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Modular Motorcycles

Modular motorcycles will provide efficiency and renewable energy too

April 1, 2009

By Johnson Heavyside

WASHINGTON (Rueters) -- A joint statement released today by Steven Chu, Energy Secretary, and Ray LaHood, Transportation Secretary, unveiled a bold new plan to make future motorcycles out of modular components and to also enlist new renewable energy sources for their propulsion.

"President Obama has enjoined us to think outside the box at new ways to provide efficient land transportation systems that utilize renewable energy," said Energy Secretary, Chu.

Transportation Secretary, LaHood, then said, "That's why we formed a multi-disciplinary panel to study how we could effect such a revolutionary change to the basic transportation system we have been using for over 100 years. There are no rules or procedures to do this so we had to utilize the best minds in the country to create this new program."

The new initiative will work as follows:

The overall goal is to create a modular motorcycle to be used by all US motorcycle manufacturers beginning April 15, 2012.

In addition, this modular motorcycle will be propelled by an electric motor and new long-range battery recently developed jointly by MIT and the General Electric Research Laboratories. The battery has the capability to operate continuously for 500 miles without recharging.

The real revolutionary aspect of the bike is its modularity. It will truly be a "Plug and Ride" vehicle.

There will be no wires on the motorcycle. A special computerized module will send radio signals to special receptors controlling all electrical functions. The radio signals will be extremely short range and will utilize recently identified radio spectrum freed up by the change to digital TV.

With the absence of wires it will then be possible to standardize the operating components of the motorcycle into distinct unique modules that can be plugged together, thereby implementing the "Plug and Ride" concept.

The beauty of this concept is that normal maintenance procedures will be simple. Just pull out a module and replace it with a new or refurbished module. No more $95 per hour labor charges to effect a simple maintenance procedure. Any clerk could do the repair.

Each motorcycle company would retain their unique branding and styling consistent with the modules that would be made available by a separate company comprised of people culled from all the motorcycle companies.

If you've seen the way that the new Giants Stadium will be able, at the push of a button, to change the team colors, backdrops, lettering, and insignias from green (Jets) to blue (Giants), then you'll get the new approach to motorcycle branding. Within the modular frame and fenders will be a capability to project outward the color, lettering, and insignia desired so as to make the bike look exactly like a Honda, a Harley-Davidson, or any other make.

As the battery wears down nearing 500 miles, a light would come on and a special GPS module would determine the location of the nearest supply building where you could get a replacement battery. The old battery would be removed and replaced and there would be no cost involved. President Obama has promised that part of the stimulus package proposed for each of the next 55 years will be funds to cover this.

Also, each modular motorcycle would contain a solar panel to derive energy from the sun to assist in recharging the battery. In addition, big motorcycle rallies such as Americade are getting on the renewable energy bandwagon and will be setting up extensive ground grids where you can plug your bike into when you park it in the sun to visit their Tour-Expo vendor area. You'll get a rebate on your registration fee depending on how much energy you generated while parked in the sun. This energy will go towards powering the electrical needs of Americade.

The promise of efficient motorcycles through the use of modular components is now with us. Maintenance will be a thing of the past. We will all be doing our part to conserve energy. Harley-Davidson and other companies will still have their brand identities. Even the traditional sounds of the engines can be synthesized so that familiar "potato-potato" sound of the Harley will always be with us.

Of course, such progress has its price. Motorcycle journalists won't have to test but one motorcycle a year since they will all be the same except for projected-branding mechanisms. That will make for pretty thin motorcycle magazines but will allow more space for advertisements.

Oh, and it will make it even harder for journalists like me to try to come up with another novel idea to fool the reader on April Fools Day.

~Walter Kern

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