Friday, July 30, 2010

Sound Part 4: “I Don't Like the Sound or Lack There of”

The sound of something new is a mental association not yet built into the brain and not yet linked to our feelings of adrenaline and excitement. Most anyone not involved in motor sports truly hates the sounds loud engines make, and this is by far a huge majority of people in this world. The only reason some of us think a race motorcycle or cruising Harley sounds good is because we have positive associations with those sounds. When we hear the gargling almost backfire of a motorcycle, we associate it with the feeling of down shifting and braking into a corner or the hum of the Harley is associated with the cruising over green rolling foothills.

No one who actually rode my electric bike has complained about the sound. When they ride it they've said something like it sounds so different, its so quite, its a fascination of how it sounds when riding it and not a complaint, something radical and unknown.

Sound is one of the key complaints that I hear/read every time there is a discussion about electric vehicles by those who have not yet had a first hand experience.

I want to start with the sound of the A123 drag race bike. Last time I checked I think it had a 168 mph quarter mile speed, in the 7 second range. When I saw this drag bike on YouTube it was the first step in creating an association with the sound of electric motors.

Listen to the sound of this bike:

When I heard that bike I said to myself that is not in the slightest way a “quite” bike. That is a ridiculous amount of energy burning through rubber tires and I can only pretend what it would feel like to race to 168 mph in a quarter mile with that sound.

After hearing that A123 bike tear off, I thought: nobody had ever said lightening sounds boring, or people being burned to death on an electric chair sounds boring. The sound of energy is the sound of energy regardless of its form, people have yet to link the association with sound of electric motors to the feeling of speed.

Even the much quieter sound of my electric bike still makes sounds at all speeds , and now that I'm tuned to it after 800 miles my brain has the association of the hum this bike makes under my favorite part of the gearing power ratio around 45 mph at full throttle and I know the adrenalin association of flying into a corner with no engine braking and the different sounds the engine makes still spinning into a decelerating corner.

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