Setting out on a journey from Detroit to Washington DC are Brian Wismann (lead designer at Brammo) and Dave Schiff (a Creative Director at Crispin Porter + Bogusky). They are riding a pair of Enertia electric motorcycles (made by Brammo) retracing the path taken by car maker executives last fall during the auto industry bailouts. The goals include increasing awareness in the general public that electric vehicles, to demonstrate the utility of the Enertia motorcycles, to demonstrate issues with electric motorcycle charging infrastructure (see Electric Vehicle infrastructure issues demonstrated by Shocking Barack ride), and they also hope to meet with President Obama when they reach DC and present him with the motorcycles. I spoke by phone today (Oct 14) with Brian and Dave as they stopped near Cleveland to refuel their stomachs and their motorcycles.
The exact route is not planned ahead of time, instead they are stopping as required to recharge the motorcycles. Each stop is giving them an opportunity to chat and interact with people. Dave Schiff explained they expected the substantial part of the journey would be the ride, but instead it turning out to be these recharging stops. Each one is turning into an impromptu mini-town-hall meeting which spontaneously forms as passers-by become curious, ask “what is that”, and in the ensuing conversation learn about electric motorcycles. In Adrian Michigan they had an interesting experience converting an apparent hardcore biker to the power of electricity. A construction worker wearing a hardhat festooned with motorcycle stickers talked with them about the Enertia and ended up taking a test ride. A very long, uncomfortably long, test ride, where they imagined he wasn’t going to return the bike. He eventually did sporting a broad ear-to-ear grin known as “the EV grin”.
Photo courtesy Brammo
A myth they are disproving during this ride is the effect of rain on electric vehicles. They have seen a LOT of rain so far in the trip. One might think water and electricity is lethal. The design however uses well insulated automotive quality cables and connectors. It means the rain hasn’t been a problem.
Brammo had participated in the TTXGP race in June, and I asked what if anything they learned in that race had made it into the Enertia. That race is on a 38 mile route around Mount Snaefell on the Isle of Man which climbs to 1400 feet altitude. Brian Wismann explained that they learned a lot about power levels and ratios between the motor and controller much of which has made it into the commercial bike. They also experimented with a newer battery pack with twice the energy density of the pack shipping on the Enertia and which may become available to customers.
One of their goals is to, upon reaching Washington DC, to meet with President Obama. As they say “instead of looking for aid, we’d like to present President Obama with a homegrown solution to the transportation crisis” and “instead of flying in a corporate jet, we’re riding Brammo Enertia powercycles.” They do not however have the meeting lined up with Pres. Obama and admit it is a longshot to have an actual meeting with him. They do have a meeting scheduled with a Senator and with a DoE representative, and in the meantime they are crowdsourcing connections to Pres. Obama through their website and twitter account.
You can follow their journey on ShockingBarack.com where they have a GPS driven map showing their current location, and on the @ShockingBarack twitter account.
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