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Electric-motorcycle pioneer ‘pushes limits’ on cross-country rides

Terry Hershner made what he calls first coast-to-coast run on electric bike, and he’s on road again

Less than two weeks after completing what he called the first coast-to-coast run on an electric motorcycle, clean-energy advocate Terry Hershner left Orlando Monday on a more ambitious gasoline-free journey: a 15,000-mile ride throughout the U.S.

“It’s about pushing the limits,” he said of his electric-motorcycle tour. “It’s about showing what the future of transportation can be.”

The Orlando day-trader, who has powered his home on Lake Jessamine with solar and wind energy and has modified his Mercedes to run on recycled french-fry oil, wants to prove that electric rides are catching up to gasoline-fueled vehicles.

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He plans to cover 15,000 miles in two months on a 2012 Zero ZF9. Hershner tweaked the $15,000 electric motorcycle to increase its range from 90 miles on the highway to nearly 200 miles — at speeds of 70 to 80 mph.

Hershner, 37, lit up electric-vehicle message boards on the Internet this month when he finished his cross-country solo ride. He said he traveled Interstate 10 from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic in five days, a distance of 2,659 miles, including detours for repowering stops at campgrounds and public charging stations. He left the Santa Monica Pier in southern California after midnight May 31 and ended at Jacksonville Beach Pier in a downpour June 5, a day before a team of two riders accomplished the same feat, going from east to west.
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Although he was not monitored by any verifying organization, Hershner posted updates and iPhone photos on his “Off the Grid” Facebook page, showing his progress and problems, which included a traffic jam in Los Angeles, a mechanical breakdown in Texas and Tropical Storm Andrea in Florida.

Brian Richardson, who led the rival Moto-Electra Team, congratulated Hershner on his finish but noted that his team, which started later, ran the distance faster. Richardson said the point of both efforts was to change perceptions about the range and speed of electric motorcycles. “I think we both did,” he said.

Hershner hopes to beat Moto-Electra’s speed record later this month when he runs from New York City to Blaine, Washington, the northwestern-most point in the continental U.S. His cycle is packed with extra chargers to repower his battery quicker — in 45 minutes rather than an hour or more.


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