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MD First Look: Zero 2014

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Here’s what I wrote earlier this year when I reviewed Zero’s excellent 2013 S:

Zero seems to have found a happy place after many years and millions of dollars of product development, and I’d expect it to stay mostly the same for several years at least. “We’ve reached a great platform from which we’ll see incremental improvements—no more wholesale doubling of range and horsepower,” Zeros’ PR manager Scot Harden told me. Instead, he said, customers will see “continuous improvement, but it won’t be an outmoding of the previous year’s bike. Don’t be afraid to step up.”

…Harden also hinted at an accessory battery pack that could be plugged into the bike…

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Harden was true to his word. If you ponied up and bought the 2013 Zero S or DS, you are probably really enjoying it (owner reports are very positive), and you shouldn’t kick yourself for not waiting until 2014. But there are some interesting upgrades to the 2014 that could make Zero the premier manufacturer of electric motorcycles.

The biggest news, I think, is the Power Tank accessory. It’s a 45-pound, 2.8 kilowatt hour (kWh), $2495 (yikes!) battery that plugs into the big empty space in front of the rider. It gives either the 8.5 kWh or 11.4 kWh models a 20 percent boost in range—up to 171 miles of low-speed city riding, or 106 miles at a steady 55 mph (because of gearing, tire size and weight, the DS has about 10 percent less range than the S). A leadfoot (leadhand?) on a Zero S can now go 88 miles at 70 mph. The pack is easy to install (at a dealer, says Zero), and comes with a color-matched panel to cover it up. The bad news is it can’t be retro-fitted to the 2013 models, as Zero tells me it needs a structural base to support it that the 2013 doesn’t have (even though Zero has probably been working on this since before the 2013 was available). The extra battery makes the curb weight of the 11.4-equipped S 444 pounds.

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The other big announcement is the Zero SR. It gets both a high-performance motor (that doesn’t overheat as easily) and more-powerful controller unit to boost torque to 106 ft.-lbs (from 68). These changes give the SR a claimed 0-60 time of under 4 seconds, a top speed of over 100 mph and a sustained top speed of 85 mph—possibly knocking the Brammo Empulse off its perch as the high-perfomance e-moto. The SR only comes with the 11.4 kWh battery and is $16,995, $2000 more than the S or DS 11.4—which are actually $1000 less than the 2013 models.

Lower price, and with some of those “incremental improvements” Scot was talking about. Suspension is still by Taiwanese bicycle/pitbike specialist Fastace, but the front fork is now a beefy 43mm instead of 38mm and the rear shock has new internals. There’s a new rear brake caliper and disc, and the front brake disc is also new. The frame is stiffened by the above-mentioned Power Tank mount as well as a new swingarm pivot and bearings. The rear tire is now a 140-section.

There are some styling and convenience features, too. The dash is also all-new, a blue backlit LCD display with more information and features, including the ability to adjust riding modes without using the smartphone app. There’s new switch gear, and the headlamp and other bodywork have been subtly restyled. There’s also a chin fairing, now standard. Another improvement of note is the warranty, which in addition to covering the bike for two years, covers the battery for 5 years and up to 100,000 miles.

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The Zero FX—which I have yet to test—gets many similar improvements, including the suspension, upgraded brakes, new swingarm pivot and improved steering-head tube. The FX is interesting because its intended as a more urban bike, a street-legal dual-sport that has shorter range, but is configurable with room for two of the 2.8 kWh battery packs. The packs can be pulled from the bike in less than a minute, says Zero, so apartment-dwellers can charge their motorcycle if they have to park it on the street. With both packs, the FX can go 70 miles at city speeds, or 30 miles at 70 mph. Split the range in half if you only have one pack! Curb weight for the FX is 238 pounds (add 42 pounds for the extra pack). The base price is $9495 before state and Federal incentives.

The Zero models I’ve tested lately have been solid-perfoming, fun and economical for the right owner—I’m looking forward to seeing how much the new Power Tank adds to the experience.

Gabe Ets-Hokin is the Editor of City Bike magazine, and a frequent freelance contributor to MotorcycleDaily.com

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124 Comments

  1. ApriliaRST says:

    Not a criticism, just an observation: The styling at the front of the tank reminds me of the new Yamaha 850 and Honda’s Grom.

  2. Magnus says:

    Maybe its not all about range or saving the planet. Electrics are a hooligans dream (can’t catch me if you can’t hear me). Ignore the range numbers and price and look at the Zero FX, 70ft/lb, 44hp, 275lb (235lb with only one exchangeable battery). Popular Mechanics had a brief ride on one this year, everything I suspected. HEY MD, WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO FLOG AN FX FOR US?

  3. Jeremy in TX says:

    Wow. Just saw Yamaha’s two electric concepts – a street bike and an MX bike. If those things are anywhere close to production, Zero might have some serious competition in this almost nonexistent market.

  4. kjazz says:

    The perfect match-up for these things is with the police. They can ride right up on your felonious butt before you have a chance to say “but officer I was just ….”

    And also the dirt versions are really cool to me. Think about it. How often have you been sitting in a mall waiting on wifey or your girlfriend (or both if you’re really lucky), to do her shopping and you say to yourself….. “whoa it would be cool as hell to have indoor motocross going on in here, either a dirt mx track or mall SuMo, but the fumes would be bad and the noise would be unacceptable to those not living every minute for motorcycling.”

    But with these nifty little gizmos, those two issues are long gone!!! Now if we can get some tires that wont mark up the polished marble floor…..

  5. Tom R says:

    A looming issue for the future is that more electric and hybrid vehicles means less tax money collected at the gas pump. For nearly a hundred years this has been the means for paying for the construction and upkeep of roads and highways, and related infrastructure. Soon to come is a monitoring device that tells Big Brother how many miles you ride/drive, and the owner will have to pay up accordingly.

    This device will invariably be used for other purposes as well, perhaps not fully disclosed to the user. Are y’all comfortable with that?

    • Dave says:

      FWIW, the gas tax is only part of the dollars. A big part comes from general tax too. While we’re looking down the road, it’s important to consider that a big part of any vehicle’s energy efficiency is weight, which is also what determines how much wear and tear a given vehicle puts on the road. When it really becomes an efficiency battle, the opportunity for car makers will be weight reduction. That’ll make roads last longer.

      Moto’s have always been a low-dollar contributor since they are more fuel efficient, but they have also not contributed to road damage in a meaningful way, not to mention the tiny ridership numbers compared to car use.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      A nice little tax on electricity and more toll roads are a simpler answer, but, yes, I wouldn’t be surprised if you start having to disclose your annual mileage on your tax returns in a EV future.

  6. dman says:

    I just don’t get the naysayers. A lot of sport bikes have a 100 mile range before the tank runs dry and your wrists and back ache. Soul-less? These bikes are small, light and torquey. On my commute I see tens of Teslas and Nissan Leafs every day. By next year it may be hundreds. Get used to it – and enjoy. More variety, whether from Zero or a BMW S1000 naked or an MV touring bike, is all good for our sport.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The 100 mile range sport bike can be used all day long. If all you do on the bike is commute, then the Zero is fine. The naysayers just do more than commute is all.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “I just don’t get the naysayers.”

      ya know what I just don’t get…? I don’t get all the hippies trying to rep MY motorcycling like it’s their own…? yet haven’t the foggiest about the SONIC ASSAULT that is say, a grandprix 4-stroke…?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIyPRViLyrQ

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxACViueNI4

      look, the only way you get this sound is by SETTING DINOSAURS ON FIRE. end of. not saying this should be the be all end all reference for everybody (admittedly this is simply my flavor pick out the 31 B&R offers), but I will say the “soundtrack” IS an integral part of ALL that is righteous and good with motorcycling REGARDLESS of slant.

      put politically, it crosses party lines. be it Harley “potatoes”, Metric Long Beards, 2T MX’ers (BRRAAPP to the future!), Bri’ish cafés, ‘Talian RVT’s, UJM I4’s (stuntas for life), full leather knee draggers, to flat-6 Wingers soaking up interstate blasting Fleetwood Mac (Go Your Own Way) out their dash speakers, etc.

      the common denominator of SOUND (copious amounts) is what unites the Brotherhood. so when I hear (pun intended) somebody who doesn’t get this…? good or bad, my SPIDEY SENSE immediately starts tingling and I see you as “suspect”. I see you as someone NOT from the Brotherhood…? but more likely someone from the lunatic fringe. an outsider or wannabe who knows not the ZEN of riding an “enginecycle”.

  7. Mr.Mike says:

    What’s the valve adjustment interval on these things? Oh yeah, no valves. A big benefit of electric vehicles that is often overlooked is that they have way fewer moving parts than internal combustion engines so there is much less to go wrong or maintain. I’m going to miss pulling the fuel tank to clean my air filter.

    • Gary says:

      No carbs to synch. No oil to change. No valve clearance to check. No sparkplugs. No air filter. No fuel filter. Just tires and brake pads.

      • todd says:

        and miles of cable attached to bucket loads of sensors and electronics

        • Norm G. says:

          go COPPER portfolio…!!!

        • Gary says:

          And you think that gas bikes don’t have miles of cable, sensors and electronics too?

        • Mr.Mike says:

          Possibly less wiring and fewer sensors than a modern gas bike. Think of all the electronics required just to control the mechanical bits and move fluids around. Just look at all the sensors and actuators in the fuel injection system. Then throw in ECU controlled spark timing, servos for exhaust system valves (e.g. EXUP), fly-by-wire, power modes, and on and on. The electronics required to control the electric motor and manage the batteries starts to seem pretty straight-forward in comparison.

      • Gary says:

        I guess if BMW every builds one you will also have to worry about rear wheel bearings going bad …

  8. mugwump says:

    OK so the performance and range I need are there for the commuter, 80 miles a day, 1/2 slab,/1/2 twisties. Now it’s just the price.

    106 ftlbs of torque on a silent bike, I cannot wait. How well will PR3s stand up on this? giggle snicker.

    • todd says:

      You already have more than 106 ftlbs of torque on a silent bike, it just happens to have pedals on it (yes, your bicycle). Only power matters considering performance.

  9. william says:

    I wish these bikes did get another big leap in performance. Who wouldn’t want a better bike, well except current zero owners maybe. It is a somewhat sad to have your bike a big step down in just a year. But even if that happens, it is still good since the next bike purchase will be that much better. Leveling out now is a little too soon. However, for the FX as a dirt bike, most rides I do are under 50 miles so it probably works for me. Some of the larger bikes run out of gas near 50 miles. So for dirt riding the range and power look like they are similar, except for maybe sand dune riding which would surely drain a lot on the battery.

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      Yeah, paddle tires probably not such a good idea on one of these.

      Hopefully, MD or some other press outfit will give one a proper range test off-road. I’d be curious to see how far the battery will really go with the relatively slow speeds but power-sapping terrain and frequent throttle flogging of trail riding.

      • william says:

        Yes the throttle flogging is a good point. Trails are not exactly a smooth ride at constant speed. I imagine it is not very efficient, but slow speeds might help to compensate. A good offroad trail review would be neat to see.

  10. Jeremy in TX says:

    The street models are completely useless for my needs, but the dual sport is a different story. With an extra battery pack, I could probably put that to use around here. I’d still have to put it on a trailer to get to the trails, but I like the idea of an electric dirt bike. The only thing I’d worry about is the lack of a clutch. That could be a problem in the rough.

  11. pistoldave says:

    <>

    I would agree if the bikes cost 7k$ and not 17k$; 17k is an awful lot of cheese to lay out for a commuter bike. Dont get me wrong, I want one just because I think it would be cool to have one, but until the magic of mass production happens, I’m keeping my wallet closed.

    And for those of you who say “just put up a solar array at your house and ride for free lol!!!”, you might want to look into the price of good quality solar panels. The 80w panels I use at work (in the oilfield ironically) have a useful lifespan of 8-10 years and cost around 800$. The way I see it, to replace a 20A charging system in your house you would need about 24,000$ worth of solar panels (30), the space to install them (2’x 3′ panel), and brackets and mounts to support them, probably another 3,000$. Also wiring, charge controllers, etc. Somewhat less than “free” after all. Also, think about this, you are usually out riding your bike when? During the day when the sun is shining. And when you get home in the evening what happens a lot of the time? Thats right, the sun goes down. Solar panels without sunlight dont typically put out a lot of current. If you work the night shift however, you are good to go. Minus the 35 large for the array of course.

    • dino says:

      +1

      And further in that string someone mentioned “when fuel cells are on-board and using Hydrogen, the most common element in the Universe, then….”

      Do you know how much energy it takes to make Hydrogen? Sure, it is common, but the trouble is it is usually combining with other stuff, like Oxygen. Once again, there is no free lunch. your “Zero” emissions vehicle just pushes the emissions somewhere else. And every time you convert or transfer energy, there is a loss. So you might as well just use the most efficient, well-tuned fuel burner you can get, and enjoy it!

      • dino says:

        Forgot to mention, that was just the argument against this “free commuting”

        Dirt bikes that are silent are a big advantage, and even practical commuting, sure… It will get even better as the batteries get lighter, stronger, or there is a leap in motor technology.

        Something in that equation will keep getting better, and it will be interesting!

      • Cowpieapex says:

        The question is not how much energy does it take to split hydrogen from oxygen. The important factor is how much of that energy do you get back when you recombine them in a fuel cell.Hydrogen is just a storage medium, a job it can do with more efficiency than a battery.
        The provocative issue with fuel cells at this time is their ability to extract energy more efficiently from any chemical conversion.Why light fuel on fire to expand gas to displace metal to yank on a chain to turn a wheel, when an electric field generated by oxidation of any fuel, from pure hydrogen to intestinal gas, will rotate that same wheel with up to 90% conversion efficiency compared to 10% to 20% in a combustion engine?
        Savor your experience with the internal combustion engine. A time is approaching when my smoky roaring bike will be looked on like my horse,as a dangerous curiosity not a rational transportation choice.

        • Dave says:

          Re: “Savor your experience with the internal combustion engine. A time is approaching when my smoky roaring bike will be looked on like my horse,as a dangerous curiosity not a rational transportation choice. ”

          I would not bet my current bike that this will happen in our lifetimes.

          The provocative questions are already answered. It takes more energy to make hydrogen a fuel then the hydrogen returns. Until that changes (and it can be handled safely by gas station attendants and drivers), it’s a pipe dream.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “And when you get home in the evening what happens a lot of the time? Thats right, the sun goes down.”

      damn you sun… damn you all to hell…!!! (shaking clenched fist in air)

      • Norm G. says:

        ps: this is where the whole 2nd bike comes in. plug IT in during the day (solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, whatever) then just swap the human. it’s scalable. geez, you can cross the country doing this while reducing component wear by a factor of 10.

        see what I did there…? in one fell swoop I’ve addressed range anxiety, factored for the busy modern lifestyle of the soccer mom, and the volume sales needed to assist in driving down the purchase price.

        (click-click)

        Norm G’s got himself a new EZ-button.

    • Bryan Whitton says:

      You are talking my industry now. 2 ACPV modules and a decent south facing roof and you could power this bike forever. At current pricing that would be about $2700 installed with permit.

  12. kjazz says:

    How’s that dual-sport work on water crossings……….?

    • iliketoeat says:

      Probably much better than a conventional bike, because it doesn’t have an air intake that needs to stay above water. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make the battery and other electric components water-tight.

      • Jeremy in TX says:

        I think his question is more to the point of DID they make it water-tight.

        • kjazz says:

          Yup. I’ll bet the sparks flying off that thang when you hit a deep ol’ Arkansas creek crossing would be plenty entertaining………… for the other guys!!!!! :)

  13. Crim says:

    I would absolutely love an electric dirt bike. No one would know you were in the woods so noise complaints would drop to almost nothing. It’s a long way off but still a guy can dream…….

  14. Jose Barreira says:

    Yép! Electric bikes and cars sounds good and we all be happy if they become more and more.
    Just have to have the people that make a ton om money, daily… with oil to agree. Hey, I do believe im miracles!!!

    • Jeremy in TX says:

      The consumers are the only ones that have to agree that it makes sense. There isn’t much agreement yet.

  15. Neil says:

    One question I had about these bikes is how the rider is affected by the electromagnetic field created by the motor, if at all. That being said, if I had a house and not a condo I would ride one for sure. They look very well engineered and electric motor torque is known to be high, which is great for a street bike in traffic. I recently rode the Honda CTX700 and it was actually nice not to have to shift. That could get a lot of people into riding.

  16. Peter says:

    These bikes and electric cars are a global standard away (and maybe a battery technology or two step) from being viable unlimited mileage vehicles. Let me explain.

    Consider being able to pull in to a gas station, and pull out your ISO standard battery module (or modules). You then walk over to the charging/exchange rack and swipe your credit card and pull out a freshly charged pack. You insert your dead pack in to the charger and get a “core” credit back. Now you walk back to your bike, insert the fresh pack (s) and go on your merry way.

    All we need is an ISO standard to size a few different battery packs. Similar to AA, C, D cell batteries, but much larger. Bikes might use one or two small packs, cars might use some medium packs, light trucks several large packs. The point is that if you make the batteries standard, now you don’t have to wait for them to charge. You just exchange them. Right now the weight/size might be too big for handling by the average person, but maybe some sort of simple hoist could do it.

    This is really the only way that we could have cross-country capable EVs.

    • Neil says:

      That is a great idea! I rent bicycles in the city with a little key fob that keeps track of the time of use, where I start and where I drop the bike off.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “Consider being able to pull in to a gas station, and pull out your ISO standard battery module (or modules). You then walk over to the charging/exchange rack and swipe your credit card and pull out a freshly charged pack. You insert your dead pack in to the charger and get a “core” credit back. Now you walk back to your bike, insert the fresh pack (s) and go on your merry way.”

      or swap nothing. just leave that “village bicycle” behind and swap YOURSELF onto another bike and keep it movin’.

      these are soul-less automatons. I would forego the notion that you will be making any kind of “emotional attachment” to this kit like what occurred in the first century of motorcycling. there’s nothing to be attached too.

      • Dave says:

        “If you ain’t burnin’ oil and shiftin’ gears, you ain’t ridin’!!”

        -redneck proverb

      • Bryan Whitton says:

        Actually we have a Honda FIT EV and I will never get an ICE car again. I talked to Zero about the SR Thursday and I can mount my ladder and GOVI bags on this bike already. I may actually get one if the business stays healthy. My DL650 my be gone by spring.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “but maybe some sort of simple hoist could do it.”

      you hoist, i’m running late for a 9:30 business meeting.

    • iliketoeat says:

      This is not a new idea; swapping battery packs has been tried before with car batteries. Look up a company called Better Place – it’s already out of business. This is a LOT more complicated than what you propose. Batteries are heavy. That small 2.8 kWh replacement pack weighs 45 lbs. The full battery pack for the bike weighs probably close to 200 lbs. Are you going to pull that out of the bike yourself and put a new one in? How much do you think car batteries weigh? You’ll need serious (and seriously expensive) infrastructure for this – lifts, robots, etc.

      Also, to make sure that freshly charged batteries are always available at recharging stations, a lot more batteries than vehicles would have to be in circulation. Batteries are very expensive, so this would require someone to invest huge amounts of money into a stock of batteries. That’s money just sitting there and making a very small return, because if people have to pay too much to recharge an electric vehicle, they’ll just stick with conventional vehicles. Nobody will invest when the return is so low.

      I like the idea of electric motorcycles and cars, but the physical and economic realities are such that recharging them from a wall outlet is a lot more feasible than swapping battery packs. That just won’t work. If you’re rich enough you might buy an extra battery pack for your car or motorcycle (and a lift so you can replace it), so one battery can charge at home while you’re at work. But public battery-swapping stations won’t happen without major changes in physics and economics of batteries.

      • joe b says:

        iliketoeat is right, about the battery replacement idea. This has been promoted with auto for a while now, and no one wants to standardize. it all sounds great, but it isn’t going to happen. I have tried to wrap my arms around the battery movement, but until the dilithium crystals become available, your swapping pollution from one source to another. $17K? one could get a new beemer for that.

        • Dave says:

          re: “$17K? one could get a new beemer for that. ”

          $17k is a lot, for sure. Have you considered what the operating costs of that Bemmer will be over it’s life? You’d be looking at a much higher figure. It’s cost hard to swallow on the front end obviously.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            Yes, but you actually do more than commute on the BMW. How much is that worth to you?

          • Dave says:

            Re:”Yes, but you actually do more than commute on the BMW”

            Certainly true, but two very different users. A more fair comparison would’ve been something like the FZ-09.

            MD posted a cost comparison some time back with a more functionally compatible bike and the costs came out even. People disputed many of the claims but it was sensible.

          • Jeremy in TX says:

            I agree that the uses are different. Like I said in another post, these are fine for commuting and may even make a sensible purchase if that is all you ever intend to do with the bike. However, the fact remains that you can commute on an FZ-09 and perhaps break-even with the Zero cost-wise, but you wouldn’t need a second bike to do something more than commute. The Zero’s cost wouldn’t break even if you had to add the cost of a second bike to the mix to get the same utility.

          • Bryan Whitton says:

            Actually I don’t do more that travel in the valley on my DL650 and I get real tired of oil changes and all the BS that goes along with an ICE engine. I spend about $100 per month on gas and $15 per month on oil changes. I go though 2 sets of tires per year, Michelin Pilot II or Pilot III, I don’t remember which. I doubt that the tire usage would change much but maybe with smoother power pulses that would be better as well. Tune ups come every couple of years, so add another $15 per month. I have solar on my house already and I can always charge at work so subtract about $130 per month not including time and labor I think it is likely worth it for me.

  17. Kagato says:

    Beautiful bikes! The S model would certainly handle my 60 mile daily commute with the addition of the power tank–these look more like motorcycles than most of the Kawasaki offerings

  18. Jean says:

    Most riders never go farther than 350 miles in a day. When e-bikes reach this figure many of us will consider the bike. Right now, its not even a thought.

    • al says:

      + 1

      and even if they reacht that figure it still takes too long to re-charge the battery and the prices of the bikes are still way too high to even consider it.

    • Dave says:

      They could achieve better range if they would walk away from the ambition of matching motorcycle acceleration performance. 0-60 in 3 seconds? What for? They’re in the difficult position of trying to reach a new audience by attempting to impress the old one.

    • iliketoeat says:

      Who rides 350 miles per day? Maybe touring riders. People who actually use their bikes every day for commuting don’t ride nearly that much per day. Sure, this isn’t a bike for touring, but with a 100+ mile range it makes a great commuter bike. It might even work for fair-weather weekend riders on local twisty roads.

      • al says:

        “… it makes a great commuter bike…” yes, but at what price?

        To commute I’d find one of these – slightly used for +/- $ 2K: http://www.piaggiousa.com/scooters.html#!s=overview/fly-150-3v

        • iliketoeat says:

          Well, you could take the bus too, you’d save even more money. This isn’t some boring commuter; from everything I’ve read it’s a fun bike with a ton of torque that would work well as a commuter with very low running costs.

          And sure, used bikes are cheaper than new bikes. So what?

          • al says:

            From the Zero Website:

            Range ZERO FX zf 2.8 ZERO FX zf 5.7
            City 35 miles (56 km) 70 miles (113 km)
            Highway, 55 mph (88 km/h) 22 miles (35 km) 44 miles (71 km)
            » Combined 27 miles (43 km) 54 miles (87 km)
            Highway, 70 mph (112 km/h) 15 miles (24 km) 30 miles (48 km)
            » Combined 21 miles (34 km) 42 miles (68 km)

            MSRP $9,495.00 $11,990.00
            (Excl. local shipping, applicable taxes, PDI, or road registration fees.)

            Piaggo Zip MSRP $2899, Fuel consumption ~ 100 mpg = $360 for 10’000 miles

            Zero FX zf 2.8 $9495 minus $ 2900 – $360 = $6235

            6235 / 360 = 17.3 = you can run a Fly 150 for 173000 miles at the same cost of a Zero FX sf 2.8

            Don’t get me wrong, I’ve nothing against Zero or battery powered bikes in general. But let’s talk again in mabye 10 years about it. As long as I’ve got to pay approx. $10000 bucks or more for a bike with a range of 22 miles at 55 mph or 15 miles at 70 mph it just doesn’t make any sense to me.

            But of course – if you’ve got the cash buy it.

  19. Electric motorcycling is now a viable effort. Getting the price down is the next step towards mainstream adoption. THANK YOU to everyone who pays this money up front to allow me to buy one for cheaper in the future.

    All the best,
    Aaron Lephart

  20. Gary says:

    It is only a matter of time. The naysayers will be eating their words. Electric bikes and electric cars are the future. Get a solar array and your transportation will be free, in perpetuity.

    Go ahead and resist if you want. But when you see how far they’ve come in the past three years, the next five years will be a real shocker.

    Pun intended.

    • bikerrandy says:

      Apparently you’re talking to only those that use their bike to go to and back to work that isn’t more than 50 miles. For the rest of us riders these Zeros don’t make any $ sense no matter how far their riding range is so far. If I want a vehicle just to go to/from work, $17K is a bit too much.

      • Gary says:

        Do you remember your first cell phone? Mine was a Motorola brick.

        • guuu says:

          Yes, 90s cell phones had better battery life than they do now.. What was your point?

          • Chris says:

            Hey Guuu, you didn’t watch Silence of the Lambs on your phone in 1991. Didn’t web-brouse or shop Amizon. Cell phones (for good or for bad) are now mini-computers, and the battery life is constantly improving.

        • stratkat says:

          Calm down future boy! there are a lot of fans of the ICE and will be for sometime.
          there is something visceral about controlled explosions propelling you down your favorite roads. some of us indeed like them and are passionate.

          kinda like the quartz watch/digital phase. sure theyre more accurate and cheap, but a mechanical watch??? theres just something about em, and they wont go away.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “there are a lot of fans of the ICE and will be for sometime.”

            ICE ICE baby…! (insert queen bass riff here)

        • kjackson says:

          I have to agree with Gary. As much as I love the ICE, these electric bikes look like the future to me. It seems like the technology is advancing pretty rapidly and prices are starting to float down. Now if they could make it sound like a Honda 250 Six and smell like a 2-stroke burning Castor Oil we’d be getting somewhere.

          • Scott G. says:

            when the electric motor is powered by a fuel cell, running on hydrogen, the most abundant element known in the universe, giving off watter as exhaust, and allowing us to be spoiled by the three minute fuel-up and as much range as our butts can tolerate, electric vehicles will be THE answer. until then, and on batteries, they are the transportation equivalant of a steam engine. better than a horse and a long way from a rocket.

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “It seems like the technology is advancing pretty rapidly”

            are they…? what’s your reference…?

            as scotty G. eludes, to get a more accurate picture, you’ll want to expand your time scale. granted, we’ve plugged a few holes, but the core periodic table is exactly how Mendeleyev gave it to us.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “Do you remember your first cell phone? Mine was a Motorola brick.”

          I had one of those big M*A*S*H phones like Trapper John.

      • iliketoeat says:

        If you can recharge your bike at work, you can commute for more than 50 miles. Which would be an insane commute anyway.

        Sure, this bike won’t work for touring riders, and maybe not for people for whom motorcycles are just toys ridden only on sunny weekends. But for people who use their motorcycles every day, as their main form of transportation, this is pretty cool.

    • guuu says:

      Free transportation? In neither on my motorcycle or my car are the fuel costs the majority of the total cost of ownership (and neither is my electricity free). Insurance, maintenance, depriciation, tires, tax, road tolls, etc, etc. And when electric vehicles get more common and fuel consumption goes down, the taxman has to replace that income with something else.

    • Norm G. says:

      re: “the next five years will be a real shocker.”

      that, or a plateau…? natural law doesn’t suffer fools.

      • Dave says:

        The battery is not the only opportunity. Gasoline’s energy density has not changed in s century either but somehow the engines get more powerful for a given displacement every few years. ;-)

      • Gary says:

        I will say this … advances in battery technology have been painfully slow compared to, say, computing power or transistor density. But I firmly believe that Tesla has demonstrated a huge commercial potential for electric vehicles, and is setting the stage for a supporting infrastructure. There is clearly a large amount of money to be made.

        And where there is money there will come innovation. I look forward to more power density and innovation in terms of modular hot swaps, quick charges … and who knows what else. The almighty dollar will make it happen. Mark my words.

        • Norm G. says:

          re: “And where there is money there will come innovation.”

          the money that went into just 30 years of the Space Shuttle (nevermind NASA as a whole, com/def satellites, and ISS) makes terrestrial transportation look like a welfare case.

          the motivation (and more importantly the intellectual capital) to produce a better mousetrap already LOOONG existed. in fact, it’s how we come to enjoy most of the things we take for granted.

          re: “The almighty dollar will make it happen. Mark my words.”

          laws of physics lets out a deep belly laugh. the same one it did for room temp fusion, room temp superconductivity, and the cure for cancer. the “almighty dollar” doesn’t know from “mighty”.

          • Gary says:

            That’s some mighty powerful cynicism you got there, Norm. I will respectfully disagree with you. People have been downplaying the power of technology since the horseless carriage and phones mounted to the wall.

            And BTW … you may want to check out the new treatments and survival rates for cancer, AIDS, encephalitis, and a host of other formerly deadly diseases compared to, say, 15 years ago.

            Laws of physics indeed. Those Wright brothers will never get off the ground, eh?

          • Norm G. says:

            re: “That’s some mighty powerful cynicism you got there”

            ain’t it though…? my cynicism is proportional to the POWER of the physical laws governing the universe. (ps: we’re part of said universe)

            re: “you may want to check out the new treatments and survival rates for cancer, AIDS, encephalitis, and a host of other formerly deadly diseases compared to, say, 15 years ago.”

            you may want to check out Chris Rock’s comedy, iirc he did some hilarious material on this very subject (LOL) during one of his many HBO specials back at the turn of the century.

    • Bryan Whitton says:

      Well prepaid but not free. I design and sell solar arrays and I am very careful to distinguish between the two. But in general you are right.

  21. Mr.Mike says:

    Very excited about the progress made. Not ready to become a customer yet at this price point but I can see that day coming.

  22. jake says:

    Would make a perfect bike for a pizza delivery boy, if it weren’t so dang expensive.

    If delivering pizzas ever become a 6 figure job, then sign me up for one of these babies.

  23. Magnus says:

    I’d love to read a full report on the FX. It really interests me but for that cash I can buy a KTM 350 EXC with real suspension…and weekly oil changes…filters…chains and sprockets…gas…warm up time…

  24. Ed Chambers says:

    Average freeway speeds are between 70 an 80 around here how far will one go at those speeds? My 900lb Harley will go 200mi on a tank of gas at those speeds and when it gets low I’ll have no problem finding more.I commute 50 to 60 mi a day and yes I know I’m not their target demographic.

  25. Bob says:

    I don’t get it either. The Zero is 444# and $16,995.
    The Kawasaki in the previous story, which is a hell of a lot of hardware, is only $11,999.
    I know they aim for a completely different market. I’m just sayin’

    • Dave says:

      It’s still largely a volume issue. They make a tiny fraction of the number of even a single mainstream model from the big-4. I’ll give them this they improved the product *and* dropped the price. If it keeps going that direction, electric will be commonplace before too much longer. There will be a tipping point where the big brands take it seriously and commit.

  26. halfbaked says:

    It is so ugly and heavy and expensive and well electric why do they bother making these machines.

    • Bryan Whitton says:

      Well that is in the eye of the beholder, I like the looks, the weight in in line with other models of similar performance and well the price at this time is the price. It will come down and my time spent changing oil and crap like that is just better used elsewhere.

  27. Denis says:

    Something’s wrong with the rooting of the brake hoses.

  28. allworld says:

    The E-moto bikes are getting nicer every year, perhaps my next commuter bike will be electric.

  29. Denis Bergeron says:

    Why! Why! this thing is have a final drive and not a direct in wheel motor? It even more strange, it looks to have normal pad break instead of electronic dynamo break.

    • guuu says:

      Weight. Motor in the wheel would wreck havoc with the suspension performance. Regenerative braking would just be heavy with very little benefits.

  30. Gham says:

    They’re getting amazingly close to the #’s that I would need to consider an E-bike purchase.I would require +50 miles @ 70 mph for my commute and at least 150 miles @ 55 mph and lower speeds for dirt road(weekend) duty.Need it in a dual sport or at least scrambler type package.

  31. Bud says:

    Given the high price and limited utility of the bikes, who is buying them?

    • Gabe says:

      Are you talking about exotic Italian superbikes?

      • fivespeed302 says:

        He must be referring to the V-Rod.

      • Bud says:

        I see your point but it was a serious question. I’ve never actually seen one. Curious who is a typical electric bike buyer.

        • Jeremy in TX says:

          According to my local Zero dealer, nobody.

        • iliketoeat says:

          Why do you think these bikes have “limited utility”? It’s perfectly usable for anyone who uses a bike every day. A 100+ mile range is more than enough to commute to work and back, go to the gym after work, go to the store, run various errands, etc. If a motorcycle is your main mode of transport, and not a toy you show off on sunny weekends, this sounds pretty good. And don’t forget how much cheaper electric bikes are to run – no oil changes, no valve adjustments, pretty much no maintenance, apart from brake pads and tires.

          • Bud says:

            I consider being suitable only as a commuter/errand bike “limited utility”. A range of 106 miles at 55, top speed of 100+, and sustained top speed of 85 are pretty significant limits IMO.

          • iliketoeat says:

            Bud – Sure, as I said, it works perfectly well as a commuter/errand bike. Perfect for someone who rides every day. It clearly wouldn’t work for touring, or for someone for whom a motorcycle is a weekend toy. It may not work for you, but it will work great for a lot of people.

          • Bryan Whitton says:

            Hey, how fast can you go on the freeway at 7:45 in the morning. My ride is at 35 to 45 except for a very few miles. Don’t you guys have traffic in your neck of the woods?

        • dman says:

          On a recent commute (there’s that word again) morning I counted 12 Teslas, about the same number of Nissan Leafs and 4 Zeros. In 35 miles. Probably missed a few electric cars, since I was also paying attention to the task at hand, but seeing 4 Zeros in one day was a record for me.

      • Norm G. says:

        I concur, it’s a valid question. I asked myself the same thing triggered moreso by the comment…

        “Zero seems to have found a happy place after many years and millions of dollars of product development”

        what’s the “economic loop” for all these millions…?