Rides for a post-Apocalyptic World

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Suzuki

) that listed a 1990 Suzuki DR650 as number four on the hit parade. That DR is a pretty good choice because, as WIRED notes, it's got a kickstarter and "batteries might be hard to come by day after tomorrow." WIRED being a zine with a distinctly sci-fi bent, no doubt the post-apocalyptic scenarios they've in mind are along the lines of the near-destruction of the human race by various means (city-sized asteroids impacting Earth, nuclear war, plagues, famines and so forth).

Taking WIRED seriously for a moment, the two-wheel-drive, flotation-tired Rokon Trailbreaker comes to my mind as a better machine than the DR650 for this sort of duty, though the Rokon still has to use gasoline, which, without refineries working and delivering fuel, would be very hard to come by in a real everything-kaput world. Likewise, if the worst-case scenario with a nuke's airburst at the optimum altitude happens, an electromagnetic pulse might fry the Rokon's solid-state ignition as easily as it would any other modern, integrated-circuit ignition system. The best protection against such an EMP being a Faraday cage, it's unlikely that an EMP attack would leave anything but pre-integrated-circuit electronics working—unless you're a real survivalist type—so even the Rokon is only good for circumstances in which the consumables and electronics are working.

Diesels are attractive, of course, because if the military in your area has fuel for its JP-8 equipment, or if there is biodiesel available, you could keep your motor running long after the gasoline is gone. Hence the appeal of any Hayes-modified motorcycle, such as the M1030M1, which would allow you to get spectacular fuel economy while riding over rubble in search of food or other essentials.

Of course, "riding" itself might be a problem on any two-wheeler if you're somehow injured, which is why even the much-reviled SUVs and high-clearance 4WD pickups might turn out to be more useful than a motorcycle, at least in the short run. In the long run, self-reproducing transportation is likely to be the future answer, just as it was before the Automotive Transformation. Whatever their other drawbacks, hayburners like horses at least don't need batteries, gasoline or air in their tires. WIRED being a magazine for technogeeks, our equine pals didn't make their "vehicle" list; but they're on mine, as indeed they might be on the lists of the other moto-journalists who, like me and CW Senior Editor Paul Dean, attended the 1975 Kawasaki new-model intro at Incline Village, Nevada, when Kawasaki PR guys Dan McCue and Doug Freeman told us all to be "ready to ride" early on the first day—but didn't tell us that we were going to ride horses at the Bonanza Ranch before we rode the latest Kawasakis. The sight of a hardcore MX racer sitting on a Western saddle—Scott plastic Star Wars boots slid into stirrups and MX gloves holding the reins as the boots' owner looked miserable—has never left my memory. Nevertheless, there's no question that the horse beats the bike in terms of long-term sustainability in the absence of an industrial infrastructure.

But maybe I’m not enough of a technogeek these days to know about self-replicating, self-repairing motorcycles….