What would it be like to ride motorcycles silently through the city or on the backroads? To not have to shift gears or use a clutch? To never have to fill up the tank? This may sound like something from Star Trek, but you too can experience a silent electric motorcycle at your local ZERO Motorcycle Dealership.
My arrival at Two Stroke Coffee House found the guys from Second Gear, our local Zero Motorcycle dealer, rolling out the Zero Motorcycles. They were quickly inundated with questions by the patrons milling around: “How long does the battery last? How much do they weigh? There’s no clutch? No gears?” And the realizations dawned. No chain maintenance, no oil changes, no wearing of parts, no gas. Just brakes and tires. And charging, of course. More than one of us circled back around, “What’s the range again?” We pulled out our phones and quickly calculated all the savings in maintenance and fuel costs.
The anticipation built until it was time to ride. The dealer walked us through the controls. When the key is on, the bike is on. If you see a red light on your dash, the center stand is down, and when it goes up, the light is green. This means if you roll on the throttle, you are going to go. There is no start button, no clutch to pull in. Instead there’s an eco mode for commuting and longer rides, and what I call “hooligan mode” (sport mode!). They recommended everyone start in eco mode to get used to the bike. I hopped on to the Zero SR, the sport bike model of these electric steeds.
The sensation of rolling on the throttle and silently moving on two wheels is indescribable. My thoughts went from “Oh wait, I’m moving” to “I need to move faster!” With a 32 inch seat height, the bike was on the tall side for me, so it was either ride or stop–no foot paddling. I rolled on towards a stop light, left hand and foot looking for the non-existent clutch and shift lever, leaving me giggling.
It was time for sport mode. One of the oddities of a silent bike is that there is no way to tell how fast you are going from your normal cues. Coming from a thumper, my body pretty well knows when we hit 35 mph by the vibrations and the noise, but on a Zero, there’s nothing, leading the rider to twist the throttle more. Sport mode can be accessed at any point, as long as you close the throttle. No need to stop first. So, I closed the throttle, and engaged sport mode.
This would be worth exploring, as this coincided with me getting more comfortable on the motorcycle. In sport mode, the bike responded quicker and felt like a horse waiting to gallop. It was probably a good thing I was on a led demo ride, because this bike had some distinct possibilities for speed, stealth, and hooliganism.
The technology for electric motorcycles has come a long way. If you are at home with your high efficiency charger, your bike will be charged in two to three hours. You can also charge as you go with a standard 110/220 volt plug in. The range of the bikes vary based on conditions and riding style. The longest range is 202 city miles on the Zero S or SR. When decelerating or braking, the bike uses this to give the batter a little boost with regenerative braking. Travel and maintenance costs drop significantly; they predict a penny a mile for charging, and there is no chain, spark plugs, oil changes, cables, clutch, or air filters to maintain.
- Feather light
- Lots of torquey goodness
- Nearly maintenance free
- No fuel bill
- Limited Range for longer trips
- Limited aftermarket support
I’d encourage everyone to test ride one today. They may not be the next bike you buy, but there are rumors that electric bikes are the bikes of our future.
Enjoy bike reviews? Check out Sara’s review of the WR250!
Another in depth review of Zero Motorcycles by Elektrogirl herself! Click HERE!