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Electric Future

Blog Date 26 November 2020

The UK government has recently announced that as of the year 2030 there will be no more petrol or diesel *CARS* for sale. Note cars, much of the motorcycling social media has been rejoicing that this will not apply to motorcycles.

Yay! Yay? We get to keep buying shiny new brum brum motorcycles while the car dweebs have to go zszszszszszszszszssz and not brum brum. That's all very well and good but as fossil fuel car numbers start to dwindle with age so will the number of fossil fuel stations. It may take some time but there will come a point where purchasing petrol will be solely the domain of specialist suppliers. 

In 2030 I'll be 59. As a stab in the dark I expect petrol stations will start to dwindle about 5 years later and become scarce after 10 years. By then I'll be 69. If I am spared I may live to see the end of the petrol station as we know it. 

So I'm imagining my grey and thinning haired self at the same age as my dad is now, 78. While my dad is not exactly climbing Mount Everest nor ready for a world tour overland on two wheels he's fit enough to drive, or if he so chose, to ride a motorcycle. I too hope I can find myself in the same situation in my dotage.

I'll still have my vintage classic CBF125, now with over 190,000 miles on the clock. I'll still have not rebuilt the motor or even replaced the camchain, or for that matter even fitted a new air filter. I'll have this urge to go for a ride but I'll need fuel. Petrol stations are a thing of the past now but there'll be a supplier in Manchester. They'll only be open weekday office hours and petrol will be the future equivalent of £8 a litre. I'll also need to update my fossil fuel safety licence, that'll have run out last month.

Honda cbf125 rear end dirty and rusty
I can't pretend this bike will ever become a classic.

Whether or not the government actually achieves the 2030 goal is open to debate. I just can't imagine a world where petrol powered motorcycles will work in a world filled with electric cars. As such the gloating I've read by some riders and media moguls seems pointless, it seems like it will backfire, much like their overtuned engines.

I expect the vintage CBF125 will be like the vintage steam rollers of today, usable but only for special occasions and with much planning. I hope I'm still around to enjoy pleasure rides on my electric or hydrogen or even fusion powered motorcycle. I hope there's a biker hangout where I can bore yoofs with tales of the good old days. The good old days when we used to put explosive liquids right next to our reproductive organs and atop a hot engine that is creating 35,000 volt sparks thousands of times per minute. Aaah the good old days where we controlled the speed not the computer. Remember speeding fines! The good old days before heated oversuits and none of this all-body-airbag softy nonsense. The good old days of dirty chains, oily engines and smashing your fingers with a hammer. Eeeeeeee when I wur a lad.

Electic motorcycle at a motorcycle show
Electric, hydrogen, fusion? Who knows.

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Reader's Comments

Upt'North said :-
Ed, I'm not sure what the future holds, although a few more years of riding motorcycles would be OK by me/us.
Electric vehicles including motorcycles have two main drawbacks at present, cost and range/charging time. I still don't understand why electric vehicles are so expensive, you take away the engine, gearbox and all that connects them, replace them with an electric motor and controller and then charge twice as much for the product.
Do you know Elon Musk is the second wealthiest person on earth, go figure.
Will the future be electric, definitely, do I want to be a part of it, dunno.
One chap on the other forum from Durham is currently converting an ST13 from ICE to electric, it's an interesting project. The range and speed projections are 100 miles and 150 mph, but not at the same time.
Maybe kits will become commercially available to convert existing vehicles to electric, generic kits are already out there.
But for touring at this time petrol is still king. For me anyway.
26/11/2020 11:17:44 UTC
Borsuk said :-
I don't think I need to worry about only electric motorbikes in my future as they aren't down for changeout any time soon and according to the governments own predictions I should expire just before they have to pay me a pension which is before they phase out cars never mind motorbikes.
Plus I am a bit like the Ed, stingy. I'll change out my bikes only because they are knackered or beyond economic repair. Even then I will probably buy the latest version of the same model. Unless the latest model is a retrograde step.
26/11/2020 14:54:30 UTC
Ross said :-
...and I would think the price of petrol will rocket as well, as the demand drops. Didn't the early pioneer motorists buy their petrol from chemists shops...you may need to nip down to Boots for some Aspirin, toothpaste, and a couple of gallons of unleaded!
26/11/2020 15:20:53 UTC
Ross said :-
I forgot to mention, looking at the picture of your, ahem, 'classic' 125, if you're looking for topics to cover while not riding you could do one of 'hard core' motorcycle cleaning...you could call it something like "Polishing a Turd" (sorry, I'll get me coat)!
26/11/2020 15:26:05 UTC
Upt'North said :-
That naughty boy Ross has gone tooooo far this time Ed.
Ban him Ed, ban him.
26/11/2020 16:21:04 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I'm sorry my reply has been a little while forthcoming. I needed to go to my "safe place" after reading Rod's suggestion.

Right, where was I? Ah, motorcycles, comments, rude people, right.

The first thing that will be a surprise is if the government can hit the 2030 deadline, considering not only recent events but the generally slow turning cogs of power. What I believe will help make this a possibility will be a discovery/invention that greatly improves either range, charge time or hopefully both. IF! If that happens then I could see adoption being quite rapid.

While the majority of commentators on this blog are my age or older I wonder a) if there are any younger readers and b) how the younger readers feel about this. Being younger and hopefully more open minded than us codgers I imagine the majority will embrace electric (or whatever arises) vehicles as we embraced that new fangled "internetwebthingy" when we were in our 20s (or 30s, or 40s). I'm sure there are young petrol heads who will mourn the passing of readily available fossil fuels, but they'll be a minority.

As for you Ross. Seeing as you are semi retired I'm sure you too must have some time on your hands. If you wish I will deliver the CBF125 to your door and leave it with you. YOU! You boy, you can take credit and create the "Polishing A Turd" post. I look forward to it with baited breath.

*note to self - buy 5 litres of oil in case Ross takes me up on the offer, it'll use about that much on the 300 mile ride to Ross' place. Oh, best buy another 5 too for the return leg.
26/11/2020 19:24:57 UTC
Ross said :-
Go on then, get it down to me in Ashford, Kent and I'll polish it...I've already done my 500X so it'll give me something to do! :)
27/11/2020 09:00:24 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I think for the young to embrace electric vehicles they firstly need to embrace vehicles, which they don't, do they?
Regardless of one's age if you live in an apartment or terraced house they may have an issue with the extension cable hanging 40 feet to the ground or draped over the pavement.
Plus some households have more than one vehicle, can your domestic electrics support the charging of 2,3 or 4 vehicles, all that arrive at the same time after work.
The age of the purchaser isn't the issue, it's what you can purchase and the practicality of product.
Buying new vehicles, regardless of their propulsion system is not eco friendly, it's decidedly un eco friendly.
So my solution, obviously as an old out of touch consumerist driven curmudgeon is for the government to provide every citizen with a suitable house, free of course, free vehicles for all, free electricity for all, oh and make the vehicles so that we don't actually have to drive them so we can all sleep and play with our entertainment systems instead.
Although they have to build 40 large nuclear power stations first.

27/11/2020 10:13:18 UTC
Snod said :-
I'm 33 so basically a yoof as far as this site goes. Personally I'm not too interested until someone finds a way to replace batteries full of trace metals and a short yet expensive lifespan with something actually practical. One of the things I like to do is cover miles while going to places in other countries and I just don't see it as feasible with batteries as they currently stand, even if they were improved 100%. Super capacitors built into canisters for quick swaps or something like that would be much better.

As for the idea of electric motorcycles, sounds like a laugh. I look forward to flashing modified firmware to the ECU to remove limits and add features, that'll be cool. As a do-it-myself kinda guy I do wonder how long brushes, bearings and even armature coils will last though, and how difficult they will be to replace. Perhaps you'll get an exchange armature with bearings like you would get an exchange crankshaft? Who knows.
27/11/2020 14:18:36 UTC
Bill said :-
In 50 years of car ownership I have never bought a new car and never would, in 2030 there will still be plenty of not so old 2nd hand cars that will outlast me. Petrol supply will not diminish that quickly until the demand drops due to electric cars becoming the majority which will take some time. The scappage scheme to encourage the purchase of cleaner cars didn't change the world quickly and neither will stopping manufacture of ice.The most likely is a progressive ban of use of the more polluting engines upto euro 6 or whatever level before a total ban. Even then I guess they will still have historic vehicle exemption for limited use rather than commuting.
Must dig out my old moonshine still and see if I can convert to fuel manufacturer, I wonder how many spuds to the gallon I will need.
27/11/2020 17:26:10 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Snod, at 33 you're starting to show your age.........brushes?!?
So reassuring to know it isn't just me. Although I can't even remember 33.
27/11/2020 18:41:30 UTC
Upt'North said :-
I've got a quarter of an acre of fine arable for growing spuds. It could be a nice business venture, don't tell Ed.
27/11/2020 18:43:21 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Upt' - along with cracking the battery range and charge time problem I'm imagining a world where we crack the fusion problem too. Then things will change. A lot. Rapidly. I'd like to think it would be for the better but I'm not convinced. Perhaps this is the true conspiracy theory of the lockdown - get us all to stay at home and play with our entertainment systems and stop bothering the powers that be. Nefarious indeed.

Snod - 33! Blimey, you have been hanging out with owd codgers too long and become cynical before your time. Good lad, well done, bah HUMBUG! I agree, the current battery chemicals are far from abundant and cobalt mines in some cases are human rights horrors. The problem is we might have no choice but to go electric if the governments of the world push us in this direction. You may choose to keep your petrol powered vehicle but if all around are "alternative fuel" where will you get your petrol from?

Perhaps Bill's got the right idea - moonshine petrol. In fact that in of itself would be eco-friendly but if the whole world were to try it the amount of land required for fuel crops would leave none for food. Or trees. Or animals. Or somewhere to live. Or anything other then fuel crops. There are simply too many people using far too much fuel.

A quarter acre Upt'? You could probably grow enough spuds to see you and Mrs North all the way to Asda. Once. One way.
28/11/2020 09:15:54 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Fusion - why???? As I'm sure I've said here before we have a giant fusion reactor hanging up there in the sky delivering far more power than we can ever need. And there is even more free energy courtesy of the other big object up there generating tides.

There are some very interesting tidal power projects eg the link below. I've actually put some of my money where my mouth is on this one.

Do I detect that cabin fever is setting amongst some of us?
28/11/2020 10:23:59 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
I am mightily impressed with the tidal turbines Ian. I'm also impressed with the UK's efforts in wind energy, although we have to keep on working at it. No matter how good these things are and despite our best efforts these machines have an impact on the land or sea they're placed in.

I believe it is wise and good to invest money and minds in renewable energy. Fusion has always been 20 years away and it seems it always will be. Wind and tidal are here and they work, now. Let's try to make the best we can with the least impact.

But. If, and it's a big if, if we crack fusion we can leave the hills to the sheep and the sea to the fish. I'd like to believe with fusion, energy would become cheap for everyone. History suggests someone somewhere needs to become disproportionately wealthy.
29/11/2020 08:47:32 UTC
Jim said :-
Back at the tail end of the last millennium I ran a Peugeot 306 on home brewed diesel. Started out using filtered waste oil, heated to drive off water, mixed with a little unleaded and a whiff of methanol for kicks. I even registered as a small fuel producer, which allowed you to legally brew something like 2000 litres a year for your own use. Ended up buying the oil fresh from Lidl, at 39p a litre it avoided the heating and filtering. Great fun, but the advent of common rail technology rather spoiled the party. Might have to go back to it in future, for the car at least.
29/11/2020 18:32:11 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Do explain Jim, why would common rail diesel injection be unsuitable for using cooking oil, sorry, no, I meant Bio-Diesel?
29/11/2020 20:02:23 UTC
Jim said :-
Can’t claim to be an expert Ren. All I know is that the old agricultural 1868cc naturally aspirated PSA diesel unit with a Bosch fuel pump would run happily on just about anything with calories in it - I personally tried corn oil, peanut oil, sunflower oil and good old rapeseed oil - I’m sure it would have run on dripping as long as the bits weren’t too big. When eventually that Peugeot turned up its toes at 170,000 miles I replaced it with a Picasso with a 1.6 HDI engine and was advised that it could still be run on homemade fuel, but it would have to be properly brewed biodiesel. My finances had improved somewhat by this point, and without the financial urgency I just couldn’t be arsed.
30/11/2020 16:55:20 UTC
Upt'North said :-
Thanks for the memory Jim.....dripping on toast.....remember the brown salty bit at the bottom. It used to stick to the roof of your mouth. I bet it was healthy.
I've come over all nostalgic.
30/11/2020 19:04:33 UTC
Jim said :-
You could go for miles with a dripping sandwich in your pack. All the time thinking ‘Hope I get there soon or I’ll have to eat that bloody sandwich’.

01/12/2020 12:20:29 UTC
Upt'North said :-
On a cold December day you made me chuckle, well done sir.
Nothing like a good chuckle.
Is this what they call thread drift?
01/12/2020 13:10:44 UTC
Ian Soady said :-
Be careful or you'll set me off....

I well remember sitting by the coal fire with my mum toasting bread on the coals and spreading dripping on it (no idea what sort of meat it came off). Delicious. But these days you just don't seem to get dripping and if you do get a tiny amount it doesn't have the same taste at all. Lower fat meat?

When we were hard up we'd have lard which was just as nice with a bit of salt & pepper although I suspect I'd turn my nose up at it these days. When I was a lad at Blaydon Grammar I had a friend who used lard on his DA. Very effective.

I'll go back to sleep now.
01/12/2020 14:30:42 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Drippin!? Lard!? LUXURY!! When I wur a lad all we could afford were 2 slices of tar from't road wi a bit o' coal dust between, an that's only when us father kem outta t'pit for his bi-annual breath of fresh air. You kids, you jus' don't know 'ow lucky thy are't.
02/12/2020 09:00:02 UTC
Bob said :-
Battery powered vehicles are a dead end for mainstream use.
They're fine for a shopping runabout or commuter, but nobody with a Tesla is going to go on a touring holiday.

Hydrogen is the only viable future, it can be harvested using renewable energy. The by product of harvesting hydrogen is oxygen and the by product of using the hydrogen is water.
There are problems with storage and transportation of hydrogen, but they are engineering problems to be overcome. Unlike battery powered vehicles, hydrogen vehicles wouldn't require the wholesale destruction of the existing fuel distribution and sale network, for replacement by an obviously impossible to achieve every-parking-space-has-a-recharging-station infrastructure, powered by the dozen new nuclear power stations we are obviously not going to build.

I saw a road test of the £22000 Zero sportsbike in MCN, real world range 70 miles - REALLY? £22K for 70 miles? Say it out loud and see if sounds OK to you.

For my part I've just passed the 2000 mile mark on my electric bicycle. It's 1KW so has a useful turn of speed and the human-battery power combination is a pretty good balance. With two spare batteries I can comfortably cover 120 miles of assisted riding. It cost £700 to build all in.

03/12/2020 10:36:42 UTC
Bogger said :-
I've got an electric pedal assist pushbike. It is good and yes I do feel as though I'm cheating a bit when I ride it. However the thought of an all electric motorbike holds no appeal whatsoever.

03/12/2020 12:33:58 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
Who knows what the future holds Bob, you may be spot on.

With my 125 now reaching the end of it's usable life an electric 125 equivalent makes sense for my particular circumstances. I'd have the 500 for tours and rideouts, I could use the small electric motorcycle for the local trips like going to visit mother, shopping, they even have enough range for a visit to Sharon's. Great! Yes, sod it I'll get an eleccy 125 equivalent. Erm. Not at 4 grand I won't. I could have 2 Chinese 125s for that much and still have enough left for petrol. They're still too pricey.

Will it be hydrogen? Batteries? Compressed air? Lord only knows, there might be some acid tech or cow poop bio fuel thing. If you'd said to me when I was 20 years old that I'd have a pocket shaped piece of tech that can navigate, keeps accurate time, allows me to make phone calls nearly anywhere and I could video talk to people I'd have laughed. Throw in access to a database of the collective knowledge of the world plus an inordinate amount of ridiculous nonsense and it seems impossible. And yet here we are.

Maybe Hydrogen is better, maybe it's like VHS and BetaMax, tt just depends on which system comes to the fore.
03/12/2020 14:38:43 UTC
Upt'North said :-
And you wonder why the car industry is strugglin, will it be diesel, petrol, EV, PHEV, Self Chargin Hybrid, Hydrogen.............
It'd be easier take the bus, if there were any outside of London.
03/12/2020 18:12:09 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
A friend of mine has suggested the ultimate solution. Dodgems. At the fun fair dodgems have an electrified ceiling to provide power to the little cars. We could cover all the roads with a mesh grid at about, what, 3 metres height(9ft)? Then fit each car with a pole that reaches this grid. Then electrify the grid! Yay! Problem solved! I'm off to patent the idea.

Ah. Wait a minute. What about motorcycles? Fitting a pole is easy enough but when you lean into a corner the pole will lose contact with the grid. I'm off to work on a self levelling and auto height adjusting pole.

04/12/2020 09:21:03 UTC
Upt'North said :-
What have the Polish got to do with it?
04/12/2020 09:43:43 UTC
Ren - The Ed¹ said :-
pole, not Pole. Pffffft.
04/12/2020 10:19:36 UTC
nab301 said :-
Tidal energy has always interested me , mainly because of the unpredictability of wind energy, if the tide ever stops coming and going I think production of electricity would be the least of our problems! I'm not sure why wind energy seems to have won out so far especially with the nimby type of resistance to the placing of turbines.
06/12/2020 16:39:14 UTC

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