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Land Rover completes world-first hybrid expedition

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October 15, 2013

Land Rover's Silk Road 2013 expedition

Land Rover's Silk Road 2013 expedition

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April 8, 2009 Zero Motorcycles was a surprise hit in 2008, selling out its stock of 'X' battery-electric motocross bikes much faster than expected and proving in the process that customers are well and truly ready to slap down the dollars for a quality electric off-roader. Now the company has announced the Zero S - a street-legal electric supermotard capable of 60mph and with a 60-mile range off a full 4-hour battery charge. At under US$10,000 - before you get your 10% Federal plug-in vehicle credit - the Zero S joins the Vectrix electric maxi-scooter in the list of truly practical electric bikes capable of freeway speeds. And with a power-to-weight ratio almost identical to Suzuki's DR-Z400SM, it should be a bag of laughs to ride. If consumers liked the X, we reckon they'll go crazy to be the first on the block to ride this street-legal, lean, green giggle machine.

Technology is finally beginning to catch up with the demands of the market in electric vehicles - and the Zero S is a great example of how. Its maximum range of 60 miles and max speed of 60mph are more than enough for the average daily commute - and if you plug it in at the office, you've got plenty of extra power to play with. It's still pretty limited as a weekend thrasher, but every other day there's a new advancement in battery technology - we're sure we'll see a 300-mile bike with a burn-your-license top speed before too long.

Like all electrics, it costs next to nothing to recharge, working out at less than a cent's worth of electricity per mile - and the savings keep building as your petrol-powered bikes need servicing and the Zero S simply doesn't.

The S might only make 31 horsepower, but then it only has to pull a tiny 225 pounds (102.1kg) dripping wet. Except, of course, it's not wet, there's no petrol or coolant or oil to speak of - meaning that maintenance is pretty much limited to looking after the brakes, tires and chain. By comparison, the Suzuki DR-Z400SM makes a claimed 40hp, but hauls 132kg before fuel and fluids are added. The power to weight ratios are almost identical (0.3030hp/kg vs. 0.3024hp/kg).

The DR-Z might not be the craziest street supermoto going around, but it's still a great fun bike to ride - and the Zero S can pump out its full torque from idle, so the low end response should be excellent. The handling should also be beaut - everything has been kept so light that it should be a most flickable beast.

The Zero-S will start shipping in May, but pre-orders are being taken now at the Zero Motorcycles website. The price is USD$9950, with an extra $500 if you want it shipped directly to your door. With the US Federal plug-in vehicle credit of 10%, that comes down to less than US$9 grand - only around 2 1/2 grand more than a DR-Z. Starting to make sense, isn't it?

Check out the video below to see the Zero S in action.

Loz Blain

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work. All articles by C.C. Weiss
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