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Zero Motorcycles Introduces 2013 Line To Press Assembled At Long Beach (video)

At last week’s Long Beach Motorcycle Show, Zero made this presentation (video below) to all of the major US motorcycle press representatives concerning the dramatic changes to its line for the 2013 model year. If you would like to see a full report in print, take a look at Gabe’s article here.

65 Comments

  1. Sabu says:

    Total deathtrap for big city riding, I wouldn’t even take one for a test ride around here in San Francisco. They need to create some sort of noise on these bikes so that pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers can know you’re coming.

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  2. Cowpieapex says:

    I love these new machines and can’t wait to ride one.
    BTW My home is off the grid solar powered and I ride a horse. In the mean time I own 9 I.C.E. vehicles. The future/past is now.

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  3. Keyser Soze says:

    These are interesting bikes, and the company will probably do reasonably well in the near term. But the problem for this company is that as soon as the electric motorcycle market gets big enough for the major manufacturers to even take notice, they will start making competing models. And with the engineering expertise that the major motorcycle companies have at their disposal, they could easily be producing competing models within just a few short months of when executive management decides to allocate the capital. They only way that this company would be able to prevent themselves from being obliterated by the likes of Honda or BMW would be if their intellectual property covers the very concept of the electric motorcycle. I doubt if that is the case, although considering some of the patents that have been awarded in the area of computer software, it would not be terribly surprising if a patent of that sort had been awarded. But I doubt it. The only technology here that qualifies as cutting edge is of course the batteries. I doubt if there is anything here that would interest Elon Musk. If he wanted to make electric motorcycles, he likely would just start doing it. The only way that he would buy this company would be when it is on the auction block and there were some manufacturing facility of some value and available cheap. Several years ago there was a press release about a patent awarded to this company, but all it was for, is with the way that the cables are made and attached to the battery terminals. The cables are braided, and probably aren’t significantly different from the high-end loudspeaker cables that audiophools buy. And they are pressed into the battery terminals in some unique fashion, and that is what is patented. I doubt very seriously if, in order to produce a similar, competing machine, it would be necessary to use their method of attaching the cables to the battery terminals. So, as soon as the battery technology improves another notch or two, to where electric motorcycles are practical enough to have true mainstream appeal, all of the major motorcycle manufacturers are going to start mass producing them, and this company will quickly become a historical footnote. This is just the way that these things go. For a small company of this sort to survive, they have to own intellectual property that is truly special.

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    • Gary says:

      Your comments assume that a lean, nimble startup is forever doomed to play second fiddle to an entrenched, bureaucratic mega-corp. Ever hear of Tesla, Facebook and Apple?

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      • Keyser Soze says:

        Nope, Gary, my comments do not assume anything of the sort. Now, let’s explore what you wrote, from a logical perspective. You are saying in effect that because the three companies that you name are examples of small start-ups that were successful, that somehow and someway, every small, lean nimble startup that comes along is guaranteed to be successful. No? That isn’t what you meant? Hmmm, okay, suppose then that you only meant that on some occasions, small nimble startups can be successful. Well, if that is all you meant, then it just wasn’t worth saying. And on top of that, the tone of your comment is just rude. Whatever exactly it was that you wanted to say, you should have just said it, and left out the rhetorical question, which obviously was only meant to be insulting.

        I reiterate that my comments do not in any way imply what you say they imply. That is only your interpretation, and not something that is genuinely inherent in the comment.

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      • Keyser Soze says:

        And something else that kept bugging me. You imply that Tesla, along with Facebook and Apple, is an example of a company that is not “doomed to play second fiddle to an entrenched, bureaucratic mega-corp”. Tesla? By what criteria? I am curious to know why you picked Tesla. If this were early January of 1981, would you have picked Delorean? Last time I looked, Tesla’s debt was still increasing. I recall that just a few months ago, sometime in the fall, they were in negotiation with the U.S. Dept of Energy for repayment of the money that the D.O.E. loaned to them (which I believe was more than double the amount that they raised in the IPO in 2010).

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    • Ziggy says:

      You automatically assume that a large competing pubco wouldn’t just buy out Zero at a premium and keep it as a division. That’s how you keep brand value and get access to the material information, liscenses and patents. The quickest path to success for a large competitor is a buyout. And the principals of Zero know that all too well. They’re building the business for a buyout. And if it comes, they’ll get filthy rich.

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      • Keyser Soze says:

        Why is it that other people are so quick to tell me things that I have assumed, when I did not make any such assumptions? I did not “automatically” assume any such thing. Brand value is worth keeping if the sales of the company are substantial, but I just doubt whether a large company like Honda or BMW (for example), with a well-established brand that they are always interested in keeping at the forefront of everything, is likely to view a small brand of that sort as something that should be kept. Of course I could be wrong on that point, but I doubt it. As far as getting access to the material information, licenses, and patents, that is a valid point only if there is intellectual property worth acquiring, and I believe that I made that point very clearly. Perhaps not, but I just looked back at what I wrote, and I’m pretty certain that I was pretty clear on the intellectual property point.

        The problem, as I see it, is that there just isn’t much there that a large company such as Honda or BMW would deem of important value, because there isn’t any intellectual property there, to speak of. Buyouts occur in the world of high-tech when small companies have either developed technology, often software, that would be very costly to re-engineer from scratch, or else have intellectual property that is deemed of significant value. Electric motorcycles are not high technology. As I said, a large company such as Honda or BMW could be churning out electric motorcycles within a few short months of whenever the people who make the decisions make the decision to do that. There isn’t one thing about it where they would encounter any difficulty where they would find themselves wondering how this other company solved this problem or that problem. The only thing that would seem to be there, that a large company might possibly want, is the brand, and you point that out, but I just don’t see that happening. In order for a brand to have particularly strong value, it has to be old. When you see companies paying for the rights to use a brand name, it is always some very old brand that has a lot of brand recognition. I just don’t see it.

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    • todd says:

      “as soon as the electric motorcycle market gets big enough for the major manufacturers to even take notice, they will start making competing models.”

      And which company do you think will be the one making the market so large? Zero is currently Number 1 in the Electric Motorcycle business. Their name and its association with leadership in this market is worth far more than any IP. When everyone else jumps on the bandwagon (with a small portion of their lineup) Zero will be well on the way to expanding their offerings and sales network.

      -todd

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      • Tom K. says:

        Todd said, “Zero is currently Number 1 in the Electric Motorcycle business.”

        Kind of like being the tallest Munchkin in Oz, isn’t it?

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      • Keyser Soze says:

        Allowing that Zero might be the company that breathes life into the electric motorcycle, that does not guarantee that their name will be worth a great deal, and does not make their name worth more than their IP would be worth, in the hypothetical case where they had some really valuable IP. The way I look at is this: assume that at a certain point, the annual revenue (sales) for Zero reaches X% of the revenue of say, Honda, where X is the point where Honda will decide that they would like for that revenue to appear on their own annual shareholder statement. Maybe X is 5%. Maybe less, maybe more, but it is the point where they decide that they want that piece of revenue. They will then ask whether it makes more sense to buy that company, vs. start making electric bikes of their own. You can take for granted that they already have a few prototypes inside the walls of their R&D facilities. There just isn’t any way that a company like Honda would not. The question they will ask, first and foremost, is what is Zero’s manufacturing cost. They will look at that very closely, and study all the angles, to consider possibilities such as buying the company and keeping its products but moving production to another location in the USA. They will consider that, and every imaginable variation and permutation. If they determine that Zero’s production costs are higher than what they normally strive for traditionally, and they don’t like the alternative of buying the company and moving it elsewhere, they simply won’t have any interest in that company. If they reach the conclusion that they can make the machines for significantly less, even after factoring in the shipping costs and import tariffs, and sell them for less and do that and still realize greater margin that Zero is realizing at that point in time, the only reason that they would then have any interest in buying that company is if it gets in serious financial trouble and can be bought at fire sale prices.

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    • Dave says:

      If these guys are far along enough by the time the big makes take notice (this would also require the motorcycle market to rebound) then it’s more likely that one of the big makes would buy them out for their technology.

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  4. Mr D says:

    I gotta ask, if my Kawazukis in the garage are internal combustion ENGINEs, and the Zero has an electric MOTOR, would that make the Zero the real MOTORcycle? (I think I ride an enginecycle….sorry guys..just asking)

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  5. Excalibear says:

    I’m all for progress, but electric is nowhere near ready for prime time yet, unfortunately.

    This is why:

    A good comparison to the Zero DS could be the Suzuki DRS 200S. It costs around $4,000 and is an excellent dual sport with similar performance. It’s very efficient, being able to travel 105 miles for every gallon of gas. That makes the average gas cost per year of its average owner about $200.

    But the price difference with the Zero is a whooping $12,000. That means that even if the cost of riding the Zero were truly Zero dollars, it would take 60 YEARS OF RIDING!!! for the Zero, as it is now, to become as cost-efficient as the Suzuki.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I’m all for progress, but electric is nowhere near ready for prime time yet”

      ohh, and here’s something that’s really gonna bake your noodle (oracle voice), even if it WERE ready for prime time, it still wouldn’t be consumed in any kind of signicant numbers.

      This is why:

      These aren’t “motorcycles”.

      (per the 100+ year old definition)

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    • Crusty Kris says:

      Good point, Excalbear! I try to use this reasoning with folks, but the appeal of buying something “different” is a stronger drive than saving a lot of money. Imagine what kind of IC motorcycle you could buy and the performance difference you would gain if you spent the amount they’re asking for this undeveloped electric bike on a proven IC bike.

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  6. goose says:

    I wonder why I hear the great-grandfathers of the people repeating the nonsense that “electric vehicles just move the location of the pollution” and the “batteries are a huge source of future pollution” sitting around the local stables talking about how “them new fangled auto mobiles is never gona replace the horse”?

    Yup, there are still horses but not a lot of folks commute on them these today. ICE motors will be with us for decades but electrics will be a larger and larger part of day-to-day life, deal with it. To the point that ICE motors do incredible things every day, you’re right. But so do electric motors, try watching a locomotive pull hundreds of tons up huge mountains.

    For the valid complaints, yes, they are still way over priced, need longer range and faster charging. We are a few years away from really practical electric bikes but companies like Zero are making progress at an incredible rate. If ICE motors were improving at the same rate a new CBR1000RR would make 350 HP and get 400 mile to a tank on gas.

    A friend with an electric car has been amaze by something he never expected, almost zero maintenance costs. No oil to change, no valves to adjust, no spark plugs, no coolant to change, no clutch to worry about, just tires and lubricant in the drive train. With no transmission or differential and belt drive the Zeros will require even less maintenance. If I had one I might have to start washing and waxing it a lot, not much else to do besides change tires.

    I got a short ride on a 2012 Zero a few weeks ago. I’m looking forward to having an electric bike in a few years, especially if it looks as good as the custom Zero in the video.

    Goose

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “A friend with an electric car has been amaze by something he never expected, almost zero maintenance costs. No oil to change, no valves to adjust, no spark plugs, no coolant to change, no clutch to worry about, just tires and lubricant in the drive train. With no transmission or differential and belt drive the Zeros will require even less maintenance. If I had one I might have to start washing and waxing it a lot, not much else to do besides change tires.”

      the underlying theme in “who killed the electric car”. big bank takes little bank.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IENnSK8Q6nE

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  7. As a Brammo Enertia owner for the past 2 years I can tell you this is the future. I worked in the motorcycle industry for 7 years and see this is a natural progression.

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  8. Miles McMillan says:

    “Zero”….the amount of interest that most gearheads have in this bike.

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  9. Gary says:

    Impressive. I predict Elon Musk will buy them within a year, creating a few multimillionaires in the process.

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  10. AFW says:

    Electric motors in vehicles seemed like the future was here, but it didn’t pan out as well as the nerds or Government would’ve liked, Moore’s law doesn’t apply to battery tech and the vehicles have been expensive failures. One day it will happen but for the next 20-30 years it will be gas combustion.

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  11. John says:

    Zero is for the number of sales.

    Hah! I kid, I kid the electric motorcycle industry.

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  12. Dave says:

    I am going to get one and pull a trailer with one of those big solar panel setups. That will be so cool

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  13. John says:

    I like the idea, but hey, 1/4 the range at twice the price really is a tough pill still.

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  14. Jamo says:

    MGNorge has it right. Those guys look like something out of the Russian mafia.

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  15. Float says:

    Zero is about how many of their bikes I’ve seen in the last several years so I am not sure how they have managed to stay in business. But, it is amazing how quickly they’ve progressed in such a short period of time. My clunky old SV650 that gets over 50mpg now costs 50% more to fill than my car did 12 years ago. My guess is that someday soon the electric bike market is going to boom and these guys are going to be in a great position to take advantage of that…

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  16. MGNorge says:

    Here in the Northwest they’d run on hydro-electric predominately.

    What’s with the Eastern Bloc suits standing around?

    With so many things we do in life being tied to our smartphones these days we’ll be totally dead in the water should we lose them! Won’t be able to bank, ride, call, text, tweet, get in the house, or use the toaster.

    Interesting bikes. Would require a test ride I should think?

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    • Don says:

      The electric grid is all connected though, so hydro-electric power being used to power this, means less hydro-electric power to sell to other parts of the country and more coal being burned somewhere. In our connected grid, any “extra” electric need is always coming from coal because they rely on the cheaper alternatives (hydro, solar, wind, natural gas) first, and coal makes up the shortfall.

      I still think the Zero’s are cool, but looking at the range from their webpage, only 35/15/21 city/highway/combined for the $9500 FX I can’t help but be disappointed. The only justification to buy one of these over a Kawi Ninja 300 would be for the novelty, because it sure wouldn’t be for the savings.

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      • Norm G. says:

        re: “The only justification to buy one of these over a Kawi Ninja 300 would be for the novelty”

        and there ya go. same as any other 2-wheeled conveyance purchased in the age of the automobile.

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      • Dave says:

        Power made in a region is not sold in other parts of the country. Our power grid is far too inefficient to transfer power over distances.

        It’s worth noticing how much these and Brammos have changed in the past 3 years. They are on a fast development curve. Hopefully they will move some units and drive the price down over the next several years. A solid 100m range, under $10k, with less power/performance then they’re currently offering would be another big step.

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  17. Rus says:

    And just think of all the lovely toxic waste dumps of spent and deadly poisonous lithium ion batteries

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    • Dave says:

      Gasoline is toxic, as are it’s emissions. Most lithium ion batteries are landfill approved, not classified as hazardous. While not very practical, LiOn’s are recyclable too.

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    • Provalogna says:

      No less a left wing nut case than ex-Utah Governor ex-Republican Presidential wanna be ex-China envoy John Huntsman (you know, that insanely left wing state of Utah…sarc off) said the actual cost of a gallon of fossil fuel, after accounting for military excursions and health bills, is in the range of $13-15/gallon.

      Simple: that’s what the pump should charge you. Then people like me who practically use no fossil fuel would pay thousands less in taxes. Seems like a great deal to me.

      Maybe we can afford to properly dispose of those batteries after all…

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  18. Michael H says:

    Zero emissions? It runs on coal, the coal that most power plants burn to produce electricity. And the FedGov is trying to close those plants, netting less electricity and higher prices.

    Electric vehicles are interesting, but the infrastructure has serious problems in terms of supply and cost.

    Natural gas, however is clean and abundant. I am eager for the day when someone will convert a petrol motorcycle engine to clean CNG.

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    • George Krpan says:

      There are many ways to produce electricity, not just by burning coal. There’s an ulimited amount of clean energy here in the California deserts, sunshine.

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      • Nate says:

        Yes… and in 300 years we may have the technology to actually harness enough of it to matter. How about we talk about the real world instead of Big Rock Candy Mountain?

        Solar, in its current state, is a joke.

        And no… the energy isn’t free. Solar is the most expensive energy there is, because the equipment to harness it is bulky, expensive, and has a very short life span in comparison to other options.

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        • George Krpan says:

          How can a fossil fuel burning plant be cheaper than solar in the long run? It needs a constant supply of fuel which needs to be extracted, processed, and transported in a never ending cycle.

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          • Nate says:

            Because unlike the solar plant… the “fossil fuel” plant actually produces electricity. Listen… a Solar Plant generally exaggerates its output 10X. That huge plant Obama was at when it opened down in Florida? Said it could power 100,000 homes. Yeah…it could… if all you have in every home was a single space heater.

            Listen carefully…

            Its all about $$$ per kilowatt hour… and in $$$ per kilowatt hour… solar is by far the most expensive… because it is so incredibly inefficient. it takes huge amounts of panels to make even a small amount of electricity. Those panels, and the maintenance of them, is extremely expensive.

            Thus the energy isn’t even close to free.

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    • Norm G. says:

      predominately nuclear around these here parts. an abundance of clean energy. oh wait, it’s not really clean at all is it…? oddly enough, this “abundance” is offset by a waste hazard DIRECTLY PROPORTIONAL in size to the energy produced. want 2GW’s of electricity…? okay, just know you’ve earned yourself “2GW problem” to be revealed either now or in the future.

      see whether consuming motorcycles…? or splitting atoms…? nature/God/laws of physics (pick your poison) has woven a reoccuring theme of “no free lunch” into everything. good or bad, there is no escaping it… there is only acknowledging and dealing with it.

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  19. Gary says:

    ZERO for zero emmissions is I believe where the name came from. I’d love to see some of these, but there are Zero dealers in my area, and since it is more of a rural area for sure, I doubt I will see any dealers soon. Also, no matter how good they are, most may have next to Zero interest at the current price level. A shame, I hope they start to come down appreciably soon. They do look much better than the originals. Best of luck with these.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Also, no matter how good they are, most may have next to Zero interest at the current price level. A shame, I hope they start to come down appreciably soon.”

      you’ve just articulated a “catch 22″ of supply and demand. there isn’t a snowball’s chance of a future price reduction unless someone first comes off the dime (en masse) and purchases the “widget”… the widget here being a variant of motorcycle.

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      • Gary says:

        Not in today’s economy. If they sell easily, there is no incentative to lower prices. It seems in fact in todays economy, if it sells very well, increase the price to what the market will bear. Yes, they need to sell well enough to encourage further development, but will not be main stream enough like I’m sure Zero, Brammo, or any of the other new tech manufacturers would like until the price becomes afforable by the average consumer.

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  20. George Krpan says:

    The writing is on the wall, internal combustion’s days are numbered. I recently read that by 2020 batteries will have five times the energy density and be 25% lighter. If that becomes a reality then internal combustion is surely dead. I recently test drove a Chevy Volt. My car feels like an antique by comparison. Not only is electric cheaper to run but electric motors are vastly superior.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “The writing is on the wall, internal combustion’s days are numbered…”

      …in the MILLIONS. big oil’s money will see to this.

      re: “I recently read that by 2020 batteries will have five times the energy density and be 25% lighter. If that becomes a reality then internal combustion is surely dead.”

      and even WITH these improvments in efficiency (a big IF) it still won’t move a 53ft reefer loaded with 40,000lbs of Purdue’s chicken OTR…? or lift Boeing’s 787 off the ground…? only will Cummins ISX and GE’s 90 turbofan (both american made btw) burning some form of fossil fuel be able to accomplish these daily herculean tasks we overlook…

      the rumors of internal combustion’s demise are greatly exaggerated.

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  21. JR says:

    It’s really just an overpriced portable electric drill, that you will then need to take out another loan down the road when the battery pack needs to be replaced.

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  22. Dave says:

    If the 137 mile range claim is real (other’s have the range figure they talk about, then another, much smaller one for highway use) then these have arrived. The price needs to come down but that will happen over time.

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  23. man relish says:

    i looked at these at the dealer; first when I asked what is the maintenance of the motor (i.e. cleaning etc) the salesman was adamant that it was all electric and didn’t have a motor….
    Second, the price….15k USD. Sweet baby Jesus there is alot of bikes out there to be had for this much dough. Also they claim the battery is good for 220,000 miles or something absurd. However it only comes with a 3 year warranty. So if you’re planning on 70,000 or so miles a year, have at it.

    On top of this, if i bought one, it will probably be out dated in two years.

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    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Second, the price….15k USD. Sweet baby Jesus there is alot of bikes out there to be had for this much dough.”

      and in some black markets, a REAL baby that cries and poops could be had.

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  24. Lone Amigo says:

    When I can ride one 200 miles at freeway speeds and then charge up while I have a cup of coffee, then it will be a Playah!

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  25. Tom K. says:

    I missed the part where the paramedic rushed in and jump-started the heart of Zero Legal Counsel when the speaker said “It will wheelie if you even look at the throttle, it will almost go over backward”.

    I’ve got to admit, I’d like to ride one, I use a golf cart at work on occasion and the off-the-line torque is fun.

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  26. Brian Hansen says:

    The Flat Navy Blue Bike is by far the best styled of these….and it’s a one-off-custom / not-for-sale. Hopefully they realize this and shit-can the other naked bike styling.

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  27. Doc Moss says:

    They’re cool bikes, but what marketing genious came up with the name “Zero.” Yep, just what I want to tell my buds, “I ride a real Zero.”

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