Motorcycles

First ride review and video: 2015 Zero FX – little brother has a big attitude

First ride review and video: 2...
Loz with the 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
Loz with the 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
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Loz with the 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
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Loz with the 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
Loz thinking he's clever and dragging a footpeg; no, he's just left the sidestand half down (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Loz thinking he's clever and dragging a footpeg; no, he's just left the sidestand half down (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The Zero FX: quite a nice cornering weapon (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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The Zero FX: quite a nice cornering weapon (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The Zero FX: the lightest, cheapest and lowest range bike in the Zero catalog for 2015 (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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The Zero FX: the lightest, cheapest and lowest range bike in the Zero catalog for 2015 (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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The 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The 2015 Zero FX (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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The 2015 Zero FX (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The 2015 Zero FX: more fun that you'd expect (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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The 2015 Zero FX: more fun that you'd expect (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Loz with the 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
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Loz with the 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
The 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
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The 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
The 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
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The 2015 Zero FX by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
The Zero FX: the little brother with a big attitude (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)
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The Zero FX: the little brother with a big attitude (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto.com)

Following on from last week's fascinating Zero factory tour, this week it's time to ride the Zero electric motorcycle fleet, starting with the smallest, lightest, least powerful, cheapest and lowest range bike in the 2015 lineup – the FX. But don't let the specs fool you – this little fella packs quite a punch. In fact it's probably even more fun around town than the mighty Zero SR that blew our minds last year.

After a fascinating tour of Zero's factory floor and a very patient technology briefing from Zero's CTO Abe Askenazi, my head was spinning. My first-year physics class was the furthest I ever got with ohms, kilowatts and amps, and that was back when Michael Jordan was stacking up his second three-peat with the Bulls.

But nothing clears the head like a good ride, and for a quick blast across to the cliffs of Santa Cruz for a photoshoot, I jumped on the 2015 Zero FX.

The 2015 Zero FX: more fun that you'd expect (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The 2015 Zero FX: more fun that you'd expect (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)

The FX harks back to Zero's roots. The company started out exclusively making electric dirtbikes until the S streetbike appeared in 2009. For 2015, the FX is as "dirty" as Zero gets, barring the military MMX platform.

It's hard to say what the FX compares to in the internal combustion world, but you're looking at a maximum output of 44 horsepower (33 kW) and 70 lb-ft-lb (95 Nm) of torque in a bike that weighs 131 kg (289 lb) with its maximum two battery packs in it. That's about the same peak power as a KTM 525 EXC, but with twice the torque and about 10 kg (22 lb) of extra weight.

It doesn't quite go like the 525, though, because while the Kato has a six-speed transmission and clutch, the Zero is a single speed direct drive so it's effectively permanently locked somewhere around fourth gear. Which kind of makes it all the more impressive when you discover there's still more than enough torque to pop a wheelie, even without a clutch to assist you.

Loz thinking he's clever and dragging a footpeg; no, he's just left the sidestand half down (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Loz thinking he's clever and dragging a footpeg; no, he's just left the sidestand half down (Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)

The FX is the only Zero that uses removable battery modules. You swing open a lockable battery gate, and can then use either one or two 2.8 kWh modules. This makes them handy fleet bikes, as you can keep a number of spares charging off the bike and swap them in as needed, with Zero's clever battery management systems able to deal with two batteries at different states of charge, or different temperatures.

Range is limited – this is not your long-range Zero bike. But it's still good for about 70 miles (112 km) around town, or 30 miles (48 km) of 70 mph (112 km/h) freeway riding, with two battery modules in it, making it an awesome short-range commuter. I gave it merry hell from Scotts Valley down to the beach at Santa Cruz, and one of the other lads rode it back after zipping back and forth up the clifftop twisties for photos, and battery range wasn't an issue.

Its light weight and wheel-lifting torque make the FX the naughtiest of all the Zero bikes. I kind of wished I could see what it could do with a lower gear or two, as it'd be an absolute weapon with a clutch and transmission. But adding those would add a stack of weight and cost, as well as the kind of mechanical complexity Zero is deliberately avoiding as part of its "sophisticated simplicity" philosophy. And it's still a zippy little beast.

With a single battery pack, you can get the FX for US$9,845, making it far and away the cheapest thing in the Zero range. Add an extra battery and you're up for US$12,340, and the modular nature of the FX batteries makes this an easy upgrade down the track.

It's a brilliantly fun little bike with an attitude, and a very different ride to its bigger brothers. Enjoy our review video of the entire 2015 Zero fleet below and don't forget to check out our Zero factory tour and battery technology piece, or read ride reports for the 2015 Zero S, 2015 Zero DS or 2015 Zero SR.

More information: Zero Motorcycles

Review 2015 Zero FX, S, DS and SR

6 comments
zevulon
this really seems like the first highway capable electric motorcyle ever worth buying for real. nicely done zero. this model is bringing electric very close to parity with gas. once the new generation of batteries come out with faster charge times. it'll truly be the tipping point.
mhpr262
Now build an electric cruiser, ZERO. The characteristics of an electric motor are just made for that kind of bike. They are also popular among newbs because of htier low seat height, not needing to learn how to operate a manual gearbox must be an additional attraction. Also, build a fully faired sportbike. Tesla has proved that there are enough people out there who have the money for nice toys. They can't get rid of their old P85s quick enough to order the new D.
Milton
love the video!!!! I also love the "swapable" battery packs on this model. Does that mean I could lug 'em into my apartment for charging? The only thing that held me back from getting an EV was the fact that charging it from home would not be possible for me.
Harvey Gluckin
Have no interest in ANY bike that has limited riding range and I have been riding for 58 years. I go from NY to Canada and will NOT worry about laying over anywhere because batteries have to be recharged. When they have the range of a regular bike, I would be interested.
Timing Tim
How a company can design & build a future technology motorcycle that is all in the right direction then have a side stand hanging limp off the side as an obvious danger, makes one wonder whether the manufactuers ever ride motorcycless. Side stands "digging in" when cornering are a total recipe for disaster. Perhaps an electric powered "disappearing" side stand should be ne next on the list?
DonGateley
Great video and review, Loz, as always. I live in Santa Cruz and have got to get over to Scotts Valley and see if a tour is possible. I don't ride powered bikes because I long ago proved myself incompetent but they fascinate me nonetheless. Especially these guys 'cuz I knew one of the presidents they ran though while finding the right one for themselves.