This happened back in the first week of July 2004. I had just received my brand new CBR600RR out of the dealer from its break-in / first scheduled maintenance at 600 miles. It had been a long day at work (the Honda dealer is only about a mile from where I work) and I was ready to head home and relax with my family. I am lucky to have a 30 plus mile commute, one way, each day as the ride is a great stress reliever. I walked the mile down the road, my leather jacket and helmet slung over my shoulder, to collect my dark horse. There were no problems with the maintenance, everything checked out fine and I pocketed the bill of good health for my bike. I started the journey home down West 4th street, headed on the back roads towards Turtle Creek Mall where I joined up with Highway 98 and headed west to Columbia for a 30 minute ride home.
About half way down West 4th street, the low fuel indicator on the CBR began to blink silently which meant that I had nine tenths of a gallon of fuel left, or roughly about 30 miles of range, but I'm not the kind to push my reserve. It should also be noted that the CBR600RR has no petcock, when the light starts blinking, that is your digital petcock. If the light is blinking and your bike runs out of fuel, then there is no petcock to turn for a reserve, the blinking light is the indicator that you are on reserve and a gas pump should be in your near future plans. I'm also glad to report that the digital fuel gauge on the CBR600RR is a lot more accurate and user friendly than the analog fuel gauge on my old '93 VFR750F had been. A lot more, as in nearly spot on. The ‘93 gauge was pessimistic to a fault if anything, with nearly a five gallon tank on the bike, the needle would start to show almost empty and the low fuel light would come on when you still had over 2 gallons left. I learned on that bike to ignore the fuel gauge completely and just use the odometer to judge range. I don't know if Honda fixed this problem with the later models of the VFR, but on the '93 it was a minor annoyance to an otherwise superior design of sport tourer.
But I digress... anyway, the fuel gauge (a digital bar graph in small segregated segments) was showing that I was on reserve (a red bar that blinks). I hit highway 98 and decided to fill up at the Pure station in Belview.
The pumps were crowded with late afternoon drivers getting off from work. I’m not sure why I did what I did, but every now and then, approaching a gas pump to refuel, I’ll simply reach up and switch my engine off, coasting in unpowered and silent to the pump. That is what I did this time and I had the "good" fortune to pull up next to a pump right across from a guy filling up a Harley Fatboy. I glided in to the pump, stopped, and dismounted. My right side of the bike was facing him, my nose to the store front. I didn't think anything about it, live and let live, it had been a long day, the CBR600RR had a glowing checkup at the dealer and I was ready to get home. The last thing I needed was some junk riding nut-tard to start something.
I took my helmet off and stripped my gloves off, putting the helmet on the left hand mirror and laying the gloves on the tank. I opened the gas tank, ran my debit card through the pump, and after I got a confirmation of the transaction, I shoved the nozzle carefully into the filler door and started to pump.
"Heyy!" the scoggin shouted.
I didn't even look up. Hay is for horses.
Sweet Jebus deliver me from this self-propelled, double-wide dwelling, nose-picking, knuckle dragging, NASCAR watching troll. What the hell does he want? I looked up at him, slowly.
"Is that an e-lectric bike?" the scoggin shouted, putting a heavy emphasis on "E" then "lectric" like it was two different words instead of one.
My mind honestly skipped a gear at that statement. An electric bike? What the hell was he talking about? I knew my bike wasn’t electric and I hadn’t seen any other motorcycles except the Harley and my CBR. I looked slowly up at him. He was staring at me and the CBR. He gestured towards my bike, made some kind of sweeping wave and pointed at the bike.
"I barely heard you pull up. That thing is quiet as hell and when I don't see no exhaust on it, so I figured it was one of them high-bred electric bikes. Honda makes them high-breds you know. I read about ‘em in one of them car books."
Right, I thought. Let's have some fun with gap-toothed overall-boy here.
"Is that bike electric?" he asked again. "I seen them electric sport bikes for sell over at Walmart but I didn't know they made them that big! Where did you get it? The Honda dealer?"
I guess the hayseed stumpfuck couldn't figure out that if my bike was electric, I might not need to be putting GASOLINE into a GAS TANK on top of the bike. No, that thought never crossed his mind. I realized that the poor guy was dead serious and that he really didn’t have a clue. My quiet approach had baffled him, but then when you ride something loud like a Harley, I guess you could mistake an absence of noise to be the absence of internal combustion as well. After all, fire is magic, or so sayeth The Faithful who attend the Church of Milwaukee.
"Yeah, it's electric." I shouted back. "I got it over at the Honda dealer, at the part where they sell the electric generators and stuff."
This was getting good and deep and that's when I decided to reel him in for all I was good for and all he was worth.
"She's got a four kilowatt Takahashi electric bi-polar generator. It drives an electric six speed transmission, no gears just super viscous fluid and ultra high pressure mold synchronizers."
The scoggin nodded in mock understanding. He couldn’t know what I was talking about since I was making it up on the fly as I went, with a little help from Schirow Masune's designs from way back in my youth.
"Heh! I knew it was electric. It was so quiet and you ain't got no exhaust pipes..."
No exhaust pipe? Huh? Oh. Right. Actually, the CBR600RR does have an exhaust pipe, but it is a center up design which means that it runs up the back of the bike and exits under the rear seat, like a Ducati, above the tail light, making for a very clean though somewhat unfamiliar design. I could see what had confused the poor redneck, no noise and no visible exhaust pipe, or rather the CBR600RR didn’t have an exhaust pipe in the place that most other sport bikes had an exhaust pipe which is to hang a big shiny can near the rear suspension.
"How fast will one of those electric bikes run?" the scoggin asked.
I watched the fuel start to pool around the top deflector tray and backed the flow off, easing it to a stop.
"About seventy five on the top end." I lied, every muscle in my face straining not to smile. Seventy five is a good bit less than half of what the double R will do on the top end given a short straight away. One sixty-five is the top speed of this sport bike.
"Hell! That's not that fast..." the scoggin said proudly. "I thought one of them plastic bikes like that would be faster than that, especially with one of them fancy batteries like you said it has. Hell, my bike here is faster than that! I can do a hundred and fifty on my bike and it's still got plenty of power to spare!"
He started to smile at the thought of his obvious superiority. It was everything I could do not to laugh out loud at the idea that someone thought a bone stock Harley Fatboy would do a hundred and fifty miles an hour wide open. I took a deep breath and nodded, mock awe showing on my face. Apparently, if this guy believed his bike could do one fifty then I wasn't the first person shooting him a line of BS, no, that honor had gone to the dealer or whoever had told him that his bike would go that fast.
"Whew! That’s pretty fast! I think I’d be scared to go that fast on a motorcycle.” I told him. “Have you ever gone that fast on your bike?”
Of course, I didn’t tell him that the only reason that I would be scared to go that fast on a motorcycle would be if I was on a Harley while I was doing it.
“Well, shit! I don’t never ride her that fast, that’s not why I bought her.” The scoggin told me. “But I could if I wanted to. The dealer told me it would run about a hundred and fifty wide open. He should know, he’s been selling Harleys and working on them for thirty years now.”
Uh huh. That last statement almost made me lose my composure but somehow I maintained both my cool and my poker face. So it was a dealer who told this poor guy that a Fat Boy would do one fifty. Maybe if you dropped it off a cliff it would do one fifty but under its own power, nope, just not happening.
“Well, if I want to go faster, I just turn my high beams to low. That frees up some electricity and the bike can go faster then. You also get a longer range if you run your headlights on low beam, it doesn’t drain the battery as quick."
I managed to say all of that with a straight face. I swear, I should take up professional card playing. I'd be good at it or so I'm told.
"You go faster if you turn your headlights off?" the scoggin asked, confusion slowly creasing his brow.
“Yeah. Remember, it’s electric so if you have your high beams on, it eats up some of the power for the battery, so you don’t go as fast. When you flip the headlights to low beam, it’s kind of like you get another fifteen miles an hour up top. It’s kind of handy for passing slow traffic.”
He seemed to think about that for a moment, seriously, digesting what I had told him and I mean seriously digesting it for all his charcoal briquette sized brain could muster in regards to processing power. I shrugged and carefully withdrew the nozzle from the tank, using my hand to prevent any drops from hitting the tank. Just as a side note, the tank is mostly fake. The fuel tank is centrally located down in the frame, the "fuel tank" on the CBR600RR is actually used as a cover for the massive air box that makes up the cold air / ram air fed EFI system (two injectors per cylinder, eight fuel injectors total in the design). It's a monstrous air box in both volume and size. Honda really did their research with this bike, it is the finest example of mass centralization that I have ever had the pleasure of riding. Words in magazines cannot describe it adequately, it simply has to be experienced to truly be enjoyed how lithe and nimble this bike truly is.
I returned the nozzle to the pump and waited for my ticket to print. I took the receipt, stuck it in my pocket, slid over the bike and started to put on my gloves. I put my sunglasses on the tree and eased my helmet on, then put my sunglasses on again. I turned to watch the scoggin finish filling up his bike.
"Be careful on that scooter, brother." I wished him.
"You too!" he said. “And don’t run it too fast or you might have to plug it in and recharge it! Hah!”
I laughed and nodded good naturedly, like he had gotten in the last, best word. I smiled as I reached forward and turned the key in the ignition to ON. I watched the digital gauges and the analog tachometer all go through their motions, resetting to their zero marks. I reached forward and reset the digital tripmeter back to zero. The fuel gauge showed a full set of bars. Even with dual fuel injectors at each cylinder, I'm knocking down mid 40's in fuel economy. Not too shabby for a bike that will see 75mph in first gear, the quarter mile in the mid ten seconds at over 130 miles an hour and has a top speed greater than 165 miles per hour. Not too shabby at all.
I stabbed the starter button and heard the engine fire up. One second. Two second. Ignition. The scoggin looked over at me with a startled look on his face. Then dawning comprehension hit him like a ton of bricks. I gave him a two finger casual salute from the forehead of my helmet, kicked the CBR into gear and slowly cruised out of the parking lot, back onto Highway 98 West, and my 30 mile ride home.
You can't beat Harley owners for being dumb. You just can't. I laughed about that poor guy for a good mile down the road.