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December 04, 2007

Snow!

Anyone remember this post?

Well, welcome to this morning:

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June 05, 2007

Piaggio update

Just a quick status on the ongoing scooter saga:

Last August my scooter stopped operating. The method and previous circumstances of the failure had me mistakenly believing that the scooter had run dry on oil, and would probably have required an expensive repair. The decision was made to delay the repair until a later date.

Well, in August, we finally had it in for repairs. Since we suspected the dealer was at fault for our incorrectly pre-diagnosed failure, we arranged for some help (thanks pqbon!) trucking the scooter up to an independent scooter dealer that looked like it would be more responsible. In the end, the repair ended up being fairly inexpensive, if odd (the vacuum hose into the carburetor had mysteriously hardened and cracked).

Another day I'll have to describe the fun of figuring out a route from San Francisco to Mountain View on a vehicle only really appropriate for roads with speed limits 35mph or below. Suffice to say, that was interesting, and took far too long to figure out. Fortunately, Google had recently launched the “Add a destination...” feature for Google Maps.

Meanwhile, I've been keeping my more recent mileage stats in a Google Spreadsheet. Since they've finally released a graphing feature, it's time to take another stab at graphing my mileage:

(click for larger view)

Unfortunately, the Google spreadsheet graphing doesn't yet support a time axis. Thus the seemingly unneeded “Miles/day” display. Alas, my InfoVis-fu is still underdeveloped. Pay special notice to the point where miles/day appears to drop to 0... it's actually only .15, representing the pathetic number of scooter miles I rode between August and April.

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August 23, 2006

So... close!

Well, my scooter is sitting just shy of 5000 miles. Tomorrow would have been(/might still be) Piaggio 5k day.

However, something's wrong. So, I got to walk this route home tonight (astute readers will notice that it ends not at my home - I managed to get the thing to start again within view of my block, but short of it). Only 1.4 miles... except, pushing a 200lb scooter. sigh

All the same, 5000 miles in 19 months is a lot of diverted car miles.

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January 26, 2006

Life imitates art....

It has begun. It wasn't enough merely to visualize a superhero who had both every gadget imaginable, but, more importantly, enough pockets to stash them all in (sadly, life really does imitate art). Apparently, it wasn't enough that people already jokingly suggest GG plotlines as if he weren't actually fictional, and not just inspired by me. Today, the process of acquiring such super-human attributes for myself has begun.

Today is my 2^5-2^2, er, 3^3+3^0, er, 28th birthday, and I got a black Scott eVest Classic Vest 4.0. I'm still only figuring out where all of the multitude of hidden features are, but I hope to report back soon on how well it carries the multitudes of gadgets I normally have with me. So far, so good, so very very good.

Today is also Piaggio 2x day - the day that the number of miles I've ridden on my Piaggio Typhoon passes twice the number of miles I managed to ride on my eGO cycle before it completely fell apart. I got there much faster, too - the eGO lasted almost a year and a half, but was broken down (and range-restricted) often enough that it didn't really serve as a replacement for my car. Meanwhile, the Piaggio has taken over almost all of my commuting. So, in a little over 10 months, I've replaced more than 3600 miles of travel with the Typhoon, saving 84 gallons, a more than 3/4 of a ton of CO2 emissions. Meanwhile, the eGO website has barely changed in that time. I guess I wasn't the only one with problems with their product.

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August 16, 2005

Piaggio 2k Day

Well, it finally came. On my way home from work on Friday, I crossed 2000 miles on the Piaggio Typhoon. Here's another paltry attempt at a graph.... apologies for the left and right axis being reversed; Excel is really a mess to work with, if you ask me.

Anyway, with my MPG staying constant, and the cost of gas increasing (now over $3.00/gal for many stations, at least for high-test), I expect to see the $ saved continue to frustrate me for how to present it on the same axis as the other data in the chart. Alas.

This chart includes up to just before the final 8 miles, so it's actually fairly accurate.

Piaggio Typhoon Mileage Graph

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July 28, 2005

Piaggio > eGO day

I'm sure you're all getting tired of my Piaggio vs. eGO rants, but, hey, what can I say?

In 4 1/2 months, I've ridden the Piaggio the same number of miles the eGO ever made it to (~1800). Yes, it pollutes more. Yes, I have to get gas. On the other hand, it's never been broken down; service, what little there's been, is taken care of by a local, friendly (if not cheap...) dealer. The range is sufficient that I can use it for a much greater percentage of my regular travel: two-person trips, heavy cargo, and great distance are the only times when I need to switch back to the car... part of the reason the Typhoon has gotten so many miles on it in such a (relatively) short period of time.

And, though savings in gas doesn't pay off the bike per se, my tracking of mileage suggests that I've saved over $100 on gas in those 4 months vs. driving my car. Of course, as with the eGO, riding around on a scooter is a much more enjoyable activity most of the time, especially in the beautiful, dry summer months of northern California.

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June 20, 2005

Piaggio 1k Day

After a much shorter time, I've reached the Piaggio's 1k point. In fact, while the eGO took 8 months to reach 1000 miles, and, under my ownership, will never reach 2k.

Actually, I reached it on May 25th, but I haven't had a free moment to put up a post about it. I guess I'll abbreviate my commentary, so here's a summary of the experience so far:

  • A scooter designed to be used in real-world situations holds up a lot better than the eGO. No problems with flats, or bits wearing out that shouldn't.
  • On the other hand, it's got a small tank, and you have to stop by the gas station from time to time. Where the intermediary time isn't long enough, IMO.
  • On the other other hand, you can make arbitrary trips, without worrying about getting stuck someplace, because you went out further than you can return, without waiting many hours to recharge. Electrics still have to overcome this problem, somehow.
  • I also got a 2-stroke engine, something I'm largely regretting. Hopefully, alternate/hybrid engines for scooters, and/or just a small and safe short-range commuter vehicle will come along.

I consistently get 60 mpg, though, but that might not seem like much, compared to Joy's fuel efficiency. It is a lot of fun to ride, especially given the reduced need to “fix” it all the time, compared to the stupid eGO.

So far, so good. I'm actually up to ~1250 at this point. Still a blast to ride!

Piaggio Typhoon 1k Day

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May 20, 2005

Fun with gas....

So, having now put gas into my Typhoon 16 times, I have a small rant to express, another of the problems of gas scooters that never occur (the same way) with electric.

Gas scooters get decent gas mileage vs. cars, yes. But they still burn gas. The 2005 Piaggio Typhoon has about a 1.5 gallon tank. It starts showing the “fuel” light, and “E” on the fuel guage when it's burned about .9 gallons of gas, maybe even sooner. This is probably not such a bad idea, given that you can only go another ~30-50 miles on the remaining gas, and that's been the typical “safe warning” distance I've seen cars use in the past. Though there should be effectively another 1/2 gallon of gas left, the gauge rapidly gets to the extreme of “E”, so you need to fill up right away or you have no further way to tell you're going to go dry.

All of this is fine, although, riding it as heavily as I do (~930 miles in 2.0 months), that means getting gas a lot. And here I get to my rant:

Gas stations, as a rule, don't do well dispensing small quantities of gas. Further, many of them have elaborate anti-spill mechanisms that are tuned to car fill-ups, but fairly wrong for teency scooter capacities.

What this means is that I'm always fighting the system. Twice now, I've lost big time - slightly overfilling. This is a horrible, terrible, no good, very bad thing. I'll leave it at that. Also bad is the couple of times that I've had troubles getting the pump to work at all, presumably because of the difference in vapor/pressure/fuel depth for my small tank. Last night was the worst, dispensing only a half gallon of the necessary ~gallon. I just couldn't get more to pump. If this were the norm, doubling how often I need to get gas, it would be an entirely unworkable situation.

Meanwhile, Joy smugly comments that there'd be no such troubles if I'd bought another electric bike. And, she's right. Once you get over the hump of having power at wherever you park your bike (a far-from-trivial problem if you live in an apartment complex), you won't have to worry about it. You “fill up” anytime you're home, and your scooter always has a “full tank” when you head out.

I may end up getting a gas can, which has even more trade-offs, but would at least avoid the many trips to gas stations for small bits of gas.... but storing gas on your own premises is even less desirable, if it's even within the terms of my rental agreement. sigh

Look for an upcoming post on “Piaggio 1k day”. Took about 8 months for the eGO, which will never make it to its 2k day, so almost 4x as many miles are going on the Piaggio per unit time, on average. More commentary then, but you can guess what I'm going to say (besides apologizing to the environment for the increased point-source emissions!)

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April 27, 2005

I'm such a classy guy!

Well, at least, now I'm a Class M1 licensed driver in the state of California. :)

It took almost an hour and a half. Here's how it went: * 9:25 leave for DMV. * 9:40 arrive at DMV, for 10am appointment. * 10:15 get into discussion with examiner, who wanted to claim that my Piaggio Typhoon was not of sufficient size to warrant an M1 license * 10:20-10:40 Wait for examiner to return with some sort of decision. * 10:40 Get to take the test. * 10:45 pass, head home.

Alright, so, here's the beef. I'd totally agree - it'd be nice of the Typhoon was a “moped”, or M2-class vehicle, under CA law. It's not, and there are several reasons why. To be a moped, or “motorized bicycle” in CA, a vehicle has to produce less than 2 bhp (~horsepower, measured directly from the drive-train without emissions systems), top speed of 30, and either pedals, or electric.

The Typhoon has no pedals, tops out over 40mph, and generates more than 2 horsepower. There's no way it falls into the moped class. And there's one really good reason beyond the specifics of the law, much to my annoyance - mopeds are allowed to use the bike lane. Scooters that can hit 40mph or more should really not be allowed in the bike lane. What's more, the current CA law is clearly trying to create some advantages for low-emissions (at this point, == electric) vehicles, ie, giving them access to the bike lane, and removing the yearly registration fee (another moped perk).

I certainly want all of those perks. The bike lane would be lovely. Not having to pay more for insurance, and not having to renew my registration would both be lovely. But there are only two motorcycle classes in CA, one is M2, the other is M1. If my bike's not M2, then I need to pass the M1 test.... which the examiner really didn't want to let me do. I already had an M2 license, who would want to go through the hassle of the DMV just to re-get the same license, and still be road illegal?

sigh It's done. It was a stupid, slow, bureaucratically complicated ride, but it's done.

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April 26, 2005

A better fuel usage chart for the Piaggio Typhoon...

Ok, so, that last one was pretty poor. This one's a little bit of an improvement, and there's more data.

Note that the average is still the most important number for fuel usage. The individual points are calculated assuming that (miles per gallon) = (miles travelled since last fillup)/(amount dispensed to “fill” the tank). Unfortunately, for such a small tank, the accuracy of the “complete fillup” action is pretty suspect. Heck, at the amount of gas I'm putting in, I wouldn't be surprised if there's actually a lot of error in the amount reported from the pump.

Anyway, here's the graph: Piaggio Typhoon Mileage Apr 25 2005

Take note of the units. The build of this chart will have to be adjusted as the “Cumulative Saved” eventually goes above $100.

And, no, this is not a totally fair chart. I'm not counting any of the macro maintenance of the vehicles. Costs might come out somewhat closer then, as the Typhoon uses oil, and, at least locally, such oil is exorbitantly expensive.

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March 31, 2005

Chart of early fuel usage....

Here's a chart with the first 4 fillups for my new Piaggio Typhoon scooter. As you can see, it's getting decent gas mileage - in fact, there's a very good reason (user error, generically) for the dip in the 3rd data point. However, as you can see, it's not so cheap to ride that, say, it's going to pay itself off in no time.

As an alternate to a car, it's fun to read, appears reasonably safe, and there's a dealer nearby (unlike the eGO). It doesn't replace a car (or, heck, the eGO, for a variety of reasons to be detailed soon), but it fits a niche, nonetheless.

[Graph entirely removed, given how pathetic it was. There will be a future entry with a better/updated graph]

(the Mazda MPG is taken as 26, which is what it was getting a year or so ago, for purposes of calculating relative savings/gallons saved)

Update: Ok, so, I suck at making effective charts. I'll update this one when there's another data point or two, and make it be a little less hard to read/inaccurate/poorly designed. I hope. :)

March 13, 2005

The new machine....

The new machine....
The new machine....,
originally uploaded by bpendleton.

I now own a 2005 Piaggio Typhoon 50 (http://piaggiousa.com/pscooters/Typhoon.cfm). It's a 2-cycle, 50cc scooter. Not unlike a Vespa... even made by the same folks. Hopefully, it'll hold up better than the eGO... more to come.