His fill up would put about ten tanks in the Ninja, at 300kms a tank his single fill up would get me over 3000kms (!), and he has the nerve to stand there crying about how his inferiority complex has resulted in poor choices? If gas doubled in price tomorrow I'd still be able to afford to ride. I wonder what Bucky-look-at-my-truck would do.
I was reading Cycle Canada last night and came across a letter from a reader who (after extolling the virtues of cruisers for a long time) went on to sneer at the idea of quiet electric bikes, basically saying that they'd have to pry his Harley out of his cold, dead hands. Many of those dinosaurs will soon be extinct and maybe then we can move on to forms of motorcycling that are sustainable for generations. I've often wondered what it would have been like to ride my Grand-dad's bike. Wouldn't it be cool to get to a point where our descendants can? It would give me great pleasure knowing that we developed a form of motorbiking that is so efficient and undamaging that my great, great grandchild could enjoy it without worrying if it will irreparably damage the world.
Don't get me wrong, I love the sound of a nicely tuned engine as much as anyone (you can keep your farty exhausts), but if the internal combustion engine is the pinnacle of human achievement, we're in real trouble, especially if we're going to stuff the world full of billions of people who all want a giant pickup.
Way back in the 1990s I watched one of those Star Trek: The Next Generations that was dangerously insightful. In the episode, Force of Nature, it is discovered that warping all over the place actually damages space. It snuck up on you, but the allegory was clear - even if you love something (burning fossil fuels and making CO²), you can't be blind to the damage it does. What was previously a blind-love relationship with motor vehicles became more complicated for me after that.
|Think gas is expensive now? You|
ain't seen nothing yet.
Welcome to the end of cheap oil.
If you ask most people to imagine a world without internal combustion, they can't. I asked kids in class a couple of years ago what they'd like to do when they retired in 2045. One said she wanted to buy a Camaro. I asked her what she intended to do with it, use it as a planter to grow flowers? She couldn't conceive of a world without cheap, plentiful oil, most of us can't, but that world is coming.
|"Though they run on fossil fuel, these|
are digital machines" - Ewan McGregor
describing the lastest MotoGP bikes
I also caught some of the 24 Hours of LeMans. The prototypes in that race used only electric power to enter and leave the pits. They were eerily silent and people could carry out normal conversation as they went about their work, it was pretty awesome. They are also faster than anything previously while using less fuel. That's the kind of future I can get excited about.
The McLaren P1 is an astonishing piece of engineering. Over 30mpg and capable of well over 200mph. It's not just fast for a hybrid, it's one of the fastest cars ever built. The future won't be slow, though it may be much quieter.
There are still people who keep steam engines alive because they love the history and the mechanics of the things. They aren't very efficient, and it wouldn't be sensible to have everyone using steam, but it's nice to see mechanical history honoured. There are people who will keep gasoline engines alive. They aren't very efficient or sustainable, and it wouldn't be sensible for everyone to have one, but it'll be nice to see that history remembered too. For the rest of us (doofus with his pickup truck included), I'm looking forward to a quieter, faster, cleaner future. In the meantime I'll enjoy my 0-60 in under 4 seconds Ninja that gets more than 60mpg. There is nothing like the minimalism of the motorbike to make the most out of every drop of fuel.