Motorcycles

Geeking out on electric motorcycles – a trip to the Zero factory

Loz rides the 2015 Zero S (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Loz rides the 2015 Zero S (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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The 2015 Zero S and DS (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 Zero S and DS (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Gizmag's Loz Blain with the 2015 Zero FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Gizmag's Loz Blain with the 2015 Zero FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
The 2015 Zero S, DS and FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 Zero S, DS and FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
The 2015 DS (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 DS (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Loz cranks the 2015 Zero FX over by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Loz cranks the 2015 Zero FX over by the cliffs of Santa Cruz (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The 2015 Zero SR's dash (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 Zero SR's dash (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
The 2015 Zero SR's fully adjustable Showa rear suspension (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 Zero SR's fully adjustable Showa rear suspension (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Loz rides the 2015 Zero DS (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Loz rides the 2015 Zero DS (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Zero's kettle-cord charging socket (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero's kettle-cord charging socket (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
The 2015 Zero SR's fully adjustable Showa forks, J-Juan brakes and barely perceptible Bosch ABS system (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 Zero SR's fully adjustable Showa forks, J-Juan brakes and barely perceptible Bosch ABS system (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Loz rides the 2015 Zero S (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Loz rides the 2015 Zero S (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
The 2015 Zero SR's fully adjustable Showa forks (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The 2015 Zero SR's fully adjustable Showa forks (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Loz feeling fierce on the 2015 Zero SR at Pescadero beach (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Loz feeling fierce on the 2015 Zero SR at Pescadero beach (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Loz navigates a tight hairpin on the 2015 Zero SR (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Loz navigates a tight hairpin on the 2015 Zero SR (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Row of frames in the Zero factory (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Row of frames in the Zero factory (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Battery installation tasks at the Zero factory (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Battery installation tasks at the Zero factory (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Heavy motor units (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Heavy motor units (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Assembling a monolith battery pack (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Assembling a monolith battery pack (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
The ZF9.4 battery packs take just three battery boxes, where the ZX12.5 packs take the full complement of 4 (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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The ZF9.4 battery packs take just three battery boxes, where the ZX12.5 packs take the full complement of 4 (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
ZF9.4 battery packs awaiting testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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ZF9.4 battery packs awaiting testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero factory worker assembling a motorcycle (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero factory worker assembling a motorcycle (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Quick charge units in testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Quick charge units in testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero's battery assembly area (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero's battery assembly area (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero's battery assembly area (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero's battery assembly area (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Showa has come on board with custom-designed, fully adjustable suspension for each Zero model (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Showa has come on board with custom-designed, fully adjustable suspension for each Zero model (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero factory worker assembling a motorcycle (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero factory worker assembling a motorcycle (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero SR on the factory dyno (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero SR on the factory dyno (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero battery getting an extended shower as part of testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero battery getting an extended shower as part of testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Quietest dyno room I've ever been in (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Quietest dyno room I've ever been in (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
ZF12.5 monolith battery pack (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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ZF12.5 monolith battery pack (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero FX bikes ready to ship (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero FX bikes ready to ship (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Installing a removable battery module into a Zero FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Installing a removable battery module into a Zero FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Feather-light battery controller housing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Feather-light battery controller housing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero's warehouse: scaling up as production increases (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Zero's warehouse: scaling up as production increases (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Zero's Ron Brandon leading a factory tour. On the left are the discrete battery boxes that form the monolith and modular batteries (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Zero's Ron Brandon leading a factory tour. On the left are the discrete battery boxes that form the monolith and modular batteries (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Zero FX bikes ready to ship (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Zero FX bikes ready to ship (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
That's a US$150,000 brake bleeding machine, necessary as part of the Bosch ABS upgrade (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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That's a US$150,000 brake bleeding machine, necessary as part of the Bosch ABS upgrade (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Most of the bikes' weight is in the battery and motor - the frames are amazingly light (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Most of the bikes' weight is in the battery and motor - the frames are amazingly light (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Zero assembly line (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Battery testing area (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Battery testing area (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Loz comes to grips with the heavy Zero motor unit (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
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Loz comes to grips with the heavy Zero motor unit (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Zero CEO Richard Walker (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Zero CEO Richard Walker (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Left to right: Gizmag's Loz Blain, Zero CEO Richard Walker, Zero VP of Global Marketing Scot Walker, Xavier De-Montchenu, Motorpresse (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
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Left to right: Gizmag's Loz Blain, Zero CEO Richard Walker, Zero VP of Global Marketing Scot Walker, Xavier De-Montchenu, Motorpresse (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

Regular readers will know I'm a bit of a fan of Zero's electric motorcycles – as the market leader in performance electric two-wheelers, Zero offers a glimpse into a future where gasoline engines feel frankly archaic. So I was very excited to score myself an invitation to come and visit Zero's head office and factory to see where the company is at, get to know the Zero team, and ride the company's entire 2015 range through the breathtaking mountain ranges of California. It was a great chance to talk about batteries, production lines, the 2015 Zero range and how America's fast-charge infrastructure is letting riders down.

The 2015 Zero S, DS and FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
The 2015 Zero S, DS and FX (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

Zero comes of age

Fueled by a very impressive commitment from the New York-based Invus group, Zero Motorcycles has ramped up its production capabilities to become pretty much the only company manufacturing electric performance motorcycles at any kind of scale. Between Zero's home base outside Santa Cruz, California, and its small European office, the company now employs some 138 full-timers and has a capacity to manufacture between 15 and 18 bikes per day.

That's small bikkies in the world of manufacturing, but a major achievement in the performance electric motorcycle game. I specify "performance" because cheap electric scooters sell in the order of tens of millions of units in China, but these low-speed, low-range commuters are a world away from the type of high performance fun machines that Zero and other companies are trying to popularize in the West.

Over the last 12 months, as Zero doubled its sales across the board, the company has scrambled to transform itself into a volume manufacturer with room to grow. Using a Kanban-style Just In Time philosophy, the production line is now much more systematic and quality-focused.

Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero assembly line (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

With production volume comes economies of scale, but equally importantly, the ability to work with top-level parts suppliers. Zero's Chief Technology Officer Abe Askenazi found this out the hard way when he left Buell to join Zero.

"In my time at Buell, I developed some very close relationships with parts suppliers like Showa suspension," says Askenazi. "But when I came across to Zero in 2010 and called those guys, they wouldn't work with us. We were too small."

Some larger suppliers were happy to sell parts to Zero off the shelf, but not at the kind of prices a major manufacturer could command, and they weren't offering any engineering support to create components tailored to the Zero range. From OEM tires to brakes and electrical components, Zero had to work with smaller companies that were willing to play ball at smaller volumes.

Showa has come on board with custom-designed, fully adjustable suspension for each Zero model (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Showa has come on board with custom-designed, fully adjustable suspension for each Zero model (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

So when you read that Zero's entire 2015 lineup now ships with Pirelli tyres, Bosch ABS systems, J-Juan brakes and fully adjustable, custom designed Showa suspension, it's more than just a running gear upgrade. It's a sign that after nearly nine years in business, Zero is starting to get some respect as a manufacturer.

ZF9.4 battery packs awaiting testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
ZF9.4 battery packs awaiting testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

Zero's battery advantage

Of all the electric performance bikes on the market, Zero currently gives you the best range. The high performance Zero SR that absolutely blew our minds last year can give you 185 miles (298 km) of riding out of a single charge from its 15.3 kWh battery bank if you've got the additional "power tank" plugged in. Naturally, that range varies wildly depending on how you ride the thing – and also how heavy the rider is.

If you ask a motorcycle buyer what their thoughts on electric bikes are, most will tell you range is one of their biggest concerns. This is why Zero is currently committed to its modular flat-cell battery architecture, in which 28 flat, 3.6 volt, 27 Ah Farasis Lithium-ion cells are stacked together into small 102-volt battery boxes.

Zero's Ron Brandon leading a factory tour. On the left are the discrete battery boxes that form the monolith and modular batteries (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Zero's Ron Brandon leading a factory tour. On the left are the discrete battery boxes that form the monolith and modular batteries (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)

A single battery box can be used on its own if it's fitted with a battery management system (BMS) and the associated plumbing. These modular batteries are used as the primary power source for the removable-battery FX bikes, and also as the supplemental "power tank" units for the S, DS and SR models.

The main battery units for the S, SR and DS bikes are "monolith" units which pack either three or four of these discrete boxes into the chunky battery box that sits where you'd expect the engine on those models. In the monolith configuration, the batteries can share a single BMS and associated hardware to keep weight down. Three boxes gives you a 9.4 kWh pack, four gives you the large 12.5 kWh pack. Both the modular and monolith units are assembled and tested in-house, including giving each battery an extended shower to test their wet-weather sealing.

Zero battery getting an extended shower as part of testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Zero battery getting an extended shower as part of testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

Packing these flat cell pouches together, as opposed to using the cylinder-based cell architecture most other EV manufacturers are going with, lets Zero squeeze more energy storage into a given volume – and it also explains why Askenazi doesn't expect that cheap batteries from Tesla's Gigafactory are going to bring the cost of Zero bikes down any time soon. Tesla will be manufacturing cylindrical cells, because the size, shape and location of the battery is much less of a concern for an electric car than for a motorcycle.

Another problem with these cylindrical cells is that each cell has a lower discharge rate, or power capacity, than the Farasis flat cells. This means you've either got to put a lot of cells together in a very large pack to get a high power battery, or else settle for a low powered motorcycle.

This might help explain why bikes like KTM's Freeride E series have such disappointing range and power figures – they're using cylindrical cells with lower energy density than Zero's flat cell models. You end up with a lower range, lower torque, lower horsepower bike than the Zero FX, for a price that's still a couple of thousand dollars higher.

The problem with fast charge stations

A fully loaded Zero SR currently takes 10.5 hours to charge its 15.3 kWh combination of monolith battery and power tank if you're plugging it in to a regular mains outlet. This is clearly not a touring-friendly option. Aerodynamics boffins like Terry Hershner and Craig Vetter are pushing heavily modified bikes to extend their range figures, but getting the electrons in is still a laborious process.

Zero offers quick charger accessories. In the case of our maxed-out SR, a US$599 quick charger accessory could bring a full charge down to 6 hours. With multiple quick chargers you can bring your wait down to 2.8 hours, but that's dinner and a movie, not a quick fuel stop. And that's assuming you don't mind carting a stack of heavy, bulky quick chargers around.

Quick charge units in testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Quick charge units in testing (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

With electric vehicles booming in California, quick charge stations are popping up along major routes to make longer range driving easy for the average Tesla or Leaf owner. Zero offers accessories that can connect your bike to a CHAdeMO- or J1772-spec charging station, but unfortunately, at this stage there's no guarantee a given charge station will work with your Zero bike.

The problem is voltage. Electric cars typically run at 200 volts or higher, where the Zero bikes run at a 100 volts. Since they're designed mainly with cars in mind, a given CHAdeMO fast charge station may or may not support 100 V charging – in the case of CHAdeMO, an Aerovironment or Nissan fleet charger will probably work, but an EVTEC or Blink Fast one won't, according to this electric motorcycle forum user, so unless you know exactly which voltages your local chargers support, the US$1799 CHAdeMO fast charge socket accessory is a bit of a gamble.

Left to right: Gizmag's Loz Blain, Zero CEO Richard Walker, Zero VP of Global Marketing Scot Walker, Xavier De-Montchenu, Motorpresse (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)
Left to right: Gizmag's Loz Blain, Zero CEO Richard Walker, Zero VP of Global Marketing Scot Walker, Xavier De-Montchenu, Motorpresse (Photo: Andrew Wheeler/AutoMotoPhoto)

"It's frustrating," says Zero VP of Global Marketing Scot Harden, "we've designed our bikes to work with the existing CHAdeMO specification, which goes down to 50 volts. But whoever's building the charge station typically builds it just to work with their product – and there's no government agency out there running around checking for adherence to the spec."

So why not go up to a higher voltage that would work with the existing charging infrastructure? "If we went to 300 volts, it would hurt you on every front that matters," says Zero's Senior Battery Specialist Luke Workman. "We'd have lower efficiency, lower power, higher cost, higher drive train heat – and in terms of life safety for the guys that are working on these things, you go from a nasty tickle … to dead. The majority of electric vehicles that are using higher voltages are doing so simply because they've been designed using legacy equipment. You'll see a lot more EVs going low voltage in the future."

In the meanwhile, Zero is taking an active role in trying to push adherence to fast charging standards. "We're on the committee for the IEEE P2030.1 DC fast charging standard," says Zero's Head of Electrical Engineering Kenyon Kluge. "Our goal is simply to push for compliance with the spec that already exists."

So there may eventually be a light at the end of the tunnel for Zero owners interested in fast charging, whether it comes from a standards-based push for charger compliance, or from a movement within the electric vehicle industry to the safer, cheaper and higher performance low voltage specification. But for now, you'd better have a good understanding of your local charging infrastructure before you commit to a longer trip.

Loz navigates a tight hairpin on the 2015 Zero SR (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)
Loz navigates a tight hairpin on the 2015 Zero SR (Photo: Photo: Joe Salas/4theriders.com)

Zero's 2015 Range

While it was fascinating to take a trip through Zero's impressive factory floor and speak at length with its business and technical leadership, the star of the show was certainly the 2015 Zero test fleet.

The range is split into 4 bikes – the S streetfigher and its high-powered SR brother, the DS dual-sport machine and the very naughty, dirt-focused FX. Zero CEO Richard Walker told us that sales are evenly split among the four models: "each model represents between 20-30 percent of sales. We feel like we've got the product mix right at this point."

One thing, of course, does seem to be missing – an aerodynamically faired sportsbike or tourer that could squeeze even more out of the battery. And that's something Zero is considering.

"There's a number of discussions going on about derivations of the current platforms," says Harden. "If we did nothing else, we could put a fairing on and increase our range by 30 percent."

So presumably we can expect something along those lines down the track as we enjoy this year's S, SR, DS and FX.

Among the great Californian redwoods, along the sweet-smelling clifftops of Santa Cruz and up the soaring ridges of the famous Skyline road to Alice's restaurant, we had a chance to get a gumboot up the entire Zero range on a two-day test ride. Stay tuned for the results!

Thanks to Zero Motorcycles.

14 comments
zevulon
loz , i've been reading your motorcycle articles for a while now. years. they are great. and you made me really happy because as an electric bicycles and e-moto enthusiast, THE CHARGING TIME ISSUE IS EVERYTHING. i've done many comparisons to 110v-15amp circuit breaker outlets veruss the 220 volt outlets versus fast charging. i've done the math and the economics and i really see the industry as a whole as simply waiting for higher C-rate CHARGING speeds. the way i see it-----the real gains will come in the cell phones first. then power tools , then ebikes, than e-motos. as it stands , these charging times are just ludicrous. the workaround of tesla is MASSIVE battery packs. the workaround of most other companies is using gasoline engines as generator 'range' extenders. frankly, i don't see the future of Electric vehicles being particularly exciting until the charging times come down. riding Ebikes is clearly FAR SUPERIOR to riding gasoline 50cc scooters. in my humble opinion on the streets of nyc , the ebike e-moto is just amazing because electric MOTORS are the future of all transport. it's the battery that is the real problem though now. and teslas new factories aren't going to solve that problem. i'm glad to see even with the existing technology we have now, there are people at zero motorcycles working on this. i've seen one of the earlier generations of zero motorcycles parked on the street in new york. that was 3 years ago. the owner LOVED it and communicated as much while speaking with me about it. still, charging is a real bitch..... and frankly, i'm shocked you mentioned vetter and hirshner. hirshner made a well publicized ride in his streamlined electric vehicle this year. vetter is well known in his micro niche. i've spoken with him. i got the sense he was resigned to the realities of the 'market' for ebikes. i'd really like to see a micro light e-moto without pedals meant for city use, with cruiser style seat height and relatively streamlined shell body, under 24mph with minimal suspension and a single zero motorcycles pack offering 3kwh of charge. weighing in at under 120 pounds. i think it's doable..... probably at like a nice pricey 6k$ or something. anyways i really liked your review. i find it so sad that people don't often want to touch the biggest taboo of electrics----THE CHARGING.
Daishi
I think they should make a factory built streamliner, why not? Even if it sells in low volume it would be very easily identifiable. You could nearly double the range, boost cargo room significantly, and there could be enough room on the tail section for a company logo for fleet vehicles or something. It would be one of those designs a lot of people think is ugly but everyone recognizes which could be good marketing if nothing else: http://i.imgur.com/Nd2Y9R8.jpg With the extra room they could probably factory equip it with the extra charger and stuff too. Right now the Zero SR with power tank will do 185 miles city, 115 highway (55 MPH) and only 94 at 70 MPH so there is a huge penalty at 70 MPH with poor aerodynamics. The streamlined version is said to double the mileage at 70 MPH. Some of the streamlined 250 ninjas get 100 MPG or so. It would be cool to see a factory built aerodynamic bike because I don't think there is one on the market currently. I'm also curious if it would be possible to take something like a can am spyder and fit it with a massive 30-40 kWh battery. I'm sure it would be heavy but it wouldn't matter that much as long as the weight is low and on 3 wheels.
Sven Ollino
Juicy article. Thanks Loz!
jonkimsr
Need range extender. either a fuel cell or gasoline engine that will provide electricity to the motor.. Volt design. Range anxiety is a marketing term. Terminal range sounds better. No transportation product will be marketable with it might go 180 but don't be shocked for 90. Little hill here and little hill there and you won't know when you will be stranded. And only suicidal kids will commute with it in urban settings. And yes I read them dying every few days.
Terry Hershner
Great article and great meeting you at Zero Loz. While I might be pushing the limits with extreme modifications, a J1772 and dual Elcon charging kit from Hollywood Electrics can bring charging time down to around 90 minutes, or time for a nice restaurant lunch, and then back on the road. Streamlining isn't currently available as a bolt on kit, but when it is later this year by Craig Vetter, it will increase the highway range by about double. After that happens, I can't really imaging anyone "choosing" to ride a petrol bike over electric. I've had a dozen gas bikes including Ninja's and a couple YZF-R1's, and after riding a Zero for a few weeks, I never wanted to get on any of my gas bikes again. Riding a Zero is just a better ride experience and a lot more fun in my opinion. Thanks! Terry
Catweazle
A seldom mentioned problem with charging EVs is the extreme user unfriendliness of the sort of industrial currents that are necessary to put any significant amount of juice into one of these things. I've seen the effects of industrial strength electricity when it gets out of hand, and a slightly dodgy electrical connection - damp, dirty, or worn - is not even slightly user friendly. I can see a rapidly expanding area of scope for the compensation lawyers opening up here. Incidentally, I actually rode an electrically powered off-road motorcycle around half a century ago, a modified BSA trials bike that appeared at the Motorcycle Show in Blackpool. UK. There's nothing new under the sun!
benswing
Great article! Additional fast charging options have been made by Hollywood Electrics which have been used by Terry Hershner and myself to travel across the country and a few other people use it too. No electrical engineering knowledge necessary, just strap them on and go! I hope to see a cruiser-style bike in the future with farings to improve range. Once range is up to 200+ miles on a charge, that will meet the needs of nearly every rider.
Mzungu_Mkubwa
I'm going to echo Daishi here, with a couple of qualifiers: Yes, Zero really needs to consider doing a reverse trike a-la Can-Am. However, if it were designed with a recumbent seating position in mind, this would make a great platform for the "streamlining" concept with the right canopy design, *and* turn this into the ideal commuter platform (all-weather is a must). But take it a step further and make it tilting at the same time, and you'll retain the excitement of the motorcycle ethos that resonates with die-hards. (Something that I think the Spyder has missed - certainly why I wouldn't ever buy one.) Check out the Tripendo tricycle - just beef it up to motorcycle durability and you're good to go.
Mark Yormark
This statement in the above article is wrong... "So why not go up to a higher voltage that would work with the existing charging infrastructure? "If we went to 300 volts, it would hurt you on every front that matters," says Zero's Senior Battery Specialist Luke Workman. "We'd have lower efficiency, lower power, higher cost, higher drive train heat – and in terms of life safety for the guys that are working on these things, you go from a nasty tickle … to dead. The majority of electric vehicles that are using higher voltages are doing so simply because they've been designed using legacy equipment. You'll see a lot more EVs going low voltage in the future." This statement goes against physics as it relates to Ohm's Law. Volts times amperes equals watts. Watts is a measurement of power. The higher the voltage the smaller the components become because physically the wires contained do not need to carry as much current, (amperes) to make the the same power, (watts).
GrumpyCat
The packing factor for cylinders is 0.90 so unless one does not need cooling passages the much-ballyhooed flat cell has no more than a 10% space advantage. The article states plumbing is necessary for function so the advantage is less than 10%. Tesla and Elon Musk are smarter than Zero gives credit. http://mathworld.wolfram.com/CirclePacking.html
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