The Dolf-o-Saurus and the Time Machine – column

When I was sixteen I bought a Norton 99 Dominator. For 75 guilders… Later and more legally I continued to ride cheap motorcycles. First out of poverty. Then out of a kind of endearment. Then out of conviction. Because they were fast enough for me. Because I could maintain (and repair) them myself. And that those oldest and cheapest motorcycles I had are now very expensive classics? That's funny isn't it?

Too fast, too hard, too ugly

My interest, or call it greed, in brands or types stops at the beginning of the nineties. From then on, for my taste, motorcycles became ugly Tupperware power warehouses with an abundance of electronics. More than 120 hp and top speeds above 250 km/h? To me, that's like having a 49-centimeter young man: Very impressive in the sauna. But what else can you do with it?

That ugly goes a long way since Star Trek and Manga series are apparently 'leading edge' among motorcycle designers. On the optical side, the current engine blocks themselves are also best served by hiding them behind plastic.

Everything under control?

And that ever-growing army of electronic control cousins ​​that the engine just allows someone to be at the wheel? That's the proliferation you get when you have techies and marketers sleeping in one cubicle. ABS is smart. But for the rest I rely on the software between my ears, in my right wrist and my butt.

Until recently, my daily driver was a 3 Moto Guzzi Cali 1991. That machine embodied everything I ask of a motorcycle. But after less than three hundred thousand, he was so tired that he was allowed to retire. He has been replaced by a neat 1984'er.

In the meantime, I occasionally ride modern motorcycles 'for work'

Those machines make the old mechanical engineer in me very happy. But they don't hurt me emotionally. So I'll just keep driving old stuff. But sometimes I feel sorry for those dated, well-behaved combustion engines. Like when, after some short winter rides, I see a dripping lump of mayonnaise on my oil dipstick. Mayonnaise belongs on French fries. Not in engine blocks.

And then you are invited to ride an electric motorcycle

The electric motorcycle world is out of its puppyhood and now hangs somewhere between puberty and adolescence. The people who are professionally involved with it are still uninhibited. That approach will also have led to inviting me as a fossil for what would turn out to be a silent conversation about the most beautiful weeping dike route. And we were on our way on about fifty Zeros and Energicas.

In E-motorland Zero (USA) and Energica (It) are apparently the pioneers

They are young companies, not motorcycle manufacturers with a heavy history behind them. The established large motorcycle makers are still somewhat reserved. The novices have nothing to lose and hope to gain everything. The Zeros and Energicas just look like modern motorcycles. They also have a whole bunch of electronic helpers. But with the driving mode on 'street' you are just as operated as on a BMW R75/5. But after that things are different. You put the key on the ignition and give 'gas'. Then you drive. The more 'gas' you give, the faster you go. Completely stepless acceleration. And with maximum torque that is simply unbelievable from the first metre. To lower the threshold, the Zeros can also be rented via Motoshare.

From horsepower to kW

In my MTS time we were in the middle of the transition to the New Units. We had to learn that 1 kW was equal to 1,36 hp. The 82 kW of the Zero SR/S is therefore almost 112 hp. The – in fact constantly present – ​​maximum torque is a massive 190 Nm.

Riding the Zero is motorcycling without frills on the dress

All emo options such as sound and vibration are absent. Electricity brings motorcycling back to its bare essentials. That is different. That takes getting used to. But getting used to it goes quickly. During the ride, I only grabbed the missing clutch lever once. And I enjoyed. Also the silence. To get us used to that idea, the electric motorcycle suppliers first propagate to rent such a machine for a day through Motoshare. That apparently sells better than anything.

In terms of range, the case is still a bit behind for the long ride drivers

Refueling your BMW GS with Touratech tank is faster than plugging in your E-motor. Much faster. But for regional use there are no problems.

I'm going to drive electric

But what convinced me to choose such an electrician as the next daily driver is that you can't mistreat such a bike by not getting it up to temperature. On an electric motorcycle (with 5 years and unlimited mileage warranty) you will never have mayonnaise on your dipstick again.

And whether my future shopping bike will become just as classic as the Norton I bought for 75 guilders? We'll talk more about that in 35 years' time.

1978: The first electric Harley

The Zero SR/S. Another classic in 25 years

The electric exotics will certainly become classics


Leave a Reply
  1. Big fan of electric cars, but still I fell off my seat when I read this!
    From Dolph!
    My great example to drive with cheap 'junk'.
    What the hell is this world going to do?

    • The world is undoubtedly going to end. I want to be there. Then at least you have something to say. But my positive approach to Duracel transport is precisely out of respect for that old mess. I don't like modern engines at all. But this is so far from that. There are even short pieces (get cigars at Aldi) where even a Hercules 125 BW just doesn't get up to temperature. And if you look at how much cold bones bother me, I don't want to do that to even my oldest mopeds if I can prevent it.

  2. Dolf the whisper-quiet is absolutely right when you drive slowly. If you open the throttle, you will also hear an electric motor screeching. But the acceleration is amazing. I drove past a Low rider S on the livewire on a slip road off the A15 and he heard me coming. Upstairs are Harley out. So they are not completely silent. And if I still had to work, I would have found an ideal electric motor too. But it is not made for a day-long road trip.

  3. I have a Panda 4×4 of the first series. With enough horsepower to drive and with too short a ratio to go much faster than 100. 4×4 = 16 cm. That's very average. And that makes everyone laugh!

  4. Yet you are influenced by all environmental perils. Formerly the waste oil in the well. Now you don't think about it anymore. Driving behind an old diesel car. Used to be normal, now you think it stinks. Formerly smoking mopeds? Oh that's how it sounded. Now stinky and also not necessary. I also have an old 2 stroke engine. Mix the petrol with Triboron, in the ratio 1 to 90. Virtually no smoke and that for several thousands of kilometers.
    An electric motorcycle or moped/scooter. I really don't trade my Yamaha 4-cylinder for an electric one. Great when my engine climbs into its revs.
    You can now rent an electric scooter for little money. I'm going to do that someday.

  5. Good comparison, the 49 cm 😉 For me, those are cars with too much power that are of little use in practice.
    With a FIAT 500, a VW 1300 or a 2CV you can experience a lot of euphoria. Especially on winding roads that go downhill, it quickly seems to be 69 cm, but in reality it is still a normal, practical and usable buddy for the (public) road and for what it is intended for.

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