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What We’re Reading – The Electric Troll Art Edition

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Asphalt & Rubber typically posts between 20 and 30 stories a week. We are not prolific in the amount of content we produce each week, instead we are selective about what we cover, and always try to frame a single story into a much larger understanding of what is happening in a particular segment or in the industry as whole.

So, this means that not everything we want to cover gets covered. Some stories don’t make the cut, some stories fall to the wayside because of time or resources, and some stories just simply get lost in the shuffle.

It is a shame, so I wanted to create a new segment where we touch back on some of those topics, and include a few others that are completely outside the scope of this motorcycle blog.

Part clearinghouse for stories that we will never get our full attention, and part book club for our loyal readers who are doing their best to survive the work day, say hello to the first installment of the “What We’re Reading” column series.

“Inside the Dark World of Trolling” – Sports Illustrated

Pitchforks at dawn, trolling commenters, and the thin veil of anonymity on the internet – these are the prices we pay for a free platform where anyone, literally anyone, can share their opinions, thoughts, and impulses with other perfect strangers.

But what resides behind the keyboard warriors of the internet? In this story, SI does a pretty good job of exploring the dark and unfortunate side of blogs, message forums, and social media.

As a publisher and writer, this is of course a highly relevant topic for what I do here at Asphalt & Rubber, and it is a good reminder that while we deal in pixels, clicks, and bandwidth, at the end of the connection are real people.

I like too that SI explores how this reality disconnect cuts both ways – that journalists and publications can be just as bad as their fans, readers, and commenters.

Truthfully, this might be the best story I have read in a while – and I say that after having just perused this year’s Pulitzer Prize winners list.

“3 Reasons Expert Motorcycle Riders Crash” – Cycle World

Don’t worry there is plenty of bike stuff in this list too. One of my favorite columns is Nick Ienatsch’s “Ienatsch Tuesday”, which as you can guess comes out every Tuesday on Cycle World.

A world-class rider coach, Nick gears his words towards the whole gamut of rider experience levels, and advanced riders can always glean something from what he says (and he always says it quite well).

In this story, Nick serves a great course of how even the best riders find themselves tumbling down the tarmac (I’m sure the same can apply to off-road riders as well).

One note: reading Nick’s words on Cycle World can be a chore, with the unreasonable amount of advertising that the American publication uses. For a pro-tip, try viewing the site in “reader” mode.

Most browsers have it, and it is the only way CycleWorld.com doesn’t crash my laptop…which sadly, Nick’s story doesn’t address.

“Building the Ultimate BMW F800GS RTW Bike” – ADV Pulse

For the ADV rider in your life, you need to get them reading ADV Pulse. The industry has always needed an ADV-focused publication, so I’m glad that these guys got started a couple years ago.

In this post, they take a look at a pretty cool build, which turns the BMW F800GS into a proper globe-trotting machine. I don’t rate the F800GS very highly, though I am very intrigued by the changes made to create the F850GS, which is new for 2018

Still, I would flog this F800GS around the world, in a heartbeat. I love how the middleweight ADV segment is heating up right now, and there are a lot of worthy models in this space, and several more to come.

“Faster than an F1 car: Porsche is breaking records with the 919 Hybrid” – Ars Technica

I like this story for two reasons, but before we get into the reasons why, let me introduce to you Ars Technica, my go-to place for tech-related news.

Ars is really a cut above the rest of the tech blogs out there, and it focuses on long-worded, insightful, and deeply researched stories. It is like the MotoMatters of the tech space.

Back to it, I like this story because I encountered about five different versions of the same news story when it came out, before I found this version later in the day on Ars Technica, which was the only site that treated it with more than 100 words, and with any real insight.

But I also like this story because it comes from non-endemic media, which often is the bane of niche publications, usually because they are out of their breadth and focus. More snidely, non-endemic media outlets tend to be a bit more…let’s say “kind” in their assessments and reviews.

That is not the case with Ars though, and it really says something about the landscape when a Silicon Valley tech blog does a better car story than the heavyweights in the space.

As for the news, I think it is incredible what Porsche is doing with its old Le Mans car…especially since it is a hybrid. This news item strikes the vein about how electrics can be used not to save the manatees, but instead how EVs and hybrids can drive/ride/fly/whatever better than what we did before with internal combustion alone.

I also like how this story shows what a company is capable of producing when it lets go of the rulebook. We have seen similar movements in the two-wheeled space, with bikes like the BMW HP4 Race, the Ducati Panigale V4 S, and Kawasaki Ninja H2R.

It is also where MV Agusta sees the future of its “superbike” designs headed…hopefully these efforts will lead to similar astounding feats of two-wheeled performance and ingenuity.

“McLaren EV supercar: Here’s the math that says it’s 5-10 years off” – AutoBlog

Keeping things in the car realm, and on electrics, AutoBlog has an interesting story about McLaren’s electric supercar project, and why it is delayed. The discussion about battery density is poignant, and echoes what I have heard from motorcycle EV companies.

To do some rough math, to be equivalent to what is happening in the sport bike category, an electric equivalent will need to carry roughly 50kWh of battery on-board, to mimic the 4.25 gallons of gasoline that is in the typical superbike fuel tank (this takes into account that EV’s are about 3x more efficient in energy conversion than thermic engines, which I should add is some serious gorilla math on my part).

That is about double the onboard energy of what we are seeing Team Mugen use at the Isle of Man TT, but of course, the real issue is the weight.

That same amount of fuel weighs only 27 lbs (6.3 lbs per gallon). So to equal that energy density, electric motorcycles will need batteries that are roughly 411 Wh/kg in density.

For reference, Alta Motors seems to have the most advanced mass production battery pack in the electric motorcycle space, and the San Francisco company boasts only a 185 Wh/kg density on its website.

There is a long road ahead here, but we certainly could get into this ballpark with solid-state battery technology, which is only 3-5 years out, which I believe is what McLaren is referencing in AutoBlog’s story here.

“Has the Art Market Become an Unwitting Partner in Crime?”- New York Times

And now for something completely different. Let’s talk about fine art, and how the art world has always seemed like a sham to my eyes and tastes.

Why are the works in the Louvre so revered, and others not? What makes a great artist a great artist? Fucking Banksy. I take issue with not the subjective appreciation that comes with masterpieces, but instead with the arbitrary recognition that artists find in this space.

Helping fuel this fire aren’t the art critics, but the art collectors, who might not be spending millions of dollars to own and appreciate an appealing work or visceral aesthetic, but instead who own art to watch it appreciate in its value.

It turns out too that the art world is a great place to launder money, which this New York Times story explores.

I know blockchain has been a hot (and confusing) topic lately, with there being an even more arbitrary investment of resources in the space, but if there was a convincing use for this emerging technology, art ownership records might be it.

Ok, that is what we have been reading this past week. What about you? What has caught your attention? Share the links and stories that have been feeding your internet browser in the comments section, so others can enjoy and discuss them.

Lead Photo: © 2013 Jensen Beeler / Asphalt & Rubber – All Rights Reserved