Should you happen to be a street biker -- and an environmentalist at heart -- Zero motorcycles, based in Santa Cruz, Calif., offers bikes for either scenario.
Zero motorcycles are all-electric and provide huge advantages over conventional gas-powered motorcycles. As all-electric bikes they do no use fossil fuel. In fact, they use no fuel at all. Being electric, the Zero moves appropriately enough, like a bolt of lightning.
The thin-wall frame of the Zero S alone weighs 29 pounds, and is made from high strength, lightweight, aircraft aluminum. The Z-Force proprietary Lithium Ion battery power pack tips the scale at 80 pounds, and is mounted low and forward in the frame. The motor, wheels, tires, controls, seat and suspension components make up the balance of the Zero S's mass.
Power for the Zero S comes from a brushed permanent magnet electric motor 4kWh, which is fully rechargeable with the onboard charger in less than four hours by simply plugging into either a standard 110V or 220V outlet. The expected battery life is four to five years with normal usage.
The motor delivers 31 horsepower along with 62.5 lb.-ft. of torque. The peak electrical input is 22,000 watts. The positive, progressive torque and horsepower are delivered to the rear wheel via a final drive -- 420 Chain on sprocket (15-tooth front sprocket, 61 tooth rear sprocket). There is no clutch, nor is there a transmission. There's only one gear with a progressive speed advancement from Zero to maximum through a 400-amp controller.
The Zero rides on lightweight, inverted, hydraulic dual front, fully adjustable forks with 8 inches of travel up front, and a single coil-over shock for the rear double diamond adjustable swingarm featuring 9 inches of travel. Tires are of Taiwanese origin (110/70-16 front -- 140/70-16 rear), and are mounted on lace-spoke, hollow core alloy wheels front and rear. Braking chores are taken care of by single stainless steel discs fore and aft with a right hand control lever manipulating the front wheel brake and a conventional right side foot lever activating the rear wheel brake.
Visually, Zero motorcycles appear to be normal machines, until one notices the fact that there is no exhaust. The fenders and protective bodywork are made of polycarbonate material that is impervious to breakage. Another factor that becomes readily apparent when the bike is switched on, is that there is practically no operational noise aside from a slight whir and chain on sprocket buzz, an endearing quality that allows the Zero to be ridden without incurring the wrath of those opposed to the traditional noise pollution normally emitted by traditional gas-powered two-wheelers.
My Zero S tester came with a base price of $9,950 finished predominately in White with black graphics. It's an intriguing machine that is not only fun, but also practical to ride. It's capable of zipping from 0-60 mph in under 4 seconds, with a top speed of 60 mph. The operating range under normal conditions is 60 miles. The lack of traditional engine and exhaust noise is uncanny, as is the 100 percent torque at all times for instantaneous throttle response.
Environmentally, the Zero S is the only electric bike with a non-toxic power pack, containing no toxic metal such as cobalt, nickel, lead or mercury in the Lithium Ion battery, which is also landfill approved in the U.S. and is completely recyclable.
The Zero S comes with an onboard charger and the bike produces less than one-tenth the pollution of that produced by a gas-powered motorcycle. The power delivery is unbelievable and gauges are provided for speed, charge and motor temperature. For more information on Zero Motorcycles log onto www.Zeromotorcycles.com or call 888-RUN-ZERO.
Copyright © 2010 Motor Matters
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