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In the last few years, electric motorcycles like the Zero have improved in many ways, and have also become more affordable. Harley-Davidson’s Livewire nationwide tour gave motorcycle enthusiasts a chance to see and comment on bikes that might be available in the future. Some machines that had been available for pre-order are now in their owners hands—these are expensive, high-performance motorcycles.
But, since the distance you can ride between charges is just upwards of 100 miles for most bikes, and charging stations are more apt to be found in urban than in rural areas, let’s see if there’s an affordable motorcycle that a rider can use to commute, or run errands, or enjoy on short rides.
Probable the best known brand of such bikes is the Zero, which had significant upgrades in 2015. Riders had not been impressed with its suspension system, but the new Showa system is earning applause. (Showa is the OEM supplier of Honda suspensions.) Couple that with Advanced Bosch ABS and Pirelli tires (the type of tire depends on the model of the bike) and you have a machine that handles well on the curves as well as the straightaway.
Zero has continued to increase the power and range of its bikes. The SR is a racing bike with a base range between charges of 131 miles and it goes from zero to sixty in 3.3 seconds. But the Zero S is a serviceable bike that will go 185 miles between charges in city driving, but also does seventy miles an hour on the freeway with a range of 94 miles. The Zero DS is a sport bike with a seventy mile range in the city. The S and the DS both cost less than $14,000.
The company uses the same frame, so you can swap out a power tank, for example. And it has a software app that gives riders info about remaining charge, speed, and energy use and allow them to customize settings for regenerative breaks and power.
The 1.3kW onboard charger completely recharges the bike in six to eight hours. In 2015, Zero added about ten miles to the range of each model by improving the battery pack. That trend will continue as engineers continue to tweak electric motorcycle design.
Keep tuned to the Eagle Leather blog for news of other electric motorcycles.