When we first took the Zero S electric motorcycle for a spin our verdict was that while great fun to ride, impending advances in battery technology will mean that this - and other electric bikes - will only to get better from here ... and they are. Zero Motorcycles has announced a complete overhaul of every model in its 2012 range of electric two-wheelers with new powertrains and upgraded power packs that promise greater longevity, speeds of up to 88 mph (142 km/h) and a significantly improved range in excess of 100 miles (160 km) for the street-oriented models.

Zero says its new Z-Force™ power pack is up to 95% more energy dense and is rated to 3,000 complete charge cycles before hitting 80% capacity, giving the Zero S a battery lifespan of as much as 308,000 miles - meaning the bike itself will probably wear out before the battery pack does.

All of the street models feature regenerative braking and the Zero S supermoto and Zero DS dual sport will be available in 6 or 9 kWh configuration (ZF6 and ZF9). Range-wise, for the Zero S this translates to 76 or 114 miles (122-183 km) on a single charge for city riding and 43 miles (69 km) and 63 miles (101 km) respectively when traveling at highway speeds. This is up from a 50 mile city range on the earlier the model and in our time spent with the outgoing Zero S we found that the city riding range figures hold true. If the same applies for the new addition, it will be a very practical urban commuting option and according to Zero Motorcycles, the improvements make the S the world's first available mass-produced electric motorcycle capable of exceeding 100 miles on the EPA's UDDS range test.

Top speed for the S is specced at 88 mph (142 km/h) while the Zero DS can hit 80 mph (129 km/h).

Recharging time for the 6 kwh Zero S is quoted at 6 hours (100% charged) and 5.3 hours (95% charged) through a standard outlet, while the 9 kwh model takes 9 hours (100% charged) / 8.0 hours (95% charged). There are also quick-charge options available that can cut recharge times by up to 75 percent.

Revised frame geometry and a new bodywork (which gives the S model in particular a noticeably meaner streetfighter appearance) complete the transformation of street models along with the welcome addition a larger front brake master cylinder.

For those heading off-road, the upgraded Zero X trail bike gets 33% more overall power and 75% greater range, along with lights to make it street-legal. The Zero MX motocrosser also gets a power boost and both models have undergone a redesign which the company says "speaks to their more aggressive and longer lasting powertrain."

"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."

Key specs and pricing for the Zero 2012 range:

Zero S ZF6 and ZF9

  • Range: 76 miles (122 km) / 114 miles (183 km) City (EPA UDDS)
  • Motor: High efficiency, double-stator axial flux permanent magnet, brushless motor with integrated forced air cooling
  • Controller: High efficiency, 420 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with re-generative deceleration
  • Top speed (max): 88 mph (142 km/h)
  • Top speed (sustained): 75 mph (121 km/h)

Z-Force™ patented Li-Ion intelligent power pack

  • Maximum capacity: 6.0 kWh 9.0 kWh
  • Nominal capacity: 5.3 kWh 7.9 kWh
  • Estimated pack life to 80% (city): 205,000 miles (330,000 km) / 308,000 miles (495,000 km)
    • MSRP: (ZF6) US$11,495 / €11,495 (ZF9) US$13,995 / €13,995

    Zero DS ZF6 and ZF9

    • Range: 75 miles (121 km) 112 miles (180 km) City (EPA UDDS)
    • Motor: High efficiency, double-stator axial flux permanent magnet, brushless motor with integrated forced air cooling
    • Controller: High efficiency, 420 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with re-generative deceleration
    • Top speed (max): 80 mph (129 km/h)
    • Top speed (sustained): 70 mph (113 km/h)

    Z-Force™ patented Li-Ion intelligent power pack

    • Maximum capacity: 6.0 kWh 9.0 kWh
  • Nominal capacity: 5.3 kWh 7.9 kWh
  • Estimated pack life to 80% (city): 203,000 miles (326,000 km) / 302,000 miles (487,000 km)
    • MSRP: (ZF6) US$11,495 / €11,495 (ZF9) US$13,995 /€13,995

    Zero XU

    • Range: 42 miles (68 km) City (EPA UDDS)
    • Motor: High efficiency, axial flux permanent magnet, brushless motor with integrated forced air cooling
    • Controller: High efficiency, 220 amp, 3-phase brushless controller with re-generative deceleration
    • Top speed (max): 65 mph (105 km/h)
    • Top speed (sustained): 55 mph (88 km/h)

    Z-Force™ patented Li-Ion intelligent portable power pack

    • Maximum capacity: 3.0 kWh
  • Nominal capacity: 2.6 kWh
    • MSRP: US$7,695 / €7,695

    Zero X

    • Range: Trail 60-120 minutes, City (EPA UDDS) 38 miles (61 km)
    • Motor: High efficiency, Forced air cooled, axial flux permanent magnet, brushed motor
    • Controller: High efficiency, 400 amp, programmable brushed DC controller
    • Top speed: 56 mph (90 km/h)

    Z-Force™ patented Li-Ion intelligent portable power pack

    • Maximum capacity: 3.0 kWh
  • Nominal capacity: 2.6 kWh
    • MSRP: $9,945 / €9,945

    Zero MX

    • Range: MX Track 45-90 minutes, Trail 60-120 minutes
    • Motor: High efficiency, Forced air cooled, axial flux permanent magnet, brushed motor
    • Controller: High efficiency, 400 amp, programmable brushed DC controller
    • Top speed: 54 mph (86 km/h)

    Z-Force™ patented Li-Ion intelligent portable power pack

    • Maximum capacity: 3.0 kWh
  • Nominal capacity: 2.6 kWh
    • MSRP: US$9,495 / €9,495

    Zero expects to ship the new range in February 2012. Full specs can be found at the Zero Motorcycles site.

    In the meantime, here's another look at our thoughts on how the (previous model) Zero S rides: