Electronic Design

Bob's Mailbox

Hi Bob:
I've been an EE for some 20 years or so, and a keen biker for slightly longer than that, so your column in the Feb. 9 issue was doubly interesting.

The one thing that puzzles me is the fact that you have sampled the joys of motorcycling, yet aren't going to take it up in what is probably one of the best places on Earth, weather-wise: California.

I think it's true to say that all the bikers I know over here in England are hooked; even a small-capacity bike gives you performance far in excess of any car. I'm not necessarily talking top speed, but how fast you get there.

I've got a 1978 Triumph 750 cc (a pushrod engine based on a bored and stroked 500-cc design of 1938). Although it's pushed to top 100 MPH, it can (or could) get from 0 to 60 in. about five seconds. A line of cars is no obstacle—even in England where we probably have some of the narrowest, most-crowded roads in the world. Just squirt the throttle, and away we go.

I think you should reconsider your decision. I would hate to think of all that beautiful biking weather being wasted.

I'm sure the book you recommended is an excellent basis for safe riding, but the one maxim that has kept me out of trouble (both on bikes and in cars) is to treat the other guy as a jerk. Ninety-nine times out of 100 you'll be proved wrong, but that one time could save your life.
PHIL GEARY
via e-mail

I like to take all sorts of suitable, reasonable risks. The one risk I do not like to take is on a motorcycle. It's too easy for people to ignore you, not see you, or just not care. I'll tell you exactly what it will take to make me buy and ride a motorcycle: it would have to be outfitted with this "accessory"—a laser hologram that looks like a Mack Truck or like a big, rusty Land-Rover. That way, nobody could ignore me. Until then, thanks, but I'll pass.—RAP

Hi Bob:
Good article. Motorcycling can be a lot of fun if it is done safely. Another way to learn is to get a dirt bike, and learn to ride off-road first. You can learn a lot about handling, weight-transfer, and the rest, that way. And it's not so fatal if you fall. That is how I learned.

A very good piece of advice, that I got from a LA CHP motor officer (a friend), was to drive (on the street) defensively, as if no one else knows you are there. It has worked for me for 31 years. I also agree that riding in traffic is VERY dangerous, especially in a metropolis like the Bay area.
CHRIS LITTLE
via e-mail

Yeah, I always rode bicycles assuming nobody could see me. I only got run down once by a guy making an illegal U-turn in the middle of a bridge. Maybe I should buy a dump truck with a laser hologram of a motorcycle?—RAP

Hi Bob:
I just wanted to tell you how much I've enjoyed your articles over the years. I am an analog impostor, a physicist who enjoyed playing with circuits in the lab, reading books and articles, etc. Fifteen years and many products later, I'm considered an "analog designer" (whatever the heck that means), but I still feel like an impostor. Will I ever get over this?
BARRY McGINLEY
via e-mail

Barry—are you trying to say that you might have a guilty conscience because you are getting PAID for having FUN? Well, don't feel too bad about it. I get paid for having fun, too.—RAP.

All for now. / Comments invited!
RAP / Robert A. Pease / Engineer
[email protected]:

Mail Stop D2597A
National Semiconductor
P.O. Box 58090
Santa Clara, CA 95052-8090

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