Posts Tagged It’s all about me

Welfare, Brammofan-style

Deep within the bowels of a certain government building in a certain midwestern city is a parking lot usually reserved for the upper-level bureaucrats.  I am not an upper-level bureaucrat, but I do happen to have one as a boss.  He is on leave today and he left me in charge of his minions . . . the fool!

Along with the illusion of power, he has left me in charge of his empty parking place.  A parking place, I might mention, comes with a wall at the far end thereof.  And not just any wall — this wall has two (2) electrical outlets on it.

I have written before about my travails related to charging at work.  The efforts to address my request continue, I am told, but are apparently being discussed in a city far to the east of here.  I’d be happy to pay for the electricity I use and have offered to do so, but they tell me there is no system to handle this type of transaction.  To give you an idea of the amount of money we’re talking about here, at Kansas City’s current rate per kilowatt hour, it costs me about .25 in electricity for my round trip commute.

“The purpose of welfare is to assist individuals in need.”  Okay, so I don’t “need” the electricity as I am easily able to make the complete round trip of my daily commute on a single charge of my bike’s lithium iron phosphate batteries.  In fact, when I arrive home I have anywhere from 45% to 20% charge remaining.  Those 45% days are usually the result of a conscious decision to hyper-mile and, perhaps, a friendly wind at my back.  The 20% days are usually the result of whacking the throttle wide open to feel the instant torque of the electric motor.

Back to the present . . .

I decided to make an executive decision — because I was indeed, an official executive today — and I parked in the boss’s spot.  I also went that extra step and decided that, while I was there, I might as well take advantage of the governmental subsidy of free juice.  I plugged in to the first outlet, feeling triumphant.  “I hereby suckle from the electric teat!” I loudly (actually, quite quietly) proclaimed.

Connect to AC Power” read the status line on the Brammo Enertia dashboard.  Curses!  The outlet is dead.  No juice for me.  What a perfect analogy for the frustrations presented to us by our power structure.  On a whim, I unplugged from outlet 1 and plugged into outlet 2, about two feet away.

Charging Enabled.”  BOO YAH!  Let the teat sucking commence.

Exhibit 1 in my upcoming personnel action.

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Home Power Magazine Loves Electric Motorcycles

Home Power Magazine - Brammofan Approves

UPDATED!!  Five Easy  Four FREE Steps to Electric Enlightenment

Step One: go to http://homepower.com/current/ http://homepower.com/article/?file=HP144_pg48_Berman

Step Two:  Click on “View Complete Issue”  “View Article.”

Step Three: Click on “Become a Digital Subscriber to view issue”

Step Four: Shell out $9.95 for a year’s subscription.

Step Five THREE: Read the article by Brad Berman titled “Kick Started – Electric Motorcycles Gain Traction.”

Step Six FOUR: Read the article by Ted Dillard titled “Personal Electric Vehicles Get More Personal.”

Why should you do this?

Because you want to keep up-to-date with all the happenings and developments in the world of electric motorcycles.  Berman does a great job summarizing the various offerings available today, and there’s some insightful information  about Dillard’s efforts converting worn out gas bikes into like-new electric ones from Dillard about electric two wheelers ranging in size from small (like bicycles and scooters ) to large (motorcycles and Segways).

I’m not sure that’s worth $10. What else?

Here’s the kicker: Berman’s article includes an interview with me.  I don’t want to give away the farm, but here’s some excerpts:

Mallin says that his motorcycle, which was delivered to him in a crate in June 2010, has exceeded his expectations. Not only is it a greener transportation option, but most of all, it’s a daily thrill. “It’s fun to ride, that’s for sure,” Mallin says. “How often do you wake up looking forward to your morning commute?”

* * *

“The only thing I hear when I ride my motorcycle is the wind inside my helmet, a little bit of chain noise, and the tires on the road,” Mallin says. “It’s much more of a visceral experience and closer to nature, compared to the rumble, rumble, rumble of a gas bike. On an electric bike, you can hear the crickets in the summer.”

Berman has also included quotes by Brian Wismann, Director of Product Development at Brammo; John Adamo, editor of Plugbike.com (and co-moderator of the Brammo Owners Forum); Harlan Flagg, owner of Hollywood Electrics; and Azhar Hussain, CEO of the TTXGP electric motorcycle racing series.

And yes, he even includes some pictures and information about bikes other than Brammo, including Zero Motorcycles, Mission Motors, Quantya, and Roehr Motorcycles.  So don’t waste your $10 on ice cream and donuts – spend it wisely on a subscription to Home Power and come away lighter, healthier, and better informed.

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Thirty Hours to Go

Thanks to the unparalleled customer service of Brammo (and the fact that it’s still under warranty) I only have about 30 hours until I can ride again.

My naked Enertia

I’m not sure if it is the result of something I did, or a defective gerbil in the works, but for whatever reason, the last time I turned on my bike it went, “Huh?” and refused to move.  I did what any motorcycle owner and former Nintendo gamer would do in such a situation: I took out the key, blew on it, blew into the keyhole, and tried again.  Nada.

The harsh morning light fell on her nakedness . . .

I looked up the fault code displayed on the dash in my owner’s manual.  “Contact Brammo Service.”  I sent an email to Brammo and an hour and a half later my Brammo Tech replied with a list of nine tasks.  The first three were pretty easy — basically turning the bike on in the usual way and looking for any additional fault codes.  Step # 4 was a bit more challenging, and this is how she put it:

This step depends on how comfortable you are with taking off the body panels.  If you feel comfortable and have your owner’s manual go to page 55 and follow the instructions.  If you don’t feel comfortable taking them off let me know and I will talk to Danny about coming to diagnose and fix your bike.

If I was the least bit reluctant to dive in, I am certain that she would have come right out and handled it.  But I have been on some other motorcycle forums and have been reading many stories about how folks have been getting their bikes ready for Spring by tuning up their carburetors, replacing spark plugs, flushing their coolant systems, and countless other tasks.  Given that my Spring preparation would have consisted of dripping some lube on the chain and checking the tire pressure, I was eager to get my hands greasy.

Lesson one of taking off the body panels and diving into the innards of the Brammo Enertia is that your hands will not get greasy unless you touch the chain.  About the only dirt I found inside the body panels was some road dust that had filtered in through the front grill  that hides the horn and appears to be the main source of air that cools the motor.  For the most part, the innards looked as clean as they looked in pictures taken during the manufacturing process.

My bike, before I knew her.

I removed the body panels with ease, thanks to the clear instructions from the Brammo Owner’s Manual, and began unplugging cords and checking fuses.

Unfortunately, I got all the way to step number nine and had not found the problem.  The Brammo Tech had ended step nine with these words:

If the fuses aren’t blown then  the issue is one of two parts which are not the easiest to replace and we will go from there.

Although I was willing to try to install the parts myself, Brammo decided to send the tech to handle this.  I strongly suspect that they did this following an assessment of my mechanical skills.  This assessment, according to my wife, was spot on.  “I think it’s great that they trusted you with the steps that required you to turn the key.  Once I saw you pick up the allen wrench to remove the body panels, all bets were off.”

My mechanical ineptitude, notwithstanding, I’m glad that Brammo let me try my hand at being a shade tree mechanic.  I’m even happier that they are sending out my favorite Tech, Jennifer, who has visited me a couple of other times.  Although I’m not expecting anything in particular other than getting my bike fixed, she has, in the past, arrived bearing gifts.

My helmet, adorned with a previous gift from BrammoJen

She’s scheduled to show up on Thursday night.  I am hopeful that my first ride of the month will take place that night. I’ll keep you updated, Brammo minions.

Yet another picture, risking my blog's "G" rating.

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Brammo at the Lucky Brewgrille

Brammo at the Brewgrille

What is a motorcycle doing inside a bar?

This is my Brammo Enertia and last night it was causing a bit of a ruckus at the Lucky Brewgrille in Mission, Kansas, during the monthly meeting of the Heart of America Motorcycle Enthusiasts club (HOAME).

The man who introduced me at the meeting and who has ridden my Enertia said this about the bike:

“I can answer the most important questions. You don’t need to ask Harry.

Is it a ‘real’ motorcycle?  Yes.

More importantly, is it fun?  Yes.”

With that understated but poignant introduction, I began talking about one of my favorite subjects.

It started innocently enough, with me turning on the bike.

“It’s on.”  Noiseless. Odorless. The only indication of the mayhem yet to come was the row of blinking green lights at the top of the dash.

I did my usual schtick, telling the story of how I came to be the owner of this fine bike, and how it was able to easily handle my daily commute without having to recharge during my workday.

And then the questions began:

Q. What’s the range? – 40 miles.

Q. What’s the top speed? – 60+ mph (but I mentioned the 2011 models, of course, especially the Empulse with its 100mph top end)

Q. How much does it cost? $7995 (but I had to mention the various incentives available, depending on what state you lived in)

The questions came fast and steady, without anything I hadn’t heard before.

After the meeting, however, most of the guys stuck around and talked to me about the bike.  Finally, one guy asked:

“Can it do a burn out?”

I’d never been asked that question before.  Here’s the answer:

Yes, apparently it does.

No, that's not a watermark above the motor cover.

Even though I’d been a member of this club for a few months, they never seemed to know what to do with me.  After the hooning event, however, there was a bit of a transformation.  My status went from “suspicious outsider with alien technology” to “brother . . . from another mother.”  At least, that’s what it felt like.  Several guys helped me load the bike back up on my hitch carrier (The Brammo Range Extender 1000) and plans were made for test rides in warmer weather.

“Listen to that,” one of them said as I rode down the alley to get the bike into loading position.

“Listen to what?” said another.

“Exactly”

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Brammofan Motorcycle of the Year – 2010

Rhapsody in Blue

(Kansas City, Missouri, December 7, 2010) – Brammofan, the blog with the mission of “covering the momentum of Enertia” has announced the awardee of its coveted “Brammofan Motorcycle of the Year” award for 2010.  This year’s recipient: the 2010 Brammo Enertia.

Artist's re-creation of actual trophy.

Brammofan, a/k/a Harry Mallin, announced the award today to a packed house of media representatives and electric vehicle dignitaries attending the first annual “Brammofantasy Ball” in the spacious Shawnee Ballroom at the White Haven Motel, Overland Park, Kansas.  Holding the golden lightning bolt trophy above his head, like Zeus upon Mt. Olympus, Mallin broke the news to the surprised crowd.  “Enertia!” he bellowed.

“We were totally surprised” said one attendee.

“I am thrilled to finally share the recipient of this year’s award,” said Brammofan.  “The Brammo Enertia is already the recipient of several awards, but I’m sure the gang in Ashland has saved a special spot in the trophy case for this one.”

Craig Bramscher, Brammo CEO, was unavailable for comment, but Adrian Stewart, Brammo Director of Channel Development, who was also unavailable for comment, would likely say something British and zany, like “we’re thrilled to get this award. Bloody thrilled. It’s all part of our cunning plan to save the planet. Cheerio.”

Brammofan will be announcing other awards throughout the remaining days of 2010.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to announce the Past Tense Intransitive Verb of 2011.  ‘Thrilled,’ of course, was the winner of the PTIV for 2010 and it was put to good use in many press releases.  Many.  I don’t want to give you any useful clues for what 2011 holds, but let me state that you just might be titillated to finally hear what it will be,” said Brammofan.

Brammofan also screened the following teaser from the epic film about Brammo that he is producing in conjunction with Spielberg*.

*Izzy Spielberg. No relation.

Stay tuned for more surprising announcements coming later this month.  And yes, Bill, there will be a Brammo Babe of the Year award.

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No Juice For You, G-man

I don’t make a living as a blogger, forum administrator, rule moderator, or escort.  I have a day job.  I work in a large building downtown that is filled with government workers.  By “large,” I mean it takes up two full city blocks.  Want to know how many people work in my building?  Answer: about half of them.

I decided that, even though I can easily make the trip from home to work and back home again on a single charge of my Brammo Enertia, it would be nice to be able to go on the occasional errand at lunch or on the way home.  In order to do that with any level of comfort or confidence (or lack of range anxiety), I decided that it would be nice to be able to charge my Enertia while at work.

I decided to follow official channels, so I asked my Department’s administrative officer to make the first contact with the “landlord” of our building, the General Services Administration (GSA).  Before I did that, however, I made sure that I had some feasible charging scenarios worked out.  I walked down to the garage in the sub-basement of my building and looked for 120V electric outlets.  I stopped counting at an even dozen — there were many places to park out of the way of traffic and near an electric outlet.

I also have to note that our building has a couple informational kiosks on the main floors.  These kiosks provide information about the building, including many features about “Sustainability” in design and operation.

When I spoke to GSA, I even suggested that, if they wished, they could take some pictures of my bike plugged into the wall and that they might get some kudos for this from their headquarters.

Did I believe this?  Not at all.  What I expected to happen was, instead, for the dance of bureaucratic avoidance to commence.  And it did.

First, the local GSA guy said that an opinion needed to be rendered by the GSA attorneys.  The request sat in that office for almost a month before I sent an email to inquire about the status.  As often happens, this kind of email (especially when other people are cc’d on it) shook the opinion loose.  This is what the attorney wrote:

We think your endeavors to support the sustainability goals of the government are timely and appropriate. I have asked our facilities management directorate at [your building] to look into establishing a protocol that will facilitate your efforts and hopefully those of others in similar resource conservation activities. Thank you.

Yay!  Legal says “go” in as many words as possible, so let’s go.  Right?

Wrong.  After a couple more weeks, I wrote another email, this time to the “facilities management directorate” to see if he’s established a “protocol.”  His answer:

You are the first person on record [in Kansas City] requesting to charge an electrical vehicle on federal property. There is an electric revolution coming and the “powers-that-be” are trying to determine if we want to set a precedent for providing energy (purchased by taxpayers) to individuals for use in privately owned hardware, for personal use, outside federal property.
It is projected that 20% of vehicles on the road will be full-electric in the next 10 years. We are all under Executive Order 13423 which requires us to cut energy usage. However, the use of energy for environmentally friendly purposes might create an acceptable exception. At this point, we just have to wait for a ruling from our Central Office (and perhaps beyond) as this could create a loophole in the Executive Order.
Thank you for your patience. I am personally interested in the results of this inquiry and I will let you know as soon as I hear anything. And again, I am sorry for not being able to offer a quick answer.

A gracious reply, for sure, but I wasn’t done speaking my peace.  I decided to try a different angle:

I see a real opportunity for Kansas City to be a leader in the “electric revolution.” I think it’s safe to say that the first real demand for electric vehicle charging at the Federal Building is still probably a couple years away, at least. For example, the Nissan Leaf is coming out next year, but it is only going to be released in major markets on the West Coast. Leaf owners will require a Level 2 charging fixture, something that will require the complicated Federal acquisition process to procure, and an equally lengthy bidding process for installers. Meanwhile, my bike plugs into a 110 volt outlet.
My boss parks downstairs and I walked down to where his car is parked – I saw over a dozen outlets and about half of those had room nearby for me to tuck my bike out of the way. Cost: A full charge at home costs about .25 worth of electricity.
A precedent for taxpayers paying for a utility used by workers already exists: GSA pays for water in the building and, unless you plan to charge per flush, nobody is objecting to it. (However, Executive Order 13423 does mandate that Federal agencies reduce water usage, so you never know). One other thing that EO 13423 speaks to is the goal of each agency to reduce greenhouse gases. Even though the power plant that generates that 25 cents worth of energy puts out some greenhouse gases to do so, it’s approximately 1/8 the amount that my Honda Pilot emits for the equivalent roundtrip. I know it’s not a savings that the agency can use, but it is beneficial to the wider population.

I did receive a courteous reply from GSA:

I am with you about this being a great opportunity for Kansas City and for the Federal Government to step up and take the leading edge, embracing a beneficial technology which is clearly on the rise. But, there is still a large divide between desiring sustainability and paying for the requirements to achieve sustainability.
As you can see, we are both on the same side of the issue. But, the precedence they will be looking for would be more like people using electric scooters and charging them on site. The problems with this example are that the scooters enable their users to do their jobs who might otherwise be incapable, many of them were purchased or subsidized by the government to begin with, and they seldom leave the property.

Sigh.  The maxim, “you can’t fight city hall” (or the Federal government, apparently), seems to be appropriate here.  I suppose it could be worse.  I could be this guy, who was fired from his job for plugging his electric scooter at work, without permission, for about an hour and a half.  His employer fired him after 19 years of service.

I’ll be sure to update you if the situation changes here, but don’t hold your breath.  Unless, of course, you work for Uncle Sam and EO 13423 is interpreted as mandating a reduction of oxygen usage in Federal buildings.  Until then, the rest of you (U.S readers) can be assured that your tax dollars are not supporting my personal transportation choice.


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Bridge crossed, other side reached.

One Brammofan, one lane, one new bridge.

First electric motorcycle across the Christopher Bond Bridge in Kansas City?

Brammo Enertia, natch.

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