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Power Science

Electric Motorcycle Inventor Crashes at Wired Conference 337

not5150 writes "The inventor of the electric 'KillaCycle" motorcycle was taken to the hospital for x-rays after demonstrating the vehicle to reporters. Bill Dube, a government scientist during the day and bike builder at night, attempted a burnout in front of the Los Angeles Convention Center during the Wired NextFest fair. Fueled by the "most powerful" lithium-ion batteries in the world, the bike accelerated uncontrollably into another car. There's a video interview (thankfully before the crash) and footage of Dube crashing."
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Electric Motorcycle Inventor Crashes at Wired Conference

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  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:45AM (#20600361)
    As a professional stuntman, I can't stress enough how dangerous it is to perform these kinds of antics without appropriate training, preparation, and room.

    The fact that he hit a parked minivan tells me quite a bit about the kinds of stupid risks he was taking. He's lucky that he's the only one that got hurt.
  • Idiot (Score:5, Insightful)

    by infonick ( 679715 ) * on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:59AM (#20600421) Homepage
    As a scientist, he should have known better than to not wear a helmet....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @03:59AM (#20600423)
    Performing burnouts on a motorcycle is not difficult. There's a little something called a clutch that makes it pretty safe. In the video you can hear him (or someone) say 'it actually stuck on', which I assume means he couldn't cut the power to the wheel.

    In fact, the only stupid risk he took was not wearing a helmet. What sort of a dick rides a bike without a helmet? (Hint: 'a freedom loving dick' is not an acceptable answer.)
  • by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:08AM (#20600455) Homepage Journal
    Remember aerodynamics too, 60-120 won't be as fast as 0-60 even with the same torque being applied. It does sounds awesome though, even if the inventor can't ride it
  • Free press? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alystair ( 617164 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:18AM (#20600501)
    This is actually very good free press for them, hope he recovers quick. Media loves accidents.
  • by FireFury03 ( 653718 ) <> on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:23AM (#20600525) Homepage
    There's a little something called a clutch that makes it pretty safe.

    I suspect, being electric, this wouldn't have a clutch.

    In fact, the only stupid risk he took was not wearing a helmet. What sort of a dick rides a bike without a helmet?

    To be fair, he was attempting a burnout - going over the handlebars at high speed isn't usually a big hazard when you're stationary with the back wheel spinning.
  • Killa-Minivan (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Nymz ( 905908 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:24AM (#20600529) Journal
    It doesn't matter if it'a KillaCycle, motorcycle, bicycle, or even a small car, because none of them are safe as long as they share the road with vehicles that are relatively so much more massive. If we want to realistically promote more efficient modes of transportation, then we should work to make the current hostile enviroments into safer ones.

    Before you flame, I'm aware he wasn't wearing a helmet, was showing off with a burn out, was riding an prototype vehicle, and that the minivan was a parked. But instead of addressing the rare occurance this incident was, I wanted to address a common occurance, and provide a solution that we could actually take steps toward achieving.
  • Re:Killa-Minivan (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Omnifarious ( 11933 ) * <(gro.suoirafinmo) (ta) (hsals-cire)> on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:00AM (#20600653) Homepage Journal

    I agree pretty strongly with you on this. From what I've read massive vehicles aren't any safer for the people riding in them, and a lot more dangerous for everybody else. Not only that, but a lot of people who drive them drive them because they think they're safer, then drive like idiots because they think they can't get hurt. Also, many people who get them are just generally really insecure about their ability to drive which will make them bad drivers even if they don't feel invulnerable.

  • by WindowsIsForArseWipe ( 990338 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:02AM (#20600665)
    A cluch is unnecessary in most electric vechicles and in most cases it is a waste in that it is extra weight asnd also that it would prevent regenerative breaking. You could put a clutch on an electric vechicle but you get penalised for it.
  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:09AM (#20600689)
    Best wishes, I hope you get better soon.

    But come on buddy, a little common sense, and remember you're a role model. *You* might have known what you're doing but lots of idiot teenagers would have been watching the footage of you doing this gig and other ones similar to it. They might take home the message that it's ok not to wear helmet and body armour. The fact that something did go wrong showed that you weren't completely in control.

    Please, even if you're happy taking those risks, wear a helmet and body protection. You wouldn't use DIY power tools at home without safety gear so why take risks with your superbike? You seem like a nice guy, stick around for a bit longer so you can pick up your Darwin award and don't encourage idiot teenagers (or adults) to think its ok to do burns on stationary bikes without protection. You've just proved that it's not safe...
  • Re:Idiot (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:29AM (#20600785)
    Not only that, the guy wasnt even wearing *any* type of protective motorcycle gear. Frankly, ending up in hospital seems like the most likely outcome of that little stunt. Hopefully he will recover completely, but he really has himself to blame most of all.
  • by SmokeyTheBalrog ( 996551 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @05:43AM (#20600839)
    There was wet patch, but he rolled off it when he made his first mistake.
  • by hummassa ( 157160 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @06:26AM (#20601039) Homepage Journal
    Nothing else should be said. I loved this thing, but I wouldn't get _near_ a bike that makes 0-60 in less then a second without a reinforced helmet and heavily padded/armored clothes.
  • by Woy ( 606550 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:10AM (#20601245)
    You can't both claim there was no one in the possible trajectory as a safety measure and wear no helmet. You either considered the bike could move or not.
    Cool bike, man!
  • by Jeek Elemental ( 976426 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:16AM (#20601279)
    if its a 3 phase short circuit engine, which is likely, the torque goes down quick as rpm goes up. When rpm=0 its basically a short circuit condition, it will pull whatever power it can get (and handle for a short period of time).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:29AM (#20601337)
    A dick who makes his own decisions and deals with the consequences.

    And who drives up insurance costs for the rest of the riders who do wear helmets.
  • Re:some pictures (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Oktober Sunset ( 838224 ) <sdpage103@yahoo[ ].uk ['.co' in gap]> on Friday September 14, 2007 @07:52AM (#20601497)
    same slut, different name.
  • by Lloyd_Bryant ( 73136 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:00AM (#20601579)

    In fact, the only stupid risk he took was not wearing a helmet. What sort of a dick rides a bike without a helmet? (Hint: 'a freedom loving dick' is not an acceptable answer.)
    I take offense at your usage of the word "dick". To me, a "dick" is a person who, through malice, indifference, or stupidity, adversely affects someone else.

    So someone who permits a 10 year old to ride with him without a helmet is being a "dick". Someone who decides for himself not to wear one is at worst a "fool".

  • by s-meister ( 580465 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:29AM (#20601769) Journal

    Dear Richard Hammond,

    If those wacky producers and Clarkson ask you to test ride a motorbike, JUST SAY NO.


    A Friend

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 14, 2007 @08:36AM (#20601843)
    That's what he said. The bit about serious amounts of back-emf still apply, too.
  • by LSD-OBS ( 183415 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:07AM (#20602059)
    Internal combustion engines need a clutch for two major reasons.

    1. If you had direct gearing from the shaft to the wheel, the engine would need to be able to accelerate from 0 RPM. Combustion engines cannot turn at less than certain speeds while still maintaining ignition. In English this means you need a clutch to pull of from standing.

    2. Combustion engines have relatively low ceilings on maximum RPM. So you need to change gears to go faster. This is why manual drive cars have that third pedal - you have to disengage the drive in order to slot in the new gear.

    Electric motors are pretty much free of the above two limitations, so they require therefore only a throttle control.
  • No helmet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by beavis88 ( 25983 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:15AM (#20602131)
    Seriously, this guy is smart enough to design and build this bike in his spare time, but not to buy a fucking helmet??
  • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @10:24AM (#20602923) Homepage Journal
    You know...I've thought it would be pretty cool to own an electric car like the Tesla. But, I've also lamented that the lack of 'sound' would be a drawback. I mean, a high powered car, is fun not only due to the torque and acceleration, but, that noise coming off a finely tuned exhaust is part of the thrill.

    Taking that in mind when I read this...I thought "Ok, I could maybe get by with a fairly silent car, but, NO WAY would this make a motorcycle fun"!!

    I mean, that IS a huge part of the fun of a big cruiser bike. I'm not talking about straight pipes here...I know those annoy some people. I like loud things, but, I do try to respect my neighbors. But, really, first thing I think of when I get a new what aftermarket pipes I'm gonna give me that rumble as I drive it.

    I think an electric bike would be kinda boring in that respect. Sure, I guess you could sync some mp3's of good engine/exhaust notes with the motor...but, still.....something would be missing.

    Hell..many people buy the Harley JUST for the "potato...potato...potato.." engine note and rumble. Didn't they even try to patent that?

  • Re:Dumbass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HikingStick ( 878216 ) <<moc.liamtoh> <ta> <remeir10z>> on Friday September 14, 2007 @10:33AM (#20603005)
    And you probably would have ridiculed Benjamin Franklin had he received an enormous electric shock while experimenting with electricity.

    Most real innovations in the course of this (U.S.A.) country's history have been made by amateurs and hobbyists. Such "citizen scientists" have had a tremendous impact on most areas of science and industry and have only been supplanted (in their rate of discovery) in the past few decades by corporations and research labs associated with educational institutions. Instead of deriding the man for his lack of skill as a motorcyclist, why not laud his achievement in mechanical and electrical engineering?

    Had the Wright brothers and other pioneers of early flight listened to the detractors who called them foolish or unwise, modern flight may yet be a pipe dream. Had Dean Kamen left innovation to the "experts" when his uncle struggled to manage his insulin intake, he would not have invented the automatic insulin infusion pump while he (Kamen) was yet a teen.

    Since you're ridiculing this inventor, what are you doing to advance the science he promotes? What are you doing to extend battery life, create a more powerful electric motor, or develop more energy-efficient vehicles? There's an old saying that fits here [imo--and it goes for all the naysayers out there on all the threads]:

  • Re:Dumbass (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MalleusEBHC ( 597600 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:30AM (#20603679)
    Don't try to play this off as an inventor nobly accepting risk and forging onwards in the name of progress. This is about someone trying to show off and nearly killing himself because he was too stupid to factor in all sorts of safety concerns. Yes, this man has proven himself to be an excellent engineer, but that does not absolve him from acting like a total moron while riding his invention. Riding any bike without a helmet is plain stupid. Attempting to do a burnout on a powerful drag bike without a full-face helmet, leathers, and room for runoff is completely retarded. (Squid!) Besides, what the hell does doing a burnout prove? I could do a burnout on bikes that can barely do the 1/4 mile in twice the time of that electric bike. The power required is actually pretty minimal.

    When talking about his riding, this guy is no better than some asshole doing a stand-up wheelie in the middle of traffic on the freeway. Praise him for his engineering skills, but at the same time condemn him for his utter lack of riding skills and common sense.
  • by lavaboy ( 21282 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:44AM (#20603867)
    first rule of riding bikes: Dress for the crash, not the trip.

  • Re:Dumbass (Score:2, Insightful)

    by initdeep ( 1073290 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:59AM (#20604153)
    exactly. As a motorcyclist for nearly 20 years, and someone who has to put up with all of the misinformation and idiocy of the uninformed "cager" crowd, this is not somthing that most in this community will appreciate at all. I'm pretty sure that were it someone doing something similar to prove the power of the latest "ninja" bike, and they had the same result, the tone taken by the media would be quite different. The ability to build and engineer this prototype vehicle is very impressive. The inability to act in a professional manner while displaying said vehicle to a crowd and ensure that any possible accidents could not result in damage to anything other than said vehicle is moronic at best, and criminal at worst.
  • by krbvroc1 ( 725200 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @12:19PM (#20604525)
    You are missing the fundamental 'Law of Insurance and Gas prices'. Rising costs are quick to be passed on the consumer, but when costs go down, the savings are pocketed by the company as long as possible.
  • by navyjeff ( 900138 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @02:13PM (#20606157) Homepage Journal
    I have to disagree for the most part. I can't count the number of times motorcycles have been able to come up behind my car on the highway without me hearing them. These were not quiet bikes either: they were modded Harleys with big engines and straight pipes.

    With the direction of the exhaust pipes on bikes going straight behind them, nearly all their noise is projected back and to the sides, especially at highway speeds. Plus, when they're cruising or decelerating they put out much less noise than at wide-open throttle.

    Ergo, I still get the "Holy shit, where did he come from?" effect when they go by me, unless I first saw them in my mirrors. So I think the "safety" reasoning for the noise is erroneous.
  • Re:Killa-Minivan (Score:2, Insightful)

    by TheJodster ( 212554 ) on Friday September 14, 2007 @04:06PM (#20607907) Homepage
    Lawsuits are only effective when the knuckle head behind the steering wheel has money. This woman had a minimum wage job and lived in a rented trailer house. She had the minimum insurance required in Texas which is $20,000 of bodily injury. Technically, most health insurance policies stipulate that they get reimbursed before you do. If she breaks your arm and you get an ambulance ride to an ER for a cast, I'll guarantee you that you will likely exceed that money. Hell, I probably exceeded her $20K in the first hour.

    I could sue her. I would win the case within an hour. My wife took photos of all the metal hardware they bolted onto my leg from the outside, the chest tubes, all of the machines breathing for me and all that other crap. The problem is that it would cost me at least $3000 or $4000 and all I would have at the end of the day is a judgement that she will never pay. I got a lawyer and am trying to get what little there is from the auto insurance policy. My lawyer just did a case for some kid who was out drinking and got hit on his bike later that night. The kid got several hundred thousand dollars. It all depends on who hits you. Murphy's law says that it will usually be some slobbering idiot with a busted up car and little or no insurance as was my case.

    I really didn't have time to dwell on that, though. I was focused on getting out of a wheel chair and onto a walker. Then getting off the walker onto two canes. I finally got down to one cane and thankfully don't have to use it anymore either.

    Whoever said that I was lucky above was absolutely right. I had all of these bad ass doctors coming in from the level 1 trauma center to check out all of the handy work. One of the motorcycle victim reconstruction surgeons told me that he had never seen a human being hit that hard and live to tell about it. When a motocyclist gets hit like that, the only way to see the bodily injury is to take a trip to the morgue. They couldn't figure out how my brain didn't get scrambled. I told them I was crazy to start with so there is no empirical way to discern further damage.

    I'm not riding any more. She screwed up my knee bad enough that I probably can't. Besides, who the hell wants to lay in a hospital bed for months on end taking morphine and vicodin to get through the day? If I never see an IV needle, or a 20 inch incision with staples all over it ever again, I'll be a happy guy! I'll seek my thrills elsewhere.

IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out becoming pure energy. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.