Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Gaining appreciation

In case the last post didn't make it clear - I'm out on the West Coast for business, and I took advantage of the fact that renting an MP3 was comparable in cost to renting a sub-compact car. Since the motorcycle mags have been favorably-reviewing Piaggio's three wheeler, I decided to give it a whirl.


I've logged about 85 miles since my last post. While I still have to find some serious twisties to test out this machine, I did find one road that was a complete riot to run through with the MP3:

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Palos Verdes Drive - just South of the intersection with Hawthorne Blvd. For about 1 mile, the road is a "slide" area. Apparently this has something to do with the land constantly moving. I'm not too familiar with this geographic phenomenon, but the road is curvy, with constant, significant elevation change. These are short bursts of elevation change - not the kind of roadage that warrants "% grade" signs. I've never been on a road like this, but you could totally feel the coolness in the front suspension of the MP3 while rolling over the rough, inconsistent, twisty asphalt. Even though there's but a foot or so of distance between the two front wheels, you could feel them reacting differently as they rolled over the uneven pavement. It was a feeling like no other - definitely not the kind of feed back you'd ever feel on a two wheeler.


But while this sensation was cool and unfamiliar - it doesn't seem necessary. I could have had just as much fun on the SV650. This begs the question, why did Piaggio bother to make this vehicle? I hope to get a little internet research done tomorrow night to shed some light on possible answers to that question...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Out of place

Yep, that's pretty much how I feel. Why? Oh, for *so* many reasons...


...first of all, if I'm turning handlebars, I expect to be straddling something. But that's not the case on scooters. Slightly awkward, but I'm adjusting.

Second, the transmission (in this case, a CVT). Pickup from a stop is painfully unpredictable - and slow. Once on the highway, it gets even worse. Just try to maintain constant velocity. The throttle is *so* gushy, you're constantly dancing around. It's like driving a boat - any change in throttle position seems to endure a significant delay before the result can be perceived.


And third - the looks. The worst of which came from a t-shirt-and-shorts-wearing sport bike rider. He passed me 2 lanes to my left and made a significant point to turn around and stare over his shoulder before rolling-on and disappearing. I'm guessing I stand out - a fully-geared rider with a full-face helmet on a three-wheeled scooter.

But whatever, I'm tough and open-minded. I recently started running Windows again - I'm pretty sure I can make a CVT and three wheels work for me. Hello Long Beach, CA. I'm about to conquer your roads on the weirdest machine I've ever piloted.

PS - thanks to the Creama coffee shop for the free WiFi. Their bagel sandwiches are the shiznit, and their house coffee is good too.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Maximizing efficiency

I don't know if it's the resource conservation, the challenge of surviving inconvenience, or the chance to be different, but it feels good to travel on a motorcycle. I don't mean commuting on a motorcycle, but traveling on one.


We recently outfitted the red SV650 with SW-Motech Quick Lock Sideracks. The aim here was to outfit a motorcycle for weekend travel to family and friends (which we do quite often). We figured that, if we used the motorcycle for enough of these weekend trips, then we could recoup the cost of the sideracks! More on that later - but the opportunity to inject some more excitement into our weekend travel is always worth $229.


We had two Pelican 1550s that were previously acting as top cases for the red SV and the blue SV. So we sacrificed these non-matching cases to mount to the SW-Motech sideracks (saved some serious $$$ that way). After a week of test rides to work, which proved very successful, we decided to put the setup to work on a voyage to Eastern PA.

Our touring machine, 30E

I am most impressed with SW-Motech's product. First of all, the sideracks are easily-removable. So when you don't want your luggage on, it's minimal effort to take it off. This is great when you use the luggage for long trips too, because you can carry your luggage into your bedroom like you would any other bag you packed.

Second, the rack system is solid. We liberally packed (stuffed?) our 1550s with clothes, footwear, and just about everything we'd take with us were we driving in a car. So our cases were quite heavy (I'll weigh them next time). But they mounted just fine and the system of brackets hung onto our cases through all kinds of bumps, leans, and quick stops.

Third? "Nothing. There is no third thing." (Monty Python fans?)


After our weekend trip, we got an accurate calculation of the SV's gas mileage when traveling long-distance. Let's take the average miles-per-gallon for our red SV650 at the time of this writing, 55.34 mpg. Lets compare that to the average miles-per-gallon of the MR2 (since that's what we'd be otherwise traveling in), 30.46 mpg. Now let's see - I remember paying $2.49 per gallon when filling-up on our trip out to Eastern PA - and that was a good price!

$2.49/30.46 = $0.081 (cost per mile driven in the MR2)
$2.49/55.34 = $0.045 (cost per mile driven in the SV650)

So how many miles would we have to drive on the SV to save enough money to pay for the sideracks? Well, the sideracks cost $229 plus shipping - so lets say $250. The savings per mile when driving the SV is $0.081 - $0.045 = $0.036. So...

$250/$0.036 = 6,944 miles

That's not bad! If we were diligent enough in choosing the SV over the MR2, we'd make our money back within a year. Will we be that diligent? We'll see...

I highly recommend this product - I've used it transport oil change supplies for our MR2, to commute to work, for a 9-hour round-tripper, and we plan to hit the Raleigh area with it this coming weekend. Maybe this time I'll get pictures with us actually on the bike!