’s an important insight into our future. This NYTimes editorial by Thomas Friedman (author of “The World is Flat” and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree”) is about a new kind of car company called Better Place, based in Palo Alto, CA.

The revolution that Better Place is betting on isn’t in what they’re doing — electric cars — but in how they’re doing it. The company is taking the business model Apple Computer used to revolutionize the music business and applying it to green transportation.

The Better Place electric car charging system involves generating electrons from as much renewable energy — such as wind and solar — as possible and then feeding those clean electrons into a national electric car charging infrastructure. This consists of electricity charging spots with plug-in outlets — the first pilots were opened in Israel this week — plus battery-exchange stations all over the respective country. The whole system is then coordinated by a service control center that integrates and does the billing.

Under the Better Place model, consumers can either buy or lease an electric car from the French automaker Renault or Japanese companies like Nissan (General Motors snubbed Agassi) and then buy miles on their electric car batteries from Better Place the way you now buy an Apple cellphone and the minutes from AT&T. That way Better Place, or any car company that partners with it, benefits from each mile you drive. G.M. sells cars. Better Place is selling mobility miles.

So what’s the motorcycle connection? Maybe it’s KTM and their Zero Emissions Bike or their patented hybrid, two-wheel-drive technology. It doesn’t appear to be the existing behemoths of the industry, including Honda, Harley-Davidson, or BMW.

But Friedman’s point is that, wherever it comes from, it will come. And probably sooner rather than later. As motorcyclists we should be prepared for what entirely new business models could mean to our pass-time, and to the political environment in which we exist. Greater access to quiet, green transportation will make our loud, smoking bikes even more of an outlier, and subject to even greater regulation.

We need to get our act together now, and figure out how to create a united effort to protect the rights we still have, while we still have them.

New patent filed by KTM

ktm_2wd_hybrid_450Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM has filed patents for a new, 2-wheel-drive, hybrid motorcycle. Following KTM’s announcement of their all-electric zero-emissions bike, which is planned for production by 2010, this hybrid features an internal combustion engine driving the rear wheel with an electric motor driving the front wheel. I don’t know exactly how it works, but under braking the electric motor acts as a generator to recapture energy from the wheel and store it back in the battery.

KTM is smart to be getting a head start on this. Ever since Algore (the guy who invented the internets) published his book labeling the internal combustion engine as the primary cause of all Mankind’s troubles, the EcoNazis have been chomping at the bit to rid the planet of this scourge. I hope they don’t succeed, but there’s little doubt that there is a lot of money to be made for the companies that can effectively harness the power of the electron to provide motive force.

I just hope future generations are still able to feel the thrill and hear the roar created by capturing the power of fire in the internal combustion motor. Found via Motocross Action.

Two-stroke Militia

tsm_logo_blk_webHere’s another helpful and entertaining site in the two-stroke wars — Two Stroke Militia. The site was apparently put together by three guys in the northeast — Jeff Conboy, Tim Weeks, and John Nicholas — and features some of the best analysis and commentary on the two-stroke situation that I’ve seen. I’m happy to see that they’ve picked up sponsorship from quite a few companies that also love the smell of race gas and castor oil.

Check out this page on modern two-stroke weapons. Gotta love that new Maico! Is that cool, or what? Tubular steel frame, two-stroke motor, modern styling… Man, that’s cool. I’d actually buy a pit pass at a National to see stuff like that. Now if they’d just do a twin-shock version…

I’m going to buy one of their t-shirts. Check out their CafePress store and show your colors. I don’t know if that makes me a member or not, but at least they’ll know I’m a two-stroke supporter.

Algal biodiesel reduces 150 million year oil cycle to three days

It takes approximately 150 million years for organic matter to become oil that we pump out of the ground. We all know the ramifications of this – finite oil supplies, ever-growing demand for a limited resource, economic upheaval as supplies dwindle in our energy-hungry world. We also know the basics of renewable energy – government subsidized ethanol production, rising corn (and food) prices, a lifetime, government-guaranteed annuity for ArcherDanielsMidland, etc. And the attendant problems of switching our vast base of petroleum-based engines to alcohol.

But what if we could reduce that 150-million-year cycle to three days? What if we could create, in that three days, a grade of crude oil that is as high, or higher, than any currently available bio-oil? An oil that is really oil, not an alcohol substitute for oil.

a startup company called brief video on how the algal biodiesel process works. Here’s a C-Net video on the broad applications of this algae-based oil.

Although algae-based oils have been discussed for decades, this is first time that a scalable, industrial-grade process for producing them has been developed. The implications for this, if it ultimately proves viable, are enormous. Paired with high-performance, clean diesel technology — such as that developed by Audi and Peugeot for their endurance racing teams — could significantly change the automotive landscape.

What about CO2 emissions? According to Solazyme:

The algal biodiesel fueling the car is made through Solazyme’s proprietary process for manufacturing high-value, functionally-tailored oils from algae. This process, which uses standard industrial fermentation equipment, yields a biofuel that significantly reduces greenhouse gas emissions and is biodegradable, nontoxic and safe.

That almost sounds too good to be true, and maybe it is. But it’s clear (at least to me) that the current approach to ethanol is not even a short-term solution. Trading food for driving is a dumb approach. It takes at least six months to grow a crop of corn for ethanol, then you have to break it down into its constituent parts to make the fuel, which basically wastes all the corn parts. With single-cell algae you don’t have to wait six months, and you don’t have to break it down nearly as much.

This isn’t a panacea. The algae has to be fed sugar to grow, and the sugar comes from corn syrup, sugar cane, wood chips, etc. So it’s still going to require some sort of organic matter. But it doesn’t have to be a primary food stock. This looks like something worth watching.