RideApart 4: a shocking truth

Dailies, TV -


Picture 4

With 9kWh in its battery pack, nearly twice the capacity of the Toyota Prius, the 2012 Zero DS is the fastest, longest-range electric motorcycle to ever enter production. 84mph top speed, 112-mile range. Is that enough to make it practical, useful transportation? More importantly, can a bike that slow be fun to ride?

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  • Dylan

    Freaking awesome episode guys. By far the best one for me. Is that the new Carbon Bell helmet you’re wearing Wes? How do you like it? Im getting a new carbon fiber helmet soon and thought I had narrowed it down to the Akuma Phantom II or the Nexx. Also nice choice in beer (Stella, Arrogant Bastard, and Lagunitas IPA) . Again congrats guys, I can really tell you guys are starting to get comfortable with the camera and it really comes across.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      It’s pretty nice, but if it was my money, I’d get cheaper, lighter, better ventilated, ECE 22.05 NEXX XR1r Carbon.


      • Dylan

        I guess I should use the search feature more often haha. I’m still thinking I’ll go with the Akuma. ~$100 less than the Nexx, lighter, and has the Transitions lens visor. I can’t believe that the Bell is so freaking expensive. If I end up getting it I’ll let you know how it is

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Rad, been curious about those Akumas. Who import them?

          • Dylan

            Nevermind. Just called a couple dealers of Akuma in Phx and was told that the Carbon Akumas are absolute crap. One dealer said he had them falling apart on the shelf and couldn’t even sell them for cost. He also said that Akuma’s service was absolute crap (which I can back up, left them 3 messages in the last 2 weeks and haven’t heard back). So looks like I’m gonna end up with the Nexx or just get another Joe Rocket RKT Carbon

        • Sean Smith

          Put the two side by side and it’s obvious where your extra hundred bucks is going. Not that either is a bad helmet, the Nexx is just that much better.

      • http://www.lgdm.fr stempere

        When i ordered the XR1R carbon (should have it this week), a friend told me about a new carbon Bell that’s supposed to be 900grs. Maybe it’s the ECE version of this one, anyway, it should be around 7~800€ so yeah, if the nexx fits my araï shaped head it’s gonna be my next helmet.

        Also good episode, the scooter comparo was a good idea. Can’t wait for the Tuono episode next week, it’s a really awesome bike. Only issue for me was the frame getting hot as hell and burning my legs, but you’re a bit taller i think so maybe it didn’t bother you as much.

    • robotribe

      Agreed. This is the best episode yet. Keep up the great work.

  • http://overshadowed.com/ overunder

    Man GMR to Hollywood is not a ride I’d attempt on a electric bike. I too would shit myself if I run out of power on the 210 like that. Hell I wouldn’t even have the balls to ride that Piaggio on the freeways. Very good episode though!

    • robotribe

      It’s fun! That Piaggio has considerably bigger tires than my Vespa 250 that’s taken a few trips up and down the 210, 134 and 101. Nothing makes you memorize expansion joints and pot holes on a given freeway like riding on 12″ wheels.

    • dan

      Wes riding bitch on the scooter. Serves you right Wes for saying someone looks like a dork on it. 3 motos and 3 scoots. Not dorky on any.

  • Roman

    Came here looking for comments about riding knee out at non-existent lean angle. Guess I’ll be that guy. Grant passing Wes on the scooter was well played. Sweet soundtrack too.

    • Sauciér

      Also wondering about the soundtrack. Where’d you guys find a copy of the song that was used in the MotoGP slow-mo 2011 highlight video? Been trying to find it.

    • ike6116

      I was thinking the same thing

    • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

      I’d be a little worried about lean angles on “$3 Chinese tires”, too.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      Sometimes, when I’m riding through a turn and I don’t have a clear view of the road surface, I push out my knee or otherwise shift my COG into the turn in anticipation of an unexpected event. I’m sure it’s bad form and looks dorky, but more than once, it did give additional stability/confidence when I had to momentarily dig deeper into the turn due to an unforeseen road hazard.

      And yes, great soundtrack — works really well with the tension.

    • Ax

      Re: the soundtrack, it totally overwhelmed the quietness of the bike. It would have been nice to hear, just once, how much/little noise it made “wizzing” past the camera.

    • M

      it’s probably just habit.

      now, grant pulling out in front of a random commuter on a scooter with precious cargo on the back… that’s a little more glaring.

  • Raubert Van Harris

    Entertaining and informative! I liked how the beer bottles kept multiplying during the conversation. You guys have kind of a Top Gear for motorcycles thing going

    • Kevin

      Did you guys really load up on that beer and then hit the road?

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        Ha, no. In between “rounds” we’d actually had a huge lunch and had been sitting there for ages. The waitress never bothered clearing the bottles. I left with the 2nd beer half full.

        • jp182

          I was worried about that too Grant. Good to know you guys got your heads on straight ;-)

        • Kevin

          ‘Cause I worry, you know. About you lug heads.

  • Jericho7

    Best one yet guys! I love the narrating while you’re riding it really puts me in the experience with you when I’m watching. Also enjoyed the “sitting around at lunch” conversations you’re doing in each episode. Rock on!

  • Archer

    Wes’ delivery is much better while riding than while speaking ‘at the table’… Sign of a too- quick mind?

  • Coreyvwc

    Riding 2up on a scooter, sad way to go out… hahaha.

    • http://twitter.com/metabomber Jesse

      Oooh, Mandem. Harsh.

      Still, great episode, and props to you for hanging it all out and losing power on the two ten. I don’t see anyone else testing these in real world situations.

    • Bronson

      3 kickstands, one bike. :(

  • zipp4

    Good stuff guys. Keep these coming!

  • protomech

    The ZF9 nominal capacity is 7.9 kWh (108 3.7v 20 Ah cells, total pack is 66v 120Ah).

    The Prius Plug-in nominal capacity is 4.4 kWh (56 3.7v 21 Ah cells, total pack is 207.2v 21 Ah).

    The 9 kWh capacity is a “maximum” rating derived by initial voltage pulled hot off the charger (4.2v per cell = 76v pack) times capacity. Since voltage will quickly fall down from maximum and then slowly decrease as the pack charges, a maximum capacity rating is a bit like measuring the L / W / H dimensions of a fuel cell and then assuming it’s a rectangular prism.

    Zero is the only manufacturer that I know of that uses the maximum capacity rating .. at least, up until a month ago when Brammo joined them in specifying this less-than-useful capacity for the Empulse.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Like the difference between rear wheel (rwhp) and crank (bhp) horsepower. We try to stick to quoting a consistent figure because it’s the only way to be fair. If I quoted nominal for Brammo, maximum for the Zero and continued to jump back and forth all the time, it’d just be confusing as hell.

      • protomech

        Zero should just quote nominal figures, like every other EV manufacturer out there (except Brammo, recently).

        Enertia Classic? 3.1 kWh nominal.
        Enertia Plus? 6.2 kWh nominal.
        Tesla Roadster? 54 kWh nominal.
        Prius Plug-in? 4.4 kWh nominal.
        Nissan Leaf? 24 kWh nominal.
        Chevy Volt? 16 kWh nominal.

        Zero ZF9? 7.9 kWh nominal, 9 kWh maximum.

        One of these things is not like the other. One of these capacity specifications does not belong.

        (Okay, two counting Empulse R 9.3 kWh nominal, 10.2 kWh maximum)

        The distinction between rwhp and bhp is apt, but it’s generally understood that traction motor (gas or electric) power is brake horsepower at the output shaft. Top Gear gets this wrong (GT500) sometimes, but we forgive them for being silly Brits.

  • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

    It’s like you took all the negative parts of your Life Electric reviews, focused on them, gave lip service to the positive aspects and then placed the bike in a situation where it was a foregone conclusion that it would be unable to complete the route.

    As long as there is no parity between the range PLUS the refill time of electric vs. gasoline bikes, then it’s just not fair to compare them. We, who currently own these bikes, are well aware of that limitation and freely admit to it. None of us would head out on a trip that would put us in that kind of situation. We might have some contingency plans (e.g. while stopping at the halfway point for a beer or soda, we’d ask the owner if they’d mind giving us a few minutes of re-charge; or perhaps taking some slower speed limit surface streets, rather than the highway) but would never put it in the kind of situation you contrived.

    I am sure JT will come on here and say something like “see? what’d I tell you?” I can’t say I disagree, given the route.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Honestly, I just wanted a chance to ride it on a fun road and, with shooting, we had access to trucks to get to that fun road. Really disappointed by how bad the tires were once we got there though. Just no fun to be had as a result. Wish we’d stayed in town because of that.

      Highlighting the limitations of the range is not at all unrealistic. I mean we could have shown what really happens — sitting on your couch at home being boring instead of doing something fun with your friends — when range is an issue, but that’s hardly going to make for exciting viewing, is it?

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

        @Wes – Speak for yourself. I’m anything but boring when I sit on my couch at home.

        @BrammoFan – A 65 mile trip when the rated “range” is over 100 miles is reasonable. It clearly illustrates the BS point. Were the 100 mile range honest, I suspect Wes “Marooned!” Siler would’ve been far more forgiving in this video and his writeup.

        But that’s just me imagining Wes “I don’t want to talk right now!” Siler’s world view. One of the many non-boring things I can do from my luxuriously comfortable couch.

        • protomech

          A 65 mile highway-only trip when the rated highway range (not highway commuting) is 43 miles is not reasonable.

          The blame falls on Zero for obfuscating the steady highway range.

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

            You made me visit the specs page rather than taking the video claims as gospel. http://www.zeromotorcycles.com/zero-ds/specs.php

            I stand corrected. They’re riding the ZF9 variant, which claims 62 miles highway. Still seems to have fallen well short of that estimate.

            Good news from that page, though – there’s an accessory quick charger that’ll get you 100% in 2.4 hours. That’s half the time Wes said! Oh Em Gee!

            • protomech

              And if you read the fine print, the 62 miles “highway commuting” range is 50% highway miles, 50% city miles. 100% highway is 43 miles.

              Brammo uses this “combined” range as well for the Empulse R, but they also explicitly spell out the 100% highway range as well. (77 miles and 56 miles respectively)

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

                I’ll sit down corrected this time. Holy balls. It didn’t occur to me that the highway estimate was only half highway.

                • protomech

                  The way Zero specifies range is at once technically true and 100% awful. Either they’re really bad at presenting information or marketing killed the specification of the straight highway range.

                  The city/highway/combined specification approach Brammo takes is significantly more consumer-friendly.

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

                  @Protomech – Agreed on both counts.

    • Archer

      “just not fair to compare them”? Are you joking?

      Without this review, exactly who would know the real effective range of this thing is about half what’s claimed?

      • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

        Anyone who bothered to read the specifications on the Zero website. And it’s not “half what’s claimed.” See protomech’s comments, above.

        • ike6116

          You’re kidding yourself if you think Brammo isn’t purposefully obscuring the actual range of their products by stating things with foot notes.

          They shouldn’t say 112 MILE RANGE*

          *actually half that at best.

          • protomech

            Did you mean Zero? Their footnotes are terrible, no question.

            I see 55-75 miles on the Zero, at 45-55 mph. If I take slower roads (stick to 40 mph) then I can get 80+ miles.

            Here’s what Brammo says about the Empulse:
            City: 121 miles* (195 km)
            Highway: 56 miles** (90 km)
            Combined: 77 miles*** (124 km)


            • ike6116

              Yeah my bad I got hung up reading his name.

    • protomech

      “As long as there is no parity … it’s just not fair to compare them.”

      In one sense that’s true. Electric and gas transportation are fundamentally different. The test outcome can usually be predicted directly from the test conditions.

      In another sense it’s false. It’s absolutely fair for a consumer to compare the two technologies and determine which meets his/her usage and needs better. The Life Electric missed the main point though – for most motorcyclists, riding on two wheels is already an elective choice, we have access to a bad weather / cargo hauler if we need it. Riding on an EV moto makes sense if you can get a lot of use out of the bike within the limits of its capabilities (city / suburban commuting), but very little sense if you’re looking for an only vehicle or a touring vehicle.

      Attempting an 80+ mile highway trip on a bike with 40 miles highway range makes for entertaining (if predictable) video. So does a R1 carving up sand dunes.. a usage case which a negligible number of actual R1 owners and potential owners would seriously consider : )

    • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

      Brammofan, what you are suggestion would turn an otherwise fun weekend trip on a motorcycle into the trip from hell for me and most motorcyclists.

      “or perhaps taking some slower speed limit surface streets, rather than the highway) but would never put it in the kind of situation you contrived.” A real life situation is contrived?

      There is no logical reason to buy a $14,000 motorcycle, when you can get a $3000 car. So to take all the fun out of riding just so you can claim you have an electric motorcycle is like a bullet to the dick, no thanks.

      Reading your post makes me think of the Southpark Episode. The Smug is killing us……

      I am happy there are electric bikes, I truly believe it is the future, but it is the future, not the present……….

      • protomech

        The contrived situation is intentionally taking a 50% charged 43 highway mile motorcycle on a 50+ mile (mostly highway) trip “just to see what happens”. It’s dramatic, and it tells the story Wes wants to tell, and it’s 100% contrived.

        In real life, my longest daily route on the Zero is 70 miles (with a ~2 hour charge partway through), most of those miles are spent riding to a friend’s house for TV after work. I typically get home with about 20% of the pack remaining. If I have an unexpected errand come up during the day that that would cause me to run out of range, I have three options:

        1. Take a lower speed route. Most of my riding is 45-55 mph. I can take 40 mph roads for part of the trip which will extend range.
        2. Charge at my friend’s house (we do movies and TV 1/week, I stay for about 3.5 hours). 3.5 hours of charge gets me about 30 miles of ~45 mph riding. Haven’t had to do this yet.
        3. Go home from work and take another vehicle, call a cab, etc.

        I don’t expect to do #3 very often (1/year at most), and I wouldn’t recommend an EV to anyone whose transportation needs would put them in that position either.

      • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

        Easy answer: no one would buy one of the existing electric motorcycles to take “a fun weekend trip.” My Brammo is fun to ride – I wake up every morning looking forward to the ride…to work. And I work all day looking forward to the ride … home. I’m not smug – I openly admit to the bike’s limitations. It’s not a bike for everyone, but it works well for me.

        • protomech

          I enjoy fun weekend trips on the Zero :p

          But I didn’t buy it for that reason.

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

          Those ellipses look pretty smug to me.

          • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

            Sheesh, I can’t even control my annoying smugness when I’m insisting I’m not smug. It’s like my wife often tells me: “You may be right, but you’re still an asshole.” You win this time, Ben W.

            • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

              brammofan, no worries, we are all friends here. Can not get too upset, I personally love electric bikes and after reading your and protomech’s responses I can see the other side of the coin.

              Seems this topic has hit a real resonance with riders.

              I think it is because we can all see the shift is going to happen, but not all of us are convinced it is going to happen as fast as others.

              I personally would rather ride a 250cc bike that gets about 100 MPG, I can still do wheelies, jump stairs, be a general hoon and give up very little. It just seems like for the price, one is giving up quite a bit of the fun of motorcycling. disclaimer (I own CCW), so I am a bit bias on small displacement gas motors….

              • protomech

                I’d like to ride a 250cc bike that gets about 100 mpg too. Maybe Wes can put a half gallon of gas in a misfit and try to ride 50 miles home on 210 ; )

                There’s plenty of room in the motorcycling world for a 250-class $14k electric and a $3k gas bike.

                The CCW Ride Apart piece was really nice, btw. Bikes look good.

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

    Great episode.

  • http://respectthetrade.tumblr.com/ KR Tong

    I enjoyed the hell out of this. I think the perspective and narrative were much clearer and I’ve got nothing that i can gripe about. Haha. Maybe less reliance on the battery meter, just like nobody looks at a gas gauge as gospel (two of my bikes dont have fuel gauges), but ah well. And the comparison was hilariously sad. I can’t believe the zero is that much slower in the hills when it gets going.

    • protomech

      In my experience the Zero battery meter is pretty accurate once you figure out how to read it, if infuriatingly imprecise. 6 bars displayed could be a remaining capacity of 5.1 to 6.0 bars, or 46 to 55% remaining charge.. pretty wide swing.

  • Campisi

    Enjoyable, but the Life Electric series did better service to the Zero. This review did the same thing that most reviews of electric vehicles do: spend a huge portion of the review showing the thing limping on what’s left of the battery, only to strand the rider/driver near the end. Yes yes yes, we all get the limited range thing; it’s no shocker to anyone to see it happen or hear that it can happen and that the range/recharge time severely limits the vehicle. If half of the Ducati Streetfighter review had focused on what happens when you run out of gas, would that have really told us anything particular about the Ducati versus any other gas-powered vehicle? Do people really need to be reminded that vehicles can run out of fuel?

    Comparing it with the Piaggio was excellent, and further discussion of the particular merits and characteristics of each vehicle would have been even better. Dispensing with the obvious would have been a touch refreshing is all.

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

      The penalty for running out of fuel, as well as the uncertainty about when it’ll happen, are both significantly different factors in this situation.

      • Campisi

        Compared to a gas bike, yes. Compared to any other electric vehicle in a review setting, the situation is identical; the setting is in a spot removed from the home base, and if the battery goes flat before making it home it’ll have to be carted off in or on one of the chase vehicles. We’ve seen that sequence dozens of times before in every EV review in existence, and it doesn’t tell us anything about the product that a viewer with even passing knowledge of the subject couldn’t surmise beforehand. It still stands that the running-out sequence was far from Zero-specific, although since apparently no pertinent information was cut or foregone in order to fit the run-flat sequence in all of this enters into the realm of neutral observation.

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

          The combination of misleading range estimates and unclear gauges are specific to the Zero and exacerbate the worst case scenario. I suspect that most reviews spend a lot of time on the issue of running out because it’s such a significant hurdle for EVs to overcome. The range limitation and fear of being stranded are major factors in the ownership experience.

          My old 599 had a serious issue with it’s fuel warning light – it didn’t come on until after the bike died. I ran out of gas on the highway when I learned that quirk and understand Wes’ reaction in this video. That data point was drastically skewed from my expectations and the norm, and so my reviews of the bike always highlighted that situation. Even then, I was less than a mile from a gas station, so recovery wasn’t insurmountable as it would be with an EV.

          There were plenty of comments outside of battery life issue. He talked about: the improvements made over the years, early adopter compromises, the riding experience (sans gears and engine braking), the lackluster speed (from a stop and otherwise), the terrible tires, and more.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      What you’re missing is that the range utterly defines the bike. That’s ALL there is.

  • Devin

    I was surprised to see you riding so conservatively, even I hit it harder than that, and I don’t ride hard. So those $3 tires must really be $3 tires.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Remember there’s a chase truck I’m behind too. They didn’t much like me wizzing off into the distance. The point here is to tell a compelling story, not to stroke my ego.

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

        (He totally wizzed off into the distance and got yelled at for doing so.)

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Basically, I did a lot of wizzing that day.

          • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

            So, why does Wes pee so much?

            • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

              That’s actually an excellent question. I pee all the damn time. Never take a road trip with me.

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

                Cranberries. Seriously. A wise old man told me that, and my bladder has thanked me ever since.

  • walter

    Seems like $14,000 is just a start.
    You’ll need a truck and chase crew too.

  • BigRooster

    1. Ford Raptor is bad ass. Sean had the best ride.
    2. Great episode. Getting more Top Gear esque all the time. I’m not sure there is a better compliment.
    3. I respect scooters for what they are but you guys really did look like a couple jamokes riding that thing.
    4. Good to see you guys dont drink PBR.

    • Sean Smith

      Ha, the crew had the raptor. I drove the frontier all day.

  • Matt

    Hey has anyone figured out how to watch Youtube videos on a kinda-crappy internet connection? Always an issue for me.

    I tried starting it, pausing it, and then waiting for it to finish loading before resuming. No dice. it refuses to pre-load the whole video. Stops after caching about a minute ahead.

    Also tried putting it on mute and letting it play all the way through. It doesn’t save the whole video in cache.

    Wes, Grant – any chance you might just post a link to the video file for us subscribers download? Vimeo might also work. I seem to have less issues with them.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      Sorry about that. Remember that YouTube is behind all this, so we’ve kinda got to keep the show on there. Hopefully the pausing and buffering thing will get you there. Have you tried dropping the quality using the cog icon in the video player?

      • Archer

        Hmm. I watched it at JFK airport today on an iPad 3 with 1 bar on my AT&T LTE connection (if you know JFK you know it’s got the crappiest AT&T signal in NYC). Loaded almost instantly.

        Try clearing your cache.

    • pplassm

      If you use Google Chrome, you can download the video as a RealMedia file.

    • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

      Try using a plug-in like DownloadHelper to download and store the video to your local drive, then watch it at your leisure.

      I download and store YT videos all the time so the kids can watch them offline (like on a plane).

    • Tony T.

      If you don’t have flash installed it may be using the HTML5 viewer, which is pretty awesome by itself but won’t allow proper caching of the video.

  • http://rider49er.blogspot.com Mark D [EX500]

    I guess its sad when a review of the top-of-the-line electric bike made me want…a maxi-scooter. Seriously, that thing is impressive.

    It seems safe to say that no electric motorcycle can be somebody’s sole vehicle. But, all things considered, it seems like it could be viable for the “Owns a car but would like to get something cool to commute on/get coffee 15 miles away on sunny Sundays” crowd. I’m sure there’s a market for that.

    Sean, good to see you up and putting weight on the leg.

    • Ax

      Maxi-scoots are the shit for “practical” everyday riding. With the underseat storage on my Majesty I very rarely need to borrow another vehicle. Made one of my regular “top speed tests” a few days ago and topped out around 90mph (actual not indicated).

  • The Blue Rider

    A good no-bullshit review. Thanks guys (and fuck all those useless tools on Youtube – if I were made Dictator for Life, my first Kill List would be all names gleaned from Youtube comment sections).

    Does Zero have any product improvement plans? Better tires, improved battery, something to simulate engine braking, maybe a little bit of storage space?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Improvement plans up the wazoo, I’m sure. Also, I think the company’s dirt bike is where they really shine. Blazing through the woods full tilt on a small MXer that’s well-built and no louder than a bicycle is truly special. And with Scot Harden now leading marketing, expect Zero to continue that level of development.

      • The Blue Rider

        “Also, I think the company’s dirt bike is where they really shine. Blazing through the woods full tilt on a small MXer that’s well-built and no louder than a bicycle is truly special.”

        That’s the next episode, right…?

        • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

          Let’s just say this weekend will be non-electric and I’ll be lucky to live through it. Fucking dirt bikes. I’d do every episode on a race track if grant would let me.

          • smoke4ndmears

            Hear! Hear!
            It has been too long since you’ve overlaid your sphincter diamter vs turns on the nearest road course.

  • http://www.ClevelandCycleWerks.com scottydigital

    From my home in Hollywood….. So LA already, it happened so fast, so fast Wes…..

    I appreciate the straight forward approach to these videos. Keep making solid videos and we will keep watching.

    I also agree, the youtube comment section is a bit aggressively nuts.

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

      You’d be aggressively nuts if your mom had just caught you masturbating too. We’re seriously proud of how great our comment section is here on HFL, it’s not uncommon to hear from you, JT or Uhlarik on a daily basis, which is kinda awesome but also sadly unique.

      • Joe

        Pay walls are magical things

  • DavidMG

    The response to RideApart on YouTube’s comments is shocking.

    Here’s an original way to present motorcycling on video and people complain about how you’re “reviewing” a product. Guess people want boring (to me) motorcycle-world-type (no disrespect) reviews after all.

    I personally don’t find anything appealing about the rest of Drive’s content. Vanilla car reviews that just talk about specs but don’t tell a story.

    Just for giggles maybe you should do a completely vanilla review of a cruiser.

    • ike6116


  • PenguinScotty

    Thank you for keeping it real world and not pussy foot around.

    Believe me when i say that Electric engines are an amazingly simple yet fun and effective machine, but now as well as back then, the main problem is the batteries.

    I don’t care what people say. I don’t care how “far we’ve come” the past few years, the batteries are NOT THERE YET. No argument about it.

    Charge times need to be reduced, actual capacity still needs to be increased, longevity needs a HUMONGOUS boost and prices need to drop.

    People will argue that “If electric vehicles got the same amount of development as a gasoline engine, it’d be superior in every aspect!”. Where have i heard this before… oh yeah, Rotary engines, for example.

    There are physical limitations to everything, not saying that batteries are there, far from it, but that argument is invalid to me.

    Sorry for the rant, but it’s a subject that irks me too much.

    The episode was great, well shot, definitely liking that format. Only thing that may need some improvement is the mic placement for the interviews on the bikes. When you guys turned your heads, the volume changed quite a bit. Just throwing it out there.

    Thanks again and keep up the great work! Looking forward to the next episode!

    • protomech

      Batteries aren’t there yet for most, but the same argument can and will be made with double and triple capacity batteries. There will always be trips outside the capabilities of a battery electric vehicle. It’s going to take some expensive infrastructure investment and charge time improvements before battery vehicles can be an “only” vehicle.

      What irks me is the argument that battery vehicles are useless before that point, particularly when the argument comes from riders. Riders that live in the real world (eg not Los Angeles ;) generally have a gas car anyhow for cargo hauling or winter travel. Need to go on a long trip? Use the right vehicle for the trip.

      Three things hold battery electric vehicles back:
      1. Batteries are expensive. Tesla makes expensive long range EVs. We need inexpensive medium range EVs.
      2. Charge time. 110v AC is useful for overnight charging. 3-6 kW level 2 AC charging is useful for opportunity charging while doing other activities. Level 3 fast DC charging (48-90 kW) will be required for highway trips.
      3. Calendar aging. Zero claims 300k miles for the S. I plan on 10k/year and expect the batteries to last about 10 years.

      Cost and calendar aging are compound effects. A 8 kWh 10 year pack gives me 100k miles effective bike lifetime. If I could double the pack size and remove calendar aging, a 16 kWh pack would last 400k miles .. it would be a lifetime bike.

      • BigRooster

        Honestly, based on my transportation profile, I could get by with an electric motorcycle. I am a 4 day a week commuter with one day relegated to cage duty and toddler transport. On the weekends I use our cars for the family and solo trips are on the bike (unless I need to get mulch or something). My commute is only 18 miles roundtrip, mostly urban, with a brief highway jaunt – so right in the wheelhouse of an EV.
        The bike goes into my garage every night so recharging would be simple. My only sacrifice, although sort of large, would be mitigated weekend pleasuring riding. Almost all the utilitarian aspects of my current bike could be accomplished with any respectable EV motorcycle available. It’s the fun part, the main reason I have a bike, which I would have to adapt to some extent, and that’s no insignificant adjustment. And honesty I would miss some of the maintenance, but I figure I could get over that.

        • protomech

          If you miss the maintenance and the fun weekend highway rides, you could always keep a gas bike around too : )

          Barring garage space and interest, no reason you can’t have both. Gas is cheap if you’re only riding a couple hundred miles a month.

  • DavidMG

    This episode reminded me of Top Gear’s Audi A8 Diesel challenge… Which I’m watching now. (Season 4 Episode 4 for anyone interested)

    If only you could make a longer episode.

  • David Dawson

    Coolest part of the video is when I realized you were narrating it from inside your helmet while riding. Try that with a conventionally powered motorcycle…

    Amazing how much more polished the videos have gotten in just 4 episodes!

    • BigRooster

      It’s done all the time on conventionally powered motorcycles.

  • Skank NYCFastest

    ‘I dont want to talk right now, I’m really scared’ Lmao.

  • Robert


  • debra

    excellent video! lookin real fine…along that highway tho…much to dangerous..

  • stefano

    loved the episode as well. with all these Top Gear comparisons though I guess it does call to mind the episode where Jeremy drives the Chevy Volt. There was fallout from that episode because IIRC, they hadn’t charged the damn thing all the way before shooting and sort of knew exactly what was going to happen for filming purposes.

    Not saying you guys did the same thing: if they say the bike has X miles rating you should be getting something close to that. However, seeing as you had the bike for sometime before, was this a little bit of a set up to fail situation? Not saying you were planning on your bike dying on the highway (been there, scary as shit). But did you reasonably expect the bike to be able to complete the task given? If so, I think this is a fair video and an honest look at where we are with electric bikes today.

    Keep up the good work

    • BigRooster

      I think that was the Tesla Roadster or Nissan Leaf and not the Chevy Volt. Not charging the battery is a non-issue with the Volt. That’s the whole point of an ER-EV. I’m sure there is not enough room on a bike for a similar solution but it could be a nice stop gap until batteries or fuel cells can take over.

      • stefano

        you’re right i think it was the leaf, my bad

        • Campisi

          It was the Tesla Roadster. Tesla even sued them over it for an insignificant amount of money a couple years later as a publicity stunt.

    • protomech

      “.. was this a little bit of a set up to fail situation? Not saying you were planning on your bike dying on the highway (been there, scary as shit). But did you reasonably expect the bike to be able to complete the task given?”

      No. Look at 7:10 .. they were wrapping up a day of filming the bike. Bike had 50% charge remaining when they left on the 50+ mile highway return trip, Wes said he figured he’d end up pushing.

      • http://www.brammofan.com Brammofan

        But remember – they used the truck to haul the bike to the video shoot. They used the first 50% of the battery to show it on those admittedly great twisty roads. It wasn’t a situation of, it took me 50% to get here, and it should take 50% to get home.

        • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

          youre missing the whole point. get over the fact that the bike was shown not having enough range out in the canyons. the range issue was adressed in the bike’s inability to meet the needs of riding around LA on a daily basis (an area tough to shoot in unless you want footage of a bike pulling away while the chase truck gets stuck in traffic)

          • protomech

            In the Life Electric series it seems like Wes needed a little bit more range, but was fine for most of his activities. Not having access to another vehicle is what really seems to have cramped his style, so to speak.

            • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

              as the guy he was trying to come hang out with, it was nice that he was limited for a few weeks.

              • protomech

                Silver linings.

  • Charlie

    Excellent episode on real world utility. Any other intangibles to offset the range? Women in cargo pants love the e-bike?

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    Whatever mic (or device with in-built mic) that Wes was narrating into for most of the episode needs a coat of muppet fur like this:


    Or your post crew could use a bit of Ozone RX 2:


    And that scooter that Grant is riding (at 07:30 into the video) could use one of these:


    (And yes, I’m guilty of forgetting my blinkers more often than I’d like to admit.)

    • protomech

      I need to look at the signal minder.. I still sometimes look down a couple minutes later and see I’ve forgotten : (

      • filly-fuzz

        I have developed a weird OCD thing where every time i turn the bike (i.e corner) my thumb goes all auto pilot and presses the indicator cancel button a couple of times.

        I even find my self doing it at the track!

        This came as a result of seeing some very near misses where the rider acts like a total douche even though they left their indicator on, Which is usually followed by the “did you see that dickhead driver”…..

  • Philip

    Three of the most brilliant guys in the motorbike biz! Too bad they have such fucking potty mouths! The last shot getting back on the FWY 2 up on the scooter, almost getting rear-ended by that black car was not good form!

    • http://www.twitter.com/wessilerfanclub Sean MacDonald (the other Sean)

      you’re pushing it, dude.

  • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]

    For non-highway commuters, what about something you can pedal home (instead of push or truck home) when you run out of juice?

    The eROCKIT electric bicycle has a top speed of 50 MPH.

    Not the right thing for LA motorcyclists — or for anyone who truly enjoys motorcycling — but something I could see being useful for NYC commuters (but only when the price drops significantly).

    • protomech

      I like the idea of a pedal / electric hybrid in general.. but more for the workout than for the range extension.

      If you run completely out of charge then pedaling home is definitely preferable to pushing the bike .. but you’re still talking about a 270 lb bike. Wouldn’t want to pedal that up hills.

      Add some streamlining and significantly reduce the weight and it could be pretty sweet.

      • Roman

        Man, this thing would be the bees knees. Don’t think they’re legal in the states though:

        • Miles Prower [690 Duke, MTS 1200]


        • Campisi

          I’m amused that 28 MPH makes it illegal, because most people that get into electric bicycles end up making bikes that will hit much higher speeds than that. Then again, I’m told that it is more economical to build your own bike no matter what specifications you are shooting for simply because of how expensive decent ebikes at all levels cost to buy.

  • MV

    As lack of engine braking is being discussed, note the skid marks @ 2:37-2:39. Gotta love Glendora Ridge Road. Had one of my closest calls EVER there. 3 STi’s come ripping out of a blind corner, wide, right at me, in an already narrow section w/ no dividing line. Still not really sure how I didn’t become a hood ornament on that lead scooby.

    • Robs

      Sorry I came late to this, but I might have been on GRR the same day as you! Or those guy are up there every effin weekend! Three Subies, drivers thinking they were all alone on a special stage of the Mt Baldy WRC event. Fortunately saw them coming a couple turns ahead and I quickly pulled my Monster off into the shoulder.

  • M

    not to join a circle jerk after the last volley, but this was an excellent piece and a good companion to the life electric series. the combo easily justifies $2.