Coming and Going

This past year has seen a change in my Fuhrpark, which is the German word for a fleet of vehicles. In reality I hardly have a fleet of vehicles, but I have gotten rid of a car and a scooter, and picked up a new (used) car as well as a pedelec, so it’s been an interesting time. This week it was the old East German scooter, the KR51 Schwalbe, that went to a new owner. The KR was an old 50cc vehicle I had restored for my daughter Helen a few years ago in the hopes that she would use it as a first step to riding a motorcycle. Although Helly did ride it a bit for a time, and learned how to shift gears and use the kick starter just like with a bigger bike, she never really took to riding the thing, and to be honest, an old 2-stroke smoker with mediocre brakes and a fiddly carburetor was perhaps not the ideal first vehicle. Sometimes it takes a while to realize the truth, even if, in the end, it served its purpose of familiarzing her with two-wheeled motorized transport. And the Schwalbe went to a good home, to a guy who grew up in East Germany and is going through a phase of Ostalgie, which means nostalgia for the “good old days in the East”. I wish him all the best with it!

We also got rid of our trusty old Toyota Matrix after 17 years. The last time it was inspected the mechanic said that due to some underbody rust, the car might not make it through the next inspection in two years time. The Matrix made me love Toyota vehicles, as it was the most reliable, practical car I’d ever owned, and apart from wear and tear, there was very little that needed to be done to the car to keep it on the road. The only problem we had with it was due to the fact that this model was never sold in Europe, so it was sometimes difficult to get parts for it. One time, for instance, a ferret decided to feast on several rubber hoses in the engine compartment, and it took awhile to replace them, as they had to come from Japan, China and Brazil, if I remember correctly. Ferrets sleeping in engine compartments of parked cars is a surprisingly common occurence here, especially during the colder months, and when one decides to make its home next to your engine, it can get expensive.

We initially thought we would keep the Matrix as long as possible, but when a family member offered us a low-mileage 2015 Mercedes Citan for a great price we decided to go for it. The Citan is really little more than a badge-engineered Renault Kangoo delivery van that Mercedes wanted for its customers who run fleets of vehicles, and it was just what we were looking for. With a 1.5-liter diesel engine that has been used in millions of other vehicles around the world, it’s very efficient, and with its particle filter is classed as Euro 6, so we can even drive in the car in Berlin’s low-emission zone. We debated the idea of not getting another car at all, as we don’t need one to get to work, but decided we weren’t quite ready to do without one yet. Even though the price of fuel has become prohibitively expensive this year, it’s still convenient to have a car when the weather gets bad or we want to pick up something bulky from the store. And we hope to turn the Citan into a part-time camper, as there are a variety of firms offering so-called “camping boxes” for these types of vehicles, which you can slide in and out of the back of the car as needed for camping trips (e.g. https://www.vacamod.de/kombivan/).

The Citan is a strange looking vehicle, to say the least, with perhaps a face only a mother could love. And the Mercedes star couldn’t be much bigger, could it? But it’s a fairly simple, straightforward vehicle that has tons of storage space and will hopefully get us from point A to B without too many problems for the foreseeable future.

The newest member of our vehicular family is a folding Zündapp pedelec that I purchased as a quick and easy way to get back and forth to work, and as a fun and energy efficient form of transportation. It’s definitely not a top-end e-bike, but seems solid and is a great way to get into the world of electric vehicles. It has an internal battery and a the motor is located in the rear hub, so you really get the feeling of being pushed forward, as if there is always a tailwind helping you along. It’s relatively light (for an e-bike) at 21 kilos and can easily be folded together and carried onto the train, giving me great flexibility when commuting. I put a larger front chain wheel on it, as well as a longer seat post and some additional lights, but otherwise I’ve left it as is. The only downside is its lack of disc brakes, which I now realize are very important on a pedelec, as I’m generally riding faster (max. of 25 kph) than I would be if I was providing all the power myself. But the little thing is really a blast to ride, and I can understand how people get hooked on them. I think e-bikes are a game-changer, as are electric vehicles in general, despite their present shortcomings (range, problems with lithium, etc.).

A walk through the city

Walking through Berlin on my way to work the other day I saw so many interesting motorcycles I decided to get out my phone and take a few pictures (who would have believed we’d be doing that 30 years ago?). Here’s a sampling.

Nothing too spectacular here, but the old F650 looked cool sitting out in front of a former gas station that’s now used by an art collective.

I’ve always had a weak spot for Honda’s CX500, which I believe was called the “plastic maggot” in England, although I’m not really sure why. In Germany they are affectionately known as “Güllepumpen”, which means sewerage pump (also not a great name, but it’s based on a very famous cartoon called Werner). They are strange looking, to be sure, but are also supposed to be bullet-proof, and many riders in Europe have put hundreds of thousands of kilometers on these babies.

A nice old Vespa next to a couple of little electric rollers, which tend to clutter the sidewalks in this part of the city. Love the bum-stop seat on the Vespa, as well as the decals.

A nice new Royal Enfield Meteor 350. Great little bike, and the dark blue paint looks fantastic on it. I have a bit of a weak spot for this bike as well, despite its meager 20 horsepower.

An older Royal Enfield Bullet, which actually looks to be in better shape than its ratty appearance would lead you to believe. Looks like someone poured acid all over the tank to give it a nice rough “used” look. I think all the shiny bits and lack of rust give it away though, and I bet the owner has put a fair amount of money into making it look the way it does. I imagine it is fun to ride, and the sound must be fantastic as well!

An old boxer with a huge aftermarket tank on it and a lovely looking sidecar. Love the Earles forks up front, the massive front brake and the cigar-shaped exhaust pipes. The stories this bike could tell!

And finally, an old East German Mifa cargo bike from the 1980s, just like the one I bought and fixed up a while ago. A very rare bike indeed, and with a basket on the front and back able to carry quite a load, as long as you don’t mind having only one speed. Light and maneuverable, they are a very inexpensive introduction to the world of cargo bikes, if you can actually find one.

As you can see, in Berlin the sidewalks are wide and parking motorcycles and bikes on them is allowed, if not always appreciated by pedestrians and local residents. And also apparent in a number of the photos is the graffiti, which is prodigious in the city.

Learning to drive at 37

I recently came across an article by Helen Lewis called I’m the Driver Now, which describes how she first learned to drive at the age of 37. In her very humerous, self-deprecating style, she writes that it was the hardest but best thing she had ever done. A couple of her thoughts (especially about aging!) really stayed with me, so I wanted to list a few excerpts here.

“I also wanted to take on this challenge for the same reason George Mallory climbed Everest: because it’s there. Admittedly, Mallory died in the attempt (also at the age of 37). A few years ago, I read a terrifying Atlantic article titled “Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think,” in which Arthur Brooks explains that you become less flexible in your thinking as you age. However, much like Pandora discovered Hope at the bottom of the box after letting out Fear, Anger, and Late-Night eBay Purchases, I have found some consolation: The knowledge you gain as you mature is just as valuable as the mental elasticity that you lose. In driving, that duality presents itself in the fact that teenagers are more likely to pass the test than are older drivers—but they’re also more likely to die in their first year on the roads. Only a fine line separates confidence from recklessness.”

“In Britain, fewer than a third of 17-to 20-year-olds now hold a license, down from half in 1994. In the United States, the percentage of 18-year-olds holding a license dropped from 80.4 percent in 1983 to 61 percent in 2018. Rising insurance costs, fluctuating gas prices, and environmental concerns have all contributed to the decline of the teenage driver.” 

“One of the biggest reasons it gets harder to do new things as you get older is that new things are generally undignified at first (indeed, this is an excellent heuristic for discovering them) and the older you get, the more dignified you’re expected to be,” the tech investor Paul Graham wrote recently.”

“Writing is a daily confrontation with your own limits; every morning, you sit down at your computer, open a document, and you are still not Joan Didion. This is good practice for aging; you can tell yourself that you don’t want to do something, when the truth is that it frightens you. Unless you allow yourself to feel like a rube, you will shrink yourself with every passing year.

A short trip along the Czech border

Along small roads through the Saxonian countryside.

Before going to Iceland I had a chance to get away for four days on the XF, so I decided to head south and ride in the mountains along the German-Czech border. I had hoped to take a more extended trip to visit friends in Bavaria but Covid reared its ugly head and it was nine days before I was able to go anywhere, making a change of plans necessary. As it was, I had a great little trip and the weather was generally fine, although the last day was very, very hot, with temperatures reaching 38°C (100°F).

I took my tent and sleeping bag and found a small campground at the end of the first day near Olbernhau, where I used to go skiing with my daughter when she was young. Its a wonderful, hilly area in the Ore Mountains with tons of small, twisty roads, so it’s a delight to ride there. And easy to dart back and forth across the border into the Czech Republic, where the roads are even smaller and less crowded.

A cigar (to keep the mosquitos away) and a wee bit of Jägermeister (to keep the bad spirits away, of course!) after dinner, while writing down the day’s impressions.

Everything packed away nicely in the Lomos and a roll-top bag. Still seems like a lot for a small trip, but it was good to have the option of camping, as I didn’t know if there would be any vacancies at the hotels. As it turned out, most people seemed to have gone far away on their vacations, perhaps as a result of finally being able to travel again after the last two and a half years. Great for me; not so great for the many hotels and restaurants dependent on tourist money.

I slipped across the Czech border at Rübenau, where it was quiet and overcast, with a hint of rain. Lovely roads and the XF was the perfect machine to be on.

The old church at Kalek. I love how the long wall surrounding this beautiful old building and cemetery curves along the slope of the hill. Many of the buildings and roads have been restored now, but there is still a marked difference between the towns in the Czech Republic and neighboring Germany. It still feels like going back in time when riding “south of the border”, even if the differences are slowly disappearing.

The weather slowly cleared on the second day. The Czech roads in the high plains of the Ore Mountains are mostly in good shape, and wind through the villages and surrounding forests. Its a good place to slow down and just relax and take in the scenery.

I stopped to watch a shepherd slowly lead his flock down a valley. This is why I like to travel on a motorcycle. Just magical! I was also using a Garmin Zumo for the first time, and it lead me down a variety of small roads I may not have otherwise found. It certainly slowed down the trip by putting me on small, winding roads, but that was the whole idea of the journey. Slow down and smell the roses, or at least the sheep dung.

Back in northern Bavaria, I got a room at an old hotel that I had stayed at before. Run by a charming old couple, it is very quiet and affordable, and the only thing on the menu was Bauernfrühstück (farmer’s breakfast), i.e. scrambled eggs and fried potatoes with a bit of bacon and caraway seeds, washed down by a non-alcoholic beer. It was another trip to the past.

The third day was spent riding through parts of Thuringia on small roads. A very enjoyable day as well, there were more motorcyclists underways here, as it was a Sunday. On my way home on the last day, the temperatures climbed and climbed and it became almost unbearable in the sun with all the riding gear on. I do have a mesh riding jacket, however, and that made all the difference in weather like this. As long as I was moving there was a comfortable breeze, so stops were relatively few and far between, and shady parking spots were the desired place to take breaks. Copious amounts of water were consumed and I kept a thick film of sun block on my nose. Lots of low rolling hills in northern Saxony and lots of agriculture. Big tractors pulling grain-filled trailers were plentiful, and I was careful to keep my distance when passing. It looked like the farmers had a pretty good crop, although with the drought we’ve been having, it’s hard to imagine how that’s possible. It seemed to be as dry as a bone almost everywhere apart from the villages and fields higher up in the mountains.

I managed to make it home in one piece after having a thorougly enjoyable four days of riding. Certainly not an adventure of earth-shattering proportions, but still great to get away from familiar environs and see some new things. And being able to spend time alone and on the motorcycle cruising along unknown roads, taking in all there was to see, is really what it’s all about. Once again the XF ran flawlessly and I barely noticed the extra weight and bulk of everything I was carrying. I’ve almost put 20,000 kms on the bike since getting it two years ago, and hope there are many more trips to come on it.

Iceland

After visiting family in Rhode Island my wife and I had a chance to spend a week in Iceland on our way back to Germany. It’s always been on my bucket list, and we have two friends there who had told us time and again to stop by, so we did. Unfortunately we didn’t have our bikes with us, but this first visit was a great way to get a feel for the place, and who knows, maybe there’ll be an opportunity to return to this island nation on two wheels some day. People who have ridden motorcycles through and around Iceland have often mentioned how fantastic it is, even if it is often wet, cold and exhausting. As we spent a fair bit of time around Reykjavik, I didn’t see all that many adventure motorcycles, even though Iceland is a magnet for riders who want to get away from the madding crowd.

These two KTMs were typical of the many we saw on our travels. I love how the license plates are bent around the rear fenders.

Once we left the capital city to travel to the Snaefellsness penisula and along the south coast to the well-known Black Beach, we saw more bikes zooming past in all directions. Most looked ready to hit the back roads, to get off the pavement and away from the crowds of tourists visiting the various “points of interest”. There were lots of KTMs of all shapes and sizes, and while talking to two local riders, they told me KTM is the most popular brand of bike in Iceland. After I told them I ride a bike back in Germany they mentioned that BMW, although good, is too expensive for them. I don’t think of KTM as in inexpensive bike, but maybe the company offers special conditions for Icelanders. Or maybe they are just the right bike for the conditions local riders encounter on the miles and miles of unpaved roads, tracks and river crossings. Responding to my question about the reliability of the Austrian bikes (a frequent topic in adventure motorcycling forums), one rider said that he had had no problems in 20,000 kilometers.

The further we got from Reykjavik, the more offroad vehicles we saw, and some of them were simply enormous. This one above, for instance was higher than most buses we saw and careened down the road as it made its way along the coastal road, scaring some drivers coming in the opposite direction to the point that they pulled way over on the shoulder when passing. This particular one was from Switzerland and served as a vacation home to an older couple. I have to admit I wondered if such a vehicle was really necessary to conquer Iceland’s remote outback, but then I haven’t been out there myself, and a bit of overkill is undoubtedly preferable to getting stuck miles from the nearest friendly face.

Back in Reykavik, we took a long hike up to the Meradalir Valley to see the latest volcanic eruption, which started on the 3rd of August. Our friend Buppa made sure we were well prepared, which was a good thing, as it took us over four hours to get to the eruption and back, and the hiking over the rocky slopes and plains in cold and windy weather was very difficult at times. At least it wasn’t raining!

We passed extensive lava fields from last year’s eruption, and I was astonished at the extent to which the magma had spread out, filling entire valleys. The lava was (amazingly) still steaming in places, and was extremely dangerous to walk on, so we stayed well clear of it.

This part of Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula is literally covered in volcanoes and is a site of extensive geothermal activity due to the pulling apart of two of the earth’s tectonic plates.

Walking over one last ridge, we finally saw the volcano in all its glory, and it was an amazing and otherworldly sight indeed. It was really interesting to see everyone’s expression of surprise and awe at their first glimpse. This gurgling, bubbling opening in the earth’s crust was a reminder of just how alive and malleable the earth under our feet is. It really was an overwhelming experience, and one I was grateful to have a chance to see.

Back in the city on our last full day, we visited the University of Iceland, where Buppa works. I spotted an unusual old bike, an Indian Rajdoot, which had been turned into a bookshelf at the university bookstore.

Although never nice to see an old bike chopped up, this particular “bookshelf” was tastefully put together and perhaps kept the bike from being taken to a scrapyard. The Rajdoot (Hindi for diplomat) was a Polish SHL M11 built under license in India, and has a 175 cc two-stroke motor that is a further development of the German DKW RT 125, the most copied motorcycle in the world. Amazingly, something like 1.6 million of these bikes were built between 1962 and 2005, when they were phased out due to stricter emissions regulations.

Our final visit in Iceland was to an office where Buppa’s wife Björg works. Stigamot is a center that offers counselling services for survivors of sexual violence, providing free and confidential advice and help. While there, I noticed a brochure produced by a group I had never heard of: Bikers Against Child Abuse (B.A.C.A.) is an organization active worldwide to create a safer environment for abused children. A very valuable service, to say the least.

Riding the TET and contemplating life

Well, I did finally get my XF through inspection, even if it meant going somewhere else to get it done. I had no luck in Berlin, and after two attempts rode to Potsdam, which is just down the road a piece, and went directly to an inspection station (as opposed to a workshop where an inspector comes in once a week). I was through in 20 minutes and the guy didn’t even look at the handlebar or brake line that had me pulling my hair out during the first two inspections. The inspector was still thorough, but he merely concentrated on whether the bike rode well, stopped as it should, and didn’t make too much noise. That, in my eyes, is what inspections should really be all about. At any rate, now I’m all set for the next two years, which is a great relief.

The green circle shows that the next inspection will have to be done in May of 2024.

I originally bought the XF (and the Himalayan before that) with the idea of riding the Trans Euro Trail (TET), which is “Europe’s dirt road motorcycle adventure” (https://transeurotrail.org). The trail is currently 51,000 km long (30,000 miles) and stretches from the Mediterranean Sea to the Artic Circle. A so-called Community Interest Company, the TET is not profit driven, and is completely free of charge. It’s organized and maintained by a group of linesmen, and is slowly growing as more trails are added to it. Most of it is not paved (Germany is an exception here, with only 30% unpaved), and all of the trails may be legally ridden by motorcycles. There’s a code of conduct that needs to be obeyed, as much of Europe is densely populated, and these trails are often used by many other people seeking a bit of rest and relaxation.

I did a little riding around in a sand quarry on a friend’s Honda Elsinore as a kid, but my experience riding off-road is limited, to say the least, so Germany’s a good place for me to start. The closest stretch of the TET runs in an east-west direction about 120 kms north of here, and I’ve spent two days in May riding on two different sections. Most of the trail is, as mentioned, “paved”, but this is usually with age-old cobblestones or fairly poor concrete pavers and asphalt. The unpaved sections are mostly very old roads between villages, and are generally easy to ride on, although some sections are sandy, while others can be quite muddy. The XF is fine for the trails I’ve done so far, but if the riding got more challenging, I’d have to get some proper enduro tires, as the Mitas E-08s that I have are mainly for on-road riding.

The riding has been very enjoyable, and even if not terribly challenging, gets you off the bigger roads, riding between verdant fields and through tiny villages. It really is a great way to see Europe.

I’ve only seen two other motorcycles on the trail so far, as well as a few horses and bicyclists. No one has complained about my using the trail, which I was worried about, as so few people here outside the motorcycle community know anything about the TET, or that there is actually legal off-road riding in Germany.

The cobblestone roads are very old and have held up quite well, but are bone-shaking to ride down for any length of time.

Old Feldwege between villages are mainly used by farmers nowadays, but are also open to the public. The XF feels right at home on these dirt roads.

While riding home after a few hours on the trail, feeling good, I stopped at a bakery in the small town of Lychen to grab a belegte Brötchen (basically a bun with cheese) and a cup of coffee from the friendly woman behind the counter. I sat on a bench in the middle of town and enjoyed the scenery before continuing. This is a very standard part of a riding day here for me, so I was shocked and surprised when reading a newspaper a few days later that the very bakery I went into actually exploded less than a week later. Although the cause of the explosion is not 100% certain, it’s assumed that a gas leak caused the destruction, which was extensive. The woman working in the bakery at the time was seriously injured as well.

Damage to the building was extensive. Photo courtesy of the Giessener Allgemeine

Now. I’m not one to spend too much time dwelling on the dangers that life poses, but it did occur to me that as dangerous as motorcycling can be, sometimes you just have to be in the wrong place at the wrong time for bad things to happen. There are over 10,000 bakeries in Germany (according to de.statista.com), and I happened to be in the one that exploded a couple of days later. Fate? Coincidence? Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows, but it has certainly given me something to think about.

Inspection blues

In Germany all road-going vehicles are required to pass a safety inspection carried out by the TÜV (Technischer Überwachungsverein, or Technical Inspection Association) every two years, and the two motorcycles my wife and I own both need new inspection stickers by the end of June. I figured I would get the ball rolling early and take the bikes in to the mechanic who works on the bikes one after the other, on two consecutive Tuesdays. I took my Suzuki in first, thinking there would be no problem, as it passed its last inspection with flying colors, only to have my query as to its success answered by a big “Nein!” It seems there were two small blocks that were part of a kit to raise the handlebars by 20mm that didn’t have a KBA number on them, which certifies single component acceptance. The same fate befell a braided front brake line that had been added as a replacement for the original one, even though it was a great improvement. I thought, if anything, some of the other changes (pannier racks, new blinkers, new rear light with LEDs, knuckle guards, brake and clutch levers) I had made would be a problem, but never thought a 2cm higher handlebar would even be noticed. At any rate, I rode back home, promising to take care of the problems before coming back.

The little black blocks raising the handlebars were one of the problems. The braided brake line the other.

The following week I took my wife’s BMW in because I didn’t have the new risers yet, also thinking there would be little the TÜV inspector would find fault with, as the bike is almost stock. Nonetheless, when I dropped into the workshop at lunch just to see how things were going, I was told that the Beemer hadn’t passed inspection either. In this case it was because the steering head bearings were worn out, which neither my wife nor I had noticed while riding. The bike is 20 years old, and only has about 25k kms (15k miles) on it, so it has probably had longer periods of disuse. This is always hard on bearings, so I guess it shouldn’t come as a total surprise. I was in a hurry to get back to work and told the mechanic I’d pick up the bike a little later that afternoon after I finished work. I went back at 2:30, only to find that the whole place had just closed down for an hour-long lunch break. No one was around, so I had no choice but to wait around to get the bike, as it was my way home. To say the least, I wasn’t entirely amused! But…at least the mechanic came back on time, and I was able to make a new appointment to get the new bearings and the inspection, even if I will have to wait till the middle of July to get the work done. It’s not a real problem to ride for a month or so with an expired inspection sticker, but it’s still not something I thought I’d have to deal with this time around, especially since I started so early. Seems like everything takes longer these days.

At least there were some nice old Beemers to admire while waiting, and it was dry!

Hopefully I can take my XF in for a successful inspection next week, when I have the new blocks in place and a components certificate for the brake line. Can’t help thinking inspections must be easier to deal with in other countries, but maybe this isn’t the case. It is good to have safe vehicles on the road, especially at the speeds people drive around here, but it’s still a hassel, and an expensive one at that.

Motorcycle meditation

I’ve often wondered about why motorcycling is such a pleasant pastime, and until a couple of days ago I wasn’t convinced I’d found an answer. Sure, it’s great to feel the wind in your face and have the sense of movement when leaning into a corner, to hear the sound of the engine and be able to get out into the middle of nowhere and relax, but I kept thinking there has to be more to it than that. And then the other day I read an article about meditation, which is something I’ve always wanted to do, but have been too busy (or lazy) to actually learn about and practice. The author of this article, whose name escapes me, said that it was really all very straightforward; the problem is that most people try too hard, leading to dissatisfaction in the end. He/She said that the main idea behind meditation is to try and concentrate on the present, on the here and now. Take a few breaths and just concentrate on breathing in and out, in and out, in and out,…without letting any other thoughts get in the way. Just concentrate on the moment. It is hard and takes some practice, and I certainly haven’t gotten there yet. Reading the article, however, I suddenly thought, “That’s pretty much what motorcycling is all about!”. When I’m riding, I’m concentrating on what’s going on around me. On the road up ahead, on the traffic, on the weather, on my speed, on the landscape immediately surrounding me. Riders have to do this, or every ride could end as a one-way trip. Concentration on the essential lets me (or forces me) to block out other thoughts, problems, etc., and I can just get into a state of “glide”, where everything else becomes less important, less present. This is obviously less possible when surrounded by urban traffic on a morning commute, or zipping down the Autobahn when it really can feel like it’s you against everyone else, but riding nonetheless has something to do with meditation for me.

A sign of life

I haven’t written anything on this blog for months. It’s been hard to put pen to paper, so to speak, with everything that’s going on in the wild world out there, i.e. covid, the war in the Ukraine, strange politics (including the so-called Zeitenwende, or “turning point” in Germany), and there’s also been a good deal of work as well. On top of all that, winter just seems to have gotten to me this year, even though it wasn’t a particularly rough one. It did seem long and grey, however, which didn’t serve as a very good source of inspiration. Spring is on its way, though!

I find the war to the east of here to be exceptionally troubling and trying to get my head around it has been very difficult, as I assume it has been for most folks. In light of the battles, rockets, burned villages and terrified refugees I read about every day, I got to thinking that writing about vehicles and trips and personal interests was all fairly trite. In the whole scope of things, it’s really unimportant, and maybe even wrong to go about my life as if things were normal. The other day, however, I read a very interesting article about a comedian named Akau Jambo from South Sudan (Yes, there really are comedians from that part of the world!), who, when asked about how he manages to find humor in all the misery his country experiences on a daily basis, said “Life doesn’t stop. We keep living”. This thought stayed with me, and has since become my new motto. Life for me, my family and my friends shouldn’t stop because of everything that’s going on. We all have to keep living, keep doing the things that keeps us sane, as long as we can, or else we won’t be any good to anyone. That’s the bottom line.

1000 miles through the Rockies on electric motorcycles

Reading various articles on ADVPulse the other day, I came across a video about two friends who had ridden their fully loaded Zero DSR motorcycles 1000 miles along the continental divide following the Colorado Backcountry Discovery Route (COBDR). Being very curious how a trip like that would be possible in such an out-of-the-way place, I watched the video with interest and greatly enjoyed it. The riders obviously know how to ride bikes offroad, but being on electric motorcycles made for a very different kind of trip, in more ways than one.

I’ve been interested in Zero motorcycles, and in electric motorcycles in general, since reading a booklet entitled Zero Below Zero, which was published by Aerostich in 2017. It describes how the company’s employees rode a Zero FX through a long frozen Minnesota winter (Where the maximum temperatures remain below freezing for an average of 106 days a year!), with each person riding the bike for a few days and then writing about their experience. I found it to be a very convincing tale of how functional and practical electric motorcycles can be. As Andy Goldfine writes at the end “It’s as simple as a refrigerator… You just get on this bike and go. All you have to remember is to unplug it before taking off. It is by far the easiest-to-use motorcycle I’ve ever experienced. Apparently the most maintenance-free too. No tune-ups. No oil changes (EVER!), no warm-ups. No vibrations. No smells. Less pollution”.

If they could just get the price down ($15,695 starting price – ouch!) and increase the range (now between 160 and 200 miles), I’d be seriously interested in a bike like the Zero.