Posted on 03 July 2009.
Santa Cruz, California — The Santa Cruz, California-based company, Zero, has recently debuted its new Zero-X Electric Motorcycle, the result of years of work by Neal Saiki, founder, and inventor of the new e-cycle. Saiki is a former NASA engineer.
The overall design of the frame and plastic of the Zero-X is revolutionary, according to its reviewers from Dirt Rider, who also comment that the layout of the electric motor is innovative as well.
The bike is powered by a proprietary lithium-ion rechargeable power pack, and has an aircraft-grade aluminum frame and swingarm. There is also a massive power module cradled in the center of the frame – which weighs 45 pounds and taking up most of the room in the motor area.
To start the bike, you simpy turn the key, flip the on/off switch to “on” and then wait about 0.562 seconds for the green light to come on.
Because the bike is silent, it is easy to forget it’s on. Flick the throttle and the cycle moves forward immediately, with no hesitation.
The Zero-X’s has a 20 horsepower engine. A test rider was able to climb Glen Helen’s famed Mount St. Helens with little trouble. There are two switches behind the handlebar-that can alter the Zero-X’s power. According to the reviewer, the “hit” switch doesn’t seem to make a massive difference, but the “low” setting makes the overall speed of the electric motorcycle much mellower. You have to toggle the key to go from low to high, which is a good safety feature.
The test rider pointed out that compared to a full-size 250, the Zero-X is fragile, but that’s because you’re contrasting it with a big bike. In relation to a mountain bike, though, this motorcycle is quite strong.
You truly have to ride it like a bicycle – that means no blatantly hard landings and no slamming into things; you have to use finesse to ride the bike. At 151 pounds, the Zero-X is about all that the mountain bike-style fork and shock combo can take, and the entire chassis takes on a nimble, flickable feel in the dirt. Although not as stable as some would like, the lightweight feel of the machine certainly is a benefit to the power-to-weight ratio, and though the Zero-X can’t take super-hard hits or big drops, it is still capable for mild trail scenarios.
It takes a while to get used to the layout of the bike. With two hand brakes and a throttle being the extent of the controls, there’s no need for your feet to do anything.
Some components-the chain guide, for instance-are low, obtrusive and simply not designed for serious off-road use (but then again, neither was the bike). The brakes are yet another mountain bike-inspired part and do a good job of stopping the bike when new, though Dirt Rider reviewers have heard from customers who bought this bike in late ’08 that the pads wear out almost immediately.
It was the battery duration that would be extremely important.
The testers ran three batteries out at the Zero-X intro, and they all died in different fashions.
One battery slowly grew weaker and chugged to a stop, another felt as though it operated at one-third power forever and then fell out, and yet another battery dropped dead like someone had turned the key off. This variation is most likely because the speed with which the battery runs out, much like a tank of gas, is dependent on which mode you are in and how hard you are on the throttle.
Swapping out a battery with a replacement takes less than three minutes, but an extra batter costs $2950 (plus shipping) for the replacement.
Otherwise, it takes about two and a half hours to recharge the battery.
Right now, the major competitor to the Zero is the Quantya electric bike.
Claimed Weight (with battery): 151 lb
Fuel Capacity: None.