SCOTTS VALLEY — The Scotts Valley creators of two of the nation’s few electric dirt bikes are focusing less on the carbon footprint and more on the power and quiet of their environmentally friendly ride during “24 Hours of Electricross,” a team event that took place from 10 a.m. April 4 to 10 a.m. April 5 in downtown San Jose.
Their customers are more interested in getting where they want to go rather than on “saving the planet,” and the publicity achieved from the “24 Hours of Electricross,”will drive customers to their store.
While Zero Motorcycles has attracted well-heeled customers like Jay Leno and Google co-founder Larry Page, the audience for the event was also hard-core dirt bikers looking for a strong, low-volume ride they could maneuver on trails closer to home, Banman said.
The event was made up of 10 teams, each with a maximum of 13 riders. The motorcyclists took turns rounding the track on the same bike, like a 24-hour relay, Banman pointed out.
Each motorcycle had two batteries, which powered the bike for 90 minutes to two hours before they had to be traded out and charged. The battery then needs about the same amount of time to re-energize, Banman said, and solar charging stations were available during daylight hours.
Ten teams have signed up for Electricross: eight from the U.S., one from the U.K. and another from Canada, said Zero Motorcycles co-founder and event coordinator Lisa Saiki. Santa Cruz County companies Fox Racing Shox, Scotts Valley RV and Custom Culinary Concepts also sponsored the race.
The owners of Zero Cycles expects to sell 1,000 bikes this year, compared with 200 in 2008. He also plans to hire 35 more employees by 2010.His new model, the street-legal Zero S, will be released by spring. Using a rechargeable lithium ion battery pack, the motorcycle will have a top speed of 70 mph and range of 60 miles. Though it will cost $10,000, Saiki estimates the Zero S will have an operating cost of 1 cent per mile.