Op-ed: OHV Family Has New Member

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May 8, 2008
h2Contacts/h2Don Amador, BRC Western Representative br- Phone: (925) 625-6287 br- Fax: (925) 625-5309 br- Email: a href="mailto:brdon@sharetrails.org"brdon@sharetrails.org/a br- Webpage: a href="http://www.sharetrails.org/staff/#DonA"http://www.sharetrails.org/staff/#DonA/a brbrDate: 04/08/2009 br brIt's not often that a trail rider or land-use organization is witness to a watershed moment in motorcycle history. Such events for me include the rollout of the 1969 Honda CB750 inline four-cylinder street bike, introduction of the 1998 Yamaha YZ400 open class racing four-stroke, and California's 96dBA sound limit for OHVs becoming law in 2003. br /br /Zero Motorcycles and its Zero X electric off-road motorcycle having completed the 24 Hours of Electricross can now be added to that rather impressive list of motorcycle achievements. On April 4-5, 2009, I had the rare privilege to witness history-in-the-making while representing the BlueRibbon Coalition at the 24 hour endurance test held in San Jose, California, at the 408MX Motocross Track. br /br /Under clear blue skies and a starry night, 10 teams and approximately 50 competitors raced each other for 24 hours straight, only stopping to change batteries, cool the motor, and switch riders. Many of the racers had motocross or enduro backgrounds.br /br /Zero Motorcycles and its founder, Neil Saiki, have a lot to be proud of. Team HotChalks/MDV, the winning group, finished the grueling event by completing over 1000 laps covering 500 miles on its Zero X dirt bike. Collectively, over 4000 miles were covered by the 10 teams. Those milestones resulted in the event setting two Guinness World Records. br /br /The BlueRibbon Coalition attended the event to document these cutting-edge, zero-emission, all-electric OHVs. For many years, BRC has supported new technology as a way to preserve and enhance recreational access to public and private lands. Such efforts include our sponsorship of the SAE Clean Snowmobile Challenge and support for sound-compliant OHV exhaust systems.br /br /Daphne Greene attended the event in her official capacity as deputy director for the California State Parks OHV Program. Her department also has a long history of working hard to promote ecologically-balanced OHV recreation. br /br /BRC had its official Quest Type 1 law-enforcement grade sound meter on hand to document the sound at the starting line and to take sound readings during the event.br /The sound measurement of the 10 teams at the start of the race (crowd cheering/bike sounds) was 79.6 dBA. The loudest single bike trackside sound measurement (10 ft. from the bike/rider) was 74.0 dBA, with most of the readings lower than 72.0 dBA.br /br /Since the bikes were electric, the sound was coming from the drive train, suspension, and tires. For reference, a busy restaurant or business office is typically 70.0 dBA.br /br /While setting two world records are certainly something that Zero Motorcycles can be proud of, this author believes that something even more important occurred at this event.br /br /I believe that trail users and land-use advocates will look back to this event as the date when the high performance, zero-emission electric dirt bike became a legitimate and important member of the OHV community.br /br /Regarding the potential benefit of this new technology to the riding sect, I agree with Daphne Greene when she said, em"I am very pleased to see so many teams participating in this event. Development of durable, dependable electric vehicles will be of great help in addressing many concerns currently facing the continued provision of off-highway vehicle recreation opportunities on public lands. The availability of quiet off-highway vehicles could open up many new opportunities not previously considered..."/embr /br /Will all-electric OHVs replace clean-burning, gas-powered dirt bikes and ATVs in the near future for long trail rides or at dual-sport events? I don't think so. In fact, I don't think that was the intention of Zero Motorcycles founder, Neil Saiki. Rather, his electric motorcycles were invented to give the consumer a choice where factors such as exhaust noise and vehicle emissions are an issue, their cost effectiveness is preferred, or when driving distances appropriately lend themselves to the use of an electric motorcycle.br /br /Some may question if the off-road community is ready to embrace the electric dirt bike as a new member of the family. Since several of the winning teams were either BRC club members or had BRC members riding the event, I think the answer to that question is a loud "yes." It is also clear that electric OHVs are now an important factor in the land-use equation.br /br /centerem# # #br /br /Don Amador is a consultant to the BlueRibbon Coalition and writes on environmental and recreation issues from his office in Oakley, California. He may be reached by email: damador@cwo.com /em/centerimg src="http://feeds2.feedburner.com/~r/BlueRibbonCoalition/~4/FzdKeJPZXac" height="1" width="1"/


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