Seattle, Los Angeles, Florida, and Maine: the four corners of the continental U.S.
Those points are where I intend to ride my 2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle this summer.
The summer road trip is a great tradition, and every year, electric vehicles shape up to be more road-trip-worthy than before.
DON'T MISS: 'Kick Gas' Movie: Driving Across U.S. In Electric Car & Motorcycles (Apr 2014)
For the past few summers, I've traveled across the country on a Zero electric motorcycle.
In 2013, I rode my 2012 Zero S with the "Ride The Future Tour" from Charleston, South Carolina, to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. From that, we made the movie Kick Gas.
In 2014, I took a personal road trip to Asheville, St. Louis, Chicago, and New Hampshire.
2014 Zero SR electric motorcycle, photographed by owner Ben RichEnlarge Photo
Last summer, I covered 6,800 miles on a 2014 Zero SR during a Three-Country Tour that encompassed Mexico, the U.S., and Canada.
In the past, I've used two Elcon 2.5-kilowatt chargers made by Hollywood Electrics that supplemented to my onboard charger, supplying 6.3 kw of charging power. This cut charging times to 60 to 100 minutes.
The tour this year will be made even easier by a DigiNow Supercharger, which has the capability to charge up to 10 kw.
ALSO SEE: Electric Motorcycle Tour: Three Countries, 6,800 Miles, 22 Days (Jul 2015)
This will let me recharge my motorcycle completely in 30 to 60 minutes, or half the time it took in 2015.
Finding charging stations near cities and large towns is easy using the Plugshare app. One feature allows you to plan a road trip with an origin & destination, and it will find charging stations within a certain radius of the fastest path.
I raise the search radius to 100 miles so I can choose my own path. That's partly because I’m independently minded, and partly because riding a motorcycle is more enjoyable on smaller roads than highways.
Electric motorcycle rider Ben Rich in CanadaEnlarge Photo
Charging stations in the woods or the big western states can be scarce, so I use the RVParky site to find RV parks with 50-amp connections to charge up.
Even in the more densely populated Eastern U.S., I stop at several RV parks—while crossing Pennsylvania heading to Cleveland, for example.
Riding a motorcycle across the U.S. is one of the most peaceful and exciting things you can do. Simultaneously you fly across the land and enjoy the serenity of the surrounding environment.
This double enjoyment is particularly true on an electric motorcycle, because the awesome torque from 0 mph is always available.
But the peaceful quiet operation doesn’t disturb animals, so you can sometimes see their faces instead of their fleeing backsides, because often they don’t run away.
The electric vehicle community is fantastic, and I plan to meet other EV enthusiasts across the nation.
Hollywood Electrics motorcycle shopEnlarge Photo
Specifically I look forward to taking a ride with 1-2 dozen other electric bikers starting at Hollywood Electrics in July.
This year I'll use the brand new DigiNow Supercharger to cut the charging time of my previous journeys almost in half.
The higher charging rate let me to charge my 14.2-kWh battery at 8 to 10 kw, so I’ll be riding more than charging—whereas in the past I had to charge for a little longer than I actually rode.
To me, fast charging is the most important development in electric vehicles. Many people talk about batteries being the limiting factor for mass adoption, but I think charging is more important.
While lithium-ion batteries have become more energy dense, lighter, and cheaper, there have been important developments in charging as well.
Even if a vehicle can only take you 100 miles on a charge, it doesn't add much time to your trip if you can recharge quickly.