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2010 Zero Motorcycles First Ride

Wednesday, March 24, 2010
The 2010 Zero DS offers a motorcycle that is home on both the dirt and street.
Zero Motorcycles looks to get the jump on its electric motorcycle competitors by being the first to market with four production E-bikes, including the 2010 Zero DS above.  
Zero Motorcycles is aggressively pursuing the title of frontrunner in electric motorcycle technology. It beat its competitors to the punch by being the first with a multi-bike line up. It hosted the first international endurance competition for off-road all-electric vehicles, a 24-hour event held at the 408MX Motocross Track in San Jose, California, where 50 riders on 10 electric dirt bikes thrashed Zero’s electric MX bike unmercifully to prove the company’s electric bikes could endure the same abuse as its gas-powered counterparts. All 10 teams completed the race with the winning squad logging 1015 laps and an average best lap speed of 27.5 mph. Zero has also developed an international presence after opening a new European headquarters in Amsterdam and signing independent representatives in the UK, Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Spain.

The Santa Cruz, California-based company selected Daytona Beach Bike Week to showcase its four-motorcycle lineup: the 2010 Zero DS dual sport bike, S supermoto, MX track bike and its X trail bike. With its new lineup, Zero aimed to directly address some of the grievances riders have with E-technology, injecting its motorcycles with more power, better acceleration and a longer range courtesy of its new power pack technology. Street-legal models now run what Zero dubs a Z-Force Air Induction System that pumps airflow through the heart of its brushed permanent magnet electric motor to squeeze more horsepower out of the compact mill. To go along with the bump in power, it also devised a new throttle technology that modulates the increased torque into a usable, constant stream of energy. And Zero has been working on improving its proprietary Z-Force power pack technology with more precise cell monitoring to deliver a longer power pack life.

Zero Motorcycles Electricross
Zero Motorcycles proved its mettle at ithe 24-hour Electricross endurance race when all of its motorcycles finished the race.
Zero Motorcycles CEO, Gene Banman, was more than happy to point out merits of the company’s electric motorcycles during our recent trip to Daytona.

“They’re very green. The carbon dioxide generated by the powerplants to charge up these batteries is about 1/8 the carbon dioxide per-mile compared to a gasoline engine and it’s also quite inexpensive,” says Banman. “It takes about 80 cents per-charge on the streetbike and about 40 cents per-charge for the dirt bike.”

Besides being a low emissions vehicle, an electric motorcycle requires no oil changes or tune ups, so it will potentially save riders maintenance costs in the long run. There’s also no smell of spent exhaust or burnt oil. It’s a plug-and-ride relationship. Zero’s S and DS models have 4KW batteries that recharge in about four hours from a standard 110-volt outlet while the MX and X run on 2KW cells that require half the time.

Zero Motorcycles set up a small moto-course behind the Ocean Center as it encouraged curious enthusiasts to ride an E-bike, many for the very first time. The course featured two short straights, a couple of hairpins turns, and one good sweeper, just enough to whet a rider’s appetite. We elected to sample the 2010 Zero DS first.

We had the pleasure of meeting Zero Motorcycles CEO Gene Banman and got a chance to ride a couple of its electric motorcycles.
We had the pleasure of meeting Zero Motorcycles' CEO Gene Banman in Daytona where we got a chance to ride a couple of its electric motorcycles.
Twist the ignition key and push the red button on the right handlebar and the Zero DS is ready to ride. If it weren’t for the digital speedo and power level indicator lighting up, you’d never even know the bike was on. This all changes with one twist of the wrist. The torque is immediate and the DS is up to speed in seconds. The electric dual sport is narrow at the seat and feels even more lightweight than its claimed 277-lb curb weight. Hitting the first 180-degree turn, the bike turns in effortlessly. Bar action is very light as I attack the combination of tight radius turns and straights. The bike is easy to toss around with most of its weight centralized around its 95-lb lithium-ion battery. Its foot pegs are placed back and the bars are set slightly down and a tad wider than shoulder width. At six-feet-tall, I’m in an aggressive leaning-forward riding position in a thin, 35-inch tall saddle.

The single gear of its clutchless direct drive gear system keeps the power delivery constant. The fact that there are no missed gears or hiccups in fuel delivery is a bonus. Just roll and go. The more time I spend on the bike, the funner it gets. The course is smooth so there’s no way for me to really test the rebound of the suspension, but the inverted front fork and coil rear shock supports my 215-lb frame without any flex.

All the riding action’s controlled with your right hand and foot. Besides twisting the throttle, a right-hand operated lever engages the two-piston hydraulic front brake. A small foot lever on the bike’s right side operates the single-piston hydraulics pinching down on the stainless rear rotor. The system applies pressure evenly without being overly aggressive. For a big rider like me, it could have more bite to it to stop the added mass of my body, but the combo still had great feel to them.

The Zero DS features a 4KW battery thats good for about 40 miles of riding and recharges in approximately four hours.

The Zero DS features a 4KW battery that's good for between 40-50 miles of riding and recharges in approximately four hours (above) Zero Motorcycles are built around a lightweight, rigid twin-spar frame made of aircraft-grade aluminum. (below)

Zero DS Electric Dual-Sport Motorcycle
Zero’s street line features a bigger battery, which means it carries a little more weight up top than the dirt-oriented bikes. A pair of small, round mirrors and side-mounted turn signals gives it street-legal cred. With no exhaust cans blocking the view, the look of the rear is really clean, highlighted by its rigid double diamond swingarm constructed of aircraft grade aluminum. When in motion, all you hear is the spin of the chain and the whir of the motor. But this doesn’t alter the riding experience. Its torque will get your adrenalin pumping.

The light handling on the street models allowed even an old cruiser guy like me to drag a foot around turns, and it stops without launching riders over the handlebars. One tip I’ll pass along though - remember to shut it off as soon as you’re done riding because the bike is still silently running. An inadvertent blip of the throttle when dismounting will send the bike lunging forward.

Zero Motorcycles founder, Neil Saiki and his team of engineers have done an admirable job of getting this bike set up correctly. Its rigid twin-spar frame weighs less than 20 lbs. Its pivots, brake mounts and chain guide are re-milled for increased stress reliability. Its lithium-ion power pack has a monitoring system with active rebalancing that constantly tracks the voltage and temperature of every cell. The power pack contains no toxic metals and is recyclable.

Zero made sure to include features riders demand like an inverted fork that can be dialed in for compression and rebound damping. The coil rear shock is also adjustable for preload and damping. Attention to detail extends to the wheels as well as the Zero DS features custom hubs, spokes and rotors aimed to minimize unsprung weight and reduce rotating mass. Sure, the $8,995 sticker price (MSRP after a 10% U.S. Federal Tax Credit) is more than a conventional dual sport, but the long-term savings on gas and maintenance make it a less bitter pill to swallow.

Switching to the Zero’s MX was equally a treat. With a smaller 2KW battery, its narrowness and litheness are immediately noticeable. The Z-Force Power Pack is good for about two hours or roughly 40 miles of riding. It does re-charge in just under two hours at a cost of only 40 cents and Zero claims it can be swapped out easily. The MX’s Power Pack does weigh 46 lbs though, so it’s not something you’re going to be carrying in a backpack. Though its power source is smaller, the motocross bike’s brushed permanent magnet electric motor has no shortage of immediately dispensable power, putting out a claimed 50 lb-ft of torque and 23 horsepower. Zero divided this power into two settings, the first one good up to around 25 mph and the other with a max speed in the range of 50 mph.

The MX definitely delivers more torque, a fact I found when I first cracked the throttle and the front wheel lofted off the straightaway. And that was on the low power setting. It also differs from Zero’s street bikes in its braking arrangement, as both front and rear on the MX bike are hand-actuated.
The 2010 Zero MX bike comes in both a Sport and Extreme version. The Extreme version has a higher performance motor and stiffer suspension for guys like this.
The 2010 Zero MX bike comes in both a Sport and Extreme version. The Extreme version has a higher performance motor and stiffer suspension for serious motocross action.
The brakes are also a four-pot hydraulic arrangement biting down on a single stainless steel rotor. The bike is a featherweight, with a claimed curb weight of 172 lbs and a rigid aluminum frame weighing only 13 lbs. The Zero MX also is offered in a Sport and Extreme version, with the Extreme offering a higher performance motor and stiffer suspension for more hardcore motocross applications.

Granted, I’m not an off-road editor and I was riding on a street course, but the Zero MX still provided the same level of riding fun as a gas-powered bike. It’s so narrow and lightweight, it’s a breeze to toss around corners. The torque is impressive, coming on instantly and evenly. It did have knobbier, dirt-oriented tires that broke loose on me exiting one corner, but that was facilitated by a heavy throttle hand on a torque-filled bike during corner exit.

Zero is aware that riders like to customize their bikes with aftermarket parts and accessories, so it has expanded its previous classic white color combo to include a choice of red, blue, and white color graphic packages. The 2010 Zero S and DS also come with two seat options designed by saddle specialist Corbin, including a low seat option that reduces the stand over height of the motorcycle. Of course, they’ve got body panels available to swap out when the stock ones become ratty. Small steps forward, but over time, expect to see more available aftermarket goodies.

Zero Motorcycles clever marketing strategy steers away from dealerships and is more grass-roots based. It utilizes what Zero calls ‘in-market representatives’ that provide potential buyers with demonstration rides in their local community. People can also purchase a Zero Motorcycle directly from the company's website or can phone an experienced factory coordinator via a toll-free number. Zero claims that within days of purchasing a motorcycle, it will be delivered to the consumer’s doorstep. The company believes that direct contact with the company by consumers ensures superior service and support.

Somebody forgot to tell this guy you cant have fun on an electric motorcycle.
Somebody forgot to tell this guy you can't have fun on an electric motorcycle.
Zero Motorcycles is heading in the right direction. Its starts with a savvy core group, anchored by a founder who is a former NASA engineer, a CEO who has a Physics degree from UC Berkeley, and it will only benefit from the recently acquired services of Abe Askenazi, the former Senior Director of Analysis, Testing and Engineering with Buell Motorcycles. Zero is already shopping future applications for their electric motorcycles, such as work vehicles for city police departments and park rangers.

Zero has been the most ambitious of the electric motorcycle companies to date, producing bikes both for the dirt and street. And as gas prices begin to creep back up, it makes the research and production of companies like Zero that much more vital. Plus, its bikes even put a smile on the face of a crusty old V-Twin rider like me.
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2010 Zero DS Specs
Introducing the 2010 Zero DS.
Type - Brushed permanent magnet electric
Top Speed - 67 mph
Power System
Type - Lithium-ion array
Capacity - 4KW (58 volts @ 70Ah)
Range - Up to 50 miles
Recharge Time - Less than 4 hours
Input - Standard 110V or 220V
Drive Train
Transmission - Clutchless one speed
Drive System - 16T/53T, 420 Chain
Front Suspension Travel - 9 in.
Rear Suspension Travel - 8 in.
Front Brakes - Two-piston hydraulic, stainless rotor
Rear Brakes - One-piston hydraulic, stainless rotor
Front Tire - 3.25-17
Rear Tire - 110/90-16
Front Wheel - 17 x 2.15
Rear Wheel - 16 x 3.0
Wheelbase - 57.8 in.
Seat Height - 35 in.
Rake/Trail - 24 degrees/ 3.26 in.
Weight - 277 lb.
MSRP - $9,950
Warranty - Limited two-year
2010 Zero MX Specs
The 2010 Zero MX
Type - Brushed permanent magnet electric
Torque - 50 lb-ft (claimed)
Horsepower - 23 hp
Peak Electrical Input - 17,400 watts
Power System
Type - Lithium-ion array
Capacity - 2KW (58 volts @ 35Ah)
Range - Up to two hours or 40 miles
Recharge Time - Less than 2 hours
Input - Standard 110V or 220V
Drive Train
Transmission - Clutchless one speed
Drive System - 12T/73T, 420 Chain
Front Suspension Travel - 8 in.
Rear Suspension Travel - 8.5 in.
Front Brakes - Four-piston hydraulic, stainless rotor
Rear Brakes - Four-piston hydraulic, stainless rotor
Front Tire - 19 x 3 in.
Rear Tire - 17 x 3.5 in.
Wheelbase - 54.5 in.
Seat Height - 34.3 in.
Rake- 24 degrees
Weight - 172 lb.
MSRP - $8,295 Extreme Version - add $1,655
Warranty - Limited two-year

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nothankyou   June 9, 2013 09:10 AM
I think this is a great commuter bike company. More along the lines of scooters to be honest. There are definitely 2 camps in this arena and but I will stay in the combustion camp thanks. Really more tired of having all this electric crap forced down my throat, especially from the environmental movement. Not saying this company has to do with that, just stating an opinion. As far as the "bikes", I will say they look good and seem well built. However, I still feel this is just a totally different riding style and camp that I really want nothing to do with. I wish you all the luck with your company. Just keep it in California or any other liberal state that wants it. Oh and please don't try force other states to obey any more ignorant environmental laws against those who have enjoyed gas fueled bikes for years. But I do hope you keep riding.
BikeSean -Centralize  November 24, 2010 06:51 PM
Any reason why the battery is square?
Respect the past, embrace the present. -Be careful what you wish for...  May 10, 2010 07:50 AM
@ AM:

Do you remember before stock electric motorcycles didn't do podium sweeps against stock gasser motorcycles in AMA races?


Those days are gone.

Feeder -Why not make a big bike  April 5, 2010 07:23 PM
Why don't these guys make a big cruiser styed bike which can take more batteries because weight is less of an issue more range , more top speed = sales to real street bikers
Dave -Electric  April 1, 2010 04:36 PM
I like the bikes but I don't see the point for the dual sport version if it can only go 50 mph. The speedo is very deceiving.
PeteP -Why?  April 1, 2010 10:53 AM
Why do they insist on using strange tire sizes?
PeteP -I like this one better  April 1, 2010 10:52 AM
Homegrown CRF conversion. Looks like it works well:


Yet Another Zero Rider -@ AM  March 30, 2010 08:10 AM
You're confused. There are several Zero riders posting on this tread.

AM says:

"If you beat me at any distance from the start line I will give you my bike."

"From the star[t] gate until the end of the first hill I will be ... behind you."

Thanks for conceding so quickly. You can keep your manky old gasser, though.

AM -@ TAHOE  March 30, 2010 07:50 AM
MR. Tahoe,
"Here" is Glen Helen Raceway in California. It's your Zero against my Honda 450cc. We'll do 15 minutes motos instead of 45 min + 2 laps because that's all a Zero will run at Glen Helen, if that much. From the star gate until the end of the first hill I will be in 3rd gear laughing behind you, after that I will shift to 4th and disapear to collect your Zero. That's the only way I will play this so you eat your own words of: "what part of an MX easily beating 450cc bikes in a national motocross championship did you not understand?" Hey do not forget to bring your $3,000.00 extra pack for that quick swap to run another 15 minutes. But that's only you if bring your other Zero ( Don't you have all 3 models? ) because your first one, by then, will be mine. Let's go. Can wait to win a Zero so easy!

Yet Another Zero Rider -@ AM  March 29, 2010 10:37 AM
Sure, happy to oblige, where's "here"? My preference is for very high altitude and/or fully underwater.

Mort Adella -good start  March 27, 2010 05:34 AM
When the battery is improved to double or triple the range, I will consider and electric bike. Lack of maintenance, quietness, torque
quick recharge are all positives. I have an electric lawnmower that
has continued to cut without all the hassles of maintenance my friends have had. I don't buy anything made in California for politcal reasons. When a company based in a free state makes one with better range, count me in.
AM -TO Yet Another Zero Rider - @ Tim B  March 26, 2010 04:13 PM
You forgot to complete the sentence here: "If you are racing with an MX, you can pit for a fresh power pack swap in seconds.."
So I am going to complete it for you:... all you need is another $3,000.00 on the top of your $10,000.00 investment.
And I would like to ask you this: How much do you think your bike will be worthed in 3 years when the battery is dead?
Here is another question: what part of an MX easily beating 450cc bikes in a national motocross championship did you not understand?
I woould like to know what track was that.
I would like to see who can beat James Stewart, Ryan Villopoto or any of those guys here in the USA or Europe on any MX outdoor track riding a Zero motorcycle. Have you ever been to an AMA outdoor MX race and track? Go see a National MX outdoor race and then tell me if the Zero has a smallest chance. Please. To begin with it would not even finish the race because there's not enough charge for a 45 minutes + 2 laps at full throtle. Second, there are 60 mph doubles and triples and that thing would be doing singles a 40 mph. Straights are at least 75 mph. Hills that are hard on a 450 cc with 60 HP in second gear, not counting the sand tracks.... you got to be stupid to believe that a Zero beats a 60 HP 230 LBS motorcycle on an outdoor track. Go ride one if you can. You do not know what a 450 cc motorcycle is for sure. Came here and line up with me, and if you beat me at any distance from the start line I will give you my bike.
Give me a break.

Pwned -- to doubters  March 26, 2010 09:26 AM
The only reason to get an electric is if you want to win in the real world:


"Zero Motorcycles took first place in a sanctioned motocross race (finishing third overall in points for the series), in France hosted by the French Federation of Motorcycles. The Zero MX beat out more than 200 450cc gas motorcycles in fierce competition."

Yet Another Zero Rider -@ Tim B  March 26, 2010 09:10 AM
They are not designed to be long distance, high maintained speed, heavy highway cruisers, like a Harley or Honda Gold Wing. They are designed for practical and fun daily around town, mixed on/off road, racing and trails use and are brilliant at that. Zeros are good off road trails and trial bikes, motocross bikes and on/off road enduro and supermoto bikes, based on their actual performance and use, not on opinion.


It's obvious that you are unfamilar with what it's like to own one of these babies, but that's ok. I was in the same position before I bought my Zero X and was extremely skeptical. It's exceeded my every expectation, which included full knowledge of the 7,500 price (retail before any tax incentives or rebates), 29 hp, 40 mile range and 2 hour recharge time.

You can easily play internal combustion noises while on an electric, if you don't like crickets or being able to hear anyone or anything else or be heard trying to talk, but you can never shut up a gasser while its running.

Torque from 0 rpm is not marketing jargon. It's what allows me to beat your gasser off the line every single time from a cold start in top gear and have instant, strong acceleration at any time on command. I agree that you want to have actual riding and handling skills to handle all that torque, which may be an adjustment for those used to overthrottling their weaker gassers, as Bryan noted in the article. Well designed and made electrics have handling sensitivity and throttle response that gassers can only dream of. On all around performance, what part of an MX easily beating 450cc bikes in a national motocross championship did you not understand? Of course the benefits of massive bottom end torque are hard to understand in a motorcycle if you've never had it before and don't know how to use it yet.

On weight, this article is about Zeros, not your general and incorrect misunderstandings. Zeros are much lighter than their near equalivalent gas counterparts.

The technology improves every year. The current crop of Zeros is a little better than my years old model and they just keep getting a little better, although the basic specs pretty much hit a sweet spot for real world daily use. It's more about polish than fundamentals at this point. So at what point do you end your waiting?

On refill time, I'm busy doing other stuff (like sleeping, working, eating lunch or filling out race entry forms) while my electric automatically recharges at any of hundreds of millions of electric outlets around the country, at my convenience, instead of having to find a gas station and stand around waiting, inhaling noxious flammable fumes. Every developed outdoor resort (ski area), national forest, state park and recreation area and RV camping area has electric outlets, while none of them have gas stations, in their boundaries. If you are racing with an MX, you can pit for a fresh power pack swap in seconds, way faster than your gasser's 5 minutes and your spare packs can recharge while you are racing. With a couple of pit packs, it's already been shown that you can offroad race until you drop:


That you think that electric motorcycles aren't viable and exciting as is and right now tells us more about you than about the ever improving, ever increasing selection of decent performance, decent price electric motorcycles.

Bottom line, if you don't want an electric, don't get one. That leaves one more for someone else who cares about actual results, value, performance, handling, convenience, all around practicality in daily use and improved fun. I stopped using my gasser dualsport a couple of months after I got my Zero, which dominated the gasser primarily on more fun, easier daily use, superior around town and offroad performance and handling, easier operation, better recharging convenience and way lower operating and maintenance costs and time.

For first time motorcycle riders, electric wins hand down on ease of operation alone. Good luck getting those riders to accept gasser torque when electric is what's normal to them.

Bob -Tahoe  March 26, 2010 08:21 AM
"Bob - I don't know what the heck you are talking about - on a hill climb I set my speed once and climb the hill at a constant controlled speed while you goose it, clutch it, and try to grab gears. You are dead wrong about horsepower. The smoothness kills your thumper once you learn to hold the throttle steady. With an electric motor, it adds torque to hold the throttle setting (voltage) you give it. A gas bike has to add revs to add torque."

You missed the point. On rutted out climbs, slippery wet climbs, wet clay bogs, mud pits, etc, it isn't ideal to have a ton of power that can brake the rear tire loose. How does the Zero keep from braking the tire loose? I find that running a gear or 2 high in some situations allows me to "thump" on through, not loose traction, with no squirrely moments. Slipping the clutch also proves to be beneficial when the tire does brake loose because it can remove power going to the tire until traction is regained. Tell me how an e-bike can do that?

In the bar banging single track I ride in with big rocks, roots, hairpins, riding upstream and other tricky stuff, I can choose to ride at 15 mph in 1st gear and 25 HP, 2nd gear and 18 HP or 3rd gear and 8 HP depending on the control and performance I require for the situation. Can I do that on the fly with an e-bike? No.
Tim B -Travis  March 26, 2010 01:16 AM
I'm not excited about electric vehicles at all, but I am passionate in that I know I don't want them. What I said is just my opinion. Nobody has to agree with it, but I'm sticking to it until the technology improves. I wish more companies would invest more time and money into alternative fuels for the internal combustion engine. It's a wonderful, exciting piece of machinery.

"I hear crickets" was sarcasm. The sound of crickets is used to denote awkward or boring silence. I'd much rather hear the sounds my internal combusion engine emits than the sound of chirping crickets.

Torque from 0 RPMs? That's common marketing jargon that I hear all the time. For whatever reason, many people feel the need to repeat it to defend electric vehicles without really thinking it through. Who needs all the torque from a dead stop? This is a motorcycle not a diesel truck designed to haul heavy loads. And obviously all that torque can't be used instantly unless you want to end up on your butt. Go ahead and mash that throttle and use all 50 ft-lbs from a stop. You'll wheelie over backwards. And the "MX" bike has 50 ft-lbs of torque, but only 23 hp with a top speed of 50MPH. And the range is so short you only get an hour to ride the bike. How is that exciting performance? I'd rather have an internal combusion that has less torque at idle, but tons more overall performance. And I can refill the tank in 5 minutes versus recharging for 4 hours.

The MX bike is light, but look at the DS model. That thing is a tank at that performance level if the 277lb dry weight and 65MPH top speed figures are true. Generally, electric vehicles are heavier than their internal combusion engine powered counterparts simply because of all the batteries needed for suitable performance and range.

I do agree that electric vehicles do pollute less than internal combustion engines, but people seem to overlook the other facts that I discussed. I am aware that newer batteries, such as lithium polymer, can be disposed of safely in a landfill, but not all types of batteries are like this.

So again, I'll keep my internal combustion engines until electric vehicles become viable and exciting!
KarmaDog -nice but not yet  March 25, 2010 02:31 PM
I like the idea of electric drive but to be honest until batteries get better i will look els where. I don't understand why we are trying so hard to make batteries work when hydrogen in a small fuel cell would be so much better and easier to build up a infrastructure for but apparently that tech isn't ready yet either. Oh well i guess i will build my own bio diesel powered adventure bike and and have some fun doing that while they get things worked out .
Travis -Interesting concept  March 25, 2010 09:41 AM
Not that I'd ever buy one, but at least it's an interesting direction in motorsports to explore. Wheather it flops or not, at least innovation isn't dead! Kudos to Zero for starting an interesting trend. Let's see if the industry can make this a workable optoin for bikes. As of now, not too many people would buy one of these over a regular gasser (myself included). But way to make a ballzy move Zero. *thumb up*
Yet Another Zero Rider -@ Tim B  March 25, 2010 09:17 AM
For someone who's not excited, you seem to have strong feelings.

Actually, you can't hear crickets with your gas bike running, even if it's sitting still. But you can if you want while riding full tilt on an electric.

"So tell me again how electric vehicles are "green" or exciting."

Ok - maximum torque from 0 rpm, instant, strong completely smooth acceleration, lightweight for best in class power to weight ratios, easy operation, recreation area managers increasingly prefer the lack of forest fire causing sparks, the lack of game scaring thumper noise and the less soil damage due to lighter weight, as do neighborhoods, which gives you more possible riding areas more conveniently. Your electric bike can refill itself while you're asleep, so you always wake up to a full bike, which is very exciting. Electric bikes make less pollution than gassers, no matter what your original power plant energy source is (nat'l avg). Electric bikes make way less pollution than gassers if the power plant energy source is natural gas. Electric bikes make almost no overall pollution at all if you recharge from hydro, wind, solar (many utilities have a wind program you can join or seek out the folks in your area that have grid connected solar systems and recharge at their place for some mimimal coin).

The costs of power plants, including waste disposal, is in the price of electricity, which is way less than the same energy price for gasoline, which has its infrastructure and supply heavily subsidized. The materials mining is less by weight, and thus so is its impact, for a Zero than for a similar gasser (ok, no gasser has max torque from 0 rpm, but similar in size and use), as Zeros weigh less, which also gives them excellent power to weight.

Zero power packs are nontoxic, landfill approved and can have their lithium recycled as soon as that's cheaper for manufacturers than the current lithium supply surplus. However, there are many other near end of life for racing, many years in, uses for power packs before they would head to a landfill or for recycling, if ever.

What part of beats you off the line every time from a cold start in top gear do you consider subpar? Post again after you get a bike with an internal combustion engine that gives you max torque at 0 rpm and doesn't need multiple gears or a clutch and doesn't pollute out the rear of the vehicle. Oh, that's right, internal combustion engines can't touch that.

Tim B -I Hear Crickets  March 24, 2010 10:56 PM
This has me about as excited as I get over a Toyota Prius. To give you an idea of how extreme that is a root canal excites me more than a Toyota Prius. I wonder if these bikes will match the performance of the Toyota Prius - brakes that don't work and stuck throttles? Harsh comparison, I know. Sue me.

I will say it time and time again. Electric vehicles, as they stand now, are NOT the future! Electric vehicles might have "zero emissions", but they pollute all the same. People are stupid to think otherwise. Think where the charging power comes from - power plants, most of which burn coal, which we all know is dirty and hazardous process. Or the power plants run on nuclear power and we all know how wonderfully environmentally friendly spent uranium is! Then there's no mention of the mining needed to source the magnets used in electrical motors. Nobody ever details the "healthy" biproducts and pollutants produced during the manufacture of batteries. That's not even mentioning the disposal of batteries. And in the end you have a subpar vehicle whose performance can't touch that of one powered by an internal combusion engine. So tell me again how electric vehicles are "green" or exciting.
Just another Zero X Owner -Agree with Tahoe - it rulez.  March 24, 2010 08:50 PM
Thanks to Tahoe for some real world experience feedback. Is it true that there's no loss of performance in electrics at high elevations? That's sure not true of gassers. Sound is a complete non-issue. You can always add sounds (use your personal music player of choice, Harley soundtracks if you want) to an electric. You can never subtract sound from a gasser, even when stopped, without shutting it down. Note to hunters and real outdoors enthusiasts - I've seen way more wildlife on my electric than I ever did on my gasserthumper dualsport. My electric cost less up front and way less in ongoing maintenance than my gasserthumper. Performance against gassers: http://plugbike.com/2009/10/20/zero-mx-beats-quantya-and-450cc-bikes-in-france/ Range - it's just not an issue for me at all and I've been on several mixed terrain/road trips more than 300 miles within a weekend, but I realize I'm not everyone. There are way, way more electric outlets out there than gas stations. You're free to feel anxious if you want, but that seems more like a personal choice to me than a given. Also, both these bikes have more nonstop range than a 60's era stock Benelli 250 Supersport and some modern racer motocrossers do. Tessier - hope you got either some coin or are willing to wait a while. Or do you know something about batts you aren't letting on?
JoeKing -reprobate  March 24, 2010 07:18 PM
Oh, so that's where that vacuum cleaner hose I've been looking for ended up.


Do they really believe a mickey-mouse set-up like that is acceptable for a $10,000 dirt bike? Note to engineering...mold a duct INTO the fender..that's what motorcyclists expect/demand.

Makes you wonder about the rest of the "engineering" on the bike. First impressions are a large part of someone's buying decision. This alone would be a deal-breaker for me. Do they use duct tape too?
AM -@ TAHOE  March 24, 2010 07:00 PM
Tahoe – No I don’t ride 3000 times a year. You have a point in there. 5 years sounds about right if the battery can hold 3000 charges. Also the battery in 5 years will cost a lot more than the $2,950.00 they cost today. But remember it also holds the charge less and less every time so the performance will not be the same as well as the range. 40 miles in the desert is 3 hours.Maybe for you not for me. But 40 miles if you take it easy. If you ride hard it’s way less. I would say 18 to 25 miles. And for me to ride 10 miles and have to come back, or to go riding knowing that I will be riding 30 to 40 minutes is not even worth leaving home to ride. But please do not compare it with a real dirt bike because it's not even close in range or power.
Tom Brooks -No loud sound is no good for streets.  March 24, 2010 06:00 PM
My racing bike is as quiet as it could be, but my street bike is as loud as it could be. I do enjoy riding a quiet bike, but car drivers are not friendly to quiet bikes. Cars back trail quiet bikes just feet behind you. It scares the crap out of me to see a large SUV just couple feet behind me with a driver on the phone. I took the baffles out of my street bike and now I have at least couple of car lengths between me and the car behind me. Why? Because of my loud pipes they cannot hear their radio/music, cell phone, etc. and they gladly keep me further in front. That is why I will never buy a quiet bike for streets. I would buy it for dirt trails, but not for streets.
Tahoe -Don't shhot it down until you ride one!  March 24, 2010 05:59 PM
I own all three models. 40 miles in the desert is 3 hours. On technical Tahoe trails and high altitude changes, it still runs two hours. The recharge on the dirt bike is only 2 hours if you run it dead. The street bike is 4 hours if you run it dead. I run 35 miles per day up and down hills here and rarely run low on battery. AM - You ride 3000 times every couple of years? The battery will go for 3000 charges which is at least 5 years. By the time I need a new pack, you will have done a couple of clutch jobs, pistons, and top ends on your bike. Don't forget all the gas and oil you will spend in 5 years. Bob - I don't know what the heck you are talking about - on a hill climb I set my speed once and climb the hill at a constant controlled speed while you goose it, clutch it, and try to grab gears. You are dead wrong about horsepower. The smoothness kills your thumper once you learn to hold the throttle steady. With an electric motor, it adds torque to hold the throttle setting (voltage) you give it. A gas bike has to add revs to add torque. Not the same animal at all. Ride one! You naysayers need to look up your local dealer and RIDE one before you bash the range and performance.
AM -BATTERY REPLACEMENT  March 24, 2010 05:11 PM
Every single article about e-bike they never talk about the battery replacement that cost $2,950.00 because you can only charge them so many times. You will need a new battery every couple of years at least and that is $2,950.00. Do you spend that much in your motorcycle today? I definetely don't on mine.
There's just no savings. It's just a quiet motorcycle that you take in the woods, which is great. But with 40 miles range, it's not so great. Not for that price anyway. Make it $4,000.00 and the replacement battery $500.00 and I will for sure get one.
bryan harley -video is up, louis  March 24, 2010 03:45 PM
Sorry for the delay in getting the video up, Louis. For some reason Eric thought shooting footage of MJ for our weekly webisode was more important than encoding the Zero video. Can't blame him. Have you seen MJ?

And Zero is aware that riders want more range. They're a bright group of guys and as E-technology keeps advancing - smaller batteries, more range - I have confidence that the company will be on the cusp of these advancements.
Louis -No video?  March 24, 2010 03:22 PM
I wish there was a video with "sound". I wonder what it sounds like having a dirt bike fly by without an engine. Probably like a mountain bike going by. If the rider was in the process of crashing, you would be able to hear him yelling "oh Sh%t!" as there would be no exhaust noise to wash it out. I think I would miss the exhaust note, but change never stops coming...
Brent -It's a commuter/MXer  March 24, 2010 12:58 PM
It's not so much the limited range per charge as the charging time to riding time ratio, 4:1. I think what electric bikes are good for now is commuting. I ride 12mi each way to work, that's 24mi, well within the e-bike range. Where the bike falls down for that is speed. About half my commute is on highways and you need to run at least 70mph just to be safe. But if the commute were all city streets it'd be doable. The other application is MX racing. Moto's are short and there's time to recharge. The BIG advantage here is lack of noise. You could hold a MX race a lot of places that would get the cops called if you were on internal combustion.
Bob -E-Perfect?  March 24, 2010 12:21 PM
Not perfect yet in my eyes.

I'll mimic the concerns over range, especially if I go on weekend or weeklong trips. It's a no-go.

Now, what about traction? A 100 HP electric motor is going to have less traction that a 100 HP internal combustion engine, all else being equal. One of the benefits of internal combustion engines is the power pulse generated every time it fires a spark. The time between power pulses allows the tire's rubber molecules to recover from being stretched to their limits and therefore regain traction.

As a test, take a pencil with an eraser on the end of it and lightly push it across a smooth surface. Once you avercome the initial friction, it slides quite easily. Now, repeatedly stop and start it in short increments and you can see how you're having to add more force to overcome that initial friction over and over. This is why big bang and crossplane cranks exist on race bikes. The power pulses helps with traction.

Not just for the street but the logic applies to the dirt as well and I like how my thumper can dig into the loose stuff. Will the smoothness of the e-bikes ever be able to replicate the pulses or do they have something else in mind for adding traction?
bikerrandy -ZERO dirt bikes  March 24, 2010 11:17 AM
Do I have this straight ? You take your zero dirt bike for a weekend of riding/camping. Every 40 miles(if you're lucky) it needs a recharge, so you fire off your gas powered generator and run it for 4 hours before you can ride again ? Or do you carry a backup battery and swap them out as needed, again charging(generator) the used up battery for your next ride ?

But maybe this design would work good for trialing since you don't travel much(on bike) doing that?
Kevin S. -The future of off-road?  March 24, 2010 10:07 AM
Just wait until KTM's e-bikes come out. They look amazing.

An electric off-road or MX bike does have some strong selling points. Mostly, the reduced need for maintenance. No more oil changes, air filter maintenance, expensive engine rebuilds, etc, etc. Not to mention the money you'd save not having to buy gas for your bike.

In my eyes the biggest hurdle is range. I would love to see an electric bike capable of running full power for 100 miles, with maybe a "limp mode" function that could go another 10 or 20 miles.
Caz -More range  March 24, 2010 09:59 AM
'Glad they're making some progress, but having to charge for 4 hours in order to ride for less than 1 hour just doesn't cut it for me. Maybe with another 3 - 5 years of advancements...
Tessier -Range anxiety  March 24, 2010 04:18 AM
I would love to purchase an electric bike. With that said the Zero just isn't it. I am glad to see they are making constant improvements but with a range of 40 miles that certainly isn't going to take me very far. In New England most of the trail rides we do are between 60-130 miles. so until the Zero is able to complete a 100+ mile turkey run it's just a no go. BTW it's nice to see you finally put some dam stickers on it, even if it's still the ugly duckling of the motorcycle industry.