Of Zen, Brammo, and Journeys

“The test of the machine is the satisfaction it gives you. There isn’t any other test. If the machine produces tranquility it’s right. If it disturbs you it’s wrong until either the machine or your mind is changed.” – Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values, 1974.

In the volatile Summer of 1968, Robert Pirsig climbed on his 1964 Honda Superhawk and set off on a 17-day journey from his home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, to the Zen Center on 300 Page Street, San Francisco, California.  His story of that trip took four years to write and was rejected by 121 publishers before the William Morrow Company finally agreed to publish it.  Since then, it has sold four million copies, worldwide.

The book is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values.

More than just a tale of a journey, a travelogue, or a handbook of motorcycle maintenance, the book contains some deep philosophical discussions — but I refer you to the book itself for more detail.

This post is about another journey on that same route, 42 years later, by another author, on an entirely different motorcycle.

Rob Novey is traveling the same route as Pirsig, although he’s riding a 2010 Brammo Enertia.  He plans to write a book about the trip.  Working title (what else?): Zen and the Art of Electric Motorcycle Maintenance.

August 29, 2010:  On the road to Minneapolis to pick up an electric motorcycle. Then a 2,000 mile cross country ride to San Francisco. Should be interesting 🙂

Thus begins the first in a series of posts by Novey about his ride.  To read them, you’ll have to “friend” him on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/robnovey .

If Rob is reading this – tips on “Electric Motorcycle Maintenance” can be found at the Brammo Owners Forum and on the Brammo Owners Forum Wiki.

As of his last post, he’s made it to Livingston, Montana, a little over 1/3 of the way to his destination.  So far, he’s running about five days behind Pirsig’s rate of travel, but with a range of about 40 miles between charges that take about 3-4 hours to top-off the batteries, that’s to be expected.  The discrepancy between the durations of the two journeys is expected to grow.

Rob has shared some pictures and some brief descriptions of his trip, for example:

Okay, now that the last couple of day’s pics are out, here’s the latest: I made it to Montana and am slogging along. The weather has been very hit or miss and when it misses, it really misses. Still making great progress and still have never been refused a charge. Headed for Yellowstone.  – September 11, 6:12pm.

We’ll likely have to wait for the book for the details, but until then, here’s some pictures he’s posted so far.  Good luck to you, Rob!

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  1. #1 by Domenick on September 16, 2010 - 10:55 am

    Cool! I’ve read the first 40-or-so pages of Pirsig’s book. About 5 different times. It was highly recommended by an uncle so I’m sure it’s good, but I finally gave up.

    Maybe I can finish this one but if I can’t, at least I can look at the pictures.

  2. #2 by Ken Sherman on September 18, 2010 - 7:57 am

    Rob’s a good friend of mine. I just talked to him last night on Sept. 17th. I don’t want to give too much away but he’s just about out of Montana. He’s a good writer and it’ll be fun to read the book. He’ll tell it like it happened.

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