Zero Takes Electric Motorcycles to the Street
The dust kicked up by the 24 Hours of Electricross has barely settled and Zero Motorcycles is back with a street-legal electric motorcycle it will have in driveways later this month.
The Zero S builds upon the the technology underpinning the Zero X dirt bike
by doubling the size of the battery to deliver 60 miles of electric commuting and corner-carving. The Santa Cruz startup promises a top speed of 60 mph and a zero-to-60 time of about 5 seconds from a highway-legal bike that weighs just 225 pounds.
"Our goal from the beginning was to engineer a high-performance electric urban street motorcycle that would change the face of the industry," founder Neal Saikai said. "The Zero S is a high-performance motorcycle that also happens to be fully electric and green."
Zero wants to position itself as a leader in the budding electric motorcycle market, and it faces mounting competition from small companies like Brammo, startups like Mission Motors and big players like KTM. It's betting the supermoto-style
Zero S will keep it out front.
The Zero X proved its mettle last weekend during an unprecedented 24-hour endurance race
where 10 teams log as many as 507 miles flogging the bikes around a track in San Jose. But while the Zero X is strictly an off-road machine, the S is designed for city streets and the occasional back-road run.
The brushed permanent magnet motor produces 31 horsepower and the bike weighs 225 pounds, making the Zero S a little less powerful - but 96 pounds lighter - than a Suzuki DR-Z400SM. With 62.5 foot-pounds of torque on tap, the Zero S has significantly more grunt than, say, the KTM 690 SMC.
Juice comes from a 4 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery that weighs 80 pounds and charges in less than four hours when plugged into a 110 volt outlet. Zero predicts the battery will last five or six years with normal use. No word on the replacement cost, but an extra pack for the Zero X - which uses a 2 kilowatt-hour pack - costs $3,000.
Power flows directly to the back wheel - no transmission - and the bike offers 9 inches of suspension travel up front and 8 at the rear. Zero wouldn't offer any details on who's producing the suspension or brake components.
The first hundred or so bikes will be built at Zero's factory near Santa Cruz, and production manager Gabriel DeVault tells us the first of them will roll out by the end of the month.
"We're starting domestic production right now," he said. "We'll have people riding these inside of the month."
Production will ramp up as Zero shifts frame production to Taiwan. Rolling chassis will come back to Santa Cruz for final assembly before being shipped to buyers, DeVault said.
"We want to have these bikes on the road this summer," he said.
The Zero S will cost $9,950 and qualifies for a 10 percent federal tax credit. DeVault says the company has received 100 orders already.
Photos and video: Zero Motorcycles