2012 Zero Motorcycles First Look

November 8, 2011
Matt Davidson
Editorial Assistant|Articles|Articles RSS

Danger, adrenaline and competition are what fuel this moto enthusiast. Driven by a spirit for sportsmanship, our racing guru here at MotoUSA can be spotted at finish lines the world over as he delivers the latest battles from the two-wheeled realm.

2012 Zero S
For 2012 Zero Motorcycles is aiming to produce the first electric design capable of more than 100 miles on a single charge.

Zero Motorcycles chose the EICMA show in Milan to announce its plan to push the development of electric motorcycle technology one step further. The California-based company lifted the curtain on its lineup for 2012, which includes the return of the Zero DS, Zero S, Zero MX and Zero X. The big news, however, is the sweeping upgrades to the lineup that sees range and overall power output increased. Equipped with a new powertrain and Zero’s new Z-Force power pack, the brand is targeting a direct blow to competition in the electric marketplace. The brand is also making the bold claim of delivering its completely updated lineup by February of 2012 – putting direct pressure on competitors like Brammo, who are yet to deliver promised upgraded model lines to production.
Zero claims a range of more than 100 miles is possible with its new models. On top of that some of the new bikes boast top speeds of up to 88 mph, and contain power packs designed to last the life of the motorcycles. If Zero fulfills its promised production dates, it will be the first 100 mile range electric motorcycle available on the market.

2012 Zero DS
The Zero DS is now capable of 80 mph and sports new looks for 2012.

“The 2012 model line is truly game changing. It marks the first time in history that riders can actually own an electric motorcycle that is capable of exceeding 100 miles of range on a single charge,” said Scot Harden, VP of Global Marketing of Zero Motorcycles. “Every model in the lineup goes faster, further and is more fun than ever before. These are not concepts. In less than three months, riders can see and purchase 2012 models at authorized Zero Motorcycles dealers.”
For the upcoming year Zero’s powerplant technology is based around the Z-Force power pack, which is 95% more energy dense and capable of 3,000 charging cycles before its capacity is reduced. Theoretically, the new technology can reach distances of more than 300,000 miles on its original power pack. This in itself is a major achievement as past designs were hindered by battery cell lifespan. 

2012 Zero MX
The Zero MX offers better acceleration than its predecessor.

Zero is also offering more selection in the upcoming year by making its streetfighter design – the Zero S – and its dual sport model – the Zero DS – available in either 6 or 9 kWh configurations. Capable of 76 or 114 miles respectively, Zero states they can reach 80 mph with broad torque bands and snappy acceleration. Some of the other highlights from the two models are new air-cooled brushless motors and regenerative braking, which allows riders to regain energy produced during deceleration. Also, Zero’s urban model, the Zero XU, has been upgraded with a maintenance-free belt drive system. The appearance of both designs has been upgraded. 

Off-road riders aren’t left out either as the Zero X and MX models have also been beefed up. The Zero X carries 33% more power and 75% more range for trail riding purposes, and is now engineered with the same powertrain

2012 Zero XU
The Zero XU uses regenerative braking that captures energy during deceleration.

as the Zero MX. Available exclusively with lights, the X is street legal for 2012. Zero’s track warrior is available as an off-road only version next year and features better acceleration and increased top speed as well.
All of these upgrades come at a cost, however. All brands will see a substantial increase in their 2011 MSRP, on average costing $1000 more. The Zero S and DS models that feature 9 kWh configurations are the priciest of the bunch at $13,995, and the Zero X is nearly $2000 more than the ’11 model. Helping reduce the sting of these price tags though will be government rebates and tax credits. As a comparison Brammo’s latest Empulse design ranges from $9,995 to $13,995, with Brammo’s Enertia entering in at $7,995.