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2013 Zero MMX: Stealth Military Machine Developed for U.S. Special Forces

As you might imagine, the extremely quiet nature of an electric motorcycle (when compared to an ICE bike) has its benefits for military use. Zero announced today that it has developed the MMX military motorcycle exclusively for use by U.S. Special Operations Forces. In addition to a unique dash, the MMX has other special features desired by its military customer. Among others, the modular power packs can be swapped in under one minute, and the bike remains operational in up to one meter of water. Here is the full press release from Zero.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif., (May 7, 2013)Zero Motorcycles, the global leader in the electric motorcycle industry, today announced the arrival of its all-new 2013 Zero MMX military motorcycle. The MMX was developed exclusively for military use in the U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and provides Special Operations riders with unique tactical advantages over traditional combustion motorcycles, as the electric powertrain allows for rapid movement over hostile terrain in near silence and minimal heat signature. Zero Motorcycles’ engineering team worked under military contract to develop the motorcycle. The MMX has met the most stringent standards set forth by the U.S. military, as an undisclosed number of MMX motorcycles are currently undergoing full operational testing.

“It was a very rewarding experience for the Zero team to go through such an exacting development process. The military needed a very specific set of core features on the MMX, and we were incredibly thankful to work side-by-side with them to deliver such a unique product,” said Abe Askenazi, Chief Technology Officer for Zero Motorcycles. “The great news for our civilian customers is that we made the decision to incorporate into our 2013 MX, FX and XU retail motorcycles virtually all of the powertrain enhancements associated with satisfying this project’s stringent military requirements. Our 2013 product is truly ‘military grade’!”

2013 Zero MMX Military Motorcycle – Key Features

  • Specialized military dash for quick and centralized mainline controls
  • Keyless ignition engaged with dash toggle for quicker departure
  • Modular and quick-swappable power packs
  • Wet operational abilities in up to one meter submersion
  • Switchable headlight for night-time stealth
  • Integrated wiring to accommodate quick installation of front and rear infrared systems
  • Safety override and reserve power capabilities to extend range during extreme situations
  • Aggressive foot pegs and hand guards for optimal control
  • Tie down eyelets with integrated tow cable and rear seat strap

The 2013 MMX Military Motorcycles are built off the 2013 MX platform, which is incredibly tough and lightweight, and uses a finely tuned and fully adjustable suspension system to absorb aggressive terrain. Combined with state of the art Z-Force™ technology and an ultra-light frame design, the Zero MMX is agile and fast where it counts.

The 2013 Zero MMX features the all new Z-Force™ motor. With 54 hp and 68 ft-lbs of torque, the Zero MMX accelerates hard, with incredibly smooth throttle control, to allow riders to tackle bigger obstacles and corner faster. When rolling off the throttle, riders can take advantage of regenerative braking to both modulate speed and extend ride times. The performance characteristics of the Zero MMX are also adjustable via Bluetooth and a compatible smart phone mobile device when using the Zero Motorcycles mobile app.

The 2013 Zero MMX integrates the world’s first truly modular power pack system and is available in two configurations: ZF2.8 (one module) and ZF5.7 (two modules). The lockable modules can be individually added or removed, regardless of state of charge, in less than a minute. Charge times can be cut down to around an hour using a scalable quick-charge accessory system or with the CHAdeMO accessory (CHAdeMO charging requires a supporting charge station). Owing a Zero has never been easier as the sealed Z-Force™ motor virtually eliminates all routine powertrain maintenance and drives the rear wheel by way of a beefier 520 chain.

CHAdeMO Charging Standard
The CHAdeMO fast charging standard is the most widely adopted DC Fast Charging standard and has over 2000 installed stations worldwide, with an additional 1000 in Europe expected before the end of 2013.  According to Nissan estimates, 2000 fast chargers will be installed in the United States by the end of 2014, with at least 400 in California alone, supported by government electric vehicle infrastructure spending. Based on Pikes Research estimates, 115,000 of these chargers will be installed by 2017.

70 Comments

  1. Nick Jennett says:

    This is not really new. DoD has been working with lower profile companies to provide electric special forces bikes for well over a decade (see Wavecrest Laboratories for a publicly acknowledged example). This looks like the next step of more widespread availability. Congratulations Zero for tapping into taxpayer development bucks; now can we have a comfortable street-bike that isn’t the bastard stepchild of an off-road machine? Please?

  2. Norm G. says:

    re: “As you might imagine, the extremely quiet nature of an electric motorcycle (when compared to an ICE bike) has its benefits for military use…”

    …law enforcement, urban policing, drug interdiction, US customs and border patrol, but i digress.

  3. The Morrigan's Pet says:

    The hyperbole keeps building until avoidance of repetition results in stupid stuff like, “aggressive terrain.” Word, terrain is incapable of aggression.

  4. seth says:

    the chain looks like a leftover from M*A*S*H

  5. Dave says:

    Plug in battery packs and service stations that stock fully charged packs may be the only way to address the electric bikes shortcomings for mileage range. But would need to be stocked on both highways and byways to make it acceptable

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Plug in battery packs and service stations that stock fully charged packs may be the only way to address the electric bikes shortcomings for mileage range.”

      swapping batteries is for suckas.

  6. Galgenstein says:

    The 2013 MX shown on Zero’s website is not available to normal customers this or next year. It seems that ZMC is running out of capacity with this contract.

  7. todd says:

    I wonder if they can figure in the incentive discounts into the list price.

  8. Don says:

    This looks like a really good niche for these bikes. One where the obvious benefit of silence could be a reasonable tradeoff for the reduced range. Once you make it back to base, no need to wait for a recharge, they can just swap the batteries and go right back out. Bravo. I hope this helps to save some soldier’s lives and allows us to complete our missions in a safer, more efficient, manner.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Once you make it back to base, no need to wait for a recharge, they can just swap the batteries and go right back out.”

      again, the “better mouse trap” is a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th bike. just hop on and get out of dodge. when’s the last time you bought a digital camera or smart phone that allowed you access to it’s power cell…? the days of screwing the tops off of a flashlights to get at their D batteries are over.

  9. powermad says:

    If they are successful, the process involved and a military contract can’t do anything but benefit their company and lead to developments and improvements that trickle down to the civilian consumer.
    I don’t think its a bike I want but I learned a while ago to never say never. Well, unless its a Honda Pacific Coast, I can pretty much say never to one of those.

    • Chaz says:

      Before you write off the Pacific Coast, you should out try putting a bottle of dry white wine, a loaf of french bread, some cheese, salami, a tin of smoked baby oysters, olives, some fruit and a blanket in the trunk, and take a young lady for a ride on Highway 1 through the Redwoods National Park. There is a proper tool for every job.

      • Gary says:

        It is highly useful for that purpose, no doubt. But here is the downside of the Pacific Coast: when you crash one, it skids a long, long way down the highway, thanks to its abundance of ABS body work, which allows it to skim along the tarmac, friction-free. Don’t ask me how I know this.

        • Chaz says:

          *Threadjack* It does seem that the front wheel tends to tuck without much provocation.

    • Josef says:

      i’m owning a Pacific Coast since 1991, and haven’t found a proper replacement so far…

  10. DeltaZulu says:

    I’m amazed at how many morons, who were obviously NEVER in the military, make absolutely stupid and ignorant comments about something they know NOTHING about. But, I suspect these same protected sheep LOVE the freedoms our great military give them.

    • Ricardo says:

      I fully agree with you, we should make every effort to make the people in the military their job easier and safer. I have not been in the military but I have the most respect for the people in the armed forces who risk their life every day to protect us, and a lot of times pay the ultimate price maybe because they did not have the right equipment or protection.

    • Gary says:

      Wow … hate much?

  11. Tom R says:

    Alas, the electric motorcycle has finally found its true customer-one with the world’s deepest pockets.

  12. Patrick K says:

    There is a time and a place for everything. Electric bikes haven’t hit their stride…yet. I doubt they will ever replace ICE bikes, but history has always shown that when promising technology meets up with fortuitous opportunity (gasoline prices at European levels) things that were unlikely before begin to happen. I would like to try one of these bikes myself. I’m sure that like most technology the price will come down as volume goes up. If they would develop and market a utilitarian version of this bike I can see it being used as a secondary source of transportation for adventurous types.

  13. shyde says:

    So, our military geniuses are expecting our Spec Ops folks just to jump on 68 horsepower dirt bikes, and ride away like Travis Pastrana? Not bloody likely.

    I don’t know about y’all, but I had a real learning curve to negotiate, in learning how to go fast in the dirt, without killing myself.

    That said, it’s easy to see the possible benefits of a stealthy method of transpo, on certain missions.

    • Ayk says:

      Just another chapter in the training manual, bro. Do you think they learn to jump out of airplanes without some instruction? Or that they’re going to be taking on the enemy on an MX course? And please get your numbers straight before you continue to embarrass yourself – 54 bhp, 68 lb-ft or torque.

  14. John A McDowell says:

    So, when will these things see a METER of Water? That is 39″ tall. I believe the batteries will no short out, but how about the leads to the motor?

    • guuu says:

      Electricity follows the path of least resistance – the wiring. It will not magically jymp in to the water.. Fresh water is no problem, salt water will cause corrosion in the long run however.

    • Honyock says:

      One meter immersion is the criterion for IP67 rating in the IEC 60529. It is the internationally recognized standard of performance for “waterproof”. And yes, the whole thing from battery to motor connection is tested. Under one meter of water, at a specified temperature, for half an hour, if I remember correctly. Not as difficult to do as it sounds, just a little spendy.

  15. bmidd says:

    Amazing, now the military can have disposable motorcycles that cost $100K each. They can ride them into battle and leave them on the side of the road while the support convoys brings them fresh batteries.

    • Jay64 says:

      The civilian version of this bike costs about $9,000, so I doubt it costs anywhere near $100K.

    • funnyguy says:

      yea, I wouldn’t be sup’d if the dang things DO cost 100k..taxpayers dollars flow freely if you’re wall street, big banks, defense contractors, the govt……I can see all the police dept’s wanting these once the military gets them….

  16. clasqm says:

    Chain drive? Wouldn’t a belt be stealthier? Sure, you’d have to replace it after every mission – a little stone caught in the belt teeth will chew it up inside 100 miles – but when was money an object to the military?

    • David says:

      Are you insane?
      Belts require tension to work properly, an offroad vehicle like this must have plenty of wheel travel to clear obstacles. Plus belt drives are much heavier (wide pulleys instead of skinny sprockets).

      • Dave says:

        I’m going to be the chain was chosen for it’s resistance to contamination. Belt drive is less than 1/2 the weight. The Gates belts are so lightweight you don’t believe they’re strong enough when you handle them and the rear sprocket is aluminum, not steel. VERY light.As for the tension, they would use an idler pulley to manage that.

        • Norm G. says:

          i’m going to go with they chose chain for outright serviceability in the field and the durability of worse case scenario. in chain world you have masterlinks. in belt world often times you’re removing the whole shootin’ match of a rear wheel and a swingarm just to do a swap… that is unless you’re an “out of box” thinker like one E. Buell.

          as you mention modern gates belts are light, plus they’re hella-durable. so durable in fact they can send a 2-cyl, 90V superbike hurtling through 200mph (gates is the contractor for Ducati’s cam belts). still, no belt is a match for the edge of any marine’s KABAR.

  17. James says:

    Tough, light weight, finely tuned fully adjustable suspension, aggressive footpegs , handguards, WOW!! What will they think of next? Sounds like my CRF 450 R. But seriously, it has good HP and killer torque. Wouldn’t mind trying it myself. Wonder what the range is before you are hoofing it, probably classified. Swappable batteries are only useful if you have one. One obvious screw up though (but this is probably only a prototype) is the front brake hose routing, what dimwit designed that, he should be made to ride down Blue Disk downhill trail (local trail) with a ripped out front brake hose and IF he survives, be flogged, then fired.

  18. Michael says:

    I might be in the minority but I appreciate the electric motorcycle information.

    While I love two strokes, thumpers and 190 hp liter bikes – I realize electric bikes are the future.

    Traction control and electric motors were made for each other. Quiet dirt bikes will keep our off road parks open.

    Ok so they are not ready for everyone yet – I want to stay informed on their progress.

    • todder says:

      Ditto. The battery and charging technology is going to keep advancing to more practical levels where electric bikes become viable. I remember getting excited to see Brammo electric motorcycle’s to be sold at Best Buy, but that didn’t pan out.

      • Dave says:

        They are already viable. There are millions of users that don’t need to ride for more than an hour at a time. The only issue is that gas is still cheap in America and people are still stuck on/in their cars.

    • J$ says:

      +1 This looks like a blast to ride! Bring it on!
      By all the other moany groany comments on here I thought I was listening to the two old guys in the Muppet theater balcony.
      Seems some people just love to grumble negatively on every story on Motorcycledaily… “shaking fist at changing world passing by their front lawn”

  19. Chaz says:

    Very appropriate use of the technology, especially the switchable battery packs. When the bikes go on sale as military surplus, I will be in line to buy.

  20. Tom R says:

    How sexy! Fighting the war on terror with electric motorcycles.

  21. Carl says:

    ENOUGH WITH THE ELECTRIC MOTORCYCLES. CREATE A WHOLE NEW MAGAZINE OR CULT SOMEWHERE FOR THE THINGS. THEY ARE NOT INTERESTING IN ANY WAY. IT’S MOTORCYCLE DAILY, NOT ELECTRIC DAILY!

    • David says:

      Carl, your CapsLk key got stuck. Not a fan of technology?

    • James says:

      Well, at least it has two wheels, unlike those stupid CanAm spyder tricycles things, but hey, whatever floats your boat.

    • Gary says:

      Carl, everyone doesn’t share your thoughts on this. There is more about ICE bikes here than anything, electric has it’s place whether you like it or not. If you’re not interested, don’t read it!

    • Ayk says:

      You called them ‘motorcycles’ yourself, so they must belong, eh? When MCD starts in with quads is when I check out.

    • Austin ZZR 1200 says:

      An electric motor is still a motor…

      • Dave Kent says:

        And strictly speaking, motorcycles have always been misnamed. A gas powered motorcycle doesn’t have a motor. It has an engine.

        • protomech says:

          All engines are motors – they convert one type of energy into (rotating) motion energy.

          Not all motors are engines however.

  22. Ben says:

    Shouldn’t be long before these show up on GAO auction sites…

    Of course, those diesel KLR’s never really made it to us civilians, so maybe these won’t either.

    • Jay64 says:

      Zero has a FX version that is identical except for the military toggle dash. You can buy one today at your local Zero dealer.

  23. MUSTAFA IBRAHIM says:

    Apparently none of the previous posters has been in the military. Rather than humping a 100-pound ruck to get near a target, having a nearly silent vehicle is a blessing. Also, exfiltrating is a lot easier when the enemy can’t hear you. Wish I had one of these during my 29 years of service. And, by the way, schools are mostly funded from property taxes, which are locally imposed. By the way, Simon, a vehicle like this is a lot cheaper than another up-armored HUMVEE or MRAP.

    • Simon says:

      Tax is a tax in my book.

      • mike says:

        If it wasn’t for the military spending our tax dollars on projects like this we wouldn’t have half the things we have today. So needless to say, our tax dollars eventually come back to us via new technologies that save lives in our local hospital, increase durability of the vehicles we drive, provide us with the ability to communicate, the internet, cell phones, wireless and satellites all started because the military saw a need for it. These tax dollars are not wasted, they keep the American Ingenuity Engine a step ahead of the rest of the world.

        • HotDog says:

          I think NASA had a hand in most of the aforementioned comment. Mars would be a test bed for this machine, we just got to find some Martians to bomb, shoot and find their weapons of mass distruction.

          • funnyguy says:

            touché!

          • Mike says:

            NASA was a way to cover defense spending, while it looked like a publicly run mission to the moon, in the back it was a R&D team that helped provide better missile technology to strap a warhead too and to get spy satellites into space.

  24. Simon says:

    Is this really I pay taxes for?! Kids don’t have decent books to read off yet military complex has no problem spending my money as if no tomarrow. The world hates us and I wonder why.

    • Bud says:

      I find your thoughts to be as insightful as they are well written.

    • Dave says:

      1. It costs more to build a couple of B2′s than it would to put one of these under every soldier in the military.
      2. The world does not hate us. They are going about their lives thinking about the same things we do. Laundry, taxes, work, groceries, etc. The rest of the world is busy enough with their own lives to not be concerned with their feelings for us.

    • HotDog says:

      Shhhh! Talking like that will have The Dept. of Domestic Spying pull up to your place in Black Suburbans, surrounded by stealthy electric bikes and take you away.

    • Selecter says:

      Haha! Kids don’t have decent books to read? That’s because the schools are swimming in enough money where they just buy iPads instead!

  25. LTR says:

    So a toggle kill switch is now called keyless ignition like it’s an expensive option and a toggle for lights puts the bike in stealth mode ? I guess my bike has expensive options like switchable left and right turning beacons and a satellite guidance system (GPS) . I’ll sell it to the military now for half of what the ridiculous amount of money that bike is costing taxpayers – around 150K I’m guessing .

    • clasqm says:

      “Look Ahmed, the Yankee soldiers left their motorbikes hidden under these bushes to go fight. We don’t even need to hotwire them, just flip the toggle switch! Isn’t that considerate?”

  26. Philip says:

    Well looks like Zero finally found a buyer that can afford its motorcycles, I’m sure the Pentagon won’t even blink when told the cost. Looks cool, interesting concept.