Cannonball Run: The East Coast Responds

Recently I wrote about a group of enthusiasts who wanted to push their electric bikes to the edge. As most of us know, electric motorcycles are in their infancy. They excel as short range commuters, but a brave bunch of souls dare to dream of them as more than that. They see, like me, that electric motorcycles are MOTORCYCLES and treat them as such.

It's a strange thing. I've been in this field for a few years now and there are an overwhelming amount of people who treat their $20k+ electric motorcycle as a toy. They creep around it. They drive it no more than 46mph. They wipe off every spec of dirt. They plug it into the wall faithfully every night. This is a far cry from me and the degenerates I ride with. I, for instance, should probably not be allowed to use Sport Mode. There's a chance I've broken many traffic laws. But I definitely have not. Just in case CHP read this. In any case, the East Coast crowd wanted to respond to the LA-->Vegas run in their own fashion.

A group was formed to start at the Ace Café in Orlando at a predetermined time to race to the bottom of the Florida Keys where there was a shiny new DC Fast Charger. Total trip distance? ~400 miles. The trip:

While this was casually planned as a race, it turned into more of a friendly trip when everyone realized the number of difficult factors to overcome. With a "no person left behind" attitude, the riders assembled.

The Contestants

Rick and Sabrina: Both Energica EVA Ribelle owners. Originally shopping for electric motorcycles, Rick settled on the Zero SR/F while Sabrina settled on the Energica EVA107. "I'm sorry" she told him, "you're going to have to get an Energica. I don't want to have to wait for you to charge."

This past year they traded in both bikes for the new Ribelle and its larger battery.

Not actually pictured: Chris or John

Chris Maxwell: A staple of the EV community, Chris has been giving detailed ride reports for several years. Adopting the moniker ecodweeb, he has presented data-driven rides and trips and spreading the good word of electric. Because he lives a bit up North, he and his husband, John, trailered their Energica SS9+ to the start location. John acted as a welcome support vehicle.

Alex Graven rounded out the group with his Harley-Davidson LiveWire. As he was not experienced in longer trips, Chris agreed to help him planning and sorting out charge stations and stops.

In addition to John in the Audi E-tron chase vehicle, there would also be Austin Ammarell on a Yamaha XSR900 as he was unable to get his new Energica registered in time for the event, but still wanted an excuse to go for a ride. Who could blame him?

The Ride

The plan was to leave the Ace Cafe in Orlando early in the morning of February 5 in two groups. Rick and Sabrina more or less traveled together with Austin in tow, while Chris and Alex paired up with John and the E-Tron following. While Rick and Sabrina had fairly smooth sailing, Alex immediately ran into problems with the LiveWire disconnecting during charge sessions. This would prove to happen somewhat often throughout the day. We're still somewhat in the Wild West of EVs at this point. Government agencies are attempting to enforce standards for charging stations and vehicles, but some manufacturers are playing somewhat fast and loose with these rules. In some cases this can result in an inconsistent charge session, and in the worse case the vehicle can become damaged. The latest offender in this category appears to be FPL EVolution, a Florida-based charging company. While Chris' Energica was able to use the station without issue, the LiveWire wasn't so lucky. Alex found this out the hard way and found himself deviating to Harley-Davidson dealerships for a reliable charge.

Chris and Alex's first planned stop

The problem was compounded by the fact that Chris and Alex had more or less planned to ride the coastal route, heavily populated by what turned out to be problematic charging stations.

Rick and Sabrina's first planned stop

Rick and Sabrina just headed South through the bowels of Florida. Planning EV trips is an acquired skill. Many people swear by different apps, but I continue to swear by PlugShare. The route planner is manual, and not super elegant, but it's reliable. This has not been a paid endorsement by PlugShare. But if you're reading, PlugShare corporate, I'd love to chat!

Eventually Rick and Sabrina migrated towards the East coast, stopping every 80-90 miles at places like West Palm Beach, Pompano Beach, Miami, and Key Largo. The last stop was meant to be a full charge as there is nothing until Key West; if you run dry on that stretch of highway you're on your own.

A distance of 99.1 miles

The various setbacks Chris and Alex experienced put Rick and Sabrina almost 3 hours ahead by Key Largo. More importantly, Alex's vision at night was questionable. The option to trailer the bike existed via John, but he cautiously decided to proceed on the bike. Rick departed for the final leg around 7pm, reaching Key West by 8:30 that evening. An exhausted, but happy Rick, Sabrina, and Austin celebrated with victory photos.

Several hours later, an even-more-exhausted-but-happy Chris, Alex, and John arrived.

Safe and sound!

The Aftermath

By Rick's estimation he and Sabrina made the trip in 11 hours, 36 minutes.

Chris and Alex completed it in 15 hours, 29 minutes.

As friendly YouTuber NewZeroland expressed in one of his recent trips, "I want to set a time, like a baseline, for how long it takes, on an electric motorcycle in 2020. The tech is advancing so quickly that, you know, the next motorcycle that comes out is going to have a longer range, faster charging times and it's going to be able to beat that time. I just want to see how far it improves in the next couple years." Now that more and more of these amazing machines are popping up around the world, we're going to be able to collect all sorts of data about what's possible with them. I, for one, am very excited to be a part of it. Congratulations to Rick, Sabrina, Chris, and Alex. Additional thanks to the support people: Austin and John. Oh, and Rick also made certificates for the adventurers to commemorate the occasion.

Stay tuned for more group rides!

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