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Discussion Starter #1
(This is intended as a discussion-starter. Everything here is to be taken with a grain of salt, and with the knowledge that my poetic license is fully-up-to-date and paid for.)

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"****!" Tony Slade murmured as he stepped out of the elevator and out into the parking garage under his apartment building. "It's hot already, and it isn't even eight o'clock yet!"

"Ain't it though?" his neighbor Peter agreed. They'd ridden down together. "It's gonna be hell over at the bus stop. They cut down the old sycamore tree that used give us shade in the mornings." He paused. "I suppose you're going to ride your bike?"

Tony smiled. "Of course. " He gestured down at his stylish jade-green riding suit, with the crimson-colored dragon-themed embroidery. "Can't you tell?"

Pete shook his head as the pair walked along. "I wish _I_ had a set of clothes like that. One of my friends carries batteries in his briefcase, and wears a biker's riding suit when he walks to work." Then they were at the big garage exit, which faced Pete's bus stop directly across the street. He paused for just a second, reluctant to step out into the brilliant, molten summer sunshine. Then he winced and took the plunge, waving as he went. "See ya, Tony. Wanna get together for VR tonight?"

"Sure thing!" Tony agreed, waving back. Then it was only a short walk to where his scooter parked.

The first thing that Tony did when he stepped up alongside his ride was peer intently at the electric meter. He'd killed off his diesel a good five miles from home yesterday, the way he always did, since using grid electricity was far cheaper than burning fuel. But he'd not quite fed his meter enough quarters; the batteries were only ninety-five percent charged. Tony scowled. Ninety-five percent was plenty enough not to break him; diesel fuel wasn't _that_ expensive, and there were coin-operated recharging points everywhere these days, including in the parking lot at his workplace. Still, Tony was a bit of a stickler, someone who prided himself on his intimate familiarity with his scooter. It rankled a little that he'd underestimated his battery's appetite.

Still, Tony wasn't about to let such a minor oversight ruin his day. He was smiling again by the time that he had his helmet snapped on and his umbilical cord plugged in. Almost instantly, a rush of cool air surrounded him as the heat-exchangers in his riding suit and boots kicked in, serving as a personal air-conditioning system. Tony's suit was waterproof, windproof, tremendously abrasion-resistant, and the tiny heat-exchangers would keep its wearer nice and comfortable anywhere on planet Earth, so long as it was supplied with a surprisingly small amount of power. Then Tony plugged his helmet's lead into the socket on his chest, and commenced his pre-ride check. Everything came up in the green zone, though his crankcase oil was half a pint below optimum, and his rear tire was nearly a pound overpressured. Tony scanned the details projected onto the inside of his visor without really thinking about them; the oil level and tire pressure hadn't changed a bit since riding home last night, so the information did not exactly surprise him. He'd buy a quart of oil on the way home, he decided, and top things off. The tire would have to take care of itself; he wasn't about to go messing around with it for just a pound of overpressure.

Next, Tony raised his seat and tossed in his briefcase and lunch, then slammed it shut and mounted up. He was in a bit of a hurry today; a coworker was retiring and he had to pick up a dish for the party. So, without further ado, Tony hit the button that lowered his scooter off of the powered center-stand, then kicked in the power-assist to help him back out of his parking space. Such a light machine didn't really need a power-assist for reverse, Tony thought. After all, it weighed only six hundred pounds, complete with batteries. But still, since the reverser had come with the bike anyway, he made use of it.

The scooter accelerated out of the parking garage in total silence; it would have been an eerie sight indeed to a biker from an earlier age. Tony's diesel wasn't programmed to kick in until he was down to half a batttery, and that didn't happen until he was just over ten miles from home. His motor fired up just as he made the left into the grocery store; he would not even have noticed it, save that an indicator light came on in his helmet. Tony left the motor running as he dashed in; his umbilical plug was also a key, and while a few highly skilled theives were capable of stealing a bike minus it's umbilcal plug, there fortunately weren't very many of them.

The diesel was still thumping away when Tony emerged, carrying a large relish tray. It wouldn't fit under the seat, so he folded down the modular cargo tray stowed behind his pillion seat and locked it into place. So many people rode scooters or motorcycles or drove such small cars nowadays that external luggage fittings had finally been standardized; many stores sold larger items in weatherproof modular boxes that had tie-down hooks pre-mounted in just the right places. Relish trays, however, were not counted among these packaging marvels; Tony muttered to himself until he finally got his cargo net spread just right over the tray, and properly secured. Then he remounted his bike, and began to back out into the aisle...

...only to be nearly plowed into by an idiot driving a cage! He locked up the brakes and put his feet down, but the right one slipped in something slimy that had fallen out of someone's cart and spilled all over! Only the emergency gyro kept Tony upright as his foot desperately sought for and then finally found traction, the bike leaning slowly towards the point of no return the whole time. Meanwhile the gyro wound up to an absolutely insane speed, then suddenly died away as the batteries reclaimed its kinetic energy. "Damnit!" Tony cursed, his heart pounding from the close call. Then he shook his fist at the middle-aged man who seemed to want to hide underneath his dashboard. "Why don't you look where you're going?"

The cage driver might well have countered that he had the right-of-way and that Tony himself was perhaps at fault. Instead, he gestured for Tony to pull the rest of the way out as he patiently waited. As more and more people had switched over to scooters to save fuel, it had become polite to defer to them in situations like these. While Tony's riding suit was heated and air-conditioned and went a long way towards reducing the potential for injuries, riding anything on two wheels was still a hazardous proposition indeed. Cagers, finally, had become aware of this and begun to behave accordingly.

Tony was still fuming as he swung out into traffic for the second time that day, so he chinned on some music to help him calm down. By the time that the fan in his helmet kicked in, something that happened only on the very hottest of rides or under potential visor-fogging conditions, Tony had almost forgotten all about the idiot in the parking lot. Riding a scoot was _fun_, he reminded himself as he cruised along at seventy-five miles an hour, windshield raised all the way up and diesel chugging merrily away. Mighty fun indeed. Next summer, he might even ride to Canada...

The sky had been clouding up for some time, and finally it began to rain. At first only a few drops appeared on the windshield, then there was a bolt of lightning, followed by a sudden deluge. Tony hardly noticed, however, except to worry about his relish tray. After all, his suit was waterproof, his helmet was fogproof, and his tires were of the latest road-gripping design. Idly he flicked on his windshield and visor wipers, humming along with his favorite song on the radio all the while. It was still coming in crisp and clear, thanks to the electronic noise-cancelling feature that almost totally blanked out all the wind and rain noise. As was his habit, he killed the diesel while passing under the Route Four bridge, so as to save fuel.

Like most workplaces, Tony's office parking lot had a special area designated for scooters and motorcycles not far from the door. Standing bone-dry in the pouring rain, Tony calmly plugged his ride into a power meter and fed in a few quarters, then unstrapped his relish tray from the modular rack. He was just about to carry it inside when his co-worker Ben came chugging up on his chrome-laden Harley. Tony shook his head as Ben shut off his gas-eating, inefficient V-twin engine; a lot of folks wondered how he could afford to ride the thing so much, given what gas cost nowadays. Then Ben clambered off of the big bike and ran for the office door, soaked to the skin under his traditional black leathers. "****!" Ben cried out once Tony had joined him under the awning at a far more leisurely pace. "That was pretty awful, wasn't it?"

"What was pretty awful?" Tony asked back, genuinely baffled. "Oh, you mean the rain!" He smiled. "It wasn't so bad; I hardly even noticed it."

"Hardly even noticed it," Ben grumbled to himself as he dripped all over the sidewalk just outside the office door. "Hardly even noticed it." There was a crack of thunder, and for just a second, a look of the purest envy appeared on Ben's face as he looked at Tony standing dry and cool in front of him, carrying a huge relish tray that he could never have possible managed on his "hog". Then he simply turned and went inside, a loyal Harley man to the last. "It ain't nothingif it ain't a Harley," he reassured himself, not intending anyone to hear. "It just ain't nothing."

But Tony heard, all right. He was grinning ear to ear as he followed Ben down the hall, carefully avoiding the many damp spots that his friend's soggy briefcase was leaving in its wake.
 

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Great story! When's the rest of the book come out ? I'll buy it!

I like the heat exchanger in the suit. Any idea if such technology exists today ? I'm guessing astronauts must have something like that.
 

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Hey Lapine Rider that was a fun read! I also like the new technology and would love to have some of that now. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I don't think any of the tech is that far off, though I'll admit that the bit about actually getting respect from cagers is pretty far-fetched...

Seriously, I'm sure that there's a good reason the suit is not in production already, but I suspect it has more to do with marketing and geography than anything else. People are already making small power-efficient twelve-volt heat-exchangers for use in food warmer-coolers of the kind that are often used by truckers. The things can't be either all that expensive or all that power-hungry, given that they only cost around a hundred bucks and plug into a cigarette lighter. Perhaps they are too fragile to be woven into suits? Or maybe they can't stand up to any reasonable cleaning process? Surely these factors could be overcome.

Another problem might be geography-related. We really _need_ a suit like this in the American South, where 98 degrees farenheit and 98 percent humidity are actually quite common riding conditions in the summer. Many of us would pay high dollars indeed for such a thing, and much of the rest of the world shares these horrid climactic conditions. Yet the high-tech manufacturers who could make such a thing happen are all located in either sunny California, where the climate is _much_ more benign, or in Tokyo where the Japanese Current moderates the weather considerably. And who needs air-conditioning in Germany? Therefore, the people who could make a cool-suit happen don't understand the problems of the rest of the world in the high-impact, visceral way that a single ride in August in the South or Midwest would provide. So, they don't imagine there's a market, and never design the thing. Further, because the suit does not exist, bikes are not made with standardized "umbilical plugs" designed to handle the current drain. It's a chicken-and-egg thing, I fear, and the cycle will only be broken by a brave entrepeneur with deep pockets who will quite likely lose his butt before proving what an intense demand there is for such a product.

For me, the good news is that we scooter-people are very likely to be the movers-and-shakers behind change in the cycling world. The very fact that we've chosen to ride scoots over tradtional bikes shows that we are _open_ to change, and forums like this one have brought us all together in one place. Add in the happy coincidence that our scoots seem to have much bigger alternators than most bikes already, and with any luck you have the makings of a real revolution in rider comfort and bike/riding gear interface and capabilities.

Or at least I sure hope so! The little story was just my way of trying to illustrate what lies within our reach, but which nonetheless dangles frustratingly just outside of our grasp.
 

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Good reading, but especilally enjoy the 'Ben parts' as I have little respect for HD riders after being run off the road by Biker 'HD' gangs two Spring Runs in a row.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Harley riders have actually been pretty nice to me. But I don't understand them. Not even just a little bit.

Thanks for the kind words!
 

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Re: Scooter Commute

That was simply too cool! I wish that I had one of those suits with the heat exchangers!! The Cagers finally givng a 2 wheeler respect- I would soooo like to see that happen!! I enjoyed the story, a great read!! I'm looking forward to reading more if you ever decide to write again!! :D
 

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Thanks for the read, LR. Very enjoyable and well-written, if I may say so.

This part really caught my imagination:

Only the emergency gyro kept Tony upright as his foot desperately sought for and then finally found traction, the bike leaning slowly towards the point of no return the whole time. Meanwhile the gyro wound up to an absolutely insane speed, then suddenly died away as the batteries reclaimed its kinetic energy.
Visionary words!

I hope you won't mind if I show your composition to some other scooting (but non-Burgman) friends. I think they'll enjoy it and I predict that it will result in a heated debate.

:thumbright:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Cool! I _wrote_ it to inspire debate; all I ask is that permission be gotten before public reposting elsewhere.

I'm very glad you enjoyed.
 

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At least Peter used public transportation!

Nice miscellaneous ramblings (to rob a title from automotive columnist Mr. Peter Egan!)!

me. 8)
 
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