114 miles on a single charge

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Long promised, but not yet delivered, the electric motorcycle with a range exceeding 100 miles has finally arrived. But not from Brammo. The 2012 Zero DS and S — heavily upgraded, but similar looking to previous models — now come with an optional 9kWh battery pack giving them a range of 114 miles. The 2012 Zero S reached a top speed of 88mph.

Skeptical, we asked the company how realistic these number were. “Absolutely honest,” was the response.

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The upgrades across the Zero model line are predicated on the company’s new Z-Force battery technology, which, “uses a completely new battery cell chemistry and configuration that is up to 95% more energy dense and is rated to 3,000 complete charge cycles before hitting 80% capacity. This means that a Zero S could travel as much as 308,000 miles on its original power pack. All Zero’s on and off-road motorcycles leverage the new technology meaning that the power pack is designed to exceed the longevity expected of any conventional motorcycle.”

If only Michael Uhlarik had a nickel for every time someone used his MT-03 headlight… Regardless, this Zero DS is now a pretty nice looking motorcycle.

“The 2012 model line is truly game changing,” stated Zero VP Scott Harden. “It marks the first time in history that riders can actually own an electric motorcycle that is capable of exceeding 100 miles of range on a single charge. Every model in the lineup goes faster, further and is more fun than ever before. These are not concepts. In less than three months, riders can see and purchase 2012 models at authorized Zero Motorcycles dealers.”

That “not concepts” line is a shot across Brammo’s bow. That company unveiled it’s Empulse electric sportsbike way back in July, 2010, but has yet to show any signs of making its production a reality.


The only fly in Zero’s ointment is cost. That 9kWh battery pack is optional, upping the price of the S or DS from $11,495 with the standard 6kWh to $13,995. While vastly improved products, that leaves the bikes firmly in the realm of the enthusiastic, monied, early adopter.

Zero’s dirt range also benefits from the new battery tech, as well as motor upgrades. Power on the X and MX is claimed to grow 33 percent and range is up to a max of 120 minutes of off-road riding.

These are still the kind of products you really have to want to buy and none will serve as your only motorcycle if you do more than basic commuting. But, within those parameters, these are now better, faster, longer-lasting, more appealing motorcycles. The future draws closer.

  • smoke4ndmears

    Now that they’ve reached this milestone Zero needs to move away from their parts-bin aesthetic to compete with Brammo!

    It occurs to me that combining zero’s battery +maxi scooter aero and ergo would be an ideal setup.

    • robotribe

      Agreed. The dimensions of the battery really push the seat height beyond urban usefulness for guys my size. I could see maxi-scoot solution working better. Then again, I doubt that’s a form factor less of us want.

      Still, it’s great to see more development with the tech. Too bad it doesn’t work for me ergonomically.

      • protomech

        The low-seat option (drops 2″ down to 30.8″) is not terrible. I wear 30″ inseam jeans and I can flat-foot the bike.

        • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

          Doesn’t really get much lower than that. It looks like it should be higher, because of it’s dirt-bikeness.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      smoke4andmears: Now that they’ve reached this milestone Zero needs to move away from their parts-bin aesthetic to compete with Brammo!

      Yeah, from the side, it still looks like some post-modern sculpture of a fat-fish to me.

    • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

      I think they made the right choices. Improve range and power first. They can redesign later once they see all the new comers go to market.

      Right now Quantya is thier only competition and that is in the dirt only. Maybe KTM once we see it in the flesh.

      • http://www.cdavisdesigns.com Chris Davis

        It doesn’t have to be an either/or choice.

        • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

          I don’t think the government and investors gave them enough cash for both but could be wrong.

  • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

    That’s it. I am going into full-time lighting design…

    • http://www.facebook.com/beastincarnate Ben Incarnate

      I love the headlight.

      Doesn’t seem to fit this bike, though. Maybe it would all look better from another angle.

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      If only there were royalties involved. Gotta be tough designing awesome bits that make most bikes look better.

      • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

        There are. Yamaha gets them. There is a whole industry in trading property rights in the bike business. Just ask Triumph and Ducati how much they pay Honda for the single sided swingarms. Its nuts.

    • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

      Isn’t that the same one that’s used on the Brammo Empulse?

      • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

        Wes, would u consider giving a free HFL sticker to the first reader to find the “MT-03″ headlight on http://www.alibaba.com ?

        • http://www.amarokconsultants.com michael uhlarik

          I am continually amazed at the popularity of this part, considering that it only really made sense when squished right up against the forks. You wouldn’t believe the amount of hassle it was getting that thing, and the corresponding aluminum supports, approved.

          I could right a whole story about that damned thing. Hmm, perhaps I should.


          • Felix

            Sounds like it’s time for another guest post!

          • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

            I’d read that.

  • http://plugbike.com/ skadamo

    Glad to see the improvements, nice work raising the bar Zero!

  • Sean

    I’m just waiting for Thom’s hate-filled diatribe…

    • http://twitter.com/JamesLeeFoley# jamesleefoley

      It’s become weird when there isn’t one.

    • stefano


  • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse
  • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

    This is a bike I would own.

    The only maintenance: tires and brake pads. That’s pretty amazing. It very well could be your only bike if you live anywhere near an urban environment.

    Agreed that styling needs to be focused on. But the update makes the aesthetics on par.

    Seems expensive but what about this:

    Simple math:
    100k miles at today’s gas prices assuming 40mpg : ~$10k in gas
    100k miles on Zero S assuming 80 miles per charge: ~$1.2k in electric

    It’s true that not many riders put 100k on a bike, but HFLers do…

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      but HFLers do…
      When they don’t get binned, yeah. :)

    • pplassm

      but HFLers do.

      Waiting for the stats on this. :-)

      • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

        I have 2 bikes over 60k miles, and another over 30k. I’ve put approximately 110 of those miles on. Even a long commute like mine, 40 miles per work-day equates to 11k a year. My bikes are easily good for 10 years. My oldest is 36 and still quite ridable.. We have to own up an do the miles :D

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      so true! people don’t think about the cost savings of owning an EV, just the upfront sticker shock.

      I spend an average of $100/month on gas (I work close to home, get ~20mpg on my R1 but also commute via bicycle) then I spend at least $300/year for engine maintenance (oil changes, spark plugs, filter, etc)

      $1500/year savings. And since Zero now offers financing, you won’t be paying for the bike AND all that maintenance + gas. I am soooo tempted to buy one. But first I need to make enough money to be able to make the payments AND keep my R1 for when I need to go over 150mph. Which is more often than you might think.

  • slowestGSXRever

    I’m continually impressed by Brammo and Zero. Once I get some cash to blow, I’m gonna have a hard time not blowing it on one of these bikes (or a lot of booze).

  • Will

    I can’t wait to shop electric motorcycles on Craigslist.

  • http://krtong.com KR Tong

    I remember emailing zero a while back saying “so, can i stuff more batteries on your bike or what?” and this is their response. Oh I’m so happy.

    That 300,000 mile battery life is tremendously impressive but what voltage is that being charged on?

    • http://www.TroyRank.com Troy R

      I’m sure it’s their standard charging voltage, but the question is at what rate. At a faster charge rate I suspect that number would come down. However, even if you have to divide it by 3? That’s still pretty good.

    • http://pinkyracer.com pinkyracer

      the Zero’s I’ve ridden are all on 110v. I ran one down completely (riding it like an R1), rolled it into the parking lot across the street, plugged it in and 20 minutes later I had 50% charge, more than enough to reach my destination.

  • Zirq

    Why isn’t the lady passenger in their video wearing gloves? That’s kind of stupid.