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Posts Tagged ‘harley-davidson’

Electric motorcycles have got their share of nay-sayers. Although truth be told, more and more bikers are seriously looking towards the electric motorcycle. With Harley-Davidson’s recent introduction of their LiveWire electric motorcycle, the e-motorcycle suddenly got thrust into the limelight.

Harley-Davidson LifeWire

Harley-Davidson LifeWire

Before, it was the likes of Brammo and Zero to carry the electric motorcycle evolution torch, but these startups do not have the market power that the Milwaukee brand has, and it was obvious if you followed the news; any news, since all TV stations around the world talked about it in their evening news. Even TV stations in Outer-Mongolia showed the Harley-Davidson.

But one place where electric bikes are starting to make their mark is in the motorcycle racing sport. And one race where they are doing so is at one of the most craziest, dangerous and spectator-drawing races: the Isle of Man TT race.

The Isle of Man TT race is a very long track using public roads on the Isle of Man (an island located next to England). And when I write public roads, it means that they take the normal road used by thousands of cars, trucks and buses and close it for a few hours to let motorcycles race on them. Roads that had previously seen mud, dirt, oil and even cattle droppings. All that while the motorcycles race at speeds of up to 150 mph! If you want to read more about the race and the atmosphere of the TT race, I highly recommend the book TT Full Throttle from author Nicole Winters (it’s a novel not a biography book, so the story never happened but the surroundings and facts are all true).

At this year’s IoM TT race, the current champion and TT legend John McGuinness on his electric Mugen Shinden motorcycle raced around the island, setting a new lap record for electric motorcycles at 117.366 mph. That’s an average speed, not the top speed! Below you can see the onboard video of the amazing run. The electric motorcycle is almost as fast as the ICE equivalent motorcycles (Internal Combustion Engine), which stands at 132 mph. The only difference is that the ICE motorcycles do 3 laps, while the electric motorcycle can only do one lap.

But watching the video, you know two things for sure: 1. electric motorcycles will in the next few years become mainstream, and 2) IoM TT racers are crazy and suicidal.

So maybe you are deadset against electric motorcycles, but 100 years ago people were against internal combustion engines, preferring horses. But that changed, didn’t it? So why wouldn’t electric motorcycles become mainstream?

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We all know by now that Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their potato-potato-potato sound. You can recognize a Harley miles away just from its sound (and probably the loud pipes). The same goes for most BMW and Ducati motorcycles.

But did you know that the sounds are engineered? It used to be that engineers and designers looked after the engine and then the motorcycle frame; the sound came automatically afterward. The only thing the engineers looked at when it came to the sound of the engine, was if it stayed within the legal regulations envelope.

(c) Harley-Davidson

If the sound sounded dull, they adapted the exhaust noise. But Harley wanted more. They continued their research and found that people liked the potato-potato-potato sound, so they set out to replicate it on all their motorcycles. During the ’90s they even went so far as to patent their sound, but despite popular believe, their attempt was unsuccessful.

This brought in a new profession in the motorcycle industry; Acoustic Engineers. Almost all, if not all, manufacturers have at least one. Their job is to ensure that when you fire up your engine, it doesn’t sound like a lame duck with a severe flu. Nothing turns off a biker more than the sound of a lawnmower, not a real motorcycle when starting up their bike.

(c) BMW Motorrad

BMW have a special wind tunnel that generates a wind flow of 200 kph, but is totally silent. This allows their engineers to measure and analyze the sound coming from the motorcycle’s engine, exhaust and frame. Special care is taken with vibrations from different parts of the motorcycle, as to ensure that they do not disrupt the bike’s melody. A test dummy sits on top of the motorcycle, and hears everything a normal biker will. That sound is recorded, and analyzed for further improvements.

(c) AVL

The motorcycle sound is made out of three different parts; the air intake, the engine noise and the exhaust, but other parts of the motorcycle can negatively influence the engineered sound, like a dry clutch. So next time your ride your bike, enjoying the throb and sound of your engine (especially in a tunnel), remember that the sound was made, not an accident.

Of course all this goes away with the coming of the electric motorcycle, unless you use a CD player with the desired sound.

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This summer the Harley-Davidson Museum will offer a select group of riders and enthusiasts an exclusive opportunity to become the ultimate Harley-Davidson insider.
The Harley-Davidson Fantasy Camp is an exclusive behind-the-scenes Harley-Davidson experience, offering participants a once-in-a-lifetime chance to immerse themselves in Harley-Davidson Motor Company history, gain entry to the building where bikes are engineered, styled and tested, ride with Harley-Davidson executives, and become the ultimate Harley-Davidson insider.

From June 21-25, 2010, twenty Harley-Davidson Fantasy Campers will be immersed in Harley-Davidson history and culture as well as get to know Milwaukee, Harley-Davidson’s hometown for 107 years.

A sneak peek of what is planned:

•Enjoy VIP guided tours of the Harley-Davidson Museum including an in-depth look at the limited-access archives collection.
•Discover historic Harley-Davidson sites during a never-before-offered city tour of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
•Tour the access-restricted Willie G. Davidson Product Development Center (PDC), where motorcycle prototypes are engineered, styled and tested.
•Learn how Harley-Davidson V-Twin engines work from a Harley-Davidson University instructor.
•Bond with a Harley-Davidson Motor Company executive while riding through Milwaukee’s countryside.
•Experience must-do Milwaukee activities like enjoy a Brewer’s game from the exclusive Harley-Davidson Deck, and check out Summerfest from the private Harley-Davidson Roadhouse.
•Share daily meals with Harley-Davidson staff and other H-D Fantasy Campers.
•Chronicle the trip with plenty of opportunities for photos
The Harley-Davidson Fantasy Camp experience includes hotel, food, and transportation to all destinations – including motorcycles for the ride – and exclusive access to areas not available to the public for $3,000 per person.

To enroll in the Harley-Davidson Fantasy Camp, call the Harley-Davidson Museum Group Tours Coordinator at 414-287-2799. Registration deadline is May 31, 2010.

Company Background
Harley-Davidson Motor Company produces heavyweight custom, cruiser and touring motorcycles and offers a complete line of Harley-Davidson motorcycle parts, accessories, riding gear and apparel, and general merchandise. For more information, visit harley-davidson.com.

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