Archive | Motorcycles

Black Motorcyclists More Likely to Die

BALTIMORE, Sept. 24 (UPI) — African-American motorcyclists are more likely than others to die in crashes, even though they are more likely to wear a helmet, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions say black motorcycle crash victims are 1.5 times more likely to die than similarly injured whites — even though many more African-American victims were found to be wearing helmets when injured.

However, the highest mortality rates are among African-American motorcyclists without helmets, the study says.

The study, published in the American Journal of Surgery, suggests programs to prevent injuries — such as state laws mandating motorcycle helmet use — may not be protecting all riders equally.

“For reasons that we are still trying to figure out, one size of injury prevention does not fit all groups of people and just wearing a helmet is not enough,” senior author Dr. Adil Haider says in a statement. “Helmet for helmet, African-Americans have more lethal injuries.”

Haider says several factors — such as lack of health insurance, reduced access to healthcare, poorer quality of care and a greater number of pre-existing illnesses/injuries — may be combining to account for the survival gap.

It is possible, he says, riders of different races may prefer different types of helmets or motorcycles, but more research is needed.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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'Cycle Powered by Compressed Air Proposed

LUCKNOW, India, June 23 (UPI) — Scientists in India say they have conceptually designed a motorcycle engine that uses compressed air, rather than gasoline, to generate power.

The researchers — Bharat Raj Singh and Onkar Singh of the SMS Institute of Technology in Lucknow, India — said their new, cleaner motorcycle engine would use compressed air to turn a small air turbine, generating enough power to run for up to 40 minutes.

They said such a motorcycle could be combined with a compressed air cylinder as a replacement for traditional internal combustion engines. In areas where motorcycles are a major source of public transportation, such a technology could cut emissions substantially if widely implemented, they said.

Singh said designing a compact, high-capacity air tank to store sufficient “fuel” for long rides would be a major hurdle. Existing tanks would require someone to stop about every 19 miles to swap tanks.

The research is reported in the May 6 issue of the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Injured Boomer Motorcyclists, Higher Toll

ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 5 (UPI) — Middle-age motorcycle riders run a higher risk than younger riders of dying if hurt in a crash, U.S. researchers said.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center said conventional wisdom suggests most injured motorcyclists are thought of as young adults. However, between 1996 and 2005, the average age of U.S. motorcyclists involved in crashes increased from approximately age 34 to age 39, while the proportion of injured riders age 40 and older increased from 28 percent to almost to 50 percent.

Those ages 50-59 were the fastest growing group involved with crashes, the study said. The study, published in the American Surgeon, found the risk of dying was one-and-a-half to two times more likely in riders age 40 and older.

“Treating a 60-year-old who has been in a motorcycle accident is very different from treating a 21-year-old who has been in a similar accident — 60-year-olds bring a lot more medical baggage with them and impact outcomes,” Dr. Mark Gestring, director of the trauma program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement. “As people start to dust off their motorcycles this spring, older riders should take an extra measure of caution; if an accident happens they’ll often pay a higher price than younger riders.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Injured Boomer Motorcyclists, Higher Toll

ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 5 (UPI) — Many baby boomers keep riding motorcycles as they age but middle-age riders run a higher risk of dying if hurt in motorcycle crashes, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center said conventional wisdom suggests most injured motorcyclists are thought of as young adults. However, between 1996 and 2005, the average age of U.S. motorcyclists involved in crashes increased from approximately age 34 to age 39, while the proportion of injured riders age 40 and older increased from 28 percent to almost to 50 percent.

Those ages 50-59 were the fastest growing group involved with crashes, the study said. The study, published in the American Surgeon, found the risk of dying was one-and-a-half to two times more likely in riders age 40 and older.

“Treating a 60-year-old who has been in a motorcycle accident is very different from treating a 21-year-old who has been in a similar accident — 60-year-olds bring a lot more medical baggage with them and impact outcomes,” Dr. Mark Gestring, director of the trauma program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement. “As people start to dust off their motorcycles this spring, older riders should take an extra measure of caution; if an accident happens they’ll often pay a higher price than younger riders.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Injured Boomer Motorcyclists, Higher Toll

ROCHESTER, N.Y., April 5 (UPI) — More baby boomers still ride motorcycles as they age but middle-aged riders run a higher risk of dying if hurt in motorcycle crashes, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center said conventional wisdom suggests most injured motorcyclists are thought of as young adults. However, between 1996 and 2005, the average age of U.S. motorcyclists involved in crashes increased from approximately age 34 to age 39, while the proportion of injured riders age 40 and older increased from 28 percent to almost to 50 percent.

Those ages 50-59 were the fastest growing group involved with crashes, the study said. The study, published in the American Surgeon, found the risk of dying was one-and-a-half to two times more likely in riders age 40 and older.

“Treating a 60-year-old who has been in a motorcycle accident is very different from treating a 21-year-old who has been in a similar accident — 60-year-olds bring a lot more medical baggage with them and impact outcomes,” Dr. Mark Gestring, director of the trauma program at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said in a statement. “As people start to dust off their motorcycles this spring, older riders should take an extra measure of caution; if an accident happens they’ll often pay a higher price than younger riders.”

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.

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Electricity Powered Bikes

The attention some of the electric automobile designs have attracted over the past few years has tended to take the focus away from bikes and motorcycles. But for every Volt or Tesla making a splash in the news, dozens of models of electricity powered two-wheelers have been selling by the thousands for years. In aggregate, millions of electricity powered bikes are already in use around the world.

Should anyone doubt the electric scooter industry is alive and well, if not already gone through several cycles of maturity, go to Alibaba.com and search under “Electric Scooters.” You will get links to an astonishing 6,903 products, ranging from Suzhou Rununion Motivity Co., Ltd., to Wuxi Beiyi Electric Bicycle Co., Ltd., to Taizhou Wangpai Automobile Industry Co., to Jiangsu Taler Science and Technology of Motor Vehicle Co., to Jiangsu Xinling Motorcycle Manufacturing Co. , and on, and on, and on, and on. And small wonder – you can plug them in at night, ride them to work during the day, they’re relatively inexpensive to purchase, and they’re considerably less expensive to operate.

Now that electric bikes, scooters and motorcycles are making sense not only on the streets of Shanghai but also on the streets of Silicon Valley, there are some relatively new entrants in this market based in California instead of China. One such company, ELV Motors, based in Santa Clara, in the heart of California’s Silicon Valley, manufactures mo-peds as well as scooters. Their UM 44L Electric Bicycle, which sells for $1,699, has a top speed of 15 miles per hour, and a range – not including range extension through pedaling – of 20 miles. And at 75 pounds, the bike is practical to pedal in flat terrain without battery power. ELV Motors manufactures seven models of mo-peds and scooters, including the E-1600 Electric Scooter, which at the price of $2,699 attains a top speed of 30 miles per hour and a range of 40 miles.

Another company, ZERO Motorcycles, is located in Santa Cruz, California, a coastal resort community which is a 30 minute drive south of the Silicon Valley through some of the most beautiful rolling hills of redwood forests anywhere. ZERO Motorcycles draws on Santa Cruz’s reputation as one of the original centers of mountain biking alongside their proximity to the technological saavy of Silicon Valley to develop the first ever off-road, all-electric dirt bike. Their Zero X model (specifications) delivers 23 horsepower of power and can accelerate from zero to 30 miles per hour in under two seconds. There is no transmission and the electric motor delivers constant torque of 50 ft-lbs. With a 18 pound frame and a total weight of only 140 pounds, ZERO claims their Zero X model has the highest power to weight ratio of any electric vehicle. With lithium ion batteries the motorcycle has a range of about 40 miles.
post resumes below image

The Zero X electric motorcycle goes zero to thirty in 2.0 seconds.
(Photo: ZERO Motorcycles)

An electric car with a mileage of 4.0 miles per kilowatt-hour would compare to a compact car with a mileage of 30 MPG. At $1.50 per gallon, that equates to $.05 per mile for the gasoline powered car, and at $.10 per kilowatt-hour, that equates to $.025 per mile for the electric powered car – half as much. To save money on gas, people are turning to motorcycles; to save even more money, they might consider the emerging electric motorcycle. With well established supply chains for electric scooters and mo-peds, and an electric dirt bike now available from ZERO Motorcycles, it is only a matter of time before street-legal, full sized electric motorcycles arrive. If the example from ZERO is any indication, these bikes will perform against their gasoline powered counterparts just as admirably as the early Teslas perform against their gasoline powered automobile counterparts.

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Mid-Level Ethanol Blends & Impact on Automakers

Mid-level ethanol blends such as E12, E15, E20 and even as high as E40 have garnered a lot of attention lately. Mainly because ethanol producers want a quick and easy way to soak up a surplus of ethanol that will soon reach the saturation point for the current supply in the marketplace.

Under current federal law, conventional fuel cannot contain more than 10 percent ethanol, known as E10, but proponents for higher mid-level blends would like to replace the current gasoline mixture with higher levels of ethanol, which would change the fuel used in vehicles and small engines.

GM’s concerns with higher ethanol blends include the capability of our engines and fuel systems to handle them. Anecdotally, some might do fine. But there are 250 million vehicles on the road in the U.S. and only about 7 million of them are designed to handle higher ethanol blends.
post resumes below image

The 2009 E85 Ethanol-Capable Buick Lucerne. GM has sold over 3.0
million flexfuel cars in the U.S., operable on any mixture of gasoline
and ethanol up to 85% ethanol. Conventional engines, however, are
not necessarily equipped to run on ethanol mixes greater than 15%.
(Photo: GM)

In addition, there are marine and industrial engines, plus a host of outboards, lawn and garden equipment, motorcycles and various off-road vehicles that would be impacted as well. None of this equipment was designed to use mid-level ethanol blends and some was not designed to use ethanol at all.

Higher ethanol blends run hotter in many non-flex-fuel equipped vehicles and virtually all of the non-automotive equipment, and the way this process works is that a small change in temperature produces a very large change in behavior.

The biggest question is long-term durability. The only durability study conducted on these fuels to date was done for the Australian Department of the Environment (ref. Fuel Quality Publications, Australian Government).

It found corrosion, seal attack, and catalyst damage due to the engine control system’s failure to adapt to the ethanol and using the wrong mixture at high power.

When the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its preliminary test findings on E15 and E20 last month, little was said about six of 13 vehicles tested exhibiting catalyst overheating. A damaged catalyst is less effective at eliminating pollutants and allows increased tailpipe pollution. The leaner fuel mixture – ethanol is 35 percent oxygen – also lead to drivability and operability issues in older vehicles and non-automotive equipment.

GM is working with other automakers, the oil industry, DOE and EPA to develop and execute test programs to determine and document the effects of these higher blends on the existing fleet. This work takes time.

At GM, we think E85 ethanol is the best alternative to petroleum in the near term, but in order for ethanol, or any alternative fuel, to succeed it needs the good will of the public and government behind it. Prematurely implementing a higher ethanol blend that damages the gasoline-fueled equipment could cause irreparable harm to ethanol’s reputation. And ethanol took a big hit with the Australian public following the introduction of mid-level blends in limited areas. This is what prompted the Australian Department of the Environment to fund the E20 study performed by Orbital Engine Co.

GM has worked to expand the E85 infrastructure in this country, assisting more than 300 stations in 15 states with securing state and other grants to help offset the cost of installing E85 pumps. We are now implementing a partnership with the National Governors Association to help 10 states grow their E85 infrastructure (ref. States to Enhance Access to E85 Fueling Stations, National Governors Association).

Our commitment to E85 includes making 50 percent of our vehicles capable of running on gasoline, E85 or any combination of the two by 2012, provided there is sufficient infrastructure in place. Let’s be clear about the math: No combination of mid-level blends will add up to enough ethanol use to meet the Renewable Fuels Standard that calls for 36 billion gallons of ethanol a year by 2022.

E85, which is an alternative fuel vs. a fuel additive, is a choice we provide free to GM customers. We know choice can work, as it has in Brazil and Sweden, where governments required fueling infrastructure to support FFVs. Customers typically choose between ethanol and gasoline, depending on which is the best deal.

The bottom line is GM supports and encourages greater ethanol fuel availability for our flex-fuel vehicles, but we are concerned about customers misfueling conventional vehicles by using fuels containing more than 10 percent ethanol. The long-term durability of higher ethanol blends in conventional engines needs to be tested thoroughly because advocates are proposing to change gasoline for all of us, forever.

Coleman Jones is the Biofuels Implementation Manager at General Motors.

Posted in Cars, Effects Of Air Pollution, Energy, Motorcycles, Other, Transportation10 Comments

Zap Electric Vehicles – Plug It In And Drive!

Driving is not as fun as it could be. Gas prices, congested roads and the pollution that constantly sputters from the engine all put a damper on the weekend road trip or commute to work. Electric cars might be able to solve many of these problems. Imagine quietly rolling by a gas station in car that reduces pollution by 98% and smiling to yourself comforted by the fact that you don’t need to shell out almost 70 dollars to fill the tank. It is funny to think that watching TV can cost more than running an electric car.

The first electric cars date back to the 1830s! Unfortunately they didn’t catch on with a range of about 10 miles and a huge price tag. Electric cars used to be up to three times more expensive than the internal combustion engine vehicles that came along later. This is definitely no longer the case: In fact, with the tremendous increase in gas prices, an electric vehicle can pay for itself within a year.

ZAP or ‘Zero Air Pollution’ Vehicles, based in Santa Rosa, California, distributes a variety of electric vehicles that fit everyone’s needs. Trucks, scooters, motorcycles, off-road vehicles and cars are all available through http://www.zapworld.com Prices for these vehicles range from 500-50,000 dollars and these cars and bikes come in every color imaginable-There is even a vehicle available that has the option of painted zebra stripes!

Don’t think that you are restricted to driving to your neighborhood grocery store before you need to recharge your electric car. The range of these vehicles is constantly rising. A typical electric vehicle has a range of 100 miles which is perfect for the daily commute to work or running errands and the price of running an electric car can be compared to about 600 miles/gallon, which is an incentive in itself.

Many people assume that you have to give up power and luxury when buying an electric car. This is not the case. Like with anything else, you get what you pay for. The higher end Zap-X, for example, boasts 644 horsepower, gets 350 miles per charge (which averages to about 1 cent per mile), comes with an electric touch screen and GPS system and can seat up to 7. A car like this is not going to be mistaken for an inferior vehicle on the road. (http://www.zapworld.com/electric-vehicles/electric-cars/zap-x )

There is a demand for cars that are efficient and environmentally friendly. Who doesn’t want a car that just needs to be plugged in to run? It is more complicated to run an electric razor (maybe even more expensive.)

Posted in Air Pollution, Cars, Motorcycles, People, Transportation8 Comments

The Tango T600 Electric Car

The next generation of electric cars have been in gestation for several years, as evidenced by Commuter Cars Corporation’s Tango T600. This is probably the most unique battery-powered car design yet seen. This car is 39″ wide, 8’5″ long, and 60″ tall. It is designed to seat two, with the passenger behind the driver. Because it’s narrow, and because it’s so small, it can split lanes like a motorcycle, and it can park perpendicular to the curb in spots only motorcycles would ordinarily fit.

The Tango T600

These specifications, applied to a car with four wheels, give the Tango an unusual appearance, and nothing that might automatically be associated with high performance. But the Tango is designed for speed. Its battery pack puts out 2,000 amps at 375 volts, and its engine can draw well over 600 kilowatts. By contrast the Tesla Roadster draws under 200 kilowatts. This car may look like a golf cart, but it drives like a racing bike. The company claims it will do 0-60 in 4.0 seconds, the quarter mile in 12.0 seconds, and top out over 150 mph.

Unlike the Tesla Roadster, which uses a conventional Lotus chassis and therefore automatically passes many of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, the Tango T600 is assembled as a kit. This isn’t to say it’s not safe. The Tango is narrow, but it has an extremely low center of gravity. When I spoke today with their President, Rick Woodbury, he said the Tango has a center of gravity of 56 degrees, comparable to a Porsche 911, and that it could remain stable up to a 1.5 gravity turn.

Furthering occupant safety, the Tango is also equipped with a roll cage and “more steel in the doors than a Volvo,” according to Woodbury, who also said “the car is designed for 200 MPH collisions.” So if you want to zoom through traffic like a motorcycle, you can, but you will also be far better protected than the average motorcycle rider. Best of both worlds.

Range for the Tango varies because they are offering different battery packs. With lead acid batteries, depending on usage, the range is 40-80 miles. With nickel metal hydride batteries, the range increases to 80-160. With lithium ion batteries, the range can go over 300 miles, more than the Tesla.

Currently Commuter Cars Corp. has sold one Tango T600 and have six ordered and under construction. These prototypes cost over $100,000 each. They claim they have sourced a lithium ion battery using lithium polymers in a single string. Woodbury said they were definitely “not using laptop batteries.”

It will be interesting to see if a car like this can take off. Commuter Cars Corp. is taking orders for less expensive production versions of their car which will come safety rated instead of as kits. These cars, the T200 and the T100, are listed on their ordering page at $39,900 and $18,700 respectively. Woodbury says they have about 100 orders so far, and will probably be able to begin production once their order volume tops 1,000 or so. If Commuter Cars Coporation eventually can deliver a T100 for under $20,000, a car with this speed and handling may well find its niche.

Posted in Cars, Energy & Fuels, Motorcycles24 Comments


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