Technology Bewilderment

Steve Lita American Iron Magazine Editor

Steve Lita, American Iron Magazine Editor

RIDE TO WORK by Steve Lita, Editor

…tech that you might see on the next bike you go shopping for…

Things are moving fast. Just returned from the 2020 Harley-Davidson LiveWire press launch in Portland, Oregon (check out my full review starting on page 32). I mean, I just returned! The timing of this story was cutting it close for appearing in this issue. But we held seven pages and kept our fingers crossed that the pictures would come out great. I literally had only hours to compose my story and art director Tricia had to process the images and lay it all out (along with this issue’s dynamic cover) in a very short time. Because we didn’t want to put it off until next issue, we knew we had to thrash to get the news to you ASAP. Thank goodness we don’t have to wait for someone to develop film these days (remember that?)

It’s kind of the way life works these days. What used to be hurry up and wait, has become hurry up and rush. It all didn’t make sense as I was sitting in four hours of Friday rush hour traffic on my way home from the airport when I flew back from Portland. I just sat there shaking my head, wasting gas, idling in traffic, on what should have been a less than two-hour highway ride. The irony struck me.

Where’s the flying car we were promised in the old issues of Popular Science magazine, oh so long ago? I could have landed in the big jet, and flown home in my personal airborne conveyance, because surely the feds would not let us have 747 caliber equipment. But in the end I guess it’s a good thing we don’t have flying cars. Judging by the way people drive in traffic currently, there would certainly be flying car fender benders and shrapnel falling from above.

Upon returning to the office from this trip, what’s the first thing I find? Buzz left a letter from a reader on my desk. I mean a good old-fashioned handwritten letter, sent with a stamp, on an envelope, delivered to our door by a human being walking from building to building. How quaint. Don’t worry, I won’t name names, but it went something like this: “Just wanted to comment on issue 377. No more electric vehicles in the mag!!!” You might recall we ran a short, two page wrap-up of the upcoming new Buell Fuell electric bike in that issue. The reader goes on: “I want to read about American motorcycles and everything else associated with them.” Which left me scratching my head. You do want to read about American motorcycles, or don’t you? Sorry folks, that one didn’t make it to our letters section, because there would be too many grammatical corrections to make, and like I said, we’re on a tight deadline. I guess this reader was disappointed I did not ask his advice when planning issue 377, but all I can say is if you don’t wanna read about it, turn the page. He’s gonna be really disappointed in this issue.

Why did we dedicate seven pages to the LiveWire? Ironically, I wanted to give it eight pages. There was so much to write about! Yes, I did leave some of the story “on the cutting room floor” as the old saying used to go. It’s American. It’s new territory for Harley. It contains tech that you might see on the next bike you go shopping for, regardless of whether its powered by electricity or internal combustion. It’s real, and it’s here. By the way, the Buell Fuell is not, yet.

Back at the launch, another journalist asked a question about the LiveWire’s six axis IMU, and asked why Harley didn’t make the LiveWire self-balancing. For just a short moment, I was the Luddite in the room. Inertial Measuring Units (IMU) measure movement through 3-D space and are used in GPS systems, drone navigation, even in your robotic vacuum cleaner. While listening to the answer I thought to myself: “Good one. Why didn’t I think of that?”

While I don’t claim to be on the cutting edge of all technology, I sure do like the fun and convenience it adds to our lives. But I don’t know if I’m quite ready for the self-balancing bike myself. I’m too used to the habit of downshifting just before putting my left foot down when coming to a stop. It’s a thing with MSF rider coaches. For more about my old habits and new bikes see page 32.