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"Holy s##t!" – the amazing Zero SR electric motorcycle blows our minds

By

May 12, 2014

The 2014 Zero SR (Photo: Dave Abbott/Gizmag.com)

The 2014 Zero SR (Photo: Dave Abbott/Gizmag.com)

Image Gallery (56 images)

It's been about three years since we last tested one of Zero Motorcycles' electric bikes, and in that time, the company has been very busy. Compared to the 2011 Zero S, the 2014 Zero SR has between 200-400 percent more everything – riding this bike was an absolutely shocking progress report on the state of the art. The SR represents a liminal moment in motorcycling. We may look back in years to come and see this as the first time an electric motorcycle stood shoulder to shoulder with petrol powered bikes, and made them feel like yesterday's heroes.

When we last rode the Zero S about three years ago, we came away thinking "what a nice little commuter, shame about the battery range."

Things have changed, and in a big way. The graphs below tell the story. Zero motorcycles have been on a steady diet of protein shakes, creatine and anabolic steroids in the last few years, and boy has the gym work paid off.

Zero Motorcycles: performance figures by year show an incredible pace of progress

Just to ram the point home, here's how the 2014 Zero SR compares to the 2011 S: it has a 3.2 times bigger battery, almost 4 times the range, just under 2.7 times the power, 2.4 times the torque and a 50 percent higher top speed. Oh, and the battery's service life is nearly four and a half times what it used to be – the SR will go nearly half a million kilometers (310,000 mi) before the battery drops to 80 percent of its normal range.

On paper, that's a gigantic leap forward. In the saddle, it's absolutely spectacular. I went around the block ONCE in sports mode, then came running in shouting "holy shit!" to anyone who would listen. Then I rang as many biker friends as I could get at short notice, and stuck all of them on the SR to make sure I wasn't dreaming.

I wasn't – this is the sort of bike that flips switches in people's brains. Every single dyed-in-the-wool, petrolhead biker that took this thing around the block said a different version of the same thing: wow, that's awesome, I want one.

The Numbers

The Zero puts out just under 70 peak horsepower (50 kW) and a monstrous 106 ft-lbs (144 Nm) of torque. That's about 10 percent more than the 1200cc EBR 1190RX, the current torque king of the superbike world. Its kerb weight is 452 lbs (205 kg). But the bike feels much, much smaller and lighter than that, and the power figures don't really tell the whole story either. A decent comparison in the petrol world might be something the size and handling feel of a nimble 250cc nakedbike, but with the power of a 600.

Riding this thing is a transcendent experience. The performance and acceleration feel absolutely excessive in the way all the best bikes do. There's no clutch or gears, it's pure simplicity to ride, provided you can keep the slim rear tire from spinning up in the wet.

Full throttle from a standstill causes the SR to leap forward in a much more urgent fashion than its predecessors, and it gathers speed and power furiously as it heads for its governed 100 mph (160 km/h) top speed. It dispatches traffic in the blink of an eye and hits 60 mph (~100 km/h) in a brutal 3.3 seconds – all with an addictive, turbine-like electric whine from the motor.

The 2014 Zero SR (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

I reckon I spent more time at full throttle on this bike than just about anything else I've ridden. In the absence of a screaming combustion engine, I really felt like I could abuse every scrap of this bike's power without feeling a tinge of mechanical sympathy for its engine internals.

Engine sound becomes completely irrelevant anyway when you don't have to manage gears. The power is everywhere, it's abundant and predictable and the more you twist the throttle, the harder it accelerates, no matter how quick you're going. There's no powerband or sweet spot, there's just instant, whooshing acceleration on tap at all times, and what a wonderful thing that is!

There's almost no engine braking in sports mode, but you can dial that up a bit through a Bluetooth-connected mobile app that lets you set peak power, top speed, regenerative braking and "engine braking" parameters through your phone. A nifty display on the dash shows how much power and torque you're putting out when you're on the throttle, and how much you're pulling back in on the brakes.

The single disc, 2-piston Nissin front brake is quite adequate – it'll stand on its nose at will with a bit of prompting. Handling is fantastic. This is a bike that can be thrown gleefully into corners, and there's lots of room to move your bodyweight around when you're attacking twisty roads.

Realistically though, that's not what most people will use it for. The range is now a touch over 135 miles (220 km) if you ride it gently, and still well over 60 miles if you're giving it an absolute gumboot full, so there's undoubtedly folk out there who'll be able to use this as a corner-carving sports machine. But where it's really going to shine is as a power commuter.

That sort of range means most suburban folks can use it to commute back and forth for at least two or three days without worrying about finding a power plug. As a commuter, range simply isn't an issue with the SR any more.

The 2014 Zero SR, plugged in and charging in the Gizmag office foyer (Photo: Loz Blain/Giz...

A big battery does take its toll on the bike's charging time – the built-in 11.4kWh Li-ion Z-Force unit now takes a whopping 7.9 hours on the plug to replenish itself from empty. But a full charge still only sets you back around US$1.60 worth of power (depending on your energy deal) and frankly, I didn't see the battery get under 50 percent in the whole time I had the bike, so it was more like four hours, and 80 cents.

Either way, the SR's use of energy is extremely efficient. Its mile per gallon equivalent is 462 MPGe around town – that's to say that given the same amount of energy as contained in a gallon of petrol, it goes some 462 miles. So no matter how hard you thrash it, you're still saving energy in the long run.

Forget about the numbers

All the numbers just pale in comparison to the experience, though. This is the first electric I've ridden that has had a serious "wow" factor in the saddle. I loved every minute of riding it – right up until it caught three nails in its rear tire. Some complete mongrels living on a local piece of twisty road have been scattering tacks up and down the road, presumably trying to stop noisy motorcycle riders from zooming past their driveways. One of these days, it'll kill somebody.

Anyway, up until that moment I really felt like I had the ultimate commuting weapon at my disposal. It costs next to nothing to run, never needs oil or a new clutch or a valve clearance checked, it's hysterical fun to ride and if the mirrors were a tad narrower it'd be about the best thing going around for lane splitting through traffic.

Yes, they still cost an arm and a leg

There is of course a downside – batteries are over half the cost of electric bikes, and this bike's got one of the biggest and most expensive units on the market. The SR retails for US$17,000 or US$19,500 with an extra 2.8 kWh "power tank" battery stuck in the storage area you'd normally expect to put your petrol in.

That means that in America the standard SR is about US$10,000 more than, say, a Kawasaki Ninja 650, which is a good commuter style petrol bike, although I'd say it's nowhere near as much fun.

The 2014 Zero SR (Photo: Loz Blain/Gizmag.com)

At today's California petrol prices, 10 grand buys you about 2500 gallons of premium unleaded. At 50 mpg, the Ninja 650 will take you 125,000 miles before it costs you the purchase price of the Zero. Mind you, the Zero has its own fuel costs, however low they are, and the Kawasaki will cost you a lot of money in servicing over that time. So the catch-up figure is probably closer to 100,000 miles, and America's super-cheap petrol makes it one of the worst places in the world to do these sorts of sums. In Australia, for example, you're probably looking at closer to 60,000 miles due to vastly more expensive petrol, and the argument would look even better in Europe.

Still, you'd have to put in a fair bit of riding on the Zero before it became an economical way to get around.

And what I want to press home is that it doesn't matter. This is such an outstandingly fun bike to ride that it feels like it's worth its premium price tag. It's every bit as much fun as anything I've ever thrown a leg over – at least up to 100 miles an hour where the speed limiter kicks in.

An important moment in motorcycle history

More importantly, I've known in an intellectual sense that electric bikes would one day get to the point where they're better than gas guzzlers, but riding the Zero SR put that in an emotional, experiential context for me.

In just the fourth year of the Zero TT, electric race bikes are already making upwards of 180 horsepower and 300 foot-lbs of torque. These performance figures are absolutely ridiculous, but electric motor performance is limited solely by the amount of energy you can store to run them.

Meanwhile, petrol bikes are strangled further and further every year by increasingly tight emissions laws. Peak power figures keep inching higher each year, but it's at the expense of a meaty midrange where most people actually need the power, and throttles become snatchier every year as manufacturers lean off the idle mix to hit whatever Euro or California regulation they've got to hit these days.

The 2014 Zero SR - 67 horsepower, 106 ft-lbs motor.

Electric motorcycles will suffer none of these indignities. Power can be literally everywhere in the rev range, or programmed to feel like whatever sort of peaky power curve you want. Gears and clutches are strictly optional – you can have them if you want them, but you don't need them. Traction control, cruise control, throttle mapping, engine braking – they're all simple software matters. No emissions target will effect electric motorcycles as there are no tailpipe emissions, and no miles per gallon targets will even be relevant.

What's more, under current Australian road laws for example, every electric bike is learner-legal, including this monster of a thing. That will doubtless change in due time but it's a good example of what a paradigm-buster these things are.

Bring on the electric age

I came away from this road test with my head spinning. The Zero SR is that good, and what it represents is that significant. I'm confident that just about anyone who takes one around the block will have a similar experience. Getting back on my FZ1 afterwards was like stepping back into the past, I noticed every vibration, every wasted rev at the lights, every notch in my worn clutch basket – and you better believe I noticed every liter of fuel I put into it at my next petrol stop.

The bike felt crude, mechanical and a little quaint, a collection of moving parts spinning around and rubbing against one another. It felt ... old fashioned. Now don't get me wrong, I still love combustion-engined bikes and their smell and their noise and their exploding dinosaur bones as much as any petrolhead. I love anything with two wheels and a motor. But I sure won't be waiting another three years to ride another Zero – the future is electric, and it's awesome.

Update: check out our Zero SR video review.

Product page: Zero Motorcycles

About the Author
Loz Blain Loz has been one of Gizmag's most versatile contributors since 2007. Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered everything from medical and military technology to aeronautics, music gear and historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography, video and audio production, and he remains the only Gizmag contributor willing to put his name to a sex toy review. A singer by night, he's often on the road with his a cappella band Suade.   All articles by Loz Blain
53 Comments

how crap!

This thing sounds soooo bad-ass.

Awesome article Loz... makes me wish I was one of your motorcycle buddies, then maybe I would have gotten a hot-lap around the block.

;-)

Milton
12th May, 2014 @ 08:00 pm PDT

I hope Brammo will Evolve their Empulse-R electric guts in the same fashion...

I find Empulse-R style, components and presence of 6 gears much more intriguing than this (still interesting) Zero.

Giolli Joker
13th May, 2014 @ 01:24 am PDT

So something like an 8 hour refueling for every 2 hours of riding. So much for a weekend trip to grandma's.

Slowburn
13th May, 2014 @ 01:43 am PDT

Great review and fantastic bike, but shame on you for not keeping up with arguably the fastest growing and changing segment of the motoring world. 3 years???

Jason Catterall
13th May, 2014 @ 02:28 am PDT

That moment of realization that electric bikes were starting to make real progress came for me when Lightning Motorcycle won Pikes Peak in 2013 against combustion bikes. It looks like they are going to debut a street version of that bike (LS-218) on the 17th in Carmel, CA

For Zero the S has gone up in price from ~$10k from 2011 but its definitely still for the better and even the current sub 10k FX crushes the 2011 S in every area:

Zero FX - $9,495

Zero S - $12,995

Zero SR - 16,995

Zero DS - $12,995

The range of the FX in 2011 was only 20 miles and it's 70 now.

Daishi
13th May, 2014 @ 02:56 am PDT

"all with an addictive, turbine-like electric whine from the motor."

Hardly.

And with that battery requiring 8 hours to charge for every 2 hours. Sorry I'll skip it now and forever for a petrol bike.

Yes I like the sound.

Rocky Stefano
13th May, 2014 @ 05:36 am PDT

I think that is way cool. The price is on the high side but I think that will come down when the technology improves. There are small fuel cells that can be fitted to electric motorcycles that can extend the range plus give extra power when needed. There are progress in batteries too.

I think it is cool how the technology is progressing to the point where electric vehicles are becoming both more practical and more appealling.

BigGoofyGuy
13th May, 2014 @ 05:37 am PDT

Batteries are the limiting factor for an oil-free world. A battery with the same energy density as gasoline would be the first step towards a Star Trek type future.

So come on scientists, bring on those batteries. :-)

Aloysius
13th May, 2014 @ 06:23 am PDT

2015 could be a good year.

Maybe Zero will bring back the off-road variant with all the latest tech SR has on offer.

Also I know it sounds a little ridiculous, but the shape of a chopper/cruiser would lend itself better to placement of a larger motor and battery bank.

And because those things are designed low and heavy, it would not matter that much to begin with.

Nairda
13th May, 2014 @ 06:38 am PDT

Great article Loz; you carried the reader with you and made everyone experience what must be an illuminating ride. I was right there with you on the bike when you described the contrast after getting back on your FZ1.

Electric bikes will be the last bastion for those that still want to have fun on the roads. 17,000 USD is a lot, but in contrast, an electric car with some character runs north of 70,000 USD.

Zero is getting a bit good, too good. Pessimist-me says someone will acquire them. Maybe instead they'll work out licensing deals for other bike manufacturers.

CreativeApex
13th May, 2014 @ 07:50 am PDT

slowburn - your argument is completely invalid. If you read the specs for the entire line up, you'll see that they charge to 95% in ONE HOUR. If you choose to dislike electrics, that's your prerogative, but using misinformation as an excuse isn't the best strategy.

Vince Pack
13th May, 2014 @ 08:08 am PDT

Guys, about the charging time. If you buy a second charger, it will half the charging time, and so on for additionnal chargers. ChaDeMo is also available for 1 hour charging.

You can look at their accessory list:

Motorcycle quick charging

One Quick Charger provides an additional 1kW of charging capability. When used with your motorcycle's integrated charging system, this approximately doubles the amount of energy flowing to the power pack during charging. As a result, the charge time of a Zero motorcycle is reduced by around 50%. To charge even faster, multiple Quick Chargers can be purchased and used with a Quick Charger Y Adapter to reduce the charge time further.

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/shop/index.php?myCountry=223&main_page=index&cPath=5

Zero S 2013 owner here.

kensiko
13th May, 2014 @ 08:11 am PDT

I'm assuming that given battery's likely size, changing is carried out while the it remains in the bike.

lifeartist
13th May, 2014 @ 08:37 am PDT

It's not the price so much as the styling that puts me off.

All the electrics I've seen look like they were drawn for some "Ninjas of the Future" cartoon show. How about an electric this awesome that looks like...well, a motorcycle?

DavidB
13th May, 2014 @ 09:11 am PDT

How long is the life of the battery and what does it cost to replace it?

Larryb
13th May, 2014 @ 09:13 am PDT

Battery "breakthroughs" are possible, but evolution of both the batteries and the ancillary equipment is inevitable. The charging time is long because the charger is slow. Even standard LiPoly batteries can be charged at a much higher rate. Direct DC chargers should be able to charge that battery in well under an hour. After all, a Tesla S85 can charge it's 85KW battery to 80 percent in about an hour.

Congrats on not being a foot-dragger Loz, most reviewers spend a lot of time talking about how impractical electrics are. Ignoring the social aspects (true cost of fossil fuel, smart grid potential with electrics, etc.) , the simple practicality of electrics even in the current high-price model is hard to debate.

I'm a petrolhead, but not blind or stupid. My wife has a Chevy volt in Maui and we charge it (and power our house) with a PV array. She averaged over 250+ MPG for the last six months. Given Maui gas prices it's seven years to breakeven. Other than the Volt I don't have cars that even permit that kind of calculation. I built a three wheel recumbent with 100 mile range and 45 mph flat-ground speed for putting around here on the mainland. It cost me about $4K to build and in the three years I've been driving I've put 26,000 miles on it. Other than lots of tires (too much power for bicycle tires) and respoking wheels it's cost me nearly nothing for all those miles, effortlessly climbing the hills on Hood River.

My wife takes delivery of her Tesla S next week. I'll still be driving my F350, but I got to spec out the Tesla--she was going to go for the little motor. No F#@&ng way. That's going to take about a hundred years to break-even, but what fun!

Bill Babcock
13th May, 2014 @ 09:17 am PDT

I'll agree that 8 hours charge for what seems 2 hours' riding isn't much good, but I'm sure Gizmag has done articles on fast-recharging batteries. They'd probably shove the price up even more, but if they start to get mainstream, their price(s) will come down...

If you want/need the sound, invest in a Vroombox or similar - though it will pull your mileage down a fraction.

If you need the feel of a gas-guzzler (vibrations, etc.), rig up/incorporate a series of appropriately-sized mobile/cell phone vibration motors or joystick 'rumble' motors. Give them some presets and allow the rider to 'tweak' them (with an app?) for different 'feels' to the bike - obviously, they'll pull your mileage down again.

As for the smell(s) of a bike(r), maybe some version of an essential oil burner could be fitted, that would 'waft' the appropriate smells through tiny holes in the fairing/structure..? Again, an electrically-powered device would pull your mileage down. But this time you'd need to be careful of the temperature and amount of 'oil' in case of accidents - don't want to encourage a potentially-much-more-devastating fireball of any kind on your commute...

leafygreen
13th May, 2014 @ 09:22 am PDT

@ Nairda:

Perhapse the "chopper" crowd has a lot more of these guys:

"I'll skip it now and forever for a petrol bike.

Yes I like the sound."

In which case a chopper would be a tough sell.

I could be wrong, but younger generations seem to be more attracted to sports-bikes than choppers, and its the younger generation that is so willing to embrace bad-ass EV's like this one. At least that's my theory as to why they don't offer a "chopper".

Milton
13th May, 2014 @ 09:38 am PDT

When battery powered tools started coming out about 15 years ago, all I heard about them was the low performance and charging problems. They got steadily better, until recently when I took the plunge with an interchangeable battery system. One battery, several tools. Love it. It is only a matter of time before a battery vendor starts putting out standard swappable batteries that can be used on multiple large devices like cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers or whatever you want to rent. Then the cost of the device drops dramatically and you can keep your battery and upgrade your vehicle cheaply. It would eliminate the range issue if you could swap batteries at gas stations on your road trips. Plus you could reduce your commuter vehicle weight by leaving some batteries on the charger at home.

Shishkabugs
13th May, 2014 @ 09:38 am PDT

Good job Zero! But the range and torque is just now reaching the same figure the ZEV Electric has had for years in their big bikes like the 10 LRC for $6,000 less money than the Zero. For a commuter bike, I will prefer the LRC with its monster storage area, and full fairing with all of those compartments, same range as the Zero, faster charging than the Zero, less money than the Zero.

Darus Zehrbach
13th May, 2014 @ 09:46 am PDT

Loz, why don't you tell us how you really feel ;^P

That said I'm building custom all composite 64 Vette EV's with 150 mile range for just 2x's the Big Zero's cost.

Another is lithium batteries are generally 22lbs/kwhr making only 150lbs for the rest seems off.

But they are great EV MC's and EV drive will be hard for ICE's to beat in performance and eff/Mpge.

If you miss the noise there is an app for that ;^P Or put a coil near the motor and an amp/speaker.

jerryd
13th May, 2014 @ 09:46 am PDT

Sounds nice, too bad its shape, with its sky-high drag, is copied from companies whose business model is to offer nothing new.

A magazine once told the reason for that shape: in the 1950's a streamliner racer from Moto Guzzi, called the 'dustbin', outsped all its components- tires, brakes, frame- and riders died. Then racing made a rule limiting that streamlining. Commercial offerings copied racing style, and here we still are- 60 years later.

Throw a streamliner shell on this thing, Zero, double your highway range, and say hello to the mass market.

mookins
13th May, 2014 @ 09:59 am PDT

Surprised there is no mention of the (albeit rather expensive) rapid charge option. 0-95% state of charge in an hour…

http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/shop/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=162

@Rocky - You may enjoy the noise - most people do not. Besides, I'm guessing you have no idea what the Zero sounds like, so how would you know? Unfortunately, your ignorance, and those of all the other ICEV drivers who refuse to accept the inevitable, is only compounded by your lack of understanding of what Big Oil is doing to ruin the planet for mankind and how much influence it has in controlling governments all over the world. I suggest you pull your head of of the sand (or wherever else it is buried) and, as you Americans say, "smell the coffee"!

Failing that perhaps you can just let those of us who are already driving EVs and proving you and all the other nay-sayers wrong to get on with it without having to listen to your prejudiced twaddle.

Martin Winlow
13th May, 2014 @ 09:59 am PDT

If they want it to be a "commuter", they're going to have to change the design to something other than "crotch rocket".

Commuters wear suits, and carry groceries and briefcases. The current design is simply not suitable. It doesn't have to be a "scooter", but commuting and sport biking are 2 fundamentally different things.

Anne Ominous
13th May, 2014 @ 10:12 am PDT

Looks like a fun motorised bicycle. But we badly need to properly stream line these things. Luckily Terry Hershner at Zero has been working on this for his cross USA trips.

http://www.craigvetter.com/pages/2013%20Streamliner/2013-vetter-streamliner-Hershner-p63.html

Julian Bond
13th May, 2014 @ 10:36 am PDT

the future is electric, and finally the future is now...

billybob1851
13th May, 2014 @ 10:38 am PDT

Loz,you and the boss write the best stuff on our greatest passion-motorcycles. Thanks once again from those of us that appreciate such fun,informative articles.

Guess those of us that live on a lower end of the scale can always hope in the future for the battery prices to drop or a cheaper breakthrough.

chidrbmt
13th May, 2014 @ 10:53 am PDT

I rode a Zero S 2013. I own an excellent Ducati modded for performance and ultimate handling--I love it. I loved the Zero MORE! The coolest thing about it was the silent power. I don't know why this wasn't mentioned here--something about a turbine sound is weird cuz it's a very low level sound of the electric motor, belt and tires--yes you hear the tires that's how quite the Zero is. I found that cornering and accelerating in the smooth silence of the Zero was the finest most exhilarating motorcycle experience I've ever had--the funnest. I've loved the sound of the carbon pipes on my 11:1 compression Duc but after riding the Zero I found that the sound of the Duc was distracting to the essential experience. The Zero is the closest experience to flying. You can feel everything exquisitely--tires, road, lean into corner & etc. I can't emphasize this enough.

I was lucky enough to have my Zero test ride in the twisties of Twin Peaks in SF, CA. I will have a Zero as soon as I can figure out how to trade in my beloved Duc.

nimbuzz
13th May, 2014 @ 11:41 am PDT

The tech is great! But people are visual beings, and this thing is way ugly. Zero needs better designers.

Nelson Hyde Chick
13th May, 2014 @ 12:10 pm PDT

@ Vince Pack.

Charge time can be one hour to 95%, if you buy the $1,800 CHAdeMO adapter. If you simply leave your Zero motorcycle with stock charging and don't upgrade it, the entire lineup ranges between 3.7 hours on an FX to 9.3 hours on any of the bikes with ZF11.4 Power Tank. So therefore Vince Pack, your argument is completely invalid. Go forth and learn how to read specs.

John Mayer
13th May, 2014 @ 01:49 pm PDT

Don't worry about the charging time. G8 chemistry LiPo batteries can be charged in under 10 minutes if you can deliver the current it requires to do so.

I have a G6 LiPo at 7.7 amp hours that can be charged at 60 amps! And it doesn't even get warm.

So hang in there, it's only a matter of time until they charge these things faster than you can put gas into a traditional vehicle.

warren52nz
13th May, 2014 @ 01:59 pm PDT

Great article, you hit the high points perfectly! I rode a 2012 Zero S for a few months till the 2013 came out. They had doubled the power in one year! I was a little scared of opening it up on the test ride, but went ahead and bought it. Of course, it wasn't long before I was able to crack the throttle full whenever I wanted. I thought this would be the most power I would ever need.

Then the boys at Hollywood Electrics told me about the "6 upgrades" they were doing to some of the bikes. By now, the 2014 SR had come out with a 660 amp controller compared to my 480 amp controller. Amperage = power. So, a week away from retiring, here I go upgrading my bike to a whole 'nother level. I've been riding it for just three days, but man, is it quick! The 0-60 dropped from the 4.8 seconds of the stock 2013 S to 3.3 seconds! And you guessed it, that's a bit much for this 61 year old - for now. I'm going to learn how to handle it eventually. It'll smoke the tires or lift the front one off the ground, depending on the traction of the pavement.

Since I opted for the smaller battery (8.5 kWh), mine was less expensive, but more importantly, lighter by about 50 lbs. So, with the upgrade, I have arguably the quickest Zero around. I commute in heavy LA freeway traffic, but with lane splitting, a small narrow bike, and insane acceleration, commuting is actually fun.

Paul Scott
13th May, 2014 @ 02:15 pm PDT

If this machine was offered to me FREE, I wouldn't have it!

When touring, and travelling, I expect to cover up to 800 miles a day.

This pile of expensive junk at 60 miles between charges is not even up to the performance of a 60's CSR! [Coffee Shop Racer].

Nobody but an idiot, with more money than sense, would buy it.

Nik
13th May, 2014 @ 03:37 pm PDT

Great article. But here is the rub, or shall I say the shaft.

The state and federal taxing people see the hand writing on the wall, especially here in the Peoples Republic of California. They see electric cars getting better and better, which means less and less gas sales, which mean no tax money, which means.... well it means... we the tax nazis of California and other states can't let this happen and are seriously talking about tax by the miles you drive. So no mater if you have a green weenie electric car or motorcycle, they are going to squeeze you for taxes. So you see if you get a thousand miles per gallon, it won't matter.

S Michael
13th May, 2014 @ 04:20 pm PDT

@ Anne, I was thinking "I wonder if they'll bring out a sport version?"

It looks pretty comfy to me especially with those high bars!

Nice article Loz, an electric bike riding how I imagine they should.

Craig Jennings
13th May, 2014 @ 05:10 pm PDT

All this talk about 'break even' points. Why doesn't every road test of a petrol car or motorbike include carefully calculated break-even points compared to using public transport and an occasional taxi? Because it's RIDICULOUS, that's why. People buy cars and bikes because they WANT IT. Same for electric.

T N Args
13th May, 2014 @ 06:33 pm PDT

Mookins, the Moto Guzzi 'dustbin fairing' was banned because it completely covered the front wheel and was badly effected by side winds.

Current rules do not allow the front wheel to be faired in.

Certainly sounds like the electric bike is coming, and I await further developments in battery technology.

BTW, with that much torque and weight, I'm surprised that the rear tyre isn't fatter.

Martin Hone
13th May, 2014 @ 07:52 pm PDT

@ S Michael:

"So no mater if you have a green weenie electric car or motorcycle, they are going to squeeze you for taxes. So you see if you get a thousand miles per gallon, it won't matter."

is your only criteria to owning an EV tax evasion?

because there are a hell of a lot more benefits to EV's than not paying road-tax. lol.

Perhaps you should re-read this article and pay closer attention to operating-costs. This article doesn't mention any of the hidden costs of ICE (pollution), but that could be one more note-worthy reason to embrace EV's.

Milton
13th May, 2014 @ 07:56 pm PDT

Not learner legal in Australia - P/W limit is 150 kW/tonne

Nrma Jack
13th May, 2014 @ 10:15 pm PDT

Even an hour charge for 2 hours riding is ridiculous and don't try to tell me I will find a high wattage out let where I need them.

Slowburn
14th May, 2014 @ 12:12 am PDT

The range is what bothers me 100mile isn't enough I would sacrifice a little pickup for distance, and gizmag has recently covered fast recharge and higher capacity batteries. can't wait for the next years model

Gavin Roe
14th May, 2014 @ 02:33 am PDT

The only thing I don't like is the price. I can live with the range and charging time. As a commuter and weekend toy it sounds perfect!

Australian
14th May, 2014 @ 02:43 am PDT

I see many people just spitting on this EV bike and on EV in general.

You ask for the moon. We have to start somewhere guys. This Zero SR is amazing in comparison to what was done in the previous years. At this progress rate, we should be able to all switch to EV before we die! If you like to throw money on gasoline and do 800 miles a day, that's your choice. Until we can do 800 miles on one charge, I'm going to stick with the range possibilities of the current EV for now. And man that's fun to drive! You can't argue against that if you didn't try it.

kensiko
14th May, 2014 @ 07:46 am PDT

I agree with Kensiko and others that those who are finding fault just need to try one of these bikes. We will be the first to agree that it isn't the bike for long road trips, it's not made for that purpose. But as a daily rider, it's superior to anything else on the road. The driving characteristics of an EV, and the riding characteristics of an electric motorcycle, are superior to any ICE.

Pikes Peak was won last year by the electric Lightning. A Ducati was over 20 seconds back in second. It wasn't even close. From now on, no ICE motorcycle will ever win Pikes Peak. An electric car will win in that category this year or next.

Electrics are getting better fast, and they are already better than the best ICE bikes for some races. ICE is barely improving anymore. It's pretty much as good as it'll get. Electrics are just getting started.

You can stay with your dial up bikes as long as you want. Same thing with your cars. But I can assure you that personal transportation, and the most exciting racing and sport vehicles in the world, will be powered by electricity. You really don't want to bet against technology.

Paul Scott
14th May, 2014 @ 11:37 pm PDT

I'm looking forward to owning an electric bike and really enjoyed this article. Looks are subjective and that is why some people are able to stomach 300+ pound husbands or wives and others aren't. Personally I like the looks of the Zero. If I wanted it to look exactly like what I already own then what would be the fun or even the sense of that. I do have a hard time with the price no matter the payback time and most of us take a very long time in years to go 100,000 miles on a bike. And the charts show the Moore's Law(esque) yearly improvement in battery energy density. I'll dive in with my wallet when I can ride one of these Zeros all day long without the worry of it leaving me stranded. I'm not talking about needing to ride from Omaha to Sturgis in one day. I'm interested in being able to ride over 150 miles without babying the bike because of the battery's daily charge life. Fun is fun and stressing over the battery's range is not fun. I'd be able to bear the price without a problem if a Zero had fuel cell so the bike could go as far as any ICE powered bike and for what Zero expects in price should already include this fuel cell in my estimation.

Buellrider
15th May, 2014 @ 08:29 am PDT

Aside form what Tesla is doing with quick charge 2 other things that can be done to boost EV range are trailers and supercapacitors. Lots of gold wings pull trailers now and electric engines have torque to spare. A system of swapping out the main battery in your EV would never work but swapping a trailer with an auxiliary battery at a gas station like a propane tank would be no big deal.

Supercapacitors don't have the total storage capacity of batteries yet but they can charge and discharge much faster. You could make a "hybrid" EV with a combo battery/supercapacitor that would allow you to juice up in seconds with enough power for ~20-30 miles to prolong the time you can go before you have to slow charge the main battery.

Aside from that 120v charge times only matter right now but before long they won't as soon it will be viewed as a waste of money to drive anything that isn't at least a plug in hybrid and you will see 240v outlets near homes and parking lots everywhere. As hard as companies try to be viewed as green I expect many/most major companies will soon set up free charging stations to EV/plug in employees and/or customers. Some of them already do.

There has been a lot of very recent progress with Zero, Tesla has proved EV can not only be good but in a lot of ways better than ICE, the plug in Prius running lithium-ion now and soon the rest of the Prius line will make the conversion from NiMH to lithium-ion. It's safe to assume every auto manufacturer has noticed. Once the technology is proven (which is happening now) the government will not continue to allow other manufacturers to sit on their hands pumping out ICE vehicles like it's 1990 any more. They will ratchet down average fuel range requirements dragging them kicking and screaming into the 21st century if need be.

Daishi
15th May, 2014 @ 06:28 pm PDT

"first time an electric motorcycle stood shoulder to shoulder with petrol powered bikes" - huh? You say one week later that electric bikes blew the doors off petrol bikes a year ago: http://www.gizmag.com/lightning-ls218-unveiled-specs/32142/ .

zylstra
20th May, 2014 @ 11:35 pm PDT

Yes! I like my motorcycles, I've had a load of all different shapes and sizes but never an electric tho like many, I've mentally planned one.

I REALLY like the look of this one. Not the styling so much, that's ordinary but the demonstrable performance. Like all (affordable) EV's so far, the range and charging time is still 'not quite there' but soooo close....the Zero strikes me as the perfect commuter for folks like me who spend 25 minutes each way at open road speed limits and 5 minutes zigzagging through town.

Make it half the price and it'll sell faster than they can build them.

Mike Sayle
23rd June, 2014 @ 11:43 pm PDT

Love my two-wheel Tesla! I hope to live long enough to reach 100k mile "break-even" on my new SR, but the joy of "instant, whooshing acceleration on tap" without noise, heat, vibration or emissions is PRICELESS!

Rick Steeb
27th June, 2014 @ 06:56 pm PDT

People ride motorcycles for different reasons. Obviously, if your interest is touring then you'll need to wait for the battery technology to evolve. And it will certainly be worth the wait.

If you are in need of transportation to and from work, the grocery store, or the local twisty roads... There is no question that EV is better in every conceivable aspect. If you don't think so, go ride one!!

For around-town transportation needs, my Zero is like a magical dragon that flys me anywhere I need to go. It's that fun.

Ryan Stover
29th August, 2014 @ 04:35 pm PDT

This article has it spot on about looking back on gas bikes after riding electric and realizing that everything has changed. I had a VTR-1000, ZX-6R and a SV650 in my stable when I got my 2014 Zero FX 5.7. After buying the FX and riding it around for a few weeks (it occupied my whole attention for that time), I finally jumped back on my gas bikes. HOLY COW! They felt OLD.

I then sold off the VTR-1000 and ZX-6R, and tried to sell off my SV650, but had a change of heart and am keeping it around just as a long-distance traveler. Actually, the only times I've taken out the SV650 the past 4 months was just to keep the battery alive. I'm waiting to buy my first 100+hp electric SuperSport.

Electric > gas, period.

Brian Milburn
5th September, 2014 @ 02:06 pm PDT

For those who might be concerned about the range of an electric bike see craigvetter.com for a report on Terry Hershner earning the Iron Butt award by traveling 1000 miles in 24 hours. Streamlining and extra batteries give this Zero a cruise range of over 200 miles.

Grant-53
25th September, 2014 @ 07:43 pm PDT

Terry Hershner[Google they're names] added streamlining by Craig Vetter to his Zero and has broken many endurance and speed records.Hopefully Zero will offer a few different models in the future,hopefully one with a little extra body work.The simplicity and ease of use along with the incredible savings will surely make a lot of people smile.How about a electric 3 wheeler,a narrow tilter ,like Yamahas Tricity scooter with some streamlining.Just might be the ticket for a few of us.

Thomas Lewis
20th October, 2014 @ 08:29 am PDT
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